Monday, February 21, 2011

Overview Middle East protests

Illustration by Carlos Latuff

"The power of dictatorships comes from the willing obedience of the people they govern - and that if the people can develop techniques of withholding their consent, a regime will crumble."
--The nonviolent revolution rulebook

The Jasmine Revolution (WP 1, WP 2; BBC Live and Arabisch protest in Dutch), an overview:
  1. Tunisia
  2. Egypt
  3. Algeria
  4. Libya
  5. Jordan
  6. Yemen
  7. Saudi Arabia
  8. Syria
  9. Djibouti
  10. Morocco
  11. Iraq
  12. Bahrain
  13. Iran
  14. Around the world
Based on map from BBC


Duration: 17 Dec 2010 - 14 Jan 2011

Trigger: 17 December 2010, Mohamed Bouazizi set fire to himself when officials in his town prevented him from selling vegetables on the streets of Sidi Bouzid without permission.

Background: Ex-president Ben Ali had ruled Tunisia since 1987. Riots in Tunisia were rare, especially since the country is generally considered to be wealthy and stable as compared to other countries in the region. After weeks of anti-government demonstrations and clashes between protesters and police, Ben Ali fled the country on 14th of January 2011, when his generals told him they would not shoot into the crowds. Reports say that he is now in a coma at a Saudi hospital after suffering a stroke. Tunisia has formally requested his extradition, saying he is wanted for serious crimes including inciting killing.

Though the bulk of protests followed Bouazizi's self-immolation and led to the departure of Ben Ali, protests also continued after his departure in demanding his party be removed from government. Some more minor protests followed the cabinet reshuffle.

Parliamentary Speaker Foued Mebazaa has been sworn in as interim president and has asked Prime Minister Mohammed Ghannouchi, head of the government since 1999, to form a national unity government. The prime minister has also pledged to step down after elections in about six months' time.

Some analysts believe that Islamists have been organising in the country, pointing to a rally outside the interior ministry in Tunis on 18 February to demand the closure of a brothel.

Sources: WikipediaBBC

News: Friday 25 February, the biggest demonstration (100,000 protesters) since ex-president Ben Ali fled to Saudi Arabia. Interim prime minister Mohammed Ghannouchi's interim government has promised elections by mid-July, but crowds marched down Tunis' main avenue chanting: "Ghannouchi leave" as Ghannouchi was a long-time ally of the ousted leader.
Later police fired tear gas and warning shots as they cleared the demonstrators from in front of the interior ministry.

News: February 27, prime minister Mohammed Ghannouchi has announced on state TV that he is resigning - a key demand of demonstrators. He was replaced by 84-year-old Beji Caid Sebsi, a former foreign minister under Tunisia's first post-independence president, Habib Bourguiba. (BBC, VRT)

News: The departure of Mr Ghannouchi had failed to appease protesters, who rallied in Tunis again. They demanded that the cabinet be free from ex-president Ben Ali's allies. On Tuesday March 1, two ministers have resigned from the interim government, Mohamed Afif Chelbi and Mohamed Nouri Jouini. They were the only ministers remaining from Mr Ben Ali's rule.
The interim government insists it is introducing reforms as fast as it can, and that it is planning to hold elections by July. But those promises do not seem to satisfy the protesters, correspondents say.

The interim government has legalised Ennahda, the moderate Islamist group banned under former president Ben Ali.

Rights group Amnesty has called on ministers to investigate deaths during the protests that toppled Mr Ben Ali. More than 200 people are thought to have been killed during the unrest, and Amnesty says the interim government must hold those responsible to account.

News: March 5, interim president Fouad Mebazaa has announced details of new elections promised after the overthrow of president Ben Ali. The voting for a council of representatives to rewrite the constitution would be held by 24 July, a new interim government would run the country until then. (BBC, VRT)

News: March 7, the interior ministry has announced it is dissolving the country's secret police service, which had been widely accused of committing human rights abuses during the rule of ousted president Ben Ali. (BBC, VRT)

News: March 9, court dissolves the RCD, the party of ousted president Ben Ali. (BBC, VRT)



Duration: 25 Jan - 11 Feb 2011 and ongoing

Trigger: The successful revolution in Tunisia. Much of the unrest was driven by poverty, rising prices, social exclusion, anger over corruption and personal enrichment among the political elite, as well as a demographic bulge of young people unable to find work.

Background: Protests started on Tuesday, January 25, when -- inspired by the successful revolution in Tunisia -- thousands began taking to the streets to protest poverty, rampant unemployment, government corruption and autocratic governance of Ex-president Hosni Mubarak, who has ruled the country for 30 years. These were the first protests on such a large scale in Egypt since the 1970s.
About half of the 80 million Egyptions has to survive on less or not more than the poverty threshhold of 2 dollars a day.

The protests have included people from all sectors of society, but at the forefront have been young, tech-savvy Egyptians who have never known another ruler of their country. There is no single figurehead or unified leadership, although a number of opposition political figures and groupings are taking part: UN former nuclear agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei, lawyer and leader of the Ghad party Mr. Ayman Nour, and the Muslim Brotherhood.

Countrywide protests after Friday prayers on 28 January were met with typically repressive measures by the security police, but the determination and sheer numbers of protesters proved overwhelming. Government tactics appeared to be in disarray. Security police melted away, and heavy military armour appeared on the streets to the cheers of protesters. It culminated in the so-called "march of the million" on 1 February.
On 2 February, pro-Mubarak marchers tried to gain access to Tahrir Square and what had been a peaceful scene deteriorated into vicious stone- and petrol-bomb-throwing street battles. Barricades were erected by the anti-Mubarak side and they appeared ready to dig in for a long occupation of the square until the president resigned.

Following weeks of protests in the capital Cairo and other cities, Hosni Mubarak resigned on 11 February 2011 and the military is now running the country. The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces is meant to keep charge for a transition period of six months, or until new elections are held.

An estimated two million people gathered in Cairo's central Tahrir Square on 18 February to celebrate a week since Mr Mubarak's departure from office, but also as a show of strength to remind the military to keep their promise of a swift transition to democracy.

The Islamist and conservative Muslim Brotherhood would be expected to do well in any free and fair elections, but fears of a lurch towards Islamist rule is the main worry for Western powers and Israel.

The new authorities have arrested three ex-ministers for corruption including former Interior Minister Habib el-Adly and steel tycoon Ahmed Ezz.

But the military government has said it will not tolerate any more strikes which disrupt the country's economy.

Sources: BBC, The Huffington Post

News: On Friday February 25, Egyptians in their thousands returned to Cairo's Tahrir Square to mark two weeks since the ousting of Hosni Mubarak from the presidency and to press for reforms. The protesters plan to keep on protesting every Friday until the current prime minister Ahmed Shafik steps down, political prisoners are released and the state of emergency is ended.

News: Saturday 26 February, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces passes draft constitutional amendments. Under the proposed changes, the president would only be allowed to serve two four-year terms, instead of unlimited six-year periods, and reinstate judicial oversight of elections. The changes are long-standing demands of the Egyptian opposition, some of whom have also wanted to limit presidential powers.
The amendments will be submitted to a national referendum ahead of parliamentary and presidential elections to be held within six months.

News: Sunday 27 February, Egypt's public prosecutor has issued a travel ban, the ousted President Hosni Mubarak and his family can no longer leave the country, while complaints - which were not specified - against the Mubarak family are being investigated. Egypt has already requested a number of governments to freeze the overseas assets of the family. (BBC, VRT)

New PM Essam Sharaf
Photo taken from BBC
News: Thursday 3 March, the country's ruling military council has announced that prime minister Ahmed Shafiq has resigned. Mr Shafiq was appointed days before president Mubarak was forced out of office. Protesters saw Mr Shafiq as too closely associated to Mr Mubarak's rule.
His successor will be Essam Sharaf, a former minister of transport, and he has been asked to form a new government. Mr Sharaf's appointment is significant as he spoke out in support of the revolution and took part in the street protests, making this a major step towards appeasing the demonstrators who have continued to camp out in Tahrir Square.
In a video you can see the new prime minister address thousands of Egyptions at the Tahrir Square. (more videos: BBC, VRT)

News: Friday 4 March, new prime minister Essam Sharaf has pledged to meet the demands for democratic change sought by protesters, and to resign if he fails.
The same day, protesters storm the headquarters of the state security agency in Alexandria, believing officers were destroying key documents. Several people were injured after police inside fired on the protesters, who then broke into the building's lower floors and clashed with police. The clashes came to an end when soldiers arrived and took control of the state security building.

