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Middle East Wholly Engulfed by Protests

Posted on the 21 February 2011 by ---

Middle East Wholly Engulfed by Protests

Protesters in Morocco on Sunday

What began as a man immolating himself in Tunisia has now tentatively deposed two despots in the Middle East, and the wildfire of rage against authoritarian governments has now proliferated among all nations in the region.  People in Jordan, Yemen, and Sudan have been protesting since the outset of the Egyptian Revolution.  Now, the calls for change are sweeping through other nations.  In the island country of Bahrain, protesters were gunned down and the sultan ordered in tanks, which was reminiscent of Tienanmen Square in 1989.  Then, in a bizarre twist, the Sunni ruler became desperate to negotiate with the largely Shiite protesters, as the unrest conflicted with the Formula 1 season opener which Bahrain hosts (the sultan has a passion for auto racing).  However, as of one hour ago, the race has been canceled.  It remains to be seen what effect this will have on negotiations.  Flareups are also underway in Algeria, Palestine, Syria, Kuwait, Djibouti, Iraq, Palestine, Morocco, and Tunisia for a second time, where thousands demand Ben Ali's return for a trial.  While these have been on the tamer side, some of the most interesting (and frightening) developments are happening in more civically restricted nations such as Iran, and Libya in particular.  There, dictator Muammar al-Gaddafi has been in power for more than 41 years, longer than any other leader in the world.  During that time, he has built an ironclad regime in Libya, and made incursions into Chad, Sierra Leone, and Liberia in the name of 'Pan-Africanism.'  Gaddafi has also expressed nuclear ambitions, although he discontinued his program in 2003.  Libya and the United States have long had shaky relations at best; the Reagan Administration bombed the North African nation in 1986 because of its involvement in the Munich hostage crisis and a disco bombing.   Now, protests in Benghazi have spread to Tripoli.  Unsuccessful marches have been made to Gaddafi's private compound with intent of burning it to the ground, and upwards of two hundred protesters are estimated dead after pro-government men opened fire on a funeral procession.  Although Gaddafi's son made a speech simultaneously promising reforms and an immediate crackdown, it seems the would-be-dynasty's days are numbered.  Libya's largest tribe is standing with the protesters, oil exports are being cut off, and several military units have defected to join the fledgling revolution.  Meanwhile, the United States has chosen to continue its tepid response to the crises.  Let's surely hope for no bloodbath, but hope isn't enough.  Sanctions against all of these governments would be a good way to start, and a more inspired and firm choice of words from Obama would be a good way to continue.  On the flip side, the worst situation would be for us to look away as revolts and  people are ground into the bottoms of dictators' shoes.  Here is a link from CNN with up-to-date info on the continuing outcry and retaliation across the Middle East: http://news.blogs.cnn.com/2011/02/21/live-blogging-north-africa-middle-east-protests/.
Middle East Wholly Engulfed by Protests
Middle East Wholly Engulfed by Protests
Middle East Wholly Engulfed by Protests
Middle East Wholly Engulfed by Protests
Middle East Wholly Engulfed by Protests
Middle East Wholly Engulfed by Protests

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