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Unrest in the Middle East and North Africa -- country by country

By the CNN Wire Staff
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The winds of unrest sweep through North Africa and the Middle East
  • The demonstrations started in Tunisia in December
  • The leaders of Tunisia and Egypt have resigned amid mass protests
RELATED TOPICS
  • Bahrain
  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • Libya
  • Yemen
  • Egypt

(CNN) -- Two months ago, a Tunisian fruit vendor lit a match, starting a fire that has spread throughout the Arab world. Muhammad Bouazizi's self-immolation prompted anti-government protests that toppled the regime in Tunisia and then Egypt. The demonstrations have spread across a swath of the Middle East and North Africa. Here are the latest developments, including the roots of the unrest:

Monday's developments:

BAHRAIN

The Bahrain International Circuit said Monday the country will withdraw from hosting this year's Formula One Grand Prix race "so the country can focus on its process of national dialogue."

About 1,000 protesters remained at the Pearl Roundabout, which has become the island nation's equivalent of Egypt's Tahrir Square. Opposition groups are considering a list of demands, which include an independent investigation into the deaths of at least 10 protesters. They also want answers about people unaccounted for since security forces moved in to clear the Pearl Roundabout last week, using tear gas, pellet guns and clubs. On Saturday, joyous Bahrainis retook the Pearl Roundabout after Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad al Khalifa ordered the military to vacate.

Fallout from last week's violent protests continues. A 20-year-old protester in Bahrain, who was shot in the head on Friday, has died, hospital sources said Monday. Ridha Mohammed was advancing toward the Pearl Roundabout with other demonstrators when security forces opened fire.

Roots of unrest:

Protesters initially took to the streets of Manama last week to demand reform and the introduction of a constitutional monarchy. But some are now calling for the removal of the royal family, which has led the Persian Gulf state since the 18th century. Young members of the country's Shiite Muslim majority have staged protests in recent years to complain about discrimination, unemployment and corruption, issues they say the country's Sunni rulers have done little to address. The Bahrain Center for Human Rights said authorities launched a clampdown on dissent in late 2010. It accused the government of torturing some human rights activists.

MOROCCO Five people were found dead Monday, a day after protests were held in cities across Morocco calling for political reform, the nation's interior minister told reporters. The bodies were found in a bank in the northern Moroccan town of Al Hoceima, Interior Minister Taib Cherkaoui said Monday. Thousands demonstrated Sunday in towns across the country, according to Human Rights Watch. Labor unions, youth organizations and human rights groups demonstrated in at least six cities. Police stayed away from the demonstrations, most of which were peaceful, Human Rights Watch reported.

Roots of unrest

Protesters in Morocco are calling for political reform. Government officials say such protests are not unusual and that the protesters' demands are on the agenda of most political parties.

EGYPT

The Egyptian military has set up refugee camps near its border with Libya and two mobile hospitals at the Salloum border crossing to assist Egyptians fleeing the protests in Libya, Egypt's state-run news website EgyNews reported late Monday.

Two Iranian warships will cross the Suez Canal on Tuesday, four days after Egypt's post-Hosni Mubarak government gave the green light to the passage, EgyNews reported Monday.

Also Monday, British Prime Minister David Cameron arrived in Egypt for meetings with that country's military leaders, the prime minister's office said.

Authorities in Egypt have frozen the assets of former President Hosni Mubarak and his family, state-run media reported Monday. Attorney General Abdel Meguid Mahmoud requested the action, according to EgyNews.

Egypt's former interior minister and former minister of tourism have been transferred to criminal court, according to state news agency MENA. Habib al-Aldi and Zuhair Garana will face corruption charges, according to the report.

Protesters in Egypt have issued a reminder to the military that they are watching the reform process. They celebrated the one-week anniversary of Mubarak's ouster Friday in a "Day of Victory" rally at Tahrir Square, epicenter of the protests. Mubarak stepped down February 11 following 18 days of unrest in Egypt. The military has been in charge since Mubarak resigned. Meanwhile, Group of 20 leaders concluded a two-day meeting in Paris on Saturday with pledges to support the new emerging governments of Egypt and Tunisia.

Roots of unrest:

Complaints about police corruption and abuses were among the top grievances of demonstrators who forced Mubarak from office. Demonstrators were also angry about Mubarak's 30-year rule, a lack of free elections and economic issues such as high food prices, low wages and high unemployment.