News: Saturday 5 March, the trial for the feared former interior minister Habib el-Adly has started. Mr. el-Adly has denied charges of corruption at the opening of his trial in Cairo. "It didn't happen," he said to allegations of laundering money and unlawfully acquiring public money. He is also accused of ordering the shooting of protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square, focus of the protests against Mr Mubarak's rule.
Later that day, protesters have stormed the headquarters of the secret police in Cairo (after yesterday storming the agency's headquarters in Alexandria), demanding that the organisation be dismantled. It followed rumours that officials were destroying documents that could be used in court to prove human rights abuses.

News: Sunday 6 March, men in plain clothes armed with swords and petrol bombs confronted the pro-democracy activists after soldiers dispersed a Cairo rally they were holding to demand reform of the security services. "The army started firing in the air to disperse us. We tried to run away but we were met by 200 thugs in plain clothes carrying sharp weapons." (BBC, VRT; BBC videos: 1, 2)

News: Monday 7 March, ministers of Egypt's new government have been sworn into office at a ceremony in Cairo.

News: Tuesday 8 March, at least 13 people died and 140 were injured in clashes between Muslims and Coptic Christians in Cairo.

News: Wednesday 9 March, hundreds of people with sticks and knives have clashed with pro-democracy activists in Cairo's Tahrir Square, stones were thrown by both sides in the square and at least two people were reportedly injured.

News: Saturday 19 March, millions of Egyptians have voted in a referendum on constitutional reforms. Unfortunately, opposition figure Mohamed ElBaradei was attacked: a crowd of angry youths pushed and threw rocks when he tried to vote in Cairo. (BBC, VRT)

News: Sunday 20 March, although pro-democracy activists said the changes did not go far enough, voters have strongly backed (by 77%) the army's proposition for constitutional changes that will allow the country to move quickly on to elections. (BBC, VRT, BBC video)

News: Tuesday 22 March, after a protest by about 3,000 police demanding better pay and condition, a fire broke out at the interior ministry in Cairo. The cause of the fire, in the building housing the personnel department, is not yet known. Last month, police set fire to the same building after demanding thousands of officers be reinstated.

News: Wednesday 23 March, the interim government (supported by the army) have approved a law which can jail participants in new demonstrations and protests. The govenment also approved a new law which will regulate the founding of new political parties, discrimination on base of religion, gender, etnic background, race or language are forbidden (VRT).

Former Interior Minister Habib el-Adly and four security officials are to face trial on charges of killing protesters.

A leading rights group says the Egyptian army arrested, tortured and forced women to take "virginity tests" during protests earlier this month. Amnesty International is calling on the authorities in Cairo to investigate.

Timeline: [The Huffington Post]
Tue 25 JanProtests Begin, 'Day Of Rage'
Wed 26 JanSecond Day Of Protests
Thu 27 JanEgypt Shuts Down The Internet
Fri 28 JanMubarak Speaks, Says He'll Form A New Government
Sat 29 JanAnonymous Internet Users Help Egypt Communicate
Sun 30 JanHillary Clinton: Egypt Must Transition To Democracy
Mon 31 JanEgypt's New Government Is Announced, Sworn In
Tue 1 FebPresident Mubarak Says He Won't Run For Re-Election
Wed 2 FebInternet Service Returns In Egypt
Thu 3 FebForeign Journalists Rounded Up
Fri 4 Feb"Day of Departure" Protests Held Across Egypt
Sat 5 FebMembers Of Ruling Party Leadership Resign
Sun 6 FebGovernment Agrees On Concessions
Mon 7 FebGoogle Executive Released In Egypt
Tue 8 FebFreed Activist Energizes Protests
Wed 9 FebWidespread Labor Strikes Throughout Egypt
Thu 10 FebDespite Rumors, Mubarak Refuses To Step Down
Fri 11 FebMubarak Resigns As President, Leaves Cairo
Fri 25 Febthousands of protesters return to Tahrir Square, demanding reform
Sat 26 Febconstitutional amendments proposed by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces
Sun 27 Febtravel ban for ex-president Mubarak
Thu 3 Marprime minister Ahmed Shafiq resigns, he is succeeded by Essam Sharaf
Fri 4 Marprime minister Essam Sharaf pledges democratic change
protesters storm state security HQ in Alexandria
Sat 5 Marhuman rights and corruption trial against former interior minister Habib el-Adly has started
protesters storm state security HQ in Cairo
Sun 6 Marin Cairo, protesters have been attacked by men in plain clothes, armed with knives
Mon 7 Marministers of the new government have been sworn into office
Tue 8 Marclashes between Muslims and Coptic Christians in Cairo
Wed 9 Marrival groups clash at Cairo's Tahrir Square
Sat 19 Marlarge turnout for constitutional referendum
attack on Mohamed ElBaradai
Sun 20 Marresults of the vote are celebrated: 77% in favour
Tue 22 Marfire at interior ministry in Cairo after police protest
Wed 23 MarNew laws forbid protests and regulate the founding of new political parties
former interior minister Habib el-Adly and four security officials face charges of killing protesters
Amnesty International calls an the authorities to investigate the claim that the army has been torturing protesting women



Duration: 28 Dec 2010 - ongoing

Trigger: sharp increases in the price of food, unemployed youth

Background: While localised protests were already commonplace over previous years, extending into December 2010, an unprecedented wave of simultaneous protests and riots, sparked by sudden rises in staple food prices, erupted all over the country starting in January 2011. These were first quelled by government measures to lower food prices, but were followed by a wave of self-immolations, most of them in front of government buildings.

As the widely reported protests sparked off by Mohamed Bouazizi's self-immolation in Tunisia began to have a clear impact on the Tunisian government, a wave of self-immolations swept Algeria.
It began on 12 January, when 26 year-old Mohamed Aouichia set himself on fire. He had been sharing a room of 30 square metres with seven other people, including his sister, since 2003; he had repeatedly approached local authorities to get on the social housing list and been rebuffed. He has so far survived.
These individual acts of protest mostly took place in front of a government building following an unsuccessful approach to the authorities. Four self-immolators have died of their burns so far (Feb 17).

On February 3, president Bouteflika promises to end the 19-year state of emergency in the "very near future". Two weeks later (Feb 16), Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia says the country's 19-year-old state of emergency will be lifted by the end of the month (Feb 16).

The government has considerable wealth from its oil and gas exports and is trying to tackle social and economic complaints with a huge public spending program.

Sources: Wikipedia, BBC

News: On Thursday February 24, the president has lifted a 19-year-old state of emergency, a key demand of anti-government protesters. The military will now only have limited powers to get involved with domestic security issues.

News: On Monday March 7, this time policemen have been protesting in the streets of Algiers to demand higher allowances.



Duration: 13 Jan 2011 - ongoing

  • arrest (Feb 1) of Jamal al-Hajji, writer, political commentator and accountant who is an outspoken critic of the government
  • upset at delays and political corruption
  • inspired by the uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia

Background: Government blocking of the internet and curbs on foreign media make it difficult to establish a full picture of the scale of the unrest.

Colonel Gaddafi is is the longest-serving ruler in Africa and the Middle East, and also one of the most autocratic. He gained power after a military coup, ousting King Idris I. The former Libyan flag used in the Kingdom of Libya had been used by some protesters as an opposition flag.

Benghazi, the country's second city, has seen the worst of the violence, with security forces reportedly using machine-guns and heavy weapons on crowds. The unrest spread to Tripoli on 20 February, as Col Gaddafi's son Saif al-Islam warned in a TV address that civil war could hit the country.

The regime is under pressure amid unprecedented protests in the Libyan capital and defections by senior diplomats. Security forces fired live ammunition and tear gas on protesters in the streets of Tripoli late on Sunday, February 20.

The situation in Libya is becoming increasingly confused and chaotic. There are several reports that Col Gaddafi has now left Tripoli, possibly for his hometown of Sirt or his desert base of Sabha (Feb 21). Hour by hour, there are reports of more defections. Almost all major tribal leaders seem to have joined the opposition, as well as important religious leaders and several senior Libyan ambassadors.

The east of the country is already almost entirely out of the hands of the government. Col Gaddafi's hold on power is becoming weaker by the hour.

21 February, security forces and protesters have clashed in Libya's capital for a second night, after the government announced a new crackdown. Witnesses say warplanes have fired on protesters in Tripoli. Mr Dabbashi, the deputy envoy to the UN, called for international intervention to end the crisis."It is a real genocide whether it is in the eastern cities of Libya or whether what is going now in Tripoli," he said (1).

Tripoli's airport is packed with passengers trying to leave the country. Hundreds of people of different nationalities have gathered with their families.

