Timeline: How the Arab Spring unfolded

Ten years ago, protests swept across Arab nations that changed the course of history.

[Al Jazeera]

On January 14, 2011, Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali stepped down after weeks of protests, ending his 24-year rule.

What began as a protest by Mohamed Bouazizi – a fruit vendor who set himself on fire – the month before, sparked the period of unrest that unseated Ben Ali.

Protests and uprising were then witnessed across the region.

Al Jazeera takes a look at the turn of events that changed the course of history.

[Alia Chughtai/Al Jazeera]


December 2010

December 17: Jobless graduate Bouazizi died after setting himself on fire when police refused to let him operate his cart. The self-immolation, following WikiLeaks’s publication of US criticism of the government, provokes young Tunisians to protest.

December 29: After 10 days of demonstrations, President Ben Ali appears on television promising action on job creation, declaring the law will be very firm on protesters.

January 2011

January 9: Eleven people die in clashes with security forces. Protesters set fire to cars in several Tunisian cities, while security forces respond violently.

January 14: Ben Ali finally bows to the protests and flees to Saudi Arabia.

January 17: Tunisia’s Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi announces the formation of an interim unity government that includes figures from the previous government. But protesters throng the streets to reject it.

February 2011

February 27 – Prime Minister Ghannouchi resigns.

March 2011

March 9: Tunisian court rules the party of former President Ben Ali will be dissolved. The news is followed by street celebrations.

October 2011

October 23: Polls open nine months after Tunisians first took to the streets.

January 2012

January 14: Celebrations are witnessed in the capital to mark one year since the overthrow of Ben Ali.


January 2011

January 14: First reports of unrest in Libya. Muammar Gaddafi condemns the Tunisian uprising in a televised address.

January 16: Protests erupt in Benghazi after the arrest of human rights activists.

February 2011

February 20: The death toll passes 230; Gaddafi’s son addresses Libyan TV defending his father.

February 25: As uprising reaches the heart of Tripoli, protests erupt across the Middle East.

March 2011

March 9: Gaddafi warns the imposition of a no-fly zone in Libyan airspace will be met with armed resistance.

March 18: The United Nations backs a no-fly zone.

March 19: Operation Odyssey Dawn begins, marking the biggest assault on an Arab government since the 2003 Iraq invasion.

March 23: Britain, France and the US agree NATO will take military command of Libya’s no-fly zone.

March 28: Rebels advance on Sirte, Gaddafi’s home city, recapturing several towns without resistance on the way.

April 2011

April 15: US President Barrack Obama commits to military action until Gaddafi is removed.

April 25: Libyan government accuses NATO of trying to assassinate Gaddafi after two air raids in three days hit his premises in Tripoli.

May 2011

May 1: The British embassy in Tripoli is set on fire and other Western missions ransacked in retaliation to NATO’s air raid.

August 2011

August 26: In its first Tripoli news conference, the National Transitional Council says its cabinet will move from Benghazi to the capital.

September 2011

September 8: While in hiding, Gaddafi issues a defiant message promising never to leave “the land of his ancestors”.

September 25: A mass grave containing 1,270 bodies is discovered in Tripoli.

October 2011

October 20:  Cornered by rebel forces and pinned down by NATO air raids, Gaddafi is found hiding and killed.

October 25: Gaddafi’s burial alongside his son ends the controversy over the public displaying of his body.

November 2011

November 19: Celebrations as Gaddafi’s fugitive son Saif is arrested while attempting to flee to Niger.

November 20:  All leading figures from the Gaddafi regime are killed, captured or driven into exile.


January 2011

January 17: A man sets fire to himself next to the Parliament building in Cairo to protest the country’s economic conditions.

January 25: The first coordinated demonstrations turn Cairo into a war zone as protesters demand the removal of President Hosni Mubarak.

January 28: After four days of protests and 25 deaths, Mubarak makes his first TV appearance, pledging his commitment to democracy. He sacks his government but refuses to step down.

January 31: The army declares itself allied to the protesters.

February 2011

February 1: Mubarak declares he will not run in the next election but will oversee the transition.

February 2:  Mubarak supporters stage a brutal bid to crush the Cairo uprising. Using clubs, bats and knives, they start a bloody battle in Tahrir Square.

February 11: Mubarak resigns and hands power to the military.

February 13: The military rejects protesters’ demands for a swift transfer of power to a civilian administration.

August 2011

August 1: Bringing in the tanks, the army violently retakes Tahrir Square.

September 2011

September 27: The military regime announces parliamentary elections since Mubarak was overthrown. Protesters fear remnants of the old regime will stay in power.

October 2011

October 6: Supreme Council of the Armed Forces unveil plans that could see it retain power until 2013.

November 2011

November 13: Violence escalates as protests against the governing military government spread beyond Cairo and Alexandria.

November 21: The interim government bows to growing pressure as violence leaves 33 dead and more than 2,000 injured.

November 29: Egyptians vote in record numbers in the country’s first free ballot for more than 80 years.

November 30: The Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party looks on course to be the biggest winner after the first round of voting.

December 2011

December 5: Egyptians go to the polls once more in runoff elections for parliamentary seats as no party gained more than 50 percent of the votes.

December 7: A new government is sworn in by Kamal Ganzouri, who was appointed prime minister by the military rulers.

May 2012

May 23-24: Egyptians vote in the first round of the presidential election with Ahmed Shafik and Mohammed Morsi in the lead.

June 2012

June 2: Former President Mubarak sentenced to life in prison by an Egyptian court.

June 24: Egypt’s election commission announces Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Morsi wins Egypt’s presidential runoff.


