TIMELINE: Revolt in the Middle East and North Africa To Jan 31

The fast-paced events in Tunisia, Egypt, and elsewhere in northern Africa and the Middle East during the past month or so can be confusing and hard to follow. Below is a basic outline of what has happened.

January 31


  • EGYPT -- The State Department is demanding the release of six detained Al-Jazeera journalists who were arrested today by Egyptian authorities. “We are concerned by the shutdown of Al-Jazeera in Egypt and arrest of its correspondents. Egypt must be open and the reporters released,” State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley tweeted this morning. 

    The State Department also announced plans to evacuate at least 900 Americans from Egypt today and additional Americans tomorrow. About 500 were evacuated by mid-afternoon eastern time, and at least 1,200 Americans were evacuated by the end of the day.

    Meanwhile, the Muslim Brotherhood declared its "total rejection of the new cabinet" that was sworn in today.

    New Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman said on state television late Monday that he had been authorized to start talking with the opposition to work out constitutional and political reforms, according to The New York Times, which reported that "it was not immediately clear who Mr. Suleiman was addressing his offer to, or whether the opposition would accept."

    Also, the Egyptian military announced that it will not use force during the called for February 1 "march of millions" in Cairo.

  • ALGERIA -- More than 10,000 protesters dispersed peacefully in the northern town of Bejaia after shouting "Tunisia-inspired slogans," according to the AFP news organization.

    Elsewhere in Algeria, a pro-democracy group announced plans to march on Algiers on February 12.

  • YEMEN -- Thousands of protesters gathered in two rural areas of the country to voice opposition to President Ali Abdullah Saleh's ruling party. Opposition groups announced country-wide demonstrations on Thursday.


January 30


  • EGYPT -- Egyptian opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei arrived at the center of the political unrest in Cairo as protesters engaged in a standoff with the military. ElBaradei said on American television news shows that President Obama should hasten calls for President Hosni Mubarak to step down, saying the 30-year Egyptian leader possesses no credibility as a democratic reformer. 

    In Washington, D.C., Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton insisted American interests jibe with the protesters calling for new leadership and further decoupled the Obama administration from Mubarak. Clinton stopped short of advocating that Mubarak relinquish power but did call for “an orderly transition to meet the democratic and economic needs of the people.” 

    Also in Washington, Sen. John McCain called for the Obama administration to step up its level of engagement, saying Egypt’s political unrest represents a dangerous fuse that could detonate into radicalism.


January 29


  • EGYPT -- Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak named intelligence chief Omar Suleiman vice president of Egypt. Suleiman is the first person appointed to the position since Mubarak took office in 1981. Suleiman has long been considered a likely successor to Mubarak, according to profiles in The AtlanticForeign Policy and The Los Angeles Times.

    In Washington, D.C., protesters gathered outside the Egyptian embassy, waving Egyptian flags and calling for the Mubarak's resignation.

  • YEMEN -- A small anti-government protest turned violent as protesters, who were marching to the Egyptian embassy in the capital San'a, clashed with security forces.


January 28


  • EGYPT -- ElBaradei, who is later placed under house arrest, and his supporters were attacked by security forces after Friday prayers. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged both the Egyptian government and protesters to show restraint. The protesters ignored a government-imposed curfew. The government cut Internet connections in the country. Late in the day, Mubarak announced he would fire his government and bring on a new Cabinet to try to meet the nation's cry for change. Following Mubarak's announcement, President Obama spoke with Mubarak on the phone and delivered his own statement, calling for protesters and the government to refrain from violence and on Mubarak to keep his promises of reform.


January 27


  • EGYPT -- ElBaradei returned to Egypt from his home in Vienna calling on Mubarak to quit.


  • YEMEN -- Tens of thousands of protesters marched on the capital against President Saleh.


January 26


  • TUNISIA -- Tunisia asked Interpol to help arrest Ben Ali and his family so they can be tried for theft and currency offences, the justice minister said.


January 24


  • TUNISIA -- Politicians began negotiations on the creation of a council to oversee the interim government. Its task would be to protect the "Jasmine" revolution that toppled Ben Ali.


January 23


  • YEMEN -- Hundreds of students and activists gathered at Yemen’s Sanaa University, most of whom were calling for Yemen’s President Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down. The smaller group of protesters called for the president to stay.
  • EGYPT -- Younger members of Egypt’s opposition Muslim Brotherhood indicated that they would participate in the January 25 protests.


January 22


  • TUNISIA -- Protesters again demand that Ghannouchi and other Ben Ali protégés go. Policemen, once the bulwark of Ben Ali's rule, demonstrate in Tunis, saying they too were victims.
  • ALGERIA -- At least 42 people were injured during clashes between protesters, who were defying a government ban, and Algerian police, who blocked a march on the country’s parliament building.


January 20


  • EGYPT -- An Egyptian Facebook group called for street protests on January 25. Additional self-immolations take place.


January 21


  • TUNISIA -- After a day of protests against the old guard's presence in the new cabinet, Ghannouchi promises to retire as soon as elections are held.


January 19


  • TUNISIA -- After the first cabinet meeting, the government offers amnesty to all political groups.


January 18


  • TUNISIA -- Some opposition figures quit the cabinet, demanding the removal of former Ben Ali loyalists. Protesters denounce the "sham."
  • EGYPT -- Egyptian former United Nations nuclear weapons chief Mohamed ElBaradei warns in an interview with the Guardian newspaper of a “Tunisia-style explosion” in Egypt.


January 17


  • TUNISIA -- Ghannouchi appoints opposition figures to a new national unity coalition and says he will free political prisoners.
  • EGYPT -- At least two men set themselves on fire, echoing Bouazizi’s December 17 protest in Tunisia.


January 16


  • REGIONAL -- Speculation increases that, inspired by what happened in Tunisia, other countries in the region—including Algeria, Syria, Jordan, and Egypt—will face similar opposition protests.
  • EGYPT -- Thousands of protesters streamed into the streets of Cairo chanting “Ben Ali, tell Mubarak a plane is waiting for him too,” referring to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.


January 14


  • TUNISIA -- After days of clashes in which dozens are killed and having made empty promises of reforms and elections, President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali flees to Saudi Arabia. Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi stays, with the ruling party’s parliamentary speaker as interim president.


January 4, 2011


  • TUNISIA -- Bouazizi died of his burns, after which his funeral added momentum to protests against unemployment and repression. The protests spread to other parts of the country.


December 17, 2010


  • TUNISIA -- Mohamed Bouazizi set fire to himself in the central Tunisian town of Sidi Bouzid to protest police confiscation of his vegetable cart. His act led to local demonstrations in support.


Sources: Reuters, Los Angeles Times, BBC, The Guardian, CNN International, New York Times, AFP, WSJ.com


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