Timeline of The Arab Spring


Here is a very valuable resource to those who are interested in quickly finding out important dates and events in the Arab Spring from 2010 to 2015. It came from one of the books that I have read in 2016: A Rage For Order, written by Robert Worth. This timeline presents in detail the events of the Arab uprising or Arab Springs and the developments that followed. For some, this timeline is a useful one time read to learn chronologically about the recent history of Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Syria, Iraq and Yemen.  For others this Timeline is a resource to go back to repeatedly. For quick reference, I have underlined the countries.


June 6: Khaled Saeed is beaten to death in Alexandria by Egyptian police. Within days, Google executive Wael Ghoneim launches “We are all Khaled Saeed” on Facebook. Mohamed El Baradei visits Saeed’s family and leads a rally against police abuse in Alexandria. There are concurrent protests in Tahrir Square.

June– September: In Yemen, Ja’ashin peasants establish a protest camp in central Sanaa, in what will later become Change Square.

November: Egyptian parliamentary elections prompt widespread charges of fraud.

December 17: Mohamed Bouazizi sets himself on fire in Sidi Bouzid, Tunisia. Protests start and spread across Tunisia.


January 14: Tunisia’s president, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, capitulates in the face of rising protests and flees the country with his inner circle.

January 25: Egyptian protests start.

January 27: The first large-scale protests in Yemen take place.

January 28: Egypt’s “Friday of Anger.” Protesters battle police and win control of Tahrir Square in Cairo. Similar battles in other cities across Egypt.

February 11: Egypt’s president, Hosni Mubarak, steps down. The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces takes power, promising a transition to civilian authority.

February 14: Protests start in Bahrain.

February 15: Libya’s first large-scale protests occur in the eastern city of Benghazi. A police crackdown leads to violent confrontations across Libya.

February 20: Qaddafi’s military and police withdraw from Benghazi after intense street fighting. Rebels assert control in most of eastern Libya.

February 27: Libya’s National Transitional Council is formed. Two weeks later, France recognizes it as Libya’s legitimate government; other countries follow.

March 14: Saudi Arabia sends armored columns into Bahrain. Security forces crush the uprising, carrying out mass arrests within a few days. Bahrain’s king declares martial law. The monument in Pearl Square, the uprising’s heart, is razed.

March 15: Demonstrations start in Syria, triggered by police mistreatment of teenagers arrested in the southern town of Daraa for writing antigovernment graffiti. Protests spread quickly and are met with mass arrests and shootings.

March 17: The United Nations Security Council authorizes military action in Libya. Air strikes begin immediately, with NATO in command.

March 18: Gunmen aligned with Yemen’s government open fire on protesters in the capital, killing at least fifty-two and prompting top military officers to defect. President Ali Abdullah Saleh signals soon afterward that he may step down before the year’s end. Much of the country falls out of the government’s control.

March 19: Egypt’s first post-revolutionary vote, on a constitutional referendum that could lead to early elections, ends in triumph for the Muslim Brotherhood and hints at rising polarization between Islamist and secularist camps.

March 26: Jihadis capture the town of Jaar, in southern Yemen. With the government in collapse, the jihadis gradually extend their control over other towns in the south.

June 3: The Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh is seriously injured by a bombing in the mosque of his compound. He is flown to Saudi Arabia for treatment, leaving the country rudderless.

July– August: In Syria, defecting officers form the Free Syrian Army. Opposition groups form the Syrian National Council, based in Turkey. Nonviolent protests gradually give way to armed struggle. Foreign fighters begin to enter Syria.

August 18: President Obama declares that “the time has come for President Assad to step aside.” This is widely understood as a promise of support for the Syrian president’s overthrow, and will later be cited by critics of American inaction.

August 20: Libyan rebels begin an assault on Tripoli. Within days Muammar Qaddafi and his followers flee. The civil war is effectively over.

October 20: Muammar al Qaddafi, Libya’s ruler for forty-two years, is captured and killed by rebels while trying to flee from the coastal city of Sirte.

