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2011 Africa and Middle East Unrest Fast Facts

CNN Editorial Research

Here is a look at Arab Spring, anti-government protests that began in Tunisia in December 2010 and spread throughout the Middle East and Africa in 2011.


January 4, 2011 – Protests begin, sparked by an increase in food prices.

January 9, 2011 – Within the span of a week, three people are killed and 300 others are injured during riots.

January 22, 2011 – Demonstrators defy a government ban on street protests and march in the city of Algiers. Nine people are arrested and 19 are injured, including eight police officers. The people participating in the protest call for the government to release detainees and lift a state of emergency that dates back to 1992.

February 25, 2011 – The government ends the state of emergency, lifting restrictions on freedom of speech and assembly.


February 14, 2011 – During a street protest in the village of Daih, a demonstrator is shot by police and dies the following day.

February 15, 2011 – Thousands of demonstrators gain control of the Pearl Square roundabout in Manama.

February 17, 2011 – In the early morning hours, riot police move into the Pearl Square area and disperse the crowd. Several people are killed.

February 19, 2011 – On the order of the government, security forces withdraw from Pearl Square. Protesters retake the area.

February 26, 2011 – Opposition leader Hassan Mushaimaa returns from exile.

March 14, 2011 – Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates send in military troops under the banner of the Gulf Cooperation Council.

March 15, 2011 – A state of emergency, ordered by King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa, goes into effect.

March 18, 2011 – Security forces demolish the Pearl Monument amid arrests of prominent opposition figures.

June 1, 2011 – The government lifts the emergency laws imposed on March 15.

June 13, 2011 – The trial of 47 doctors and nurses begins in Manama. They are accused of taking control of a hospital during protests.

August 8, 2011 – More than 140 political detainees are released, including two former members of Parliament.

September 1, 2011 – Thousands of demonstrators take to the streets to protest the death of a 14-year-old boy, allegedly killed by riot police.

September 17, 2011 – Tens of thousands of people protest following the funeral of a man who died in questionable circumstances. He allegedly died following a tear gas attack on his father’s home. The government maintains he died of sickle cell anemia.

September 29, 2011 – Twenty doctors are convicted of trying to overthrow the government and are sentenced to prison terms ranging from five to 15 years.

November 23, 2011 – An independent commission set up by the king concludes that Bahrain’s police used excessive force and torture against civilians in the crackdown against protesters. Days after the report is released, the king says the country will establish a committee to carry out the reforms recommended by the commission.


January 25, 2011 – Anti-government protests erupt. Several thousand demonstrators take over Tahrir Square in Cairo.

January 29, 2011 – President Hosni Mubarak promises government reform and fires his cabinet.

February 1, 2011 – Mubarak announces he will not seek reelection in September. Protests continue, calling for Mubarak’s immediate resignation.

February 10, 2011 – Mubarak announces he is delegating power to Vice President Omar Suleiman but will remain in office.

February 11, 2011 – Suleiman announces that Mubarak has stepped down. The Armed Forces Supreme Council is assigned to run the affairs of the country.

February 13, 2011 – The Armed Forces Supreme Council dissolves Egypt’s parliament and suspends the constitution.

For developments in Egypt after February 2011, see Egypt Fast Facts.


January 2011 – Demonstrations begin in cities throughout the country.

February 1, 2011 – King Abdullah II replaces his cabinet and appoints a new prime minister in response to public pressure.

February 18, 2011 – Pro- and anti-government protesters clash, resulting in injuries.

March 25, 2011 – More than 100 people are injured during clashes between pro- and anti-government protesters in Amman.

March 28, 2011 – Prime Minister Marouf Bakhit announces that security forces will arrest anyone who tries to prevent another from expressing his/her views in a non-violent, legal way.

June 12, 2011 – King Abdullah II announces sweeping reforms in a televised speech. He announces that the country will establish a parliamentary majority government.


February 18-19, 2011 – Hundreds of protesters gather to demand greater rights for longtime residents who are not citizens and to seek the release of previously arrested protesters. They clash with security forces.

March 31, 2011 – State-run media reports that government ministers from the cabinet have resigned to help restore unity and security in the country.

