January 24, 2012

Arab Spring Update

The latest from Egypt, Yemen and Syria.

Jessica: First up, an update from Libya. This country became one of the most watched Arab Spring nations because of its civil war. It has been three months since their leader, Muammar Gaddafi was killed. But many say the country is not any better off.

Libya is located in northern Africa. Here is the city of Bengazhi, which is where experts say the uprising that threw out Gaddafi started. And it is here where, over the weekend, protesters stormed the headquarters of Libya’s new government. Protestors say things are moving too slowly, and not enough has changed because some of the same people are still in power. Experts say it is another sign that Libya is struggling to set up a new government and since many countries rely on Libya’s oil, everyone is watching closely to see what happens.

Next up, we are heading to Egypt.

Almost a year ago protestors forced Egypt’s president of 30 years, Hosni Mubarak, to step down. Yesterday, members of Egypt’s newly-elected parliament arrived for its first session. And they drew a lot of attention because 70% are from religious political parties. That is a big change under Mubarak. The main religious parties held no seats. This has some worried Egypt’s government could be more influenced by religion. That is why many are watching to see what type of constitution they come up with.

Let’s turn now to Syria, where protesters are trying to follow Egypt’s lead and force their leader to step down.

Despite ten months of protests, Syrian president Bashar al-Assad has been able to keep his hold on power. But it has come at a high cost.

The United Nations says 5,000 people have been killed in the crackdown. Syrian authorities counter that by claiming they are fighting terrorists who have killed 2,000 policemen and soldiers.

On Monday, al-Assad rejected a peace plan from the Arab League, an organization of 22 Arab countries, that would have him handing over power to his deputy. Experts say if the crisis doesn’t end soon, Syria could fall into civil war.

Let’s turn now to Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest country.

Experts worry about political chaos here because Yemeni terrorists claimed responsibility for plots to blow up planes in the U.S.

President Ali Abdullah Saleh ended his 33 years in power and handed over authority to his vice president over the weekend. Saleh will receive medical treatment in the United States. Some worry this could create an impression that the U.S. is sympathetic to Saleh and could hurt relations with a future Yemeni government and America’s ability to fight terrorism there.

Experts say it is too soon to tell how stable or successful these countries will be. But one thing is for certain, while the Arab Spring movement brought about change, it is also bringing uncertainty.

Back to you, Shelby.


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