October 23: Tunisia holds parliamentary elections, the first to take place since the uprising. Ennahda, the Islamist party led by Rached Ghannouchi, wins a plurality and subsequently forms a coalition government.

November: There are more protests and violence in Egypt after the ruling military council moves to ensure it will play a dominant role even after civilian government is elected.

November 23: After months of evasive maneuvering, the Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh flies to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, to sign a transition document brokered by Arab and American diplomats. He is given immunity from prosecution in exchange for stepping down.

November 28: Egyptian parliamentary elections start, continuing through January. The Islamists ultimately win a majority of seats, with the Muslim Brotherhood’s party taking about 47 percent and the Islamist Nour Party taking about 24 percent.


January: Fighting intensifies in Syria. The Assad regime launches large-scale artillery assaults, destroying many civilian homes in the Damascus suburbs, the city of Homs, and other areas.

April 1: In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood decides to run a candidate in the upcoming presidential elections, reversing an earlier pledge and elevating fears among secularists.

April: The death toll in Syria reaches ten thousand, according to civilian monitors and the United Nations.

June: The United Nations declares a state of civil war in Syria. Jihadi groups become more active and visible in the armed opposition, including the Nusra Front, Al Qaeda’s branch in Syria.

June: Muhammad Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood is elected president of Egypt, narrowly defeating an ally of former president Hosni Mubarak.

July 7: Libya has its first parliamentary elections post-revolution. Non-Islamists win a plurality of seats. Optimism runs high, despite the continued presence of armed militias.

July 18: A bomb kills eight top Syrian regime officials during a closed-door meeting, including the defense minister and President Bashar Assad’s brother-in-law. No plausible claims of responsibility emerge; the bombing remains a mystery.

July– August: Fighting intensifies in the Syrian city of Aleppo, a center of trade and one of the oldest continually inhabited sites on earth; within a year large parts of the city will be reduced to rubble.

August: Kurdish forces in northern Syria gain effective control over an enclave near the Turkish border.

September: U.S. Ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens is killed in an attack on an American compound in Benghazi following violent protests over an American video seen as insulting to Islam. Angry crowds drive out Ansar Sharia, the Islamist militia that helped organize the attack. Libya’s interim head of state vows to disband all illegal militias.

November: The Egyptian president Muhammad Morsi issues a decree temporarily granting himself broad powers above any court as the guardian of the revolution. Large-scale protests begin.

December: The U.S. State Department designates the Nusra Front a terrorist group, amid increasing alarm over jihadi activity in Syria.


March 6: Syrian rebels capture the eastern city of Raqqa, the first regional capital to fall under their control.

May: As government authority frays in Libya, Islamist militias in Tripoli threaten lawmakers, effectively forcing Parliament to pass a law that bars their rivals from office.

June 5: Syrian rebels are routed from the town of Qusayr by Hezbollah forces fighting on behalf of the Assad regime. The victory illustrates the regime’s growing dependence on Iran and Hezbollah, its Lebanese Shiite proxy.

June: The death toll in Syria reaches one hundred thousand.

June 30: There are huge protests across Egypt against President Muhammad Morsi. A pro-Islamist sit-in begins in Rabaa Square in Cairo.

July 3: The Egyptian military deposes President Muhammad Morsi and puts him under arrest in an unknown location. Islamist protests expand and confrontations with police begin, with dozens shot and killed. The orchestrator of the coup, General Abdelfattah al Sisi, is Egypt’s de facto leader; many hail him as a hero.

July 25: In Tunis, Mohamed Brahmi is assassinated, making him the second opposition leader to be killed in five months. Protests against the Islamist-led government intensify. Starting in August, Ennahda’s leader, Rached Ghannouchi, begins meeting with the opposition leader, Beji Caid Essebsi.

August 14: Egyptian security forces clear the two main Islamist protest encampments, killing about a thousand people and arresting thousands more. Within weeks, most of the Muslim Brotherhood leadership is jailed, including Muhammad Beltagy and the group’s Supreme Guide, Muhammad Badie. Others go into hiding or escape abroad. Jihadi insurgency in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula gathers strength.

