2011 – The Year of the Fallen Tyrants
“A long and painful chapter for the people of Libya is now closed. The dark shadow of tyranny has been lifted and with this enormous promise the people of Libya have a great responsibility to build an inclusive, tolerant and democratic Libya that stands as the ultimate rebuke to Gaddafi’s dictatorship.”
These were the words of the U.S. President Barack Obama on the fall of the Libyan despot ruler Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.
As we are ready to wrap up the toils and strife of 2011, we cannot help but notice the grand design which can very well comply to an audacious attempt to refer to it to as an ethnic cleansing of “tyrants”. The year saw it all. Dictators and strongmen taking an ignominious bow and fleeing their nation to the world waking up to know that one of the dark lords of terror has been captured and put to sleep in the ocean floor forever, to images flashing all across media of one of the most invincible rulers having to take his last breath in a hole pleading for mercy. The ones who were spared the brouhaha of a rebellion had to embrace death, disease or downfall.
This year will definitely go down in history as one of the most significant ones which ushered in new hopes and obliterated years of suffering for many. This article is dedicated to the victory of good over evil. Read on to find out more about the fallen tyrants who were destined to call it quits this year.
Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, Tunisia
This small African nation was the one that initiated the revolution which took the Arab world by storm. The Tunisian president Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali was one of the first to succumb to the 2011 “Arab Spring”. Ben Ali was in office for a period of 23 years and has amassed massive amounts of personal wealth. He and his family led a lifestyle which could put the first name on the forbes list of billionaires to shame. With rigged elections behind him in 2009, he was getting ready for another term of presidency following the slated September general elections. The country, though a constitutional republic was well known for incidents of human rights violation, rampant corruption, nepotism and repression of freedom of press. The Tunisian revolution which began with the common man taking to the streets with anti government demonstrations amid widespread corruption, inflation, high unemployment and poor living conditions resulted in ousting of the kleptocratic ruler of 23 years who was forced to flee and seek refuge in Saudi Arabia.
Hosni Mubarak, Egypt
The revolution spread soon enough to another North African neighboring country, Egypt. This year saw the end to a 30 year presidential rule of this Egyptian President. He is one of the longest serving rulers that Egypt had seen in recent times. He was known for his paranoia over his personal security and survived six assassination attempts on his life. On 25th January, 2011 a massive demonstration broke out at Tahrir Square (now of historical significance and synonymous with the Arab Revolution of 2011) demanding the removal of Mubarak from power. The slew of demonstrations that followed for the next eighteen days resulted in Mubarak steeping down as the President and fleeing the country. He has been found guilty on several accounts of corruption, premeditated murder of peaceful demonstrators and enforcing a temporary ban and shutting down the usage of telephone and internet in the country.
Muammar Gaddafi, Libya
Referred to as the “Colonel” and bestowed with tags like “King of Kings”, “Imam of Muslims”, “Brother Leader” and “dean of all Arab Rulers” Gaddafi, ended up biting the dust literally. He was at his treacherous best for a whopping period of 42 years. A self proclaimed megalomaniac, was famous for his capricious means of being ostentatious. From his handpicked army of “virgin” bodyguards, wacky sense of dressing, being a complete rant on international podiums to his fetish for cosmetic solutions to slow down aging, everything contributed to his larger than life image. He is thought to be one of the key players who added fuel to global terrorism and sponsored insurgencies. Being hunted down from a hole by the rebel forces and showered with bullets amidst pleas of mercies conjured up an image of him which is not going to be forgotten by many for years to come.
Osama Bin laden, Global Terrorist
The “grand daddy” of terrorists, Osama Bin Laden was truly a global architect of terrorism. Renowned for masterminding the attack on the twin towers in 2011, an event which has become an epitome of ruthless fundamentalism; it took a nation like America 10 years to hunt him down. Perhaps the greatest military achievement for America in recent times would be the capture of Bin Laden. Born to wealthy Saudi parents, Laden renounced luxury and was a religious fanatic who gave new meaning to the term of “global terrorism”. Hordes of young teens and adults were brain washed and made a part of his radical Islamic terrorist organization, Al Qaeeda. He was the leader of this stateless army summoned to fight the jihad or the holy war. Bin Laden could easily be hailed the crowned prince of the world of terrorism as far as achievements, power, passion and prowess goes. It took years of undercover work and a covert guerilla operation planned to precision on the part of the United States Army to hunt him down in the dead of the night from a clandestine location in Pakistan. The world woke up the next day to the news of Bin Laden’s death and his body being thrown overboard in the middle of the ocean.
Kim Jong–il, North Korea
North Korea, one of the three nations once described by the American President George Bush as the ‘axis of evil’, the other two being Iraq and Iran, lost its autocratic leader Kim Jong-il to a heart attack last week. The 69 year old supremo of the Korean people who subscribed to every conceivable luxury available as far as fine dining is concerned was completely indifferent to the plight of the common man in the country. While he had a penchant for the choicest of live lobsters he is credited to have led his nation through one of the most devastating famines of recent times. Widely known as the “Dear Leader”, he continued to put “military first” even at the expense of famine and suffering on the part of the general population. He was also despised for building up a nuclear arms arsenal at the behest of the entire western world and was awarded with UN sanctions in return.
As Thomas Jefferson had once said “Every generation needs a new revolution”, this year time was ripe for some of the repressive nations of Northern Africa. The annihilation of these tyrants (through revolutions or otherwise) and their ideologies is perhaps the apotheosis of the belief that absolute power corrupts and brings in its wake oppression and injustice for the common man. However, as time has borne witness to the fact that absolute power is also short lived and could lay the foundation of some of the most path breaking and life changing revolutions ever seen before.