(CNN) -- Countries in the Middle East and North Africa have been swept up in protests against longtime rulers since the January revolt that ousted Tunisian strongman Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. In many cases, these demonstrations and movements have been met with brute force that has escalated into seemingly unending violence. Here are the latest developments and information about the roots of the unrest.
Libyan rebel forces have advanced about 18 miles (30 kilometers) closer to the eastern city of Brega after dismantling thousands of landmines, a rebel spokesman said Monday. "Our forces are only 9 kilometers away from al-Brega now after a small group clashed with (Moammar) Gadhafi troops over the weekend," said Col. Ahmed Banni of Libya's Transitional National military.
Roots of the 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. They quickly gained strength, and a movement to demand democracy and oust Moammar Gadhafi after more than four decades in power exploded into civil war. NATO began airstrikes in March under a U.N. Security Council mandate to protect civilians.
UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
Four human rights organizations are urging authorities in the United Arab Emirates to drop charges against five pro-democracy activists. The trial against the five men, which began June 14, resumes Monday. They face charges of public insult against the president of the UAE and other top officials, Human Rights Watch said. They have pleaded not guilty.
Roots of unrest
The country has not faced street protests, but authorities are sensitive to the unrest sweeping the Arab world. Human rights groups have accused the UAE of acting against its own free speech guarantees as well as those propagated by regional and international provisions.
Bahrain's main Shiite opposition party, Al-Wefaq, said Sunday that it has decided to withdraw from the so-called National Consensus Dialogue, called for by Bahrain's King Hamad. On its website, Al-Wefaq presented several reasons for pulling out, including that the talks are "not serious" and they do not create a "political solution" for the problems Bahrain faces.
Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch urged the Bahraini government to "end its campaign of arrests of medical professionals and attacks on injured patients linked to recent anti-government protests." It also called on authorities to investigate the "violations against medical personnel and patients who exercised their rights to freedom of expression and assembly, hold those responsible to account, and allow unhindered" access to medical treatment.
Roots of unrest
Bahrain, a strategically important nation to the United States, crushed the anti-government protests in March and arrested scores. The Gulf state is home to the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet. It has been riven by five months of pro-democracy demonstrations and violent responses by government forces. Both the UAE and Saudi Arabia recently sent troops to Bahrain to help quell an uprising there.
A group of Yemeni protesters criticized a youth transitional council set up over the weekend, marking a major rift in the opposition as it attempts to oust President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Youth groups have played a pivotal role in the country's unrest, but the opposition is made up of various and sometimes competing factions.
Roots of unrest
Inspired by the revolution in Egypt, demonstrators began protesting Saleh's 33-year-old regime on February 11. A month later, Saleh offered to draft a new constitution that would establish a parliamentary system, but protesters persisted in calling for his resignation, and numerous high-ranking political and military officials resigned or were dismissed. Saleh balked after making overtures to accept an agreement with the Gulf Cooperation Council to step down, and fighting has escalated between security forces and opposition groups -- primarily tribal forces and Islamic militants -- since those efforts broke down in May.
Egypt's prime minister has appointed 14 new ministers and kept 13 in their current positions in a much anticipated government reshuffle that attempted to satisfy opposition protesters that accused the country's military rulers and the prime minister of not being serious about political and economic reforms. Two key ministries did not change leadership, interior and justice ministries. Experts say this may spark further protests in the coming days despite the interior minister firing more than 600 top police officials last week.
Roots of unrest
Complaints about police corruption and abuses were among the top grievances of demonstrators who forced Mubarak from office. Demonstrators also were angry about Mubarak's 30-year rule, the absence of free elections, and economic issues such as high food prices, low wages and high unemployment.