LIBYA

Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi made a brief television appearance early Tuesday to announce that he was still in charge, denying reports that he had fled the country in the face of a spreading revolt.

Speaking to a state television reporter in front of his Tripoli home, Gadhafi said he wanted to show people "that I am in Tripoli, not in Venezuela. Don't believe those dogs in the media."

But he faced growing opposition at home and abroad. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had an "extensive discussion" with Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi on Monday, the United Nations said. Ban "expressed deep concern at the escalating scale of violence and emphasized that it must stop immediately," according to a statement.

Libya's justice minister, Mustafa Abdul Jalil, resigned to protest the "bloody situation and use of excessive force" against protesters by security forces, the Quryna newspaper in Libya reported Monday. The newspaper has been pro-government but recently has started to cover the protests in detail.

In eastern Libya, much of the army appears to have gone over to anti-government forces, and much of the traffic on the roads was made up of Egyptians leaving the country. CNN correspondent Ben Wedeman, who entered the region Monday, witnessed one ammunition dump ablaze in the desert, apparently set afire by retreating troops.

Ongoing unrest has left at least 233 people dead, according to Human Rights Watch, citing hospital sources. CNN is not able to confirm the figure independently, having not been granted access to report on the ground. The network has been in contact with medics and eyewitnesses in Libya whose accounts corroborate closely with Human Rights Watch.

Roots of unrest:

Protests in Libya began in January when demonstrators, fed up with delays, broke into a housing project the government was building and occupied it. Gadhafi's government, which has ruled since a 1969 coup, responded with a $24 billion fund for housing and development. A month later, more demonstrations were sparked when police detained relatives of those killed in an alleged 1996 massacre at the Abu Salim prison, according to Human Rights Watch. High unemployment has also fueled the protests as have anti-Gadhafi groups.

YEMEN

Anti-government protests appeared to be gaining ground Monday with news that Houthi rebels, who have been battling the government for years, were staging protests and may come to Sanaa, the capital, to join Yemenis in demonstrations.

Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh rejected demands Monday that he step aside, comparing the anti-government protests to a virus sweeping through the region. "This is a virus and is not part of our heritage or the culture of the Yemeni people," he told reporters.

Between 3,000 to 3,500 anti-government protesters demonstrated peacefully in Sanaa for the 11th consecutive day Monday. A day earlier, protesters chanted, "First Mubarak, now Ali," referring to the recently ousted Egyptian ruler and Saleh. Seven people have been killed in clashes in Aden, hospital and government officials said. A human rights organization put the number of dead as high as 12.

Roots of unrest:

Protesters have called for the ouster of Saleh, who has ruled Yemen since 1978. The country has been wracked by a Shiite Muslim uprising, a U.S.-aided crackdown on al Qaeda operatives and a looming shortage of water. High unemployment fuels much of the anger among a growing young population steeped in poverty. The protesters also cite government corruption and a lack of political freedom.

Here's a look at some key recent events related to unrest in the Middle East and North Africa:

UNITED NATIONS

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has been in "continuous contact" with regional leaders in northern Africa and the Middle East, his office said late Sunday. Ban has been deeply concerned by escalating violence and bloodshed during pro-reform demonstrations, the office said, adding: "This is the time for broad-based dialogue and for genuine social and political reform."

Ban had an "extensive discussion" with Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi on Monday, the United Nations said. Ban "expressed deep concern at the escalating scale of violence and emphasized that it must stop immediately," according to the statement.

ALGERIA

Protesters have demanded government reform, prompting authorities to say they will soon lift a state of emergency that was imposed in 1992 to quell a civil war that led to the deaths of more than 150,000. The rule was used to clamp down on Islamist groups, but critics say the insurgency has long since diminished and the law exists only to muzzle government critics.

Roots of unrest:

Protests began in January over escalating food prices, high unemployment and housing issues. They started in Algiers, but spread to other cities as more people joined and demonstrators toppled regimes in Tunisia and later Egypt. Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika announced that he would lift the state of emergency law in what analysts called an attempt to head off a similar revolt.

DJIBOUTI

Thousands of people have marched in protest through Djibouti. On Friday, riot police charged the crowd after the call to evening prayers, shooting canisters of tear gas at the demonstrators, according to Aly Verjee, director of the international election observation mission to Djibouti, who witnessed the event. Djibouti is home to Camp Lemonnier, the only U.S. military base on the African continent.