Sources: Wikipedia, BBC

News: On February 22, Seif al-Islam, a son of Gaddafi has declared that the death toll of the protests has climbed up to 300. 104 civilians and 10 soldiers fell in the Eastern city Benghazi (where the protestmovement started), 63 civilians and 10 soldiers in Al-Baïda and 29 civilians and 36 soldiers in Derna. The violence has now shifted from Banghazi to Tripoli, the capital of Libya where according to Human Rights Watch, 62 people have died.

News: AlJazeera announced on February 22 that the interior minister Abdel Fattah Younes al Abidi has stepped down and joined the protests against Gaddafi's rule.

News: On February 23, the UN Security Council has condemned the Libyan authorities for using force against protesters, calling for those responsible to be held to account. The council demanded an immediate end to the violence. According to Ibrahim Dabbash (Libyan envoy to the UN) is the UN condemnation "not strong enough".

News: The EU considers sanctions against Gaddafi because of the use of violence against the protesters. EU president Herman Van Rompuy stated that the violence can't stay unpunished. In Brussels, dozens of Belgians from North-African heritage have demonstrated in front of the European Commission to demand a intervention by the NATO.

News: On February 23, journalists declare that eastern part of Libya is in hands of the population. A pilot refused to bomb the city of Benghazi and chose to let his plane crash in an open space, 160 kilometers away from his target.

News: Thousands of foreigners are leaving Libya. Several countries evacuate their citizens out of Libya. In the night of February, a Dutch military plane landed in Eindhoven (NL) with 82 people of different nationalities on board (33 Dutch, 9 Belgians and 40 other nationalities). A second Dutch plane has left for Tripoli.
A charter flight has left Gatwick to bring home some of the 500 British nationals thought to be stranded in Libya - including oil workers in remote desert camps.

Map taken from BBC
News: Troops of Gaddafi have reconquered the important harborcity Al-Zawiya (West of Tripoli) in the morning of 24 February. The capital, Tripoli, is heavily guarded by pro-Gaddafi forces, with tanks deployed in the suburbs. Libyan border guards have been seizing cameras and mobile phones to prevent images getting out of the country.

News: In the eastern city of Benghazi, residents have been queuing to be issued with guns looted from the army and police in order to join what they are calling the battle for Tripoli. A number of military units in the east say they have unified their command in support of the protesters. (BBC)

News: Oil prices have hit their highest level since 2008 as many oil firms in Libya partly suspend production.

News: US President Barack Obama has denounced the violent crackdown by the Libyan authorities on peaceful protesters as "outrageous and unacceptable". (BBC: article and video)

News: On Friday February 25, it was announced that every family will get 500 dinar (about 300 euro) from the government as compensation for the increment in food prices. Throught internet, people are being called to demonstrate after the Friday prayers.

News: US president Barack Obama is in conversation with European colleagues (French president Nicolas Sarkozy, UK prime minister David Cameron and Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi) concerning diplomatic relationships with Libya. Later today, there will also be a hearing at the United Nations Security Council.

News: The UK and France are pushing for an arms embargo and a war crimes investigation. Nato ambassadors are meeting in emergency session on Friday afternoon (Feb 25). Nato secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen has said Nato has no intention of intervening in Libya.
In Geneva, the UN Human Rights Council is meeting in special session for the first time to discuss the crisis in Libya. Libya is an elected member of the council but some members have called for it to lose its seat.
"Britain, through the United Nations, is pressing for asset seizures, for travel bans, for sanctions, for all of the things that we can do to hold those people to account, including investigating for potential crimes against humanity or war crimes or crimes against their people," says Britain prime minister David Cameron.

News: Saturday 26 February, US president Barack Obama has announced sanctions against the Libyan government, blocking transactions involving assets of Col Gaddafi and several of his close associates. "These sanctions therefore target the Gaddafi government, while protecting the assets that belong to the people of Libya." (BBC 1, 2), VRT 1, 2)

Also, the UN Security Council is meeting to consider action against Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's government in Libya over its attempts to put down an uprising. A draft resolution calls for an arms embargo, travel ban, asset freeze and a proposal to refer Col Gaddafi to the International Criminal Court for alleged crimes against humanity.

In Tripoli itself, after the violence of the past day, reigns a "tense calm" at this moment. The people no longer dare to come in the street and the stream of refugees trying to leave Libya doesn't end.

News: Saturday 26 February, the UN Security Council has voted unanimously to impose sanctions on Muammar Gaddafi's Libyan regime for its attempts to put down an uprising. They backed an arms embargo and asset freeze while referring Colonel Gaddafi to the International Criminal Court for alleged crimes against humanity. (BBC, VRT)

Map taken from BBC
News: Sunday 27 February, Forces fighting to oust the Libyan leader Gaddafi have seized the city of Zawiya, 50km west of Tripoli.

Eastern Libya is mainly in the hands of the opposition. They have established a new transitional government and elected Mustafa Abdel-Jalil, the former minister of justice, as its leader.

News: After the US and France, now also former ally Italy has turned his back on Libya's government on Sunday 27 February.
Belgian ambassadors in Libya will leave the country on Monday.

Also on Sunday 27 February, government forces retreated out of Benghazi leaving it for the opposition. Protesters in Benghazi have also started a makeshift art gallery of anti-Gaddafi works (BBC video).

The UN announces that the situation on Libya's border with Tunisia has reached crisis point, as tens of thousands of foreigners flee unrest in the country. Most refugees are Egyptian guest workers, trying to return home, but the current situation forces them to migrate west. (BBC, VRT)
French Prime Minister Francois Fillon has announced that France will send two planes of aid to opposition territory in Libya. The announcement came hours after Foreign Minister Michele Alliot-Marie quit amid controversy over her contacts with the former Tunisian regime.

News: Monday 28 February, the US has been repositioning forces in the Libya region as the West weighs potential intervention against Gaddafi. The Pentagon said it was moving forces to "provide for that flexibility once decisions are made".

Map taken from BBC
Volunteers are helping to provide food and drink to those who manage to cross the border with Tunisia. Governments around the world have condemned attacks on Libyan civilians. During a speech at the Human Rights Council in Geneva, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged Gaddafi to "go now". The US Foreign Minister announced that a military intervention in Libya is not excluded.

Gaddafi calls the UN sanctions "worthless". According to him, the sanctions are not conform to United Nations Charter. Furthermore he repeated that peace has been restored in Libya and that all problems are caused by al-Qaeda.

The European Union has approved of sanctions against Libya as well, be it even stricter than those of the UN. Next to the embargo for weapons, the EU declares to enstate an embargo for all material that could be used to suppress the protests. Additionally, nor Gaddafi, nor 25 of his partners, can get a visa for any of the European countries and their bank accounts are frozen.

Meanwhile, the French News Agency AFP reports that planes from the Libyan airforce have been bombing ammunition depots in Adjabiya, 100 km south of Benghazi, and in Rajda, 15 km south of Benghazi. (The Australian, Herald Sun, VRT)

News: Tuesday 1 March, Libya has been suspended from the UN Human Rights Council.

Map taken from BBC
News: Wednesday 2 March, forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi have moved into rebel territory in the east and are battling for an oil installation in the town of Brega (BBC, VRT). But the rebel forces were able to fight off the attempt and now Brega seems clear of loyalist troops.

Pro-Gaddafi jets bombed an arms dump in the nearby city of Ajdabiya.

The stream of refugees fleeing Libya, trying to cross the border to Tunesia has grown to be kilometers long. The UNHCR announces that the situation is chaotic and demands immediate attention. Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General of the UN, has called for a mass humanitarian evacuation of people fleeing Libya for Tunisia, saying the border situation is at "crisis point". Some Egyptians as well as Libyan expats have taken matters into their own hands and send aid convoys. Canada is deploying a warship to the waters off Libya to assist in the evacuation of Canadian citizens.

Gaddafi appeared in public during a ceremony in the capital Tripoli. In a speech, he mentioned that "thousands of Libyans will die if the United States or the NATO would invade Libya". Again he blamed al-Qaeda for the rebellion and denied that there are demonstrations in Libya.

News: Thursday 3 March, rebels have been celebrating after fighting off an attempt by troops loyal to Col Muammar Gaddafi to retake the eastern oil port of Brega. (BBC, VRT)

The oil terminal town of Brega has been targeted with air strikes.

Last weekend, three Dutch marines were captured while trying to evacuate foreign citizens. The three marines landed their Lynx near the port of Sirte on Sunday, flying in from the Dutch warship Tromp, which is anchored off the Libyan coast. During the operation the helicopter was grounded by an armed unit. (BBC, VRT)
Thursday, the Libyan state TV showed the three-strong crew, their Lynx helicopter and weapons, saying they had entered Libyan air space "in breach of international law" accusing them of "espionage". The Dutch government announces to be shocked about this accusation and stresses that it was purely an evacuation.

