Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Arab and African Dictators Put On Notice

“A revolution is coming. A revolution which will be peaceful if we are wise enough; compassionate if we care enough; successful if we are fortunate enough – but a revolution which is coming whether we will it or not. We can affect its character, we cannot alter its inevitability...Those who make the peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."
– John F. Kennedy


LOS ANGELES Oct 25 (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama said on Tuesday former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi missed his chance to bring democracy to his country and described his death as a message to dictators around the world.

"This is somebody who, for 40 years, has terrorized his country and supported terrorism," Obama said on NBC's "Tonight Show" with Jay Leno.

"He had an opportunity during the Arab Spring to finally let loose of his grip on power and to peacefully transition into democracy.

"We gave him ample opportunity, and he wouldn't do it."

Gaddafi was buried in a secret desert location on Tuesday, five days after he was captured, killed and put on grisly public display. The former leader was seen on video being mocked, beaten and abused before he died.

"Obviously, you never like to see anybody come to the kind of end that he did, but I think it obviously sends a strong message around the world to dictators that ... people long to be free," Obama said.

The Dictators - Scores From around the Arab League

Tunisia - President Zine al-Abidin Ben Ali - Mohammed Bouazizi sets himself on fire Dec. 17, 2010 – Revolt ended 28 days later Jan. 14, 2011, with the exile of Ali to Saudi Araba, the dissolution of two police security forces and the ruling political party, release of political prisoners and elections. 224 deaths, 94 injuries.

Egypt – Hosni Mubarak - Revolt Begins Jan. 25, 2011 – Khaled Said the victim of police brutality, Abdelhalim Kandil, Mohamed ElBaradei – Resistance leaders. Mubarak resigns Feb. 11. Ended after 17 days. 846 deaths.

Libya - Moammar Gadhafi – (42 years) – Begins February 15, 2011 – Ends with Gadhafi death October 20, after 8 months. 30,000 deaths, 100,000 injured of 6 million people, many foreign workers and mercenaries.

Yemen - Ali Abdullah Saleh - Yemen the Ja'ashin – Began Jan. 27, 2011 – Feb. 2nd Saleh announced he would not run for reelection or pass on power to son. Saleh survived assassination attempt and recouperated in Saudi Arabia. On going Deaths 1782 (as of Sept.) 1000+ injured.

Bahrain - King HM Sheikh Hamad Bin Eisa Al Khalifa – (9 years). Began February 14, 2011 – ongoing. 42 deaths, 1000 wounded, 828 arrested.

Syria - Bashar al-Assad – Son of previous dictator. Began January 26, 2011, uprising March 15, ongoing. Casulaties: Deaths 3600 civilians (as of Sept), 680 securityforces, 1300 civilians injured, 1857 security forces; 12, 743 arrested

Yemen - Ali Abdullah Saleh / Nobel Peace Prize winner Tawakul Karman 1782 deaths (as of Sept.) 1,000+ injuries.

Iran - President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Oman - hereditary sultān,Qaboos bin Said Al Said Began Jan. 17, 2011 - Ended May 31, 2011 with concessons. Casualties: 6 deaths, 20 injured

Algeria - President Abdelaziz Bouteflika

Morocco - King Mohammed VI

Saudi Arabia - King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz

Jordan - King Abdullah II

Zimbabwe (Rhodesia) – (30 years) Robert Mugabe – 87
Equatorial Guinea – (32 years) Teodoro Obiang Nguema
Uganda (25 years) Yoweri Museveni
Swaziland (24 years) King Mswati III
Burkina Faso (24 years) Blaise Campaore

Zambia – Rupiah Banda – Accepted democratic transition

The jacaranda trees are blooming in Harare, draping its broad avenues with canopies of purple and green. The shops are bustling, hotels and restaurants are often full, children are at school, young couples are walking in the park. No sign of a revolution here.

Coming to Zimbabwe after two spells in Libya this year, I felt like they were not merely the length of a continent apart, but on different planets. While north Africa has been convulsed by revolution, life in Zimbabwe in 2011 has continued to flow in a comparatively gentle, uneventful way.

President Robert Mugabe, immovable for three decades, has little cause to be kept awake at night by last week's chilling images of a bloody, battered and bewildered Muammar Gaddafi pleading for his life. Could it happen here? Not likely.

Middle Eastern dictators as Libyan fighters set their sights on the the 'germ of Syria'


Last updated at 10:13 AM on 21st October 2011

President Barack Obama hailed Muammar Gaddafi's death yesterday as a warning to dictators across the Middle East that iron-fisted rule 'inevitably comes to an end.