November 16, 2011 – Opposition protesters force their way into the legislature to demand the prime minister step down.

November 28, 2011 – The state-run news agency KUNA reports that the emir of Kuwait has accepted the resignation of the prime minister.

December 6, 2011 – The emir dissolves the country’s parliament in a further effort to restore stability.


February 16, 2011 – Police crack down on protesters as anti-government demonstrations take place in Benghazi. Within days, the protests spread to Tripoli and more than 200 people are killed amid the upheaval.

February 22, 2011 – President Moammar Gadhafi makes a defiant speech, vowing to die a martyr rather than step down.

February 26, 2011 – The United Nations Security Council imposes sanctions against Libya, including a freeze on Gadhafi’s assets.

March 2-3, 2011 – The Libyan military carries out airstrikes against two towns as Gadhafi tries to take back control of an area seized by the opposition.

March 7, 2011 – NATO announces it has launched around-the-clock surveillance flights of Libya as it considers various options for dealing with escalating violence.

March 17, 2011 – The UN Security Council votes to impose a no-fly zone over Libya and take “all necessary measures” to protect civilians.

March 19, 2011 – French, British and American military forces begin the first phase of Operation Odyssey Dawn, aimed at enforcing the no-fly zone.

June 27, 2011 – The International Criminal Court issues an arrest warrant for Gadhafi.

October 20, 2011 – Gadhafi dies of a gunshot wound to the head after being captured by rebel forces in his hometown of Sirte.

October 27, 2011 – The United Nations Security Council votes unanimously to end military operations in Libya.

For developments in Libya after October 2011, see Libya Fast Facts and Libya Civil War Fast Facts.


March 18, 2011 – Security forces clash with protesters in Daraa, who are demonstrating for the release of children and teens detained for writing political graffiti, according to a Human Rights Watch report.

March 23-25, 2011 – Protests continue in Daraa. More than 30 protesters are killed by security forces.

March 29, 2011 – President Bashar al-Assad’s cabinet resigns.

March 30, 2011 – Assad delivers a 45-minute speech at the National Assembly. He acknowledges that the government has not met the people’s needs but he does not offer any concrete changes.

April 1, 2011 – Nine people are killed in the Damascus suburb of Douma during protests. Demonstrations are held in other cities including Daraa, Homs and Al Sanameen.

April 3, 2011 – Assad appoints a new prime minister, Adel Safar.

April 8, 2011 – More than three dozen protesters are killed during demonstrations across Syria, according to the National Organization for Human Rights in Syria. The government claims the unrest is being provoked by outside instigators.

April 21, 2011 – Assad lifts the country’s 48-year-old state of emergency. He also abolishes the Higher State Security Court and issues a decree “regulating the right to peaceful protest, as one of the basic human rights guaranteed by the Syrian Constitution.”

April 25, 2011 – The government sends troops into Daraa to carry out what witnesses describe as a brutal crackdown. Between 4,000 and 5,000 members of the army and security forces raid Daraa and shoot indiscriminately. At least seven people are killed, according to an activist with the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

May 31, 2011 – Assad issues a decree granting amnesty for political crimes but a report from the state-run news agency suggests that protesters are not being offered amnesty, just reduced punishments for alleged crimes.

June 6, 2011 – State TV reports that 120 security forces have been killed, including 82 in the city of Jisr Al-Shugar. The government blames the deaths on “armed gangs” in the city.

June 20, 2011 – In a speech, Assad says that he will not negotiate with people fighting against Syrian forces. He also offers promises of reform, without any specifics. Human rights activists say that more than 1,100 people have died during months of protests.

June 24, 2011 – According to Turkish government officials, there are 11,739 Syrian refugees in Turkey.

September 2, 2011 – The European Union bans the import of Syrian oil.

November 12, 2011 – The Arab League suspends Syria’s membership.

December 26, 2011 – Members of an Arab League delegation arrive to look into conditions on the ground and whether Syria is upholding a commitment to end a violent crackdown.

For developments in Syria after 2011, see Syria Fast Facts and Syria Civil War Fast Facts.


January 4, 2011 – Mohamed Bouazizi, a 26-year-old vegetable cart vendor, dies days after he set himself on fire in protest of police confiscating his cart. His act of self-immolation sparks widespread protests.

