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Arab Spring sweeps away despotic regimes

Wednesday December 28, 2011 07:29:32 PM, IANS

2011 in Retrospect

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Dubai: Huge pro-democracy uprisings that swept the Arab world in 2011 booted out some of north Africa's most powerful and long-serving regimes. Tunisia, Egypt and Libya have seen their oppressive rulers overthrown, while anti-government protesters elsewhere have kept the momentum going.

The trigger for the massive uprising was the Dec 17, 2010, self-immolation by vegetable seller Mohamed Bouazizi, who lived in the provincial town of Sidi Bouzid in Tunisia. Bouazizi did not have a licence for his trade and when the authorities stopped him and confiscated his produce, he got so angry that he set himself on fire.

That symbolic vent to the frustration over an unsympathetic system caught on like wildfire.

Tunisian president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who reigned for 23 years, was the first ruler forced to go. Ben Ali fled to Saudi Arabia in January and was granted asylum. A few days later, a new Tunisian transitional government was sworn in.

The uprising in Tunisia swiftly spread to Egypt, where it was Hosni Mubarak's turn to bite the dust.

Mubarak's three-decade rule ended unceremoniously when he was forced to quit in February after an 18-day unrest that left around 400 people dead.

Weeks after Mubarak resigned and left for his native place in the Red Sea resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh, his health deteriorated. He was then shifted to a Cairo military hospital where he suffered a second heart attack.

Mubarak is currently facing a trial on charges of ordering use of force against protesters. He and his family are also being probed over charges of illegally amassing wealth during his rule since 1981.

It was now Libya's turn to be swept by the pro-democracy movement.

The country witnessed bitter fighting between Muammar Gaddafi's forces and rebels.

Gaddafi's 40-year rule ended after rebel forces seized Tripoli Aug 23. The 69-year-old leader was on the run when he was captured and killed in his hometown of Sirte Oct 20.

Gaddafi was one of the world's longest rulers, having seized power in a bloodless coup in September 1969 against King Idris. He was 27 years old then.

Gaddafi's fall marked the end of another major chapter in north Africa that has witnessed unprecedented upheavals in recent times.

Yemen, Algeria, Syria and Bahrain also saw mass protests against their rulers.

In Yemen, protesters are demanding an end to the 33-year rule of President Ali Abdullah

Anti-government protests continue despite a call from Saleh in March for a national dialogue to end weeks of protests.

In Algeria, thousands of students sought improvement of their social and educational status.

In Syria, mass protests broke out against President Bashar al-Assad in March.

On Nov 27, the Arab League approved sanctions against Syria to dissuade the Bashar Assad regime from its crackdown on dissent.

A team of Arab League has arrived in Damascus to oversee a peace initiative following the deaths of many protesters. There has been mounting international pressure on Syria to end its crackdown.

In Bahrain, anti-government rallies began in February with protesters demanding political reforms and greater freedom. Many people were killed in the violence.











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