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Unrest: Middle East and North Africa, country by country

By the CNN Wire Staff

(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.



-- NATO agreed Thursday to take command of enforcing the no-fly zone over Libya, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said.

-- The United Arab Emirates expressed support for the U.N. resolution on Libya and committed six F-16s and six Mirage aircraft to participate in patrols, the country's foreign affairs minister said.

-- After a fifth consecutive night of pounding by coalition jets, Libyans gathered at a seaside cemetery in Tripoli on Thursday for the funerals of 33 people the government said were victims of an airstrike. Coalition leaders report no civilian casualties.

-- The battle for two cities -- Misrata in the west and Ajdabiya in the east -- continues despite the U.N. resolution.

Roots of unrest

-- 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.


-- Germany and Britain are pulling non-essential embassy staff out of Yemen because of the rapidly deteriorating security situation, they said Thursday.

-- President Ali Abdullah Saleh has accepted opposition demands for constitutional reforms and holding parliamentary elections by the end of the year, his office said Wednesday.

-- Saleh's statement came the same day Yemen's parliament approved a 30-day extension of emergency powers that he declared last week in response to the protests. The law expands the government's powers of arrest, detention, and censorship.

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


-- Human Rights Watch urged Bahrain on Monday to end its "campaign of arrests" of doctors and human rights activists. Six were arrested over the weekend. The government denied there is such a campaign.

-- King Hamad said Sunday the kingdom had foiled a foreign plot to destabilize it, though he did not name the foreign entity.

Roots of unrest

-- 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.


-- Security forces arrested several people demonstrating at the interior ministry Sunday. Two activists said around 100 men had gathered there to demand the release of imprisoned relatives.

Roots of unrest

-- 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.


-- U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates was in Egypt on Wednesday for talks with officials and military leaders of the key U.S. ally. It was Gates' first visit to Egypt since President Hosni Mubarak was forced to step down.

-- The visit follows a referendum last weekend in which voters overwhelmingly approved proposed constitutional amendments paving the way for parliamentary elections in June.

-- A report published this week by Amnesty International describes the mistreatment of 17 female demonstrators at the hands of the Egyptian military after a protest March 9. The group said the women were beaten, given electric shocks, subjected to strip searches, forced to submit to "virginity checks," and threatened with prostitution charges. An army major denies allegations of torture or virginity tests but confirms 17 women were arrested.

-- Some activists, concerned citizens, and politicians are calling for a protest against a new law that Egypt's ruling military council is poised to approve. The law could make protests a criminal offense punishable by jail time and large fines.

Roots of unrest

-- 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.


-- As many as 20,000 people turned up Thursday for the funerals of people killed in unrest in the southern city of Daraa, according to Wissam Tarif of the human rights group Insan.

-- Many in the funeral procession chanted anti-government slogans and said, "We demand dignity," according to a witness who asked not to be named.

-- An adviser to President Bashar al-Assad said the government will study lifting the country's emergency law and new legislation to license political parties. She also announced new measures such as boosting the salaries of state employees.

-- The government blamed the instability in Daraa on outsiders, but it promised "no live bullets" will be used against demonstrators.

Roots of unrest

-- 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.


-- Moroccan Foreign Minister Taib Fassi Fihri held talks Thursday in New York with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the situation in the Arab world, particularly in the Maghreb region, the state-run MAP news agency reported.

-- Fihri said Wednesday that proposed constitutional reforms will strengthen the separation of powers and will help a "new Morocco" emerge, MAP reported. He said the committee in charge of revising the constitution will submit its results for the king's approval in June, after which they will be put to a public vote.

Roots of unrest

-- 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.



-- 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.

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. 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.


-- 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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