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

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • Bahrain
  • Cameroon
  • Djibouti
  • Egypt
  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • Kuwait
  • Libya
  • Morocco
  • Syria
  • Yemen

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

Thursday developments:


Two towns in eastern Libyan were bombed Thursday, witnesses said, despite the government's accusations hours earlier that reports of attacks on protesters and military facilities were false.Two bombs were dropped on military camps in Ajdabiya, a tribal leader said. Another bomb fell in al-Brega between an oil facility and the airport, but there were no injuries or damage, witnesses said.

Libya appeared to be sliding closer to civil war as the International Criminal Court announced it had opened an investigation of strongman Moammar Gadhafi and some of his sons and closest advisers for alleged crimes against humanity. It is the first time the court will be investigating claims as they are occurring. The alleged crimes include security forces killing unarmed protesters, forced displacement, illegal detention and airstrikes on civilians.

The government spokesman said that assertions of military attacks on demonstrators are wrong.

Meanwhile, the Netherlands Ministry of Defense said three Dutch Navy personnel were captured by armed men loyal to Gadhafi during an evacuation operation on Sunday.

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 and

demands for freedom have also fueled the protests.


Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who is still believed to be at his residence in Sharm el-Sheikh, will be brought to Cairo next week for questioning in a corruption case, the Prosecutor General's office said Thursday. Mubarak resigned February 11 after 18 days of protest against his rule.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Ahmed Shafik submitted his resignation and the Egyptian military has appointed Essam Sharaf to the post, the military's Facebook page said Thursday.

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.

Recent developments in other countries:


Tehran residents reported pockets of protests and clashes with security forces Tuesday on the streets of the Iranian capital. But protesters appeared, by all accounts, to be heavily outmuscled by police, who showed in force in Tehran's squares and major thoroughfares in anticipation of demonstrations called by supporters of two key opposition leaders, Mir Hossein Moussavi and Mehdi Karrubi. The demonstrations were called to protest the two men's reported imprisonment.

Kaleme, citing "trusted sources," reported Monday that the men and their wives had been arrested and taken to Tehran's Heshmatieh prison. But the semiofficial Fars News Agency, citing a source within Iran's judiciary, denied the report. The source, who was not identified, said both men were inside their homes "and the only restrictions placed on them are contacts with suspicious elements."

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 President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's re-election as fraudulent. Iranian authorities began rounding up many government opponents in February amid calls for protests like those that have swept across North Africa and the Middle East.


At least three Tunisian government officials resigned Monday and Tuesday, the country's official news agency reported, in the wake of the resignation of the prime minister on Sunday.

The minister of higher education and scientific research, Ahmad Ibrahim, and the higher education secretary, Faouzia Farida Charfi, both quit on Tuesday, Tunis Afrique Presse reported. Mohamed Nouri Jouini, the planning and international cooperation minister, resigned on Monday, the agency said.

Former Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi's resignation Sunday came a day after three people were killed during protests in the capital, Tunis.

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 on January 14. Those demonstrations sparked protests around North Africa and the Middle East.


Protesters hit the streets in Oman for a fourth day of demonstrations Tuesday, according to the Oman News Agency.

On Monday, anti-government protesters in the key port city of Sohar refused to end demonstrations despite orders from the sultan of Oman to hire 50,000 people and pay a stipend to people who are out of work, sources in the Gulf state told CNN.

The sultan had ordered the hiring in the aftermath of weekend protests that left at least one person dead and 11 others injured, state-run media reported. Sultan Qaboos bin Said also issued royal orders saying job-seekers who register with the Ministry of Manpower will be paid 150 rials (about U.S. $390) per month until they find jobs, according to the Oman News Agency.

Roots of unrest:

The protests involving about 1,000 protesters calling for more jobs started Saturday and were ongoing Monday, according to Zamzam al Rashdi, editor-in-chief of the state-run Oman News Agency.


Confusion reigned in Yemen as the ruling party said it was continuing a dialogue with the opposition but the opposition denied it. "We will not have any dialogue with the ruling party. Our only demand is that this regime leaves and then we can talk about dialogue," said opposition bloc spokesman Mohammed Al-Qubati. Both sides said that the opposition delivered a list of five points to the ruling party via a committee of Islamic scholars. The government described the list as a "plan" while the opposition said it is "advice for the ruling party."