The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court has said he will investigate Gaddafi, his sons and senior aides for crimes against humanity. (BBC, VRT)

BenghaziAl-AqaylahDesertRa's AdjirMap of Libya
Map taken from BBC

News: Friday 4 March, rebels in eastern Libya have said they will not negotiate unless Col Muammar Gaddafi quits and goes into exile.

Libyan security forces have used tear gas to disperse hundreds of protesters after Friday prayers in Gaddafi's stronghold of Tripoli. (BBC, VRT)

A fierce battle has been raging in the key city of Zawiya, after loyalist forces launched an operation to retake it from rebels. Heavy casualties are reported, with one witness telling Reuters news agency up to 50 people were dead.

Clashes also erupted in the eastern oil port of Ras Lanuf. Reports described the sound of multiple explosions and heavy artillery. Opposition fighters had reportedly advanced on the city.

News: Saturday 5 March, the rebels in Zawiya have been able to stop an attack from the loyalist forces. Pro-government forces were pushed out of the city centre in heavy fighting on Saturday morning, but regrouped for a fresh assault. Dozens of people died, both at the side of the rebels as at the side of the loyalist forces. An exact figure is unknown. (BBC, VRT)

News: Sunday 6 March, a British diplomatic team, including six soldiers believed to be SAS, have been freed two days after being detained in eastern Libya.

Map taken from BBC
Four Libyan towns (Tobruk, Ras Lanuf, Misrata and Zawiya) which forces loyal to Colonel Gaddafi claimed to have retaken remain under rebel control, witnesses say. (BBC, VRT)

Gaddafi says he welcomes the United Nations to investigate the current situation in Libya. Serge Brammertz, prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia is happy that the tribunal has started investigation but says "there is still a long way to go".

Map taken from BBC
News: Monday 7 March, rebels are trying to hold back an intensified counter-offensive by forces loyal to Gaddafi in Zawiya, Misrata and Bin Jawad. (BBC, VRT, BBC video (Misrata))

Libyan government forces are advancing towards the oil port of Ras Lanuf, checking the rebels' westward progress.

As Col Gaddafi has agreed to allow an assessment team into Tripoli, the UN has appointed a new envoy to Libya and is to send in a humanitarian team as the battle between forces loyal to Col Gaddafi and rebels intensifies.

First prospects of a "no-fly zone" in Libya. (BBC, VRT)

Note: At the moment, I do not update the coverage of the situation in Libya as there's a lot more to say about it all. Unfortunately, the backlog is just too big at this moment. I will bring it up to date in future revisions of this post.



Duration: 14 Jan 2011 - ongoing

Trigger: demanding better employment prospects, food inflation and increasing fuel costs

Background: The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is a small country with few natural resources, but it has played a pivotal role in the struggle for power in the Middle East. The death of King Hussein (7 Feb 1999), who ruled for 46 years, left Jordan still struggling for economic and social survival, as well as regional peace.

The Muslim Brotherhood, one of the largest opposition groups in Jordan, on January 26 urged Jordanians to pour into streets later in the week to protest against Prime Minister Samir Rifai's economic policies and the political situation in the country. On 28 January, following Friday prayers, 3,500 activists from the Muslim Brotherhood, trade unions, and communist and leftist organisations demanded that Samir Rifai step down as prime minister and that the government control rising prices, inflation and unemployment.

On February 1, the Royal Palace announced that King Abdullah II, a key U.S. ally, has sacked the government as a consequence of the street protests and has asked Marouf al-Bakhit, an ex-army general and ambassador to Israel, to form a new cabinet. Abdullah told al-Bakhit his authority will be to "take quick, concrete and practical steps to launch a genuine political reform process [...] to strengthen democracy".

The requirement to get permission for demonstrations was lifted on 15 February 2011, and a reform of the electoral law was promised.

On 18 February, protesters who gathered in central Amman to demand political reform, have clashed with a small group of government supporters that eyewitnesses claim attacked the protesters with sticks and stones, before the police restored order. Eyewitnesses said about 2,000 protesters, mostly young people joined by trade unionists and others, took to the streets after prayers at the Husseini Mosque, though other reports said the number was about 300.

Sources: Wikipedia, BBC

News: On Friday February 25, more protests are expected later in the day in Amman and the West Bank city of Ramallah.

News: On Friday March 25, government supporters clashed with protesters in the capital Amman. When security forces used batons and sprayed water to disperse the clash, a man named Khairy Saad was beaten by the police and later died in the hospital.



Duration: 18 Jan 2011 - ongoing

Trigger: unemployment, economic conditions, corruption and against the government's proposals to modify the constitution.

Background: Yemen is the Arab world's most impoverished nation, where nearly half of the population lives on less than $2 a day. President Saleh is in power for 32 years.
The protests followed the initial stages of the Tunisian protests and occurred simultaneously with the Egyptian protests. Yemeni protesters wore pink ribbons to symbolise the "Jasmine Revolution" and indicate their non-violent intent.

On 23 January, Tawakel Karman, a female politician, member of the main opposition party Al-Islah and a human rights activist, was detained and charged with "'inciting disorder and chaos' and organising unauthorised demonstrations and marches". Karman was a leader of two student rallies in Sana'a and called for the overthrow of Saleh's regime.

A major demonstration of over 16,000 protestors took place in Sana'a on 27 January. On 2 February, president Saleh announced, after three decades of power, that he would not run for reelection in 2013 and that he would not pass power to his son: "No extension, no inheritance, no resetting the clock".

On 3 February, 20,000 people protested against the government in Sana'a, others protested in Aden, in a "Day of Rage" called for by Tawakel Karman, while soldiers, armed members of the General People's Congress and many protestors held a pro-government rally.

At least five people were killed on 18 February during widespread anti-government demonstrations in Yemen. Medical officials and witnesses said that four people were killed in the southern port city of Aden by gunfire as police moved to disperse protesters.

Human Rights Watch said that demontrators celebrating the ouster of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt turned violent when hundreds of men attacked the protesters armed with knives, sticks, and assault rifles on the 11 the of February. Many violent clashes between anti-government protesters, supporters of Yemen's president and the police followed throught the next days.

Sunday 20 February and Monday 21 February, students started a sit-in at Sana'a University. Tribes representatives came from Arhab, Nahm (in Sana'a), Anis (in Dhamar), Shabwah, and Abyan to support the peaceful protests. Students from Al-Razi institute declared a sit-in as well.

Students and human rights activists disagree with political parties regarding tactics for political change in Yemen. Some political parties are calling for reform to take place under President Saleh, while students and human rights activists wish to "channel the momentum of the uprisings in the region" (1).

Sources: Wikipedia, BBC

News: Seven members of parliament belonging to president Ali Abdullah Saleh's ruling GPC party have resigned on February 23 as protest at violence used to quell demonstrations calling for the president to quit. "The people must have the right to demonstrate peacefully," Abdulaziz Jubari, one of the members of parliament who resigned, told Reuters news agency. President Saleh has said he would step down after national elections in 2013 but that has not been enough for the protesters.

News: On Wednesday, February 23, security forces used tear gas and fired bullets in the air to disperse protesters in Aden, and two demonstrators were reported to have been killed during an attack on a sit-in in the capital, Sanaa.

News: On February 24, Yemen's president Ali Abdullah Saleh has ordered his security forces to offer "full protection" to anti- and pro-government demonstrators alike and to prevent direct confrontation between the two sides. "The government [...] will continue to protect the rights of its citizens to assemble peacefully and their right to freedom of expression." (BBC)

News: On Friday February 25, there have been some of the largest marches yet by pro- and anti-government protesters in the capital Sanaa.

News: On Sunday February 27, two important chiefs of different tribes have renounced president Saleh during a crowded demonstration in Amran, close to the capital Sanaa.

News: On Tuesday March 1, tens of thousands of people have flooded the streets of the capital Sanaa, again voicing their demands for the fall of the government. Protesters shouted "Leave!", signalling their rejection of an offer made by president Ali Abdullah Saleh on Monday to form a new unity government. (BBC, VRT)

News: On Friday March 4, Houthi rebels from the northern province of Amran say the armed forces have fired on their anti-government protest where two people were killed and at least seven were injured.

News: On Tuesday March 8, security forces have opened fire at a large protest outside the university in the capital, Sanaa. They were trying to stop thousands of people joining a protest camp at the university calling for President Ali Abdullah Saleh to resign. At least 80 people are injured and one subsequently died of his injuries in hospital.

