- The winds of unrest have swept through North Africa and the Middle East
- The demonstrations started in Tunisia in December
- The leaders of Tunisia and Egypt have resigned amid mass protests
- Protests were held Wednesday in Yemen, Libya and Iraq
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(CNN) — Unrest has spread across the Middle East and North Africa. Here’s a look at what has happened — and what is happening — in various countries:
Bahrain’s Interior Ministry said those involved in the deaths of two people during recent protests have been taken into custody. Also Wednesday, thousands of people gathered for a peaceful funeral procession for a Bahraini man killed when clashes erupted during another protester’s funeral procession, the president of a human rights group said. The king of the small Gulf nation addressed his country on national television Tuesday, promising changes in the law after the deaths.
Protesters initially demanded reform and the introduction of a constitutional monarchy. But some are now calling for the removal of the royal family.
Protests continued Wednesday as Egypt’s military moves forward with a plan to enact constitutional reforms. Military personnel dispersed about 200 protesters outside a welding factory between Cairo and Alexandria, state media reported. The protesters were demanding better pay, more compensation for working longer hours and better treatment from management. Meanwhile, the military has formed “an apolitical and independent constitutional committee to propose constitutional reforms within 10 days, according to activist Wael Ghonim. Schools and universities will remain closed for another week, state television reported. Banks and the stock market are also closed.
Thousands of people, many of them Iranian government supporters, turned up in Tehran on Wednesday for the funeral of a man killed in anti-government protests. The gathering near Tehran University comes amid tension in the nation following a crackdown on anti-government protests. Government officials said 26-year-old Sana Jaleh was shot to death Monday by members of an outlawed group called the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran. The group, which is also known as the Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization, has opposed the Iranian government for decades. Iranian lawmakers on Tuesday called for the execution of key opposition leaders. On Monday, tens of thousands of pro- and anti-government protesters marched in downtown Tehran.
A least one person was shot and killed and 32 others were wounded Wednesday when private security guards and Iraqi security forces opened fire on hundreds of demonstrators outside the governor’s office in Kut, about 63 miles (110 kilometers) south of Baghdad, health officials said. Police in Kut said that more than 1,000 demonstrators were demanding the resignation of the Wasit provincial governor Latif Hamed, accusing him of corruption. Dozens of protesters stormed the governor’s office after the shooting, destroyed furniture and then set the building on fire. Another group of demonstrators went to the governor’s house and set it on fire too. Thousands of people have rallied this month in cities across the country, protesting rampant poverty, a 45% national unemployment rate and shortages of food, electricity and water.
Libyan police clashed with protesters chanting anti-government slogans and demanding the release of a human rights activist early Wednesday, an independent source in the country told CNN. About 150 to 200 protesters in the coastal city of Benghazi were supporting human rights activist and lawyer Fathi Terbil, who was detained earlier, the source said. Several people were arrested after police confronted the protesters, the source said. A highly-placed Libyan source who asked not to be identified because he was not authorized to speak to the media said “there is nothing serious here” and characterized the incidents as “not political” and “just young people fighting each other.” “Libya is not Egypt,” he said.
A government-imposed curfew in Tunisia has been lifted, but a state of emergency remains in effect, the Interior Ministry said Tuesday, as reported by the state-run Tunis Afrique Presse. The curfew was from midnight until 4 a.m., and the state of emergency was put into place on January 14. After weeks of demonstrations that started in December, longtime President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali fled the country.
Protests took place for a sixth day in Aden, with eyewitnesses reporting one person was shot and killed when security forces tried to break up Wednesday’s protest. Hospital officials had no immediate confirmation of the fatality.
In the capital, Sanaa, a demonstration for campus reforms at Sanaa University turned into an anti-government rally, and pro-government demonstrators showed up and began throwing rocks. Three students walking home after the rally were beaten by pro-government protesters, a Yemeni human rights activist told CNN.
Authorities in Algeria said Monday that they would lift a 20-year state of emergency in the “coming days,” but it had not been canceled as of Tuesday. They acted after anti-government protesters chanting “Change the power!” clashed with security forces in the capital over the weekend, witnesses said. The state of emergency was imposed in 1992 to quell a civil war that led to the deaths of what U.S. officials estimate to be more than 150,000 people. About 100 protesters were arrested during the protests in Algiers on Saturday, according to the opposition Algerian League for Human Rights.
King Abdullah II swore in a new government last week following anti-government protests in his country. The new government has a mandate for political reform and is headed by a former general, with several opposition and media figures among its ranks. The appointment of Marouf al-Bakhit as the new prime minister was seen as an attempt to shore up support among Jordan’s Bedouin tribes — the bedrock of the monarchy. Jordan’s economy has been hard-hit 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 Abdullah is trying to turn a regional upheaval into an opportunity for reform.
Prime Minister Salam Fayyad’s Cabinet submitted its resignations to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday, days after the announcement the legislative and parliamentary elections will be held before September. The Palestinian Territories have not seen the kind of demonstrations as in many Arab countries, but the government has been under criticism since Al-Jazeera published secret papers claiming to reveal some of the wide-ranging concessions Palestinian officials were prepared to make in negotiations with Israel. Negotiations have collapsed. Abbas’ Palestinian Authority holds sway only over the West Bank. The militant Islamist movement Hamas controls Gaza.
Demonstrators have clashed with authorities on several 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 to call for an end to the National Congress Party rule and government-imposed price increases.” Witnesses said that security forces used pipes, sticks and tear gas to disperse protesters and that several people were arrested, including 20 who remain missing. The Sudanese Embassy said that people in Sudan have the right to “demonstrate as they wish” but that “some opportunists capitalize” on incidents “to inspire chaos or smear Sudan’s image.”
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 for a January 31 article that he planned reforms that would allow for 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 for February 5 failed to materialize, The New York Times reported.