Skip to main content

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

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

(CNN) -- Demonstrations have spread across parts of the Middle East and Africa. Here are the latest developments, including the roots of the unrest:

Saturday developments:

LIBYA

City councils in areas no longer loyal to Gadhafi have chosen former Justice Minister Mustafa Abdul Jalil to head an interim government that would represent all of Libya, according to opposition sources.

Residents of Tripoli braced for the possibility of more bloodshed Saturday as a defiant Moammar Gadhafi continued to hold on to his four decades of power. He still appears to control the capital, though many other parts of the north African nation have slipped from his grip over days of popular uprising.

Gadhafi's son went on air on Al-Arabiya television Saturday, again blaming foreigners for the unrest and denying that Gadhafi's security apparatus was to blame for the bloodshed.

The prime minister, meanwhile, announced on state television that every family would receive 500 Libyan dinars ($406) from the government.

At the border with Tunisia, thousands of foreign workers streamed in with no place to shelter.

More than 1,000 people have been killed in clashes in recent days, according to the United Nations.

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.

BAHRAIN

Bahrain's king reshuffled his cabinet Saturday as protesters continued to call for reforms and a key opposition leader returned to the country. Hassan Mushaimaa, the leader of the Haq Movement, a large opposition party, had planned to return earlier in the week to give a speech on national unity. His return was delayed by his detention in Lebanon, which he blamed on Bahrain's rulers.

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.

TUNISIA

Three people were killed in clashes between demonstrators and security forces in the capital, Tunis, according to the Interior Ministry. At least nine people were injured and more than 100 arrested, according to the state-run news agency, TAP.

Demonstrators gathered in the city center are demanding that the prime minister, who was appointed executive by the ousted president, step down. They also want a new constitution and an assembly to oversee the transition to democracy.

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.

MAURITANIA

Protesters returned to Blocat Square in the capital, Nouakchott, on Saturday, 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 last week on Facebook, which is said to be very popular in Mauritania, sources tell CNN.

Roots of unrest

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

IRAN

Iranian opposition leaders Mir Hossein Moussavi and Mehdi Karrubi and their wives were placed in a safe house for their own welfare, but they have not been arrested, Iranian government sources told CNN Saturday.

However, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran expressed concern for the safety of the leaders and their spouses.

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 Ahmadinejad's re-election as fraudulent.

Iranian authorities began rounding up many government opponents this month amid calls for protests like those that have swept across North Africa and the Middle East.

IRAQ

At least eight people were wounded in Samarra Saturday during clashes between security forces and angry mourners accompanying the caskets of two people killed in protests the day before, according to local police. Security forces battled some of the protesters, who defied a curfew to be there. Authorities later opened fire to disperse the crowd, which led to the reported injuries, police said.

In Tikrit, two protesters who had been critically wounded in Friday protests, police said.

And a teenaged boy died Friday night during protests in Anbar province, police said Saturday.

Those deaths brought the number of those reported killed in protests across Iraq to 13, according to official accounts.

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.

YEMEN

Leaders of two tribal groups in Yemen say they will join protests demanding the resignation of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, following violent crackdowns on demonstrators in Aden.

Medical officials said Saturday that four people died and 26 were wounded -- some critically -- following clashes that erupted Friday night between anti-government protesters and security forces in southern Yemen.

Amnesty International said at least 11 people had died in Friday's protests, bringing the overall death toll since protests began to 27.

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.

EGYPT

Several thousand people protested Friday 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 pressed for civilian representation in the government.

Roots of unrest:

Complaints about police corruption and abuses were among the top grievances of demonstrators who forced President Hosni 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.

JORDAN

A large demonstration in downtown Amman on Friday 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.

UNITED NATIONS

The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously Saturday night to punish Moammar Gadhafi's government in Libya for violence against unarmed civilians

In an emergency session, the 15-member council agreed to slap new sanctions on Gadhafi's government and 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.

Some key recent events related to unrest in the Middle East and Africa:

ALGERIA

Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika announced this 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.

DJIBOUTI

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.

KUWAIT

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."

SUDAN

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.

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.

MOROCCO

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.

PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES

Hundreds of Palestinians rallied for unity Thursday 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 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 their problem remains Israel.

ALGERIA

Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika announced this 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.

DJIBOUTI

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.

IRAN

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad urged Middle Eastern leaders this week to listen to the voices of citizens who have taken to the streets in masses to demand a change in government -- though such protests in his country have been crushed with brute force since February 14.

In Tehran, thousands of security officers patrolled Revolution Square on Sunday, 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 Ahmadinejad's re-election as fraudulent.

KUWAIT

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."

SUDAN

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.

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.

MOROCCO

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.

PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES

Hundreds of Palestinians rallied for unity Thursday 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 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 their problem remains Israel.

Part of complete coverage on
'Sons of Mubarak' in plea for respect
Pro-Mubarak supporters believe Egypt's former president is innocent of charges of corruption and killing protesters.
Timeline of the conflict in Libya
Fighting in Libya started with anti-government demonstrations in February and escalated into a nationwide civil war.
Who are these rebels?
After months of seeming stalemate, Libyan rebels declared they were moving in on Tripoli. But who are they?
Why NATO's Libya mission has shifted
Six months and more than 17,000 air sorties after it began, NATO's Operation Unified Protector in the skies over Libya grinds on.
Interactive map: Arab unrest
Click on countries in CNN's interactive map to see the roots of their unrest and where things stand today.
Send your videos, stories
Are you in the Middle East or North Africa? Send iReport your images. Don't do anything that could put you at risk.
Libya through Gadhafi's keyhole
Behind the official smiles for the cameras some people in Libya's capital are waiting for the rebels, reports CNN's Ivan Watson.
How Arab youth found its voice
Tunisia's Mohamed Bouazizi not only ignited a series of revolts but heralded the first appearance of Arab youth on the stage of modern history.