News: On Thursday March 10, in a live televised address, President Ali Abdullah Saleh has announced plans to change the constitution to move to a parliamentary system. A referendum would be held this year on measures including a new election law.

News: On Saturday March 12, police in Sanaa have attacked anti-government demonstrators in the centre of the capital, killing up to six people. (BBC, VRT)

News: On Sunday March 13, police and supporters of president Saleh again used violence against protesters. In the capital Sanaa, the police has used teargas and fired live bullets.
The United States have sharply disapproved of the violence in Yemen. It appears that Washington is taking distance from president Saleh, who once used to be an ally in the "war against terrorism".

News: On Monday March 14, the governor of the Marib province has been stabbed and wounded during an anti-government protest outside the local government headquarters.

News: On Wednesday March 16, dozens of people have been injured in the western city of al-Hudaida as police tried to break up an anti-government demonstration. Police opened fire and used tear gas after pro-government loyalists attacked protesters with batons and rocks, witnesses said.

News: On Friday March 18, unidentified gunmen firing on an anti-government rally in the capital Sanaa have killed at least 45 people and injured 270, doctors told the BBC. The gunmen fired from rooftops overlooking the central square in what the opposition called a massacre. President Ali Abdullah Saleh declared a national state of emergency but denied his forces were behind the shooting. (BBC, VRT).

News: On Saturday March 19, demonstrations continue. Because of the big number of protesters, security forces had to deploy tanks and other military equipment to protect important buildings.

News: On Sunday March 20, tens of thousands of people have turned out at funerals for dozens of protesters shot dead on Friday. President Saleh has declared a state of emergency, but he called a national day of mourning on Sunday to honour the "martyrs for democracy".
Meanwhile, Yemen's ambassador to the UN has resigned in protest at the killings. Also the ministers for human rights and tourism, several senior ruling party officials, the head of the state news agency, and the Yemeni ambassador to Lebanon have resigned. (BBC, VRT)
President Saleh has fired his cabinet. (BBC, VRT)

News: On Monday March 21, key Yemeni general Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, long close to president Saleh, says he is backing the protest movement against the regime. Two other senior army commanders are also reported to have resigned. (BBC, VRT)

News: On Tuesday March 22, president Saleh says there could be a civil war because of attempts to stage what 'a coup' against his rule. (BBC, VRT, BBC video)

Tanks from rival factions have been on the streets of the capital, Sanaa, and recently it has been reported that an airbase in the west of the country has switched its allegiance to the rebels.

News: On Wednesday March 23, the parliament has imposed a national state of emergency after passing sweeping emergency laws. These laws give security forces far-reaching powers to detain suspects and prevent demonstrations.

News: On Thursday March 24, presidential guards, loyal to president Saleh, have clashed with soldiers who support the opposition. This is the second of such clashes in one week time.

News: On Friday March 25, tens of thousands of people have attended rival mass rallies in Sanaa. Soldiers fired in the air to hold back Saleh loyalists when they tried to march on the opposition rally. (BBC video)

News: On Saturday March 26, president Saleh is negotiating his departure from power during talks with the opposition, government officials say. Presidential spokesman Ahmed al-Sufi said opposition demands for an immediate transfer of power were unacceptable. President Saleh says he will quit later this year but protesters say he must go now. (BBC, VRT)

News: On Monday March 28, after an ammunition plant in the town of Jaar (southern Yemen) was raided by Islamist militants on Sunday amid clashes with government forces, a series of huge explosions on Monday killed at least 110 people. (BBC, VRT)

Timeline: [Wikipedia]
mid-JanThousands of Yemenis protested the streets of Sana'a
Sun 23 Janarrest of Tawakel Karman
Thu 27 Jangovernment announced intentions for political
reforms, protesters rejected the proposals
Sat 29 Janprotesters in Sana'a demanded the ouster of Saleh
Wed 2 Febpresident Saleh announces he would not run for reelection
Thu 3 Feb"Day of Rage" against the government
Fri 11 Febdemontrators celebrating the ouster of Hosni
Mubarak (Egypt), got attacked
Sat 12 Febprotestors in Sana'a got attacked by police
Sun 13 Febthird day in a row: protestors in Sana'a got attacked by police
Mon 14 Febthousand protesters, mostly university students,
demanding Saleh resign
Tue 15 Febprotesters were attacked by government supporters
and plain-clothes police; sit-in started by judges
Wed 16 Febtwo protesters were shot dead by police
Thu 17 Febboth anti-government and pro-government protesters stopped
by police; clerics called for a national unity government
Fri 18 Feb"Friday of Fury", riot police tried to stop march to
presidential palace
Tue 22 Marpresident Saleh is afraid to loose power and warns that Yemen will fall into a civil war when a coup would be attended
Sat 19 Feblocal council of Sheikh Othman resigned in protest at
the use of live bullets against protesters
Sun 20 Febstudents started a peaceful sit-in at Sana'a University
Wed 23 Feb7 members of parliament resign
tear gas and bullets to disperse protesters in Aden
2 killed in attack sit-in Sanaa
Thu 24 Febreport that not 7, but 9 MPs have resigned
president Saleh's forces declare to protect all demonstrators
Fri 25 Feblarge pro- and anti- protests in Sanaa
Sun 27 Febtwo chiefs of the tribes have renounced president Saleh
Mon 28 Febpresident Saleh proposes to form a new unity government
Tue 1 Marten thousands of people protesting for the fall of the government
Fri 4 Mararmed forces fired on protestors in Amran
Tue 8 Marsecurity forces opened fire at Sanaa
Thu 10 Marpresident Saleh announced to change the constitution to a perliamentary system and a referendum for a new election law
Sat 12 Marsix people killed by police intervention of demonstration in Sanaa
Sun 13 Maragain violence has been used against protesters in Sanaa
US distancing from president Saleh, its former ally
Mon 14 Margovernor of Marib stabbed
Wed 16 Mardozens of pro-democracy protesters injured in al-Hudaida
Fri 18 Mar52 people killed in anti-government rally by unidentified men, shooting from rooftops
president Saleh denies it were government forces and declares a national state of emergency
Sat 19 Mardemonstrations continue
tanks used to protect important buildings
Sun 20 Marnational day of morning, ambassador to the UN has resigned and president Saleh fires his cabinet
Mon 21 Martop general Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar backs opposition
Tue 22 Marpresident Saleh is afraid to loose power and warns that Yemen will fall into a civil war when a coup would be attended
Wed 23 Marnational state of emergency declared by parliament
Thu 24 Marclashes between presidential guards and military
Fri 25 Marrival mass rallies in Sanaa
Sat 26 Maropposition negotiates with president Saleh to step down, but Saleh finds an immediate transfer of power unacceptable. Saleh announces he will quit later this year without specifying a date.
Mon 28 Marhuge explosions at an ammunition plant in the town of Jaar killed more than 110 people


Saudi Arabia

Duration: 21 Jan 2011 - ongoing

Trigger: deadly floods in Jeddah

Background: One of the most devout and insular countries in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia has emerged from being an underdeveloped desert kingdom to become one of the wealthiest nations in the region thanks to vast oil resources. But its rulers face the delicate task of responding to pressure for reform while combating a growing problem of Islamist violence. It has always been in the ruling Al Saud family's interests to preserve stability in the region and to clamp down on radical Islamist elements. Opposition movements are banned within the country.
Regionally, the country is important with King Abdullah Bin-Abd-al-Aziz Al Saud regarded in the Arab world as a supporter of wider Arab interests.

It was to Saudi Arabia that Tunisia's ousted president, Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, fled in January.

Saudi authorities detained hundreds of demonstrators on Friday 28 of January in Jeddah who gathered to protest against poor infrastructure after deadly floods swept through Saudi Arabia's second biggest city, police and witnesses said. The protest came after mass messages sent over BlackBerry smart phones called for popular action in response to the flood, an unusual move in the Arab state at a time of spreading anti-government unrest across the Arab world.

Police halted the demonstrations about 15 minutes after they began. Between 30 and 50 people were arrested.

Saudi's social media activists spread videos and news updates at the peak of the street protests - and the interest has stayed high ever since. And, now, Saudi bloggers have added the unrest in Cairo to the topics receiving much attention. For the first time, the Saudi government has published new regulations for the electronic media, which includes bloggers. All users are encouraged to register with the government and the new rules, in effect since Jan. 1, prohibit criticism of Islam or anything that compromises public order. The new rules have spurred an outburst of criticism online.

Sources: Tehran Times, BBC, NPR

News: On Wednesday 23 February, King Abdullah returned to his country after an absence of three months because of medical reasons. State television has announced that there will be extra funds for housing, studying abroad and social security.

