Egypt’s turmoil is a reminder that the revolution cycle in the Middle East and North Africa region is far from over, and far from satisfying the hopes stirred more than two years ago by the Arab Spring.
Mark Seibel contributed to this report.
December 2010: Tunisia
Street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire in a market square in Tunisia, protesting the government’s authoritarian rule. His solitary action kickstarted the Tunisian revolution, and less than one month later, President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali fled to exile in Saudi Arabia, where he remained as of January 2013. Tunisia held elections in October 2011; the moderate Islamist party, Ennahda, won the majority.
January 2011: Egypt
Demonstrators flooded Cairo’s Tahrir Square, protesting the rule of President Hosni Mubarak. Harnessing the power of social media, anti-Murbarak protesters toppled his regime in less than 3 weeks. After an extended period of military rule, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi narrowly won the Presidency and took office in June 2012. He was ousted by the Egyptian military after massive protests in July 2013.
February 2011: Yemen
Yemen citizens protested the decades-long rule of President Ali Abdullah Saleh on a “Day of Rage.” Saleh eventually relinquished power after being injured in an explosion at his presidential compound, and power was transferred to the majority-supported vice president, Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi. Protesters, the government, and the military have reached a fragile peace, and elections are expected in 2014.
February 2011: Bahrain
Mass protests began, but demonstrators were quickly silenced by an intervention of troops from Saudi Arabia. Reports later in 2011found that wide abuses, including torture, were committed against rebel forces by the government, but two years later, human rights violations persist. The country still struggles, with widespread political unrest and protests against the government continuing in 2013.
February 2011: Libya
Rumbles of revolution began in Benghazi. Rebel leaders eventually took control of the city, beginning an 8-month uprising against dictator Muammar Gaddafi, who was killed in October. Rebel forces turned power over to the democratically elected General National Congress in August 2012, but the new government has been unable to assert control over much of the country, where militias remain the primary authority. Benghazi is generally lawless, with bombings and assassinations common.
March 2011: Syria
Protests intensified against Syrian President Bashar al Assad, the start of an uprising that, two years later, still continues. Despite calls for peace talks, government forces, aided by Hezbollah fighters, continue to clash with rebel leaders. The fighting has displaced an estimated 4 million Syrians, in what the United Nation calls a humanitarian crisis.