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Unrest: Middle East and North Africa, country by country

By the CNN Wire Staff
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Libya: Allied forces bombed Moammar Gadhafi's compound in Tripoli
  • Yemen: A wave of political officials and military generals declared their support for anti-government protesters
  • Syria: Protesters marched after burying the body of a protester killed Sunday during a demonstration
RELATED TOPICS
  • Libya
  • Yemen
  • Bahrain
  • Egypt
  • Tunisia

(CNN) -- Demonstrations have spread across parts of the Middle East and North Africa. Here is the latest from each country and the roots of the unrest.

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NEW DEVELOPMENTS

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LIBYA

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-- Coalition forces are "generally achieving" their goals in Libya, said Gen. Carter F. Ham, commander of U.S. Africa Command. Libyan forces are showing little will or capacity to operate, and the U.S. military sees Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's forces moving south, away from Benghazi, Ham said.

-- The heart of Moammar Gadhafi's compound in Tripoli lay in shambles Monday after bombing by the United States and its allies. Officials said that they were not targeting Gadhafi and that he may remain the leader of the country after the coalition mission has ended.

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-- The coalition flew 70 to 80 sorties over Libya on Monday, up from 60 on Sunday, Ham said. The United States flew fewer than half of the Monday missions and about half of the Sunday sorties, Ham said.

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-- The U.S. military mission in Libya may already have peaked, said Vince Crowley, spokesman for the military's Africa Command. "We are moving from the action phase to a patrolling phase," Crowley said. "Our aircraft participation has ... plateaued, if not reduced somewhat."

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-- Four New York Times journalists who were reported captured by pro-government forces in Libya last week have been released, the newspaper reported Monday. They arrived safely in Tunisia, Executive Editor Bill Keller said Monday in an e-mail obtained by CNN. The four journalists entered the rebel-controlled eastern region of Libya via the Egyptian border without visas to cover the civil war in the country, the Times said.

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-- The British Ministry of Defense said it halted a mission to attack a target in Libya because of information about civilians in the area.

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-- A witness in the Libyan city of Misrata reported "absolute destruction and carnage" by forces supporting Gadhafi on Monday, despite the regime's recent call for a cease-fire. "Misrata is being flattened and razed to the ground as we speak," said the man, who was not identified for safety reasons.

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-- A group of Gadhafi supporters chanted "Down with the USA" and confronted U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as he was leaving the Arab League building in Cairo on Monday, a UN spokesman said. Ban was "fine," and "it was not a serious incident," said spokesman Khawla Mattar.

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-- The French government disputed claims of civilian deaths in Libya from recent airstrikes. "We must be cautious of communication campaigns and propaganda," French government spokesman Francois Baroin said on the French TV channel Canal+ Monday.

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-- U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said it would be "unwise" to set specific goals about targeting Gadhafi directly during attacks. "I think that it's important that we operate within the mandate of the U.N. Security Council resolution," Gates said Sunday while on a plane to Russia.

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-- Gates acknowledged that the mission could be perceived by Arab leaders as a NATO operation. "I think there is a sensitivity on the part of the Arab League to being seen to be operating under a NATO umbrella, and so the question is if there is a way we can work out NATO's command and control machinery without it being a NATO mission and without a NATO flag," Gates said.

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Roots of unrest

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-- Protests in Libya started in February 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 and demands for freedom have also fueled the protests.

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YEMEN

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-- President Ali Abdullah Saleh is sending Foreign Minister Abu Bakr Al-Qirbi to Saudi Arabia with "a Presidential Letter to the Saudi Monarch," the first Yemeni source said, adding that he did not know what is in the letter. Saudi Arabia is one of a number of Gulf nations that sent troops to Bahrain last week in the face of unrest there. The Saudis did not respond to requests for comments about the message from Saleh.

-- Three top generals in Yemen declared their support for anti-government protests Monday as a wave of officials, including the deputy speaker of parliament, announced their resignations. One of the generals who broke ranks will order his troops to protect protesters demonstrating against the country's longtime president, he said. Maj. Gen. Ali Mohsen Al-Ahmar's announcement ramps up the pressure on Saleh, who is seeing cracks in his support after 32 years in power. At least six top officials announced their support for the "peaceful revolution" on Monday, according to a government official who is not authorized to speak to the press and asked not to be named.

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-- Some government officials say Monday's events bear hallmarks of the early stages of a bloodless coup, according to a Yemen government official who is not authorized to speak to the media and asked not to be named.

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-- Saleh dismissed his Cabinet on Sunday, according to Tareq Al-Shami, a spokesman for the country's ruling party, but has asked the officials to stay on until a new Cabinet is appointed.

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-- The move followed what sources said were the weekend resignations of two top Yemeni officials to protest a government crackdown on protesters that left 52 people dead last week.

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-- Yemen's minister of human rights, Huda al-Baan, has resigned after a government crackdown on protesters resulted in the deaths of 52 people last week, an official in her office said Sunday.

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Roots of unrest

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-- 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. Saleh has promised not to run for president in the next round of elections.