January 14, 2011 – Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi announces that he has taken over the responsibilities of President Zine el Abidine Ben Ali, who has fled the country.

January 15, 2011 – Parliamentary speaker Fouad Mebazaa is sworn in as acting president. He asks Ghannouchi to remain as interim prime minister.

January 21, 2011 – Ghannouchi announces that the country will hold its first national elections since the country gained independence from France in 1956.

February 26, 2011 – According to the Interior Ministry, three people are killed in clashes between demonstrators and security forces in Tunis. More than 100 people are arrested.

February 27, 2011 – Ghannouchi resigns. Tunisia’s interim president selects Al-Baji Qa’ed Al-Sebsi as the new prime minister.

March 9, 2011 – A Tunisian court issues a ruling dissolving the Rally for Constitutional Democracy, the party of ousted president Ben Ali.

June 20, 2011 – After a one-day trial, Ben Ali is convicted of corruption in absentia.

October 23, 2011 – National elections are held for the first time. Candidates compete for 218 seats in the Constitutional Assembly.

For developments in Tunisia after 2011, see Tunisia Fast Facts.


January 27, 2011 – Protests begin.

February 2, 2011 – President Ali Abdullah Saleh says he will not seek reelection in 2013.

February 21, 2011 – Amid protests, Saleh refuses to step down, comparing the protests to a virus spreading through the region.

February 23, 2011 – State-run news service Saba reports that Saleh is calling for an end to the protests and says he supports the creation of a national unity government to oversee upcoming parliamentary elections.

February 28, 2011 – Yemen’s main opposition bloc rejects Saleh’s call to form a unity government.

March 8, 2011 – Dozens of anti-government demonstrators are wounded when security forces fire into the air and shoot tear gas into a crowd of tens of thousands of protesters in front of Sanaa University, witnesses say.

March 18, 2011 – Fifty-two people are killed in a crackdown on protesters.

March 19-21, 2011 – Saleh dismisses his cabinet and numerous Yemeni officials resign in the wake of the deaths of 52 protesters. Saleh and a top military general discuss a deal for a peaceful transition of power that would allow Saleh to stay in place for the rest of the year. Three prominent generals declare their support for the protesters.

March 23, 2011 – Saleh accepts opposition demands for a presidential election by the end of the year and other constitutional reforms.

April 8, 2011 – Tens of thousands of demonstrators gather in Sanaa and Taiz. Two people are killed and 300 are injured in Taiz when security forces open fire on the crowd with tear gas and live ammunition.

April 23, 2011 – Saleh tentatively agrees to a deal, arranged by the Gulf Cooperation Council, to leave office within 30 days. He later refuses to sign it.

May 9, 2011 – Yemeni security forces kill six protesters and injure hundreds more in Taiz.

May 23, 2011 – More than three dozen people are killed when fighting breaks out in Sanaa after Saleh refuses to step down.

May 25, 2011 – Clashes between tribesmen and government forces lead to the closure of the Sanaa International Airport. Tribal forces also take control of government buildings including the Interior Ministry.

May 30, 2011 – Security forces use bulldozers and water cannons to try to disperse demonstrators in Freedom Square in Taiz. The protesters’ tent encampment is burned down.

June 3, 2011 – Opposition forces attack the presidential palace, launching projectiles at the building. Saleh is injured and several others are killed.

June 4, 2011 – Vice President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi is left in charge while Saleh travels to Saudi Arabia to undergo medical treatment. Saleh suffers from burns over 40% of his body and a collapsed lung.

June 7, 2011 – Tribal fighters take control of Taiz.

June 29, 2011 – Hadi tells CNN the government has lost control over five provinces.

September 2, 2011 – More than two million people demonstrate across the country, calling on revolutionary forces to take action against Saleh’s regime.

September 23, 2011 – Saleh returns to Yemen, after more than three months of medical treatment in Saudi Arabia.

November 23, 2011 – Saleh signs a deal that will allow him to retain the title of president for three months but requires him to hand over executive powers to the vice president.

For developments in Yemen after 2011, see Yemen Fast Facts.

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