August 21: Rockets containing sarin gas strike an opposition-controlled area near Damascus, killing more than a thousand people. Most analysts agree that the regime launched the attack, the deadliest use of chemical weapons since the Iran-Iraq War. President Obama, who had previously declared chemical weapons use to be a “red line,” weighs military intervention, but ultimately decides on a diplomatic solution in which Syria pledges to destroy its chemical weapons stockpile.

September 28: The Tunisian crisis eases as the Islamist Ennahda movement agrees to cede power to an independent caretaker government. Dialogue on a new constitution begins.

October: In Syria, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (known as ISIL or ISIS) consolidates control over the city of Raqqa and begins administering a radical version of Islamic law in what will become its capital.

November: Amid rising lawlessness in Libya, nine people are killed in clashes between the military and Islamist militia fighters in Benghazi.

December: Conflict intensifies between ISIS and other jihadi groups, including the Nusra Front, Al Qaeda’s official branch in Syria.


January 26: Tunisia’s lawmakers approve a new constitution, promoting nationwide celebrations.

February 3: After months of internecine fighting in Syria, Al Qaeda formally disavows any connection with ISIS.

May: In Libya, the renegade general Khalifa Haftar launches a military assault against militant Islamists in Benghazi and attempts to seize the Parliament building.

May 30: Abdelfattah al Sisi is elected Egypt’s president.

June 10: ISIS captures the Iraqi city of Mosul and much of the country’s northwest, as Iraqi military forces collapse.

June 25: Libyan elections are marked by low turnout, and are followed by clashes between followers of outgoing and incoming parliaments. Islamists carry out a coup in Tripoli.

June 29: The leader of ISIS, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, declares himself leader of an Islamic caliphate stretching from eastern Syria to western Iraq. Recruitment of foreign fighters surges.

July: As civil war intensifies in Libya, United Nations staff pull out and foreign embassies close. Tripoli airport is largely destroyed by fighting. The ISIS branch in Libya grows, eventually gaining base in the coastal city of Sirte.

August: The U.S. military launches air strikes against ISIS targets in Iraq and assembles a coalition. Strikes will later extend to Syria.

August: ISIS releases a videotape of the beheading of the American photojournalist James Foley. Other videos of hostage murders follow.

September: In Yemen, the Huthi rebels, now in league with the former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh, capture Sanaa, becoming the country’s de facto rulers.

October 26: Tunisia’s Islamist party, Ennahda, suffers losses in parliamentary elections. Victory goes to the secularist party led by Beji Caid Essebsi, who is later elected president and forms a coalition government with Ennahda.

December: The death toll in the Syrian civil war exceeds two hundred thousand.


January: In Yemen, President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi resigns and later flees to Saudi Arabia. The Huthis continue their push southward; Yemen fragments in their wake.

March 18: In Tunis, jihadi terrorists attack the Bardo Museum, leading to the deaths of twenty-two people, mostly foreigners.

March 26: Saudi Arabia and a coalition of allies begin a military campaign to oust the Huthis from power in Yemen, including large-scale air strikes. The conflict is widely viewed as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, which provides limited support to the Huthis. Amid the fighting, Al Qaeda asserts control over the southern coastal city of Mukalla.

June 26: A lone terrorist at a Tunisian resort kills thirty-eight people, mostly foreign tourists. Tunisia’s tourist industry is effectively destroyed.

June 29: Egypt’s top prosecutor is killed in a car bombing in Cairo, amid signs that the jihadi insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula is spreading across the country.

September: Russia bolsters its military support to the Syrian regime, including air strikes against rebels (though its initial attacks on ISIS are limited). The expanded Russian role appears to galvanize many Islamists, who see a revival of the 1980s anti-Russian jihad in Afghanistan.

Worth, Robert F.  A Rage for Order: The Middle East in Turmoil, from Tahrir Square to ISIS (pp. 221 - 226). Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Kindle Edition.

Dr. Nabeel Jabbour