Obama said the fall of Tunisia, Egypt and now Libya in revolutions dubbed the Arab Spring proved that the leaders of Syria and Yemen should be fearful of similar endings.

Protests broke out in March in Syria and more than 3,000 people have been killed after a violent military response from the leadership.

Washington has demanded that Syria's leader Bashar al-Assad halt his crackdown on democracy protests in Syria and step down. The White House is also pressing Yemen's longtime president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, to leave office in the face of political upheaval.

Obama has also condemned Iran's human rights record and is seeking further sanctions against Tehran over an alleged foiled plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington.

'For the region, today's events prove once more that the rule of an iron fist inevitably comes to an end,' Obama said.

Obama stressed that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had lost his legitimacy to rule.
The leader said the United States would be a partner to Libya's interim government and urged a swift transition to democracy but made no specific promises of aid.

The warnings from Washington were backed up by Libyan revolutionaires themselves, who vowed to help their 'brothers and sisters in Syria' fight for freedom.

'This is the fate of a leader who destroyed the lives of his people for decades and opened fire on them before his demise,' said Mohamed Beltagy, senior member of Egypt's influential Muslim Brotherhood.

'Gaddafi's fate should be a lesson for Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad and Yemen's (Ali Abdullah) Saleh,' he said.

The warnings were welcomed by Syrian dissidents who have continued their struggles.

'If I were a member of the regime, Bashar or [his brother] Maher, I would start to feel rather concerned,' said Amr al-Azm, a Syrian dissident in the United States and member of the opposition, told the Independent.

The presidents of Tunisia and then Egypt were the first to be ousted in the 'Arab Spring' that has brought ordinary people onto the streets to demand political change where many kings and presidents have ruled for decades.

But Tunisia's Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali and Egypt's Hosni Mubarak were driven out by protests with relatively little violence. Gaddafi, whose bloodied body was shown in footage carried by Arabic television channels, was ousted after months of fighting during which he turned the full might of his army against rebels, firing missiles, artillery and other heavy weapons at them.

'Hell awaits Gaddafi. I hate to rejoice in anyone's death, but what he did to his people was atrocious,' said Nancy El Kassab, an Egyptian television executive producer.

'Gaddafi's death will scare Arab dictators like Assad and Saleh, and make other Arab leaders more careful with their people after they recover from the shock of the news,' said Alia Askalany, 27, an Egyptian marketing manager.

In Libya, many could hardly contain their joy.

'Thank God ... With the rebels will this was achieved and we thank everyone who helped us and we are so happy,' said Khaled Al-Asoud, a 35-year-old Libyan fighter.

In Jordan, Abdullah al-Khatib, former UN special envoy to Libya and one-time Jordanian foreign minister, said: 'Other somehow similar systems in the region should draw their conclusions and listen to the voice of the people and should create the conditions whereby people of the region can freely and openly determine their future and destiny.'

Stark warning: U.S. President Barack Obama added pressure to Syria and Yemen

Activists in Syria's central city of Homs told Avaaz, a campaigning rights organisation, that people celebrated Gaddafi's death in the streets. Some held placards saying: 'The rat of Libya has been caught, next is the germ of Syria.'

But some questioned how much of a domino effect Gaddafi's demise might have elsewhere in a region, including Yemen where President Saleh has clung on to power in a nation riven by tribal conflicts even after he was wounded in an attack that prompted him to seek treatment in neighbouring Saudi Arabia.

'(Gaddafi) deserves it, he killed a lot of people. I don't believe this will happen in Yemen because there are a lot of divisions there,' said Omran Ahmed, a Yemeni living in Egypt.

Saleh already has backed down three times from signing a Gulf initiative for a transfer of power, saying he would only hand over power to 'safe hands.'

Lebanon's former prime minister, Saad al-Hariri, said in a statement that Gaddafi's death should be a lesson to leaders who 'have adopted oppression as a method to dominate their people.'
'Any Arab citizen, watching the course of events in Libya, cannot but think of the popular revolutionary movement that is taking place in Syria,' he said.

The balance of power shifted dramatically against Gaddafi in March after his troops swept across rebel-held territory and threatened to launch a devastating attack on the eastern rebel stronghold of Benghazi.

A U.N. resolution was passed at the time that prompted NATO to launch air strikes.
Emad Gad from Egypt's Al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies said Gaddafi's death could encourage the international community to be more proactive in other places.

He said: 'It will lead to more pressure by the international community to resolve the conflicts in Syria and Yemen.

Mideast Looks to Libya for Lessons



Moammar Gadhafi's death in Libya is likely to harden the battle lines in coming days between protesters and embattled leaders of Syria and Yemen, analysts said. But ultimately, they expect the event will be polarizing—providing some Arab protesters with a model of a successful overthrow of a brutal dictator, while giving others a sobering reminder of its costs.

For Syria, more than seven months into a stalemate between protesters and President Bashar al-Assad's regime, Gadhafi's death shows one outcome of a military intervention—which Syrian protesters and the international community have until now both eyed warily for that country at the region's center.

Gadhafi's death comes amid preparations for Sunday's elections in Tunisia, where this year's regionwide protests first brought down an Arab leader. Unlike in Libya's bloody battle, protesters in Tunisia quickly ousted the president with little bloodshed. In Egypt, bouts of violence continue to threaten the transition from military rule. The three countries' paths to democratic rule will provide early blueprints for political change in the region.

The conflict in Libya has gripped Arabs across the region.

On Thursday, some people said images described as showing Gadhafi's final moments, broadcast by Arab satellite channels, were startling and alarming. For thousands of protesters facing violence on the streets of Syria and Yemen, the television shots—including one in which Gadhafi appears to be kicked around—showed the fragility of what they long saw as their region's unshakable strongmen.

"Three dictators down in 10 months in North Africa, with the promise of perhaps two more in the region—it's extraordinary," said Salman Shaikh, director of the Brookings Doha Center, a think tank in Qatar. "It's now getting to the proportions of 1989 in Europe."

Online in the region, activists circulated a cartoon bearing the images of five regional leaders, with red X's marked through the portraits of toppled heads of Tunisia, Egypt and now Libya. The cartoon depicted a painter dragging his brush toward the watchful caricatures of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

"It's Ali's turn," protesters chanted in San'a, Yemen's capital. Demonstrators in Syria chanted "Zenga zenga, dar dar, your turn is next Bashar"—playing on a phrase Gadafhi used in a speech vowing to root out Libyan protesters.

In Syria, where elements of the opposition have lately grown more violent, Gadhafi's overthrow is only likely to spur larger protests and a harsher official crackdown, analysts said.

But in the longer term, they said, some protesters will push to topple Mr. Assad by whatever means, with more already calling for an international no-fly zone, and asking why they shouldn't take up arms. But others are likely to grow more wary of change as Libya emerges unsteadily from its bloody conflict.

Analysts drew two parallels between Syria and Libya, which they say will be closely watched in coming weeks. Much as Libyans based their rebel movement in the eastern city of Benghazi, a growing movement of defected Syrian army officers have appealed for international help to create a safe zone, either along the border with Turkey or with Lebanon, that could turn into a base for defectors and the broader opposition. Those border areas have seen some of the fiercest fighting between army and defectors, and could potentially be guarded by regional powers.

Meanwhile, the apparent success of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's Libya campaign has set a precedent for international coordination, through the so-called Libya Contact Group, that could be copied to move forward discussions between the U.S., Europe, Turkey, and Arab states on how to protect civilians in Syria.

It is also likely to intensify the debate, internationally and domestically, on the risks that any international intervention in Syria would arouse an increasingly hostile response from Mr. Assad's government, which blames the unrest on a foreign conspiracy. Any armed conflict in Syria also risks fueling a broader regional conflict, neighboring states and Western diplomats worry.
To date, foreign capitals have shown little appetite for intervention in Syria.

But Najib Ghadbian, a U.S.-based member of the Syrian National Council, an opposition umbrella group, said Gadhafi's ouster could help dampen concerns over international intervention. "Those criticisms that were launched against NATO that it moved beyond civilian protection, and of how the operation was handled, will be less relevant now with this outcome," said Mr. Ghadbian, who visited Tripoli this week as part of a delegation from the Council.

Libya's National Transition Council — the kind of alternate government that the Syrian Council hopes it will evolve into — last week offered the SNC the first recognition of legitimacy as an alternative to the government in Damascus, bolstering activists.

Syrians have increasingly taken inspiration from what they see as a costly but necessary fight against Gadhafi, said Mr. Ghadbian. "You definitely see a new Libya throughout the country," he said of his latest travels through the country. "We do, in Syria, have a distrust of any foreign intervention, along the lines of Iraq—nobody wants that. But some people who were skeptical about Libya will definitely be less so."

Write to Nour Malas at nour.malas@dowjones.com

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