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Starting in December of 2010, a wave of protests and violence swept over the Middle East. What started as a revolution in Tuinisia has now spread throughout 11 other countries in North Africa and the Middle East. The pattern of dissent seems to show a general civilian intolerance for the hard line extremist governments that rule over the region. Born through social network platforms like Facebook and Twitter, the world watched as widespread government opposition rapidly grew.

The results of the protests, many of which are still ongoing, range from complete regime change to no change at all. While many of the revolutions and protests became stagnant in the face of brutal government repression, there is no doubt that the seeds of revolution have been sown.

[box]1. Tunisia (December 17)

  • President Ben Ali ruled for 23 years
  • December 17, 2010, revolution began after an educated street vendor burned himself to death protesting the poor economy – protesters joined together using social networks like Facebook and Twitter
  • January 14, president Ben Ali fled the country
  • February 22, the head of the new Tunisian government commission warned that transition to a democracy would be dangerous
  • March 3, Ben Ali was replaced by President Beji Caid-Essebsi
  • 78 protesters were killed and 94 injured


[box]2. Algeria (January 7)

  • Ruled by President Abdelaziz Bouteflika for the last 12 years
  • Second largest country in Africa
  • Government has operated in state of emergency since 1990s
  • January 7, protests broke out regarding rising food prices
  • February 12, riot police quell protests in the capital, Algiers
  • February 24, the Council of Ministers agreed to lift the 19 year old state of emergency


[box]3. Libya (January 14)

  • Under the control of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi for the last 42 years
  • February, first protests against Qaddafi’s regime- rebels seized sizeable territories and cities- Qaddafi struck back with pro-government forces and hired mercenaries, killing civilians
  • March 19, UN forces, enforcing a no-fly zone began airstrikes against pro-Qaddafi forces
  • The potentially high death toll is unknown


[box]4. Egypt (January 17)

  • Ruled by President Hosni Mubarak for 30 years
  • Most populace country in the Arab world with a population of 79 million people
  • January, protests began
  • February 11, Mubarak resigned after losing support from much of the country and army
  • The military took control and immediately suspended the unpopular constitution
  • March 19, Egyptians approve a proposed referendum on the existing constitution
    – the referendum supports established political parties, such as the Muslim Brotherhood


[box]5. Yemen (January 23) 

  • Ruled by Ali Abdullah Saleh for the last 33 years
  • The nation is one of the poorest and most violent in the region
  • January 23, protests broke out following the example set in Tunisia
  • March 18, tens of 1,000s descended on the capital – security forces and government supporters open fired on protesters – an estimated 50 were killed and 100 injured
  • March 21, five army commanders and multiple tribal leaders officially endorse the protesters
  • March 25, Saleh begins talks with anti-government leaders negotiating the end of his reign


[box]6. Lebanon (January 25)

  • One of the most war/conflict ravaged countries in the Middle East
  • January 25, Hezbollah look to become the ruling party
    – thousands of Sunnis take to the streets to protest Hezbollah rule


[box]7. Jordan (January 28) 

  • Ruled by King Abdullah II for the last 12 years
  • One of the most important allies to the U.S in the Middle East
  • January, protests began, sparked by the Tunisia uprising and an economic crisis
  • February 1, to calm protests Abdullah dismissed his cabinet and Prime Minister
  • March 25, protests in the capital Amman turned violent – more than 100 demonstrators and police officers have been injured – 1 protestor has been killed


[box]8. Bahrain (February 14) 

  • Ruled by King Hamad Al Khalifa for the last 12 years
  • Connected to Saudi Arabia by causeway
  • February 14, activists used social network sites to organize a “Day of Rage”
  • February 16, thousands of protesters took over Pearl Square
  • February 17, government security forces marched into the square attacking protesters – open fired killing at least 5 and wounding 200+
  • March 14, Saudi troops marched into Bahrain to quell the uprising
  • March 18, the government tore down the protesters symbolic monument in Pearl Square


[box]9. Iran (February 14) 

  • Controlled by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for the last 6 years – country ruled by “dual power” structure – the President answers to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, a Muslim cleric
  • Quasi democracy/theocracy since the 1979 revolution
  • February, spurred on by protests in Tunisia and around the Middle East, the Iranian protesters began demonstrating
  • February 14, protesters clashed with security forces – riot police were dispatched to Tehran and other cities to put down protests – attempted to remove protesters with violence


[box]10. Morrocco (February 20) 

  • Ruled by King Mohammed VI for the last 12 years
  • February 20, riots broke out across the country after a peaceful pro-democracy rally – violence blamed on individual thugs – in response to a Facebook group called “February 20 Movement for Change”
  • King Mohammed VI responded by agreeing to meet with the movement’s leaders


[box]11. Saudi Arabia (March 6) 

  • Ruled by King Abdullah bin Abdu Aziz for the last 6 years
  • March 6, government bans public protest following protests around the Middle East – groups of minority Shiites had been protesting


[box]12. Syria (March 19)

  • Controlled by President Basher al-Assad for the last 11 years
    – father, Hafez al-Assad began his reign in 1971
  • March 19, Syrian police kill at least 5 protesters during demonstrations
  • March 21, demonstrators in Daraa set fire to the ruling Baath Party head quarters and other government buildings
    – police officers fired into the crowds, killing at least one
  • March 23, security forces cracked down on protesters
    – the Syrian Army reinforced police in Daraa


Compiled by Adam McCormick

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