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BAHRAIN

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-- The government denied accusations from Human Rights Watch suggesting that "there is a campaign of indiscriminately arresting or targeting doctors." The services of some of Bahrain's medical facilities, including Salmaniya Medical Complex, had been overrun by political and sectarian activity, said Luma Bashmi, a spokesman for the government. "This was totally unacceptable behavior by any standard," Bashmi said. "Those responsible are being investigated and will be held to account in the proper, legal manner."

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-- Bahrain's King Hamad said Sunday that a foreign plot to destabilize the country has been foiled. The plot had been in the making for more than two decades, he said, but did not name a country that he believed was trying to carry it out. Bahrain's Sunni Muslim monarchy has long suspected Iran of attempting to foment unrest among the island's majority-Shiite population.

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-- Human Rights Watch urged Bahrain on Monday to end its "campaign of arrests" of doctors and human rights activists. Over the weekend, security forces arrested four medical doctors and two activists, the group said.

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-- Nabeel Rajab of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights said that about 25 people in about a dozen cars pulled up to his house early Sunday morning and took him to the offices of the interior ministry's investigative department. "They said that they were looking for a suspect who was armed and thought I might know him," Rajab said. "They beat me, punched me, kicked me, handcuffed me. Blindfolded me."

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-- Security forces on Friday demolished the Pearl Monument, a landmark that had been the site of massive recent anti-government protests.

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Roots of unrest

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-- Protesters initially took to the streets of Manama 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 2010. It accused the government of torturing some human rights activists.

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SAUDI ARABIA

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-- Security forces in Saudi Arabia arrested several people demonstrating at the interior ministry Sunday, putting them in police cars and buses to take them away, witnesses said. The demonstrators were demanding the release of imprisoned relatives, the second such protest in as many weeks.

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-- About 100 men had gathered to protest at the government office in the capital, Riyadh, said activist Mohammed Al-Qahtani and another witness who did not want to be named to protect his safety.

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-- Other than a pledge to set up an anti-corruption agency, the activists said, King Abdullah promised little to meet their demands. Instead, he has offered a long list of new measures that simply expands powers for the kingdom and the religious establishment.

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Roots of unrest

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-- Demonstrators have demanded the release of Shiite prisoners who they feel are being held without cause. Others have taken to the streets over the creation of a constitutional monarchy, more rights and other reforms. Late last month, King Abdullah announced a series of sweeping measures aimed at relieving economic hardship and meeting with Bahrain's beleaguered monarch.

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EGYPT

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-- Egyptian voters overwhelmingly approved proposed constitutional amendments that pave the way for parliamentary elections in June, according to the head of the judicial committee overseeing the referendum. An estimated 45 million Egyptians were eligible to vote in what was widely viewed as the country's first free election in decades.

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-- The proposed amendments included limiting the president to two four-year terms, capping emergency laws to six months unless they are extended by public referendum, and placing elections under judicial oversight.

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Roots of unrest

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-- Complaints about police corruption and abuses were among the top grievances of demonstrators who forced President Hosni Mubarak from office. Demonstrators also were 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. Since Mubarak's departure, several thousand people have protested in Cairo's Tahrir Square to urge Egypt's new rulers to implement promised reforms. They pressed Egypt's Supreme Council to end an emergency law and release political prisoners, among other things. They also demanded civilian representation in government.

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SYRIA

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-- Hundreds of protesters marched Monday in the southern Syrian city of Daraa after they buried the body of a protester who was killed Sunday in clashes between anti-government demonstrators and security forces, a witness said.

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-- Sunday's protests come the same day a delegation from President Bashar al-Assad offered "condolences to the families of the two martyrs who died during the unfortunate events which took place in Daraa on Friday," the Syrian news agency SANA reported.

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Roots of unrest

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-- Opponents of the al-Assad government allege massive human rights abuses, and an emergency law has been in effect since 1963. Earlier in March, Syrian human rights attorney Haitham Maleh -- arrested in October 2009 during a government crackdown on lawyers and activists -- was freed, his son said. The move comes amid demands by many citizens for more economic prosperity, political freedom and civil liberty.

MOROCCO

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-- Thousands of people peacefully demonstrated across the country Sunday, the Moroccan state news agency reported. The protesters raised banners and chanted slogans demanding good governance, lower prices for goods and better social conditions. The largest demonstration occurred in the country's largest city, Casablanca. Protests also occurred in Rabat, Tangier, Marrakech, Agadir and Fez.

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Roots of unrest

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-- Protesters are seeking, among other things, political reforms to limit the monarchy's power and have not accepted reforms proposed by King Mohammed VI that demonstrators say do not go far enough, according to Human Rights Watch. As uprisings swept the region, the king proposed the creation of an elected prime minister position to serve as the government's chief executive, promotion of human rights and gender equality and economic improvements.

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PREVIOUS DEVELOPMENTS

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TUNISIA

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-- In two short months, this country has gone from decades of strict one-party rule to an explosion of more than 30 registered political parties.

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Roots of unrest

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-- 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. An interim government came to power after an uprising prompted autocratic President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali to leave the country January 14. Those demonstrations helped spark protests across North Africa and the Middle East.

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ELSEWHERE

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-- Sporadic demonstrations have erupted in recent weeks in other Middle Eastern and northern African nations, such as Algeria, Djibouti, Jordan, Oman, Kuwait and Sudan and in the Palestinian territories.

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