Roots of unrest:

Protesters have called for the ouster of President Ali Abdullah 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.


Hundreds of protesters encircled the parliament building in the capital, Manama, on Monday and prevented the Shura Council from meeting for several hours. Separately, hundreds of students from the Bahrain Training Institute marched in Isa, denouncing state-run Bahrain TV.

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.


Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki gave government ministers 100 days to deliver results and eliminate corruption or be fired, the government announced after an emergency cabinet meeting on Sunday, February 27.The announcement follows weeks of demonstrations across the country by protesters angry about unemployment, poor basic services, corruption and a lack of freedom. At least 13 people died in protests Friday. The prime minister said Sunday there would be investigations into the deaths to determine who started the violence.

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.


Protesters returned to Blocat Square in the capital, Nouakchott, on Saturday, February 26, hours after police chased demonstrators from the square. One person was arrested during that melee. But young people returned by evening, promising to continue the protests over the next several days. The call to action started on Facebook, which is said to be very popular in Mauritania, sources tell CNN. Protesters are calling for job creation, economic and political changes and an end to corruption.

Roots of unrest:

In January, a man set himself on fire in front of Mauritania's presidential palace, according to news reports -- a self-immolation in the same spirit as others in Tunisia, Egypt, Algeria and elsewhere. There have been two bloodless coups since 2005 in the country, which borders Algeria and Mali, with ex-Gen. Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz serving as president since 2009.


A large demonstration in downtown Amman on Friday, February 25, ended peacefully a week after clashes erupted between pro-government and anti-government demonstrators near the Al Husseini Mosque. Protesters in Jordan have called for reforms and for abolishing the peace treaty between Jordan and Israel.

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.


Algeria lifted its 19-year-old state of emergency on February 22, according to the National Algerian Press Agency. The action lifts restrictions on freedom of speech and assembly imposed to combat an Islamist insurgency. Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika announced last month that he would lift the emergency declaration, first imposed in 1992 and indefinitely renewed in 1993.

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. Analysts called Bouteflika's announcement about lifting the state of emergency law an attempt to head off a similar revolt.


Thousands of people have marched in protest through Djibouti. On February 18, 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.


Protesters in Kuwait have clashed with authorities on at least two occasions. 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. On February 19, protesters attacked the security forces, who managed to disperse people and make arrests. 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. According to the CIA World Factbook, Kuwait has 2.7 million people, with 1.3 million registered as "non-nationals."


Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has decided not to run for another term in 2015, a senior member of Sudan's ruling National Congress Party said. Al-Bashir has ruled since a military coup in 1989. He won another five-year term in a 2010 vote that opposition parties boycotted over complaints of fraud. He also faces an arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court on charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity in the region of Darfur.

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 several people were arrested, including 20 who remain missing.

Roots of unrest:

Demonstrators seek an end to 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.


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 in January that he planned reforms that would allow local elections and included a new media law and more power for private organizations.

Roots of unrest:

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


Protesters have taken to the streets in cities across Morocco to call for political reform. Labor unions, youth organizations and human rights groups demonstrated in at least six cities on Sunday. 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.


Hundreds of Palestinians rallied for unity last month in Ramallah, West Bank, 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 the banner slogans from demonstrators, who flooded the streets after calls went out on social-networking sites as well as at 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 decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict have since collapsed. Palestinian protests, largely in support of Egypt and Tunisia, were generally small and poorly attended. 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. Large-scale protests have failed to materialize as many Palestinians believe Israel remains their biggest problem.

Recent developments from THE UNITED NATIONS:

The U.N. refugee agency reported Tuesday that nearly 180,000 people have crossed over from Libya into Tunisia and Egypt and warned of a humanitarian catastrophe. The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously Saturday to punish Gadhafi's regime with sanctions for violence against unarmed civilians. In an emergency session, the 15-member council also referred the strongman to the International Criminal Court for alleged crimes against humanity. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for an effective solution to end the violence against anti-government protesters and a Libyan envoy tearfully asked the Security Council to step in.

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