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What's Happening In The Middle East: The Seeds Of Revolution

Benjamin Gottlieb |
February 24, 2011 | 4:04 p.m. PST

Senior News Editor

The pressure cooker of dictatorial rule in the Middle East has finally blown its lid; the sheer scale and historic importance of the events are beyond precedent.

It began as a campaign of civil resistance in Tunisia, leading to the overthrow of then-President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali on January 14. 

Next to fall was former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak – an ex-air force commander and successor to the assassinated Anwar Sadat – who rigged national elections for 30 years to maintain his place as Egypt’s de facto king. 

But as the tyrants of Tunisia and Egypt fell to widely successful popular uprisings, the citizens of surrounding nations were taking notes.

Today, the region’s most eccentric and previously untouchable dictator, Muammar Gaddafi, struggles to retain control of his 42-year dictatorship. Gaddafi has lost control of the western portion of Libya – including the nation’s second largest city, Benghazi – but told the country in a 90-minute ramble that he would hunt down the “hallucinogen-inspired” protesters one by one.

It’s been reported that other world dictators, such as Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, have praised Gaddafi for “again waging a great battle” in the face alleged crimes against humanity.

However, Ortega’s display of solidarity is in the minority.

The sentiment that the entrenched autocrats of the region are untouchable is seemingly no more.

The air of invincibility reserved for the region’s most inveterate dictators has been rendered a farce, much like the empty promises they’ve made to their people. 

As the longstanding tyrants of the Middle East continue to devise new tactics to preserve their power, the question on everyone’s mind remains: who is next?

Click on a country below to track each protest to date.



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