News: On Saturday 5 March, the interior ministry has announced on state TV that all protests and marches are to be banned in the country. Security forces would use all measures to prevent any attempt to disrupt public order.

News: On Sunday 6 March, Saudi Arabia has freed a Shia cleric, Sheikh Tawfiq al-Amer, whose arrest provoked protests and sparked calls for a "day of rage" on Friday, human rights activists say. Sheikh Tawfiq al-Amer was arrested last month for reportedly calling for a constitutional monarchy in the kingdom, which is an absolute monarchy. He was freed on Sunday after hundreds of Shias protested near the eastern city of Qatif; 26 people were arrested.

News: On Thursday 10 March, police opens have opened fire to disperse protesters in the eastern city of Qatif, a day before planned countrywide anti-government protests, the so-called 'day of rage'. The protesters, from the Shia minority, were demanding the release of prisoners they say have been held without charge.

News: On Friday 11 March, hundreds of police have been deployed in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, ahead of anti-government rallies planned for after Friday prayers. Security forces have blocked roads and set up checkpoints, while reports suggest some protesters have begun to gather in the eastern town of Hofuf.
Later that day, it was clear that this show of police power has demotivoted possible protesters to come out and demonstrate, it stiffled the 'day of rage' protests.

News: On Tuesday 15 March, interior minister Mansour al-Issawi has dissolved Egypt's internal security agency, which had been blamed for decades of human rights abuses. The State Security Investigation Service (SSIS) will be replaced with a new "National Security Force". The new agency would be tasked with "protecting the domestic front and combating terrorism", Mr Issawi said (BBC, VRT).

News: On Friday 18 March, king Abdullah warns against unrest while boosting benefits. In a rare televised speech, the king has warned that threats to the nation's security and stability will not be tolerated. After he spoke, state TV announced a series of royal decrees promising a higher minimum wage, pay increases, an anti-corruption drive and an expansion of the security forces.

News: On Sunday 20 March, a small group of people have protested outside the interior ministry in the capital, Riyadh, demanding the release of people detained by the government. Witnesses said riot police stopped the crowd forcing their way into the building, and arrested around a dozen people.



Duration: 26 Jan 2011 - ongoing

Trigger: inspired by the uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, demand for political reforms and the end of the national state of emergency which has been active since 1963.

Background: President Bashar al-Assad inherited power from his father, former president Hafez al-Assad.

Following the death of Hafez al-Assad in 2000, Syria underwent a degree of relaxation. Hundreds of political prisoners were released. But the granting of real political freedoms and a shake-up of the state-dominated economy have not materialised. The country remains under emergency law, in place since 1963. President Bashar al-Assad has promised to push through political reforms after inheriting power from his father, after three decades of authoritarian rule.

On 31 January 2011, in anticipation of what might be a repeat of the unrest seen in Egypt and Tunisia, Bashar al-Assad signaled that he understood the need for change and promised government reforms.
If you didn't see the need of reform before what happened in Egypt and Tunisia, it's too late to do any reform. [...]
Egypt, Tunisia and Yemen are ushering in a 'new era' in the Middle East, and Arab rulers need to do more to accommodate their people's rising political and economic aspirations.
--President Bashar al-Assad in the Wall Street Journal

Still, on Facebook, activists are calling Saturday 5 February a "Day of Rage," mirroring the term used in Egypt, and have launched several pages calling for demonstrations. But these calls failed to materialise into a demonstration and so far the country has remained calm.

Sources: BBC, AolNews

News: On Tuesday, 8 March, the prominent Syrian human rights activist and government critic, Haitham al-Maleh, has been released from jail. He was jailed last July for three years after being found guilty of spreading false information and damaging national morale - charges commonly levelled against critics of the government.
His release comes after president Bashar al-Assad issued an amnesty for those convicted of minor crimes and prisoners over the age of 70. Mr Maleh, 80, is reported to be unwell. On Monday, before his release, Mr Maleh and 10 other activists signed a petition calling on the Syrian authorities to end all political detentions.

News: On Tuesday, 15 March, hundreds of Syrians have staged a rare protest in the capital, Damascus, calling for democratic reforms and the release of all political prisoners. At least 35 people have been arrested after they defied a ban on demonstrations and protested in the Syrian capital, reports say.

News: On Friday, 18 March, at least three protesters have been shot dead in the south Syrian city of Deraa as security forces clamped down on a protest rally.

News: On Saturday, 19 March, security forces have fired tear gas to disperse crowds at the funeral of two people killed in anti-government protests on Friday. (BBC, VRT)

News: On Sunday, 20 March, for a third consecutive day, people have been demonstrating in the southern Syrian city of Deraa. Protesters have also set fire to several buildings, witnesses say. Police tried to disperse protesters in the southern city, and one demonstrator was reportedly killed. The government said it would release 15 children arrested for spraying revolutionary slogans on walls in Deraa, and it has announced a three-month reduction in the length of compulsory military service across the country. (BBC, VRT)

News: On Monday, 21 March, thousands of demonstrators have marched through the southern city of Deraa calling for greater freedoms. The march follows the funeral of a man killed on Sunday, when security forces opened fire on protesters.
There are also demonstrations in another southern city, Jassem, but security forces are not present there.

News: On Tuesday, 22 March, the government has arrested Louai Hussein, a leading campaigner who had supported the protesters.

The army has cut off all roads in and out of Deraa, anybody who wants to pass has to show his identity papers.

In Deraa, protesters have formed a human chain around the al-Omari mosque to protect it from attacks. The mosque has been the focus of anti-government demonstrations.

News: On Wednesday, 23 March, security forces have fired on protesters outside the al-Omari mosque, killing six people. Officials said there had been weapons inside the mosque. UN Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay earlier urged the Syrian government to end the use of "excessive force". The EU has also strongly condemned the "unacceptable" crackdown. (BBC, VRT, BBC video)

News: On Thursday, 24 March, protests broke out after the funerals of those killed in an overnight raid. The police opened fire on hundreds of youths from nearby villages when they tried to march into the centre of Deraa. At least 10 people have been killed and dozens wounded.

After days of violence in Deraa, the goverment pledges political reforms to meet the demands of protesters. (BBC, VRT)

News: On Friday, 25 March, a day after the government announced limited changes, protests have been staged in towns and cities across Syria, including the capital Damascus. Fresh gunfire was also heard in the city of Deraa. (BBC, VRT, BBC video 1, BBC video 2)

News: On Saturday, 26 March, the US and UN condemn the Syrian government following reports that troops fired on peaceful demonstrators on Friday. Afterwards, the authorities in Syria have released a substantial number of political prisoners.

Again, fresh protests have flared in Syria. Offices of the ruling Baath party were burned down in the southern town of Tafas and coastal town of Latakia, while hundreds renewed demonstrations in Deraa. (BBC, VRT, BBC video)

Twelve people, both civilians and security personnel, were killed during protests in the coastal city of Latakia, 350km north-west of the capital Damascus The government said at least 200 people were also hurt and blamed the deaths and injuries on unidentified gunmen shooting from rooftops. Two of the dead were said to be unidentified gunmen.

News: On Monday, 28 March, forces have fired tear gas to disperse hundreds of protesters calling for freedom in the southern city of Deraa, where security forces launched a severe crackdown last week. Later, reports came that also bullets were fired by the forces in Deraa.
Meanwhile, Syrian army troops are now in control of Latakia.

News: On Tuesday, 29 March, the Syrian government has resigned as president Bashar al-Assad accepted the cabinet's resignation following a meeting. The president has appointed outgoing prime minister Muhammad Naji Otari as caretaker prime minister until a new government is appointed. The resignation is the latest concession by the government aimed at the protests. (BBC, VRT, BBC video)

Tens of thousands of people attent to pro-Assad rallies in cities across the country.



Duration: 28 Jan 2011 - ongoing

Trigger: Change in the constitution to keep the current president in office for a third term.

Background: President of Djibouti, the 63-year old Ismail Omar Guelleh has been in office since 1999, but his government has been in power for 34 years. Recently, Guelleh changed the constitution so that he could have a third term in office.

Peaceful pro-democracy protests break out on Friday 28 January, but starting from 5 February, the Djiboutian police strikes back with force. The police were criticised for their heavy-handedness of the situation, as all protests have been peaceful. As of 18 February, police uses batons and tear gas against stone-throwing protesters. At least two people have been killed in the clashes, however, their identities are unknown.

Timeline: [Wikipedia]
beforechange of constitution
Fri 28 Janpeaceful protest by 3,000 protesters
Thu 3 Febpeaceful protest by 300 protesters
Wed 9 FebJean-Paul Noël Abdi, president of Djibouti League of Human Rights arrested (1)
Fri 18 Febthousands rally against the president but protest escalated into clashes
speeches by opposition parties
Sat 19 Febintensified clashes, one policeman killed
Sun 20 Febprotesters camping out in the streets, more violent clashes with the police

Source: Wikipedia



Duration: 28 Jan 2011 - ongoing

  • Morocco suffers of corruption, 10% unemployment rate, discrepancies of wealth, restricted press
  • people demand of democracy

Background: Morocco, like Egypt and Algeria, does allow limited freedom of expression and has so far been able to contain protests. Like Jordan it is a monarchy with strong support among sections of the public. Thousands of Moroccans joined nationwide protests on 20 February to demand that king Mohammed VI hand over some of his powers to a newly elected government and make the justice system more independent.

Although protests convulsed dozens of Moroccan cities on Sunday, collapsing into looting and vandalism in a few places like Tangier and Marrakech and turning violent in Al Houceima, where five people were killed, no one was calling for outright revolution. Revolution, after all, would mean overturning the country's supreme ruler. And no one, at least publicly, wants to depose king Mohammed.

"Why should they? He seems so benevolent in comparison [to his father]," says Stuart Schaar, who is emeritus professor of Middle Eastern history at Brooklyn College, City University of New York. Besides that, in the 12 years since he assumed power, the king has instituted a number of reforms, including adapting the Family Law to improve women's rights, appointing a commission to investigate the state's crimes during the years of lead, and allowing limited forms of political protest - as long as no one criticizes the monarch or his family.

Picture taken from Time
Abdeljalil Bounhar / AP
But some non-government groups say little has changed, with poverty still widespread and unemployment remaining high. Morocco is dogged by strikes by both private and public. Although critics say that the monarchy has done only enough to keep conditions tolerable ("the king has the possibility of creating a real model of democratic reform"), the protests are mainly directed to the government: "they don't come here to work, they come here to sleep". Despite his near absolute power, many Moroccans view the king separately from the rest of government.

At Sunday's protest (Feb 20), which brought an estimated 37,000 people into the streets nationwide, according to government estimates, there were already tentative signs of change. In the days leading up to the protests, many activists had their Facebook accounts hacked. The night before the marches, three activists appeared on state television to declare - erroneously, and possibly under pressure - that the protests had been canceled. (a hasty Facebook campaign corrected the false information)

Sources: BBC, Time

News: Thursday 10 February, in his first national address since last month's nationwide protests, Mohammed VI has promised "comprehensive constitutional reform", "individual and collective liberties will be expanded". He said he would give up the power to name the prime minister, who would be chosen by parliament, which meets some of the demands of the protestors. (BBC, VRT, BBC video)



Duration: 10 Feb 2011 - ongoing

  • rising unemployment
  • need for national security
  • corruption
  • government had doubled the price of electricity in October 2010

Background: In an effort to prevent potential unrest, Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki announced that he will not run for a third term in 2014. Nevertheless, hundreds of protesters gathered in several major Iraqi urban areas on 12 February (notably Baghdad and Karbala) demanding a more effective approach to the issue of national security and investigation into federal corruption cases, as well as government action towards making public services fair and accessible. In response, the government of Iraq subsidised electricity costs.

13 February: Abdulmunir Mohammed from Mosul, a married man with four children, died after setting himself on fire to protest against unemployment. The growing unrest prompted Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to cut his salary in half to help "reduce the gap in the living standards for the different classes." More protests are nevertheless planned, including one that is described as a "Revolution of Iraqi Rage," to be held on February 25 near the Green Zone.

Sources: Wikipedia, WL Central

News: On Thursday February 24, prime minister Nouri Maliki warned Iraqis not to participate in planned mass protests on Friday as "supporters of Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda are behind the protests". "You can hold these demonstrations at any time or place you want, except for the place and time of a demonstration which Saddamists, terrorists and al-Qaeda are behind. [...] I am warning you about their plans, which are to change the course of [peaceful] rallies and protests, to... murder, riot, sabotage, hard-to-control strife, bombings...".
Hours later, a suicide bomber has killed at least eight people and wounded at least 15 people at a cultural centre in the city of Ramadi (100km west of Baghdad). The attack injured the deputy governor of Anbar province, Hikmet Khalaf, and killed a number of policemen.

News: On Friday February 25, no vehicles were allowed into the city centre of Baghdad and thousands of riot police are present. Still, several hundred people gathered in Baghdad's own Tahrir Square, calling for reform, but not regime change. Protesters threw rocks and stones at riot police and tried to overturn concrete barriers blocking the Jumhuriyah bridge, near the square.
Outside Baghdad, protests have been more violent and at least five people have been killed in anti-government protests in Iraq as thousands take to the streets in cities across the country for a "day of rage" (BBC, VRT).

News: Iraqi security forces say they have killed Noman Salman in the town of Hit, west of Baghdad. The man is considered to be the military leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq and was a leader of the Islamic State of Iraq, an umbrella organization responsible for suicide and bomb attacks across the country.

News: Saturday 26 February, early morning gun and bomb attack has shut down Iraq's biggest oil refinery, Baiji, with at least two employees killed. Militant attacks on strategic targets are a regular occurrence in Iraq, but the timing and target of this one will worry the government.

News: Tuesday 29 March, at least 50 people have been killed after gunmen stormed a council building in Tikrit, northern Iraq, and took dozens of hostages. (BBC, VRT)

Timeline: [Wikipedia]
beforeprime minister Nouri al-Malikideclares not to run for a third term in 2014
Thu 10 Febanti corruption official states ministerial coverup of corruption is frequent
caused 500 people to marche in Baghdad
Fri 11 Febhundreds of lawyers marching in the streets, protesting against corruption and unemployment
Sat 12 Febprotests in major Iraqi urban areas
government promises to increase power imports from Iran
Sun 13 FebAbdulmunir Mohammed dies after setting himself on fire
Wed 16 Febprotesters take over provincial council building in Kut
three people killed and thirty injured (1)
Thu 17 Febprotesters attack government offices in Kurdistan, two people killed
Fri 18 Febprotesters blockade bridge in Basra
Wed 9 Febin Rania started peaceful protests turned violent after security sprays protesters with water and electrocutes them (1)
Mon 21 Febserious protests in Kurdistan, teenager killed and thirtynine injured (1)

protests in Sulaimaniya and the local university
Thu 24 Febprime minister Nouri Maliki warns that planned Friday protests are a set up

suicide bombing in Ramadi killing 8
Fri 25 Febbig, planned protests across Iraq

security forces claim to have killed al-Qaeda's Noman Salman
Sat 26 Febattack by militants has shut down the biggst oil refinery, Baiji
Tue 29 Mardozens killed in siege at Tikrit council



Duration: 14 Feb 2011 - ongoing

Trigger: inspired by the uprisings in Egypt, controversial parliamentary elections of 2010 (1)

Background: The minority Sunni Al-Khalifa dynasty has ruled the majority Shia country since 1783. The Shia party Al-Wefaq won a plurality in the 2010 elections, but the election followed controversy amidst boycotts and arrests.

On 4 February 2011, several hundred Bahrainis gathered in front of the Egyptian embassy in Manama to express solidarity with anti-government protesters there.

The date of the start of the protests, 14 February, was chosen because it is the tenth anniversary of a referendum in favour of the National Action Charter of Bahrain. Bahraini youths planned "to take to the streets on Monday 14 February in a peaceful and orderly manner" in order to rewrite the constitution.

The Bahraini protests were initially aimed at achieving greater political freedom and equality for the Shia population, but expanded to a call to end the monarchy following a deadly night raid on 17 February against protesters. On 17 February, troops were used to clean the Pearl Roundabout in Manama, an operation which left four people dead. Now, the government appears to have stepped back, allowing demonstrators to re-occupy the roundabout after initial resistance by police.

King Hamad has asked his eldest son, crown prince Salman, to start a "national dialogue" to end the unrest.

Shia protesters complain of economic hardship, lack of political freedom and discrimination in jobs in favour of Sunnis. Senior members of the main Shia political group, Wefaq, have called for the government to resign. Other demands are believed to include the release of political prisoners and talks on a new constitution.

US President Barack Obama has appealed for restraint in Bahrain, which is strategically important to America as it hosts the United States Fifth Fleet and is thus crucial counter Iran's military power in the region.

Sources: Wikipedia, BBC

News: On Friday February 25, thousands attended a day of mourning in Manama for those killed in recent unrest.

News: Saturday 26 February, Hassan Mushaima, a prominent Bahraini opposition leader, has returned from self-imposed exile to the UK, after the Bahraini government dropped charges against him, a move to appease protesters demanding changes.
Mr Mushaima, a senior Shia figure and leader of the Haq Movement, is known for his strong opposition to the ruling Sunni dynasty, and was sentenced in absentia last year on charges of trying to overthrow the government.
He told the BBC that he wanted genuine democratic reform that could turn Bahrain into a constitutional monarchy. "We want a real constitution. They've promised us (one) before and then did whatever they wanted to."

In another concession, king Hamad bin Issa al-Khalifa sacked four government ministers: those responsible for housing, electricity and water, health, and cabinet affairs. They include two members of the royal family.
Meanwhile, thousands of demonstrators marched in the capital, Manama, as protests continue for a 13th day.

News: Monday 28 February, US president Barack Obama has expressed his support for the King of Bahrain's affirmed commitment to reform, and welcomed a cabinet reshuffle in which four ministers, including two royal family members, were replaced.
Thousands of demonstrators remain camped out on Pearl Square in the capital, Manama, as protests move into a 15th day.

News: On Saturday 5 March, the government has held a cabinet reshuffle and promised to open talks on the protests that have continued in the capital Manama: BBC video.

News: On Sunday 13 March, in the capital Manamah, police has been firing rubber bullets, used teargas and a water cannon on protesters who were trying to form a human chain that would cut off the financial district. (BBC, VRT)

News: On Monday 14 March, troops from a number of Gulf states, including Saudi Arabia and the UAE, have arrived in Bahrain at the request of the kingdom. It comes a day after the worst violence since seven anti-government protesters were killed in clashes with security forces last month. Dozens of people were injured on Sunday as protesters pushed back police and barricaded roads. (BBC, VRT, BBC video)

News: On Tuesday 15 March, Iran has denounced the use of troops from neighbouring Gulf states in Bahrain as "unacceptable". Iran - the main Shia power in the Gulf - has said that the arrival of the foreign troops is an "interference". "The people of Bahrain have demands, which are legitimate and are being expressed peacefully," announces Ramin Mehmanparast, the Foreign Ministry spokesman. "Any violence in response to these legitimate demands should be stopped."

The king of Bahrain has declared a three-month state of emergency, state TV reports.(BBC, VRT)

Later that day, it became clear that, despite martial law, at least two people have been killed and as many as 200 injured in clashes between anti-government demonstrators and security forces. (BBC video)

News: On Wednesday 16 March, security forces with tanks have overrun a square in the centre of the capital Manama where anti-government protesters have been camped for weeks. At least three civilians were reportedly killed after police fired on mainly Shia protesters. Officials said three police also died. Troops have taken over a hospital treating the wounded. Officials have imposed a curfew and banned protests. (BBC, VRT; BBC videos: 1, 2, 3)
Clinton criticises Bahrain over protester clashes and the UK Foreign Office is advising all Britons to leave Bahrain as soon as possible.

News: On Thursday 17 March, the UN human rights chief has condemned the "shocking" use of force by security forces against protesters in Bahrain. (BBC video).

A spokesman of the al-Wafq, a Shia organization, has announced that during the night, six leaders of the opposition have been arrested. Of the arrested, five are Shia and one is Sunni.

Reports have come from police opening fire on demonstrators in the Shia village of Deih, east of the capital Manama.

Some Bangladeshi expatriates in Bahrain say they have been forced to take part in pro-government rallies.

News: On Friday 18 March, after prayers thousands of protesters ignored the ban on demonstrations and gathered close to the capital Manamah. Meanwhile, the government has demolished the monument at Pearl Roundabout, which had become a symbol of the resistance.

Timeline: [Wikipedia]
Oct 2010controversial elections,
the minority Sunni Al-Khalifa dynasty rules the majority Shia country
Fri 4 FebBahrainis gather in front of the Egyption embassy to express solidarity
Mon 14 Febprotests with peaceful intent clashed with police force,
helicopters circle over Manama
Tue 15 Febpolice opened fire during a funeral of a protester killed on Feb 14
number of protesters increase and gain control of the Manama Pearl Roundabout
Wed 16 Febsize of the protest increases
parliament members announce intentions to remove the royal family
Thu 17 Febriot police moves in to clear Pearl Roundabout
Fri 18 Febpolice uses live ammunition
Sat 19 Febmilitary and police withdraw from the capital by orders of the government
protesters return to Pearl Roundabout
Sun 20 Febprotesters camped out through the night at Pearl Roundabout
Mon 21 Febpro-monarchy demonstrations
Tue 22 Febking Hamad releases opposition and political prisoners
Fri 25 Febday of mourning in Manama
Sat 26 FebHassan Mushaima returns from exile
king Hamad sacks four government ministers
Mon 28 FebUS president Barack Obama supports the king's pledge to reform
Thousands of demonstrators in Manama, 15th day of protests
Sat 5 Marcabinet reshuffle
Sun 13 Marviolent prevention of forming a human chain in Manamah
Mon 14 Marforeign troops enter Bahrain
Tue 15 Marking announces three-month state of emergency
2 people killed and 200 injured in clashes between demonstrators and security forces
Wed 16 Marsecurity forces overrun square in Manama
Thu 17 MarUN human rights chief condemns the use of force
six leaders of opposition arrested during the night
police opens fire in the village of Deih
Fri 18 Mardespite ban on demonstrations, protests continues
government demolished monument at Pearl Roundabout



Duration: 14 Feb 2011 - ongoing

Trigger: inspired by the pro-democracy protests across the Middle East, disputed 2009 presidential election

Background: Iran's complex and unusual political system combines elements of a modern Islamic theocracy with democracy. The Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is the highest power in the land. He appoints the head of the judiciary, military leaders, the head of radio and TV and Friday prayer leaders. He also confirms the election of Iran's president. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, elected in 2005, is a hardliner who has vowed to put down any protests.

The demonstrations began on 14 February 2011 and are at least partly a continuation of the 2009-2010 Iranian election protests (nicknamed the "Twitter Revolution"), and are influenced by other protests in the region. Thousands of people heeded calls by the two main opposition leaders to rally in the capital Tehran in solidarity with pro-democracy protests across the Middle East.

Security forces cracked down on the protest and two people were killed and others injured. Supporters of the government have been calling for the opposition leaders, reformists Mehdi Karoubi and Mir Hossein Mousavi (also presidential candidate in 2009), to be executed.

Sources: Wikipedia, BBC

News: Monday 28 February, reports suggest that opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, and their wives, have been taken from their homes by security forces, reports suggest.

News: Tuesday 1 March, police have fired tear gas to disperse opposition supporters mounting protests in the capital Tehran. The unrest comes a day after websites close to opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi said they had been jailed. The government has denied this, saying the two men were at home.

News: Wednesday 2 March, Iran's opposition announces that more than 200 people were arrested on Tuesday while trying to protest in Tehran.

Timeline: [Wikipedia]
13 June 2009disputed victory of Ahmadinejad in presidential (re)election
start of protests against election
Sun 13 Febas protests were announced, Mousavi and Karroubi were placed
under house arrest and denied access to telephones or Internet
Mon 14 Febthousands of protesters in solidarity rally with Egypt and Tunisia
solidarity protests became an anti-government demonstration and police fired tear gas and shot paintballs
Tue 15 Febprotests not as intense, anticipation for larger protests on Feb 16
conservative MPs call for the execution of opposition leaders Karroubi and Mousavi
Wed 16 FebKarroubi and Mousavi respond they are willing to die for change
sporadic clashes with pro government forces
Thu 17 Febreport that opposition leader Mousavi has been missing since Feb 15
Sat 19 Febinterior minister Mostafa Mohammad-Najjar states that the protests set for Feb 20, will "be confronted as per the law"
Sun 20 Febprotesters began gathering in the tens of thousands throughout Iran
tear gas fired and witnesses report live ammunition being used
Mon 28 Febreports suggest that opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi have been arrested
Tue 1 Marin Tehran, police use tear gas to disperse protestors


Around the world





  • Mar 18: several thousand civil servants have held the biggest march in Swaziland for several years, to protest at a pay freeze and demand that the government resigns. Some blamed government corruption and plans for lavish celebrations for the anniversary of the king's coronation. Swaziland is Africa's last absolute monarchy. Political parties are banned.


Burkina Faso

The news of Burkina Faso was sent to me by a friend living in Ouagadougou. What is shocking is that I have not found any news bulletin on these through my regular news sites (BBC, VRT)

Dictators are never as strong as they tell you they are.
--Gene Sharp

Revolution, it's the sign of the times. I am not referring to the Bible verse, nor to the Prince album, I mean that we are living it now!

But as I wrote before: "we all wanted change, but what kind of change, that we still had to decide", so the real work still has to be done.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...