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The fruit seller who threw down the dictators

Mohammed Bouazizi or Basboosaas his friends called him was a poor fruit seller who had been working since he was 10 year old. he was only 3 years old when his father passed away and the little he earned was used to keep his mother, uncle and 6 siblings alive. He was used to being harassed by the local police for quite sometime but he would continue working with his handcart where he stashed vegetables and fruits. But this would come to an end December 17, 2010.

The female policeofficer, Faida Hamdi confiscated his handcart the day after he had borrowed money to buy more vegetables. Besides taking away his only income, the police officers had cussed him out in public, beaten him and called his late father bad names.

The shame, frsutration, desperation and humiliation had become too much for the 26 year old boy. He doused himself in petrol and set fire. And with him a whole region burnt down.

His suicide sparked the frustration the Tunisian people had felt for a long time and using Facebook and Al Jazeera, they spread the story about the young fruit seller. The Tunisian President Zine al-Abidine fled the country January 14th after ruling for 23 years.  Nobody had anticipated that his suicide would break down the dictators in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, and bring unrest to Syira, Jemen and Bahrain.

Mohammed, a simple young boy, work very hard to send his sisters to school and university earning only $5 a day. He was often forced to bribe the authorities more than he could earn to set up his handcart because they wouldn’t give him a permit.

Now, a picture of Bouazizi’s face has been set up to the mosaic tiled monument outside the municipal office where he earned his slap from a female worker when he went to complain about not being able to work as his income had been confiscated.

His friends and family remember him as a young man of simple taste, who had no time to follow football or music, and in time wanted to get married. His ambition was to buy the pickup truck for which he was saving, so he could drive to the market to buy his fruit, instead of having to walk.

His mother remembers how happy he was that morning and that he had never been suicidal, only frustrated over the town officials who would treat him unfair. “He would just sleep a few hours and go early to the market to push his handcart. When he had free time, he would stay with his family at home”, she said.

Outside Sidi Bouzid, where Mohammed used to live and work, about 12 miles along the main highway, there is a dirt road signposted for Sidi Salah. The cemetery is a little way beyond the village among some few trees and a line of ochre hills. Bouazizi’s grave is a grey concrete block with two pretty yellow bowls set in it, filled with water.

 

Turkey. A role model for Egypt?

Turkey is regarded as a model for a regime that will strengthen the democracy, but the differences between the two countries are large. There are two large and important non Arab Muslim majority countries in the Middle East; Turkey and Iran. The possibility that the revolution in Egypt would provide the Muslim Brotherhood increased influence has led to fears in the neighboring countries that it would end up with an extremist Islamic regime just like in Iran.

The Origin

Turkey and Egypt was once a part of the Ottoman Empire, but ever after it collapsed at the time of First World War, the development of the two countries has turned different directions.

The Egyptian constitution states that “Islam is the State religion” and that “The most important basis for the legislation is Islamic Jurisprudence (Sharia).” The Turkish constitution on the other hand states that the country is a secular, non-religious republic, and the basis for the state’s population. The modern day’s Turkey’s founder; Mustafa Kemal Atatürk wