19 Jan 13
Islamists in Algeria seized a gas plant with foreign workers, including American, British and French nationals. A group with links to the local Al-Qaeda representation claimed the attack was a reprisal for French intervention in Mali.
At least 87 people were killed on an attack on Aleppo’s university in northern Syria. The rebels and Bashar Assad’s government blamed each other.
12 Jan 13
Syrian President Bashar Assad gave his first public speech in nearly seven months, denouncing the rebels seeking to overthrow him and criticizing western countries for meddling in domestic affairs.
Egypt’s President Muhammed Morsi mediated talks in Cairo between the leaders of Palestinian groups Fatah and Hamas, in an attempt to implement a unity pact signed in 2011.
04 Jan 13
A controversial constitution won the approval of 64% of Egyptians in a national referendum. Critics say the constitution favours Islamists and ignores the rights of minorities. The turnout was less than 33%. Parliamentary elections are to be held next month, where secular opposition hopes to perform better.
At least 60,000 people have been killed in Syria’s civil war, according to the UN’s commissioner for human rights.
20 Dec 12
Opposition to the Assad regime in Syria escalated into a full-scale civil war, resulting in at least 30,000 deaths. Fighting reached the capital Damascus, and the rebels gained control over large parts of the country. Turkey occasionally exchanged artillery fire with Syria.
Egypt was plagued by further sporadic violence as the Arab spring of 2011 failed to bring stability. Mohamed Morsi won the presidential election and became the first elected Islamist head of state in the Arab world. He proposed a new constitution that critics say is excessively Islamist and endangers minorities.
The National Transitional Council in Libya handed over power to an elected congress, though factional fighting continued. The American ambassador to Libya was killed on the 11th of September in an attack on the US consulate in Benghazi.
A week-long war in Gaza was sparked by Israel’s air strike which killed the head of Hamas’ military wing, which left 140 Palestinians and six Israeli’s dead. Egypt brokered a ceasefire.
15 Dec 12
The stand-off between opponents and supporters of President Morsi intensified in Egypt, where the nation is due to vote on a controversial constitution. The opposition is campaigning against the draft constitution, claiming it will take the country further in an Islamist direction.
Delegates of more than 100 countries, including America, formally recognised Syria’s opposition as the country’s legitimate government. Reports suggested that President Assad’s fired Scud missiles at rebel forces.
08 Dec 12
Violent demonstrations occurred in Egypt as liberals and secularists rallied in Cairo and other cities against President Morsi’s decree that gives him wide-ranging extra powers. Morsi’s supporters held large counter-demonstrations. The president seemed determined to hold a referendum quickly on his proposed new constitution.
While the UN General Assembly recognised Palestine as a non-member observer state, Israel pushed ahead with its plans to build 3,000 settler homes on part of the West Bank.
On reports of the Syrian regime moving chemical weapons around the country, US president Barack Obama warned the Assad regime that any use of chemical weapons would be “totally unacceptable” and would result in “consequences”. Increasingly confident rebel forces were preparing for a battle for Damascus.
05 Dec 12
Egypt’s president Mohamed Morsi issued a decree that vastly increases his powers in office, plunging the country into a new crisis as it triggered massive street protests. Morsi claims the decree is necessary to overcome resistance to the government from Mubarak-era judges.
A ceasefire held in Gaza as indirect talks were held in Cairo between mediators for Israel and Hamas.
26 Nov 12
A ceasefire, mainly mediated by Egypt, was accepted by Israel and Hamas following a week-long conflict that cost the lives of five Israelis and over 140 Palestinians. Hamas agreed to stop firing rockets at Israel, which said it would lift the siege of Gaza.
Syria’s revamped opposition coalition was recognised by Britain, France, Turkey and six Gulf states.
16 Nov 12
The head of Hamas’ military wing, Ahmad Jabar, was killed in an Israeli air strike. The Israeli security service claimed Jabar was responsible for all terrorist actions launched from Gaza n the past decade. A barrage of rockets was fired from Gaza in revenge.
The Palestinians said they would formally apply for enhanced observer status at the United Nations during a meeting of the General Assembly on November 29th. A large majority is likely to say yes.
A series of bomb blasts killed two foreign workers in Bahrain. The official news agency blamed terrorists for the attacks.
Increases in fuel prices sparked demonstrations and calls for a general strike in Amman, Jordan. There was a rare show of public anger directed at the monarchy.
10 Nov 12
Representatives of Syria’s divided opposition met in Qatar in an effort to create a united front that would supersede the Syrian National Council, which has failed to win the trust of those opposed to President Bashar Assad.
Prince Mohamed bin Nayef replaced one of his uncles as Saudi Arabia’s interior minister, a job his late father has held for 37 years.
Bahrain revoked the citizenship of over 30 opposition members, with the interior minister citing their ‘repeated abuse’ of the right of freedom of speech could no longer be accepted.