Roots of unrest:

Protesters have called for President Ismail Omar Guelleh -- whose family has ruled the country since its independence from France in 1977 -- to step down ahead of elections scheduled in April. Guelleh has held the post since 1999 and is seeking a third term. Economic stagnation is also a source of anger among the people.

IRAN

Protesters have been met with force in major Iranian cities. In Tehran, thousands of security officers patrolled Revolution Square, at times striking at throngs of protesters with batons and rushing others on motorcycles. Opposition websites reported that security forces opened fire on protesters in Hafteh Tir Square, killing one person. Several were reported injured and detained. In Isfahan, protesters were met with batons and pepper spray in one square, while another peaceful march took place elsewhere under the watch of security agents.

Roots of unrest:

Opposition to the ruling clerics has simmered since the 2009 election, when hundreds of thousands of people filled Tehran streets to denounce the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as fraudulent.

IRAQ

Demonstrators in Iraq have clashed with Kurdish security forces in Sulaimaniya in northern Iraq. Most of the demonstrators opposed Kurdistan regional president Massoud Barzani and the ruling Kurdistan Democratic Party.

Roots of unrest:

Demonstrations in Iraq have usually not targeted the national government. Instead, the protesters are angry over corruption, the quality of basic services, a crumbling infrastructure and high unemployment, particularly on a local level. They want an end to frequent power outages and food shortages.

JORDAN

Protesters in Jordan have called for reforms and for abolishing the peace treaty between Jordan and Israel. On Friday, about 200 people clashed with pro-government demonstrators in Amman. Several people were reported injured. Anti-government protesters who participated in Friday's demonstration included leftists and independent activists demanding political and economic reforms.

Roots of unrest:

Jordan's economy has been hit hard by the global economic downturn and rising commodity prices, and youth unemployment is high, as it is in Egypt. Officials close to the palace have told CNN that King Abdullah II is trying to turn a regional upheaval into an opportunity for reform. He swore in a new government following anti-government protests. The new government has a mandate for political reform and is headed by a former general, with opposition and media figures among its ranks.

KUWAIT

Protesters in Kuwait have clashed with authorities on at least two occasions. A second straight day of demonstrations occurred on Saturday in Sulaibiya, just north of Kuwait City, according to witnesses and a government official. Hundreds of protesters are demanding greater rights for longtime residents who are not citizens of the country. They also demanded the release of people arrested in demonstrations Friday. The protesters attacked the security forces, who managed to disperse the people and make arrests, he said. The forces used tear gas on the demonstration involving between 200 and 400 protesters.

Roots of unrest:

Protesters are seeking greater rights for longtime residents who are not Kuwaiti citizens, an issue the country has been grappling with for decades. There are believed to be 100,000 noncitizens in the country.

SUDAN

Demonstrators have clashed with authorities on recent occasions in Sudan. Human Rights Watch has said that "authorities used excessive force during largely peaceful protests on January 30 and 31 in Khartoum and other northern cities." Witnesses said that several people were arrested, including 20 who remain missing.

Roots of unrest:

Demonstrators seek an end to the National Congress Party rule and government-imposed price increases, according to Human Rights Watch. It accuses the government of being heavy-handed in its response to demonstrations, and using pipes, sticks and tear gas to disperse protesters.

SYRIA

As protests heated up around the region, the Syrian government pulled back from a plan to withdraw some subsidies that keep the cost of living down in the country. President Bashar al-Assad also gave a rare interview to Western media, telling The Wall Street Journal last month that he planned reforms that would allow local elections and included a new media law and more power for private organizations. A planned "Day of Rage" that was being organized on Facebook against the al-Assad government failed to materialize, The New York Times reported.

Roots of unrest:

Opponents of the al-Assad government allege massive human rights abuses, and an emergency law has been in effect since 1963.

TUNISIA

An uprising in Tunisia prompted autocratic President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali to leave the country on January 14 after weeks of demonstrations. Those demonstrations sparked protests around North Africa and the Middle East.

Roots of unrest:

The revolt was triggered when an unemployed college graduate set himself ablaze after police confiscated his fruit cart, cutting off his source of income. Protesters complained about high unemployment, corruption, rising prices and political repression.

PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES

Hundreds of Palestinians rallied for unity in Ramallah, calling on Hamas, Fatah and other Palestinian political factions to heal their rifts amid arguments over elections scheduled for September in the Palestinian territories. "Division generates corruption" was one of several slogans on banners held up by the demonstrators Thursday, who flooded the streets after calls went out on social-networking sites as well as schools and university campuses.

Roots of unrest:

The Palestinian territories have not seen the kind of demonstrations as in many Arab countries, but the Fatah leaders of the Palestinian Authority have been under criticism since Al-Jazeera published secret papers claiming to reveal that Palestinian officials were prepared to make wide-ranging concessions in negotiations with Israel. Negotiations toward a resolution of the decadeslong Israeli-Palestinian conflict have since collapsed. Palestinian protests, largely in support of Egypt and Tunisia, were generally small and poorly attended, and in some cases the Hamas rulers of Gaza and the Palestinian Authority rulers of the West Bank actively tried to stifle protests. The split between Hamas and Fatah hampers internal change in the territories, although calls for political change are growing louder among Palestinians. Large-scale protests have failed to materialize as many Palestinians believe their problem remains Israel.

KUWAIT

Protesters in Kuwait have clashed with authorities on at least two occasions. A second straight day of demonstrations occurred on Saturday in Sulaibiya, just north of Kuwait City, according to witnesses and a government official. Hundreds of protesters are demanding greater rights for longtime residents who are not citizens of the country demanded the release of people arrested in demonstrations Friday. The protesters attacked the security forces, who managed to disperse the people and make arrests, he said. The forces used tear gas on the demonstration involving between 200 and 400 protesters.

Roots of unrest:

Protesters are seeking greater rights for longtime residents who are not Kuwaiti citizens, an issue the country has been grappling with for decades. There are believed to be 100,000 noncitizens in the country.

SUDAN

Demonstrators have clashed with authorities on recent occasions in Sudan. Human Rights Watch has said that "authorities used excessive force during largely peaceful protests on January 30 and 31 in Khartoum and other northern cities." Witnesses said that several people were arrested, including 20 who remain missing.

Roots of unrest:

Demonstrators seek an end to the National Congress Party rule and government-imposed price increases, according to Human Rights Watch. It accuses the government of being heavy-handed in its response to demonstrations, and using pipes, sticks and tear gas to disperse protesters.

SYRIA

As protests heated up around the region, the Syrian government pulled back from a plan to withdraw some subsidies that keep the cost of living down in the country. President Bashar al-Assad also gave a rare interview to Western media, telling The Wall Street Journal last month that he planned reforms that would allow local elections and included a new media law and more power for private organizations. A planned "Day of Rage" that was being organized on Facebook against the al-Assad government failed to materialize, The New York Times reported.

Roots of unrest:

Opponents of the al-Assad government allege massive human rights abuses, and an emergency law has been in effect since 1963.

TUNISIA

An uprising in Tunisia prompted autocratic President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali to leave the country on January 14 after weeks of demonstrations. Those demonstrations sparked protests around North Africa and the Middle East.

Roots of unrest:

The revolt was triggered when an unemployed college graduate set himself ablaze after police confiscated his fruit cart, cutting off his source of income. Protesters complained about high unemployment, corruption, rising prices and political repression.

PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES

Hundreds of Palestinians rallied for unity in Ramallah, calling on Hamas, Fatah and other Palestinian political factions to heal their rifts amid arguments over elections scheduled for September in the Palestinian territories. "Division generates corruption" was one of several slogans on banners held up by the demonstrators Thursday, who flooded the streets after calls went out on social-networking sites as well as schools and university campuses.

Roots of unrest:

The Palestinian territories have not seen the kind of demonstrations as in many Arab countries, but the Fatah leaders of the Palestinian Authority have been under criticism since Al-Jazeera published secret papers claiming to reveal that Palestinian officials were prepared to make wide-ranging concessions in negotiations with Israel. Negotiations toward a resolution of

the decadeslong Israeli-Palestinian conflict have since collapsed. Palestinian protests, largely in support of Egypt and Tunisia, were generally small and poorly attended, and in some cases the Hamas rulers of Gaza and the Palestinian Authority rulers of the West Bank actively tried to stifle protests. The split between Hamas and Fatah hampers internal change in the territories, although calls for political change are growing louder among Palestinians. Large-scale protests have failed to materialize as many Palestinians believe their problem remains the Israeli occupation.

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