February 2011

February 4: Several hundred Bahrainis gather in front of the Egyptian embassy in the capital Manama to express solidarity with anti-government protesters there.

February 14: “Day of Rage”: An estimated 6,000 people participate in demonstrations. Their demands include constitutional and political reform and socioeconomic justice.

February 17: “Bloody Thursday”: At about 3am local time, police clear the Pearl Roundabout of an estimated 1,500 people in tents. Three people are killed and more than 200 injured during the raid.

February 26: The king dismisses several ministers in an apparent move to appease the opposition.

March 2011

March 1: An anti-government rally, called by seven opposition groups, sees tens of thousands of protesters taking part.

March 14: Saudi Arabia deploys troops and armoured vehicles into Bahrain to help quell the unrest.

March 15: Bahrain declares martial law.

March 18: The Pearl Monument – the focal point of the protest movement – is demolished.

March 27: Opposition party Al Wefaq accepts a Kuwaiti offer to mediate talks.

March 29: Bahraini Foreign Minister Khalid ibn Ahmad Al Khalifah denies any Kuwaiti involvement.


March 2011

March 6: Authorities ban public protests after demonstrations by minority Shia groups.

September 2011

September 25: King Abdullah announces cautious reforms, including the right for women to vote and stand for election from 2015.


January 2011

January 24: Police arrest 19 opposition activists including Tawakil Karman, a female campaigner and Nobel Peace Prize winner, who called for the removal of President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

March 2011

March 8: More than 2,000 inmates stage a revolt at a prison in the capital Sanaa and join calls by anti-government protesters for Saleh to step down.

March 10: Saleh’s pledge to create a parliamentary system of government is rejected by the opposition.

March 18: Forty-five people are killed after government forces open fire on protesters in Sanaa.

April 2011

April 27: Security forces shoot at an anti-government demonstration, killing 12.

June 2011

June 3: President Saleh survives an assassination attempt in which he is severely wounded.

September 2011

September 23: Saleh returns unexpectedly after three months of recovering in Saudi Arabia. He calls for a truce after five days of violence in Sanaa in which 100 protesters are killed.

September 25: Saleh calls for early elections in his first speech after returning to Yemen.

November 2011

November 23: Agreement for an immediate transfer of power pledges immunity for Saleh and his family.

December 2011

December 1: The political opposition and Saleh’s party agree to the makeup of an interim government.

February 2012

February 27: Saleh officially resigns and hands over powers to Vice President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.


March 2011

March 15: Major unrest begins when protesters march in Damascus and Aleppo, demanding democratic reforms and the release of political prisoners. Rallies were triggered by the arrest of a teenage boy and his friends a few days earlier in the city of Deraa for graffiti denouncing President Bashar al-Assad.

April 2011

April 9: Anti-government demonstrations spread across Syria. At least 22 are killed in Deraa.

April 25: Tanks are deployed for the first time.

April 28: Hundreds of governing Baath party members resign in protest as an increasingly bloody crackdown kills 500.

June 2011

June 4: Security forces kill at least 100 protesters in two days of bloodshed.

July 2011

July 25: The cabinet backs a draft law to allow rival political parties for the first time in decades.

January 2012

January 10: In a televised speech, President al-Assad says he will not stand down and promises to attack “terrorists” with an iron fist.

February 2012

February 3: The Syrian government launches an attack on the city of Homs.

April 2013

April 16: The first truce in the battle of Aleppo is declared.

June 2013

June 16: Iran sends 4,000 troops to aid Syrian government forces.

September 2015

September 30: Formal permission is granted by Russia’s upper house for air raids in Syria. Al-Assad asks President Vladimir Putin for military aid.

November 2015

November 24: Putin calls Turkey “accomplices of terrorists” and warns of “serious consequences” after a Turkish F-16 jet shoots down a Russian warplane.

March 2016
March 14: Putin announces the withdrawal of the majority of Russian troops from Syria, saying the intervention has largely achieved its objective.


January 2011

January 14: Protests begin with demands for Prime Minister Samir Rifai’s resignation in addition to economic reforms.

March 2011

March 24: About 500 protesters set up camp in the main square in the capital Amman.

October 2011

October 7: Protests start again when former Prime Minister Ahmad Obeidat leads about 2,000 people in a march outside the Grand Husseini Mosque in central Amman. There were also marches in the cities of Karka, Tafileh, Maan, Jerash and Salt.

October 2012

October 5: Thousands protest hours after King Abdullah II dissolved Parliament and called early elections.

November 2012

November 13: Protests erupt nationwide in response to an increase in fuel prices and other basic goods announced by Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour.


December 2018

December 19: Hundreds protest in the northern city of Atbara against soaring bread prices. Demonstrations spurred by a broader economic crisis spread to Khartoum and other major cities.

April 2019

April 11: The army overthrows President Omar al-Bashir, ending his 30 years in power. The generals announce two years of military rule followed by elections. Street celebrations turn into more demonstrations as hundreds of thousands demand handover to civilians.

June 2019

June 3: Security forces raid a sit-in protest outside the defence ministry in Khartoum. Crowds flee in panic. In the days that follow, opposition-linked medics say more than 100 people were killed in the assault.

June 16: Al-Bashir appears in public for the first time since his overthrow as he is taken from prison to be charged with corruption-related offences. He has already been charged with incitement and involvement in the killing of protesters.

July 2019

July 5: A military council and a coalition of opposition groups agree to share power for three years after mediation by Ethiopia and pressure from the African Union and world powers.

July 17: A political accord is signed that defines the transition’s institutions. Differences remain over the wording of a constitutional declaration.

July 29: At least four children and one adult are shot dead when security forces break up a student protest against fuel and bread shortages in the city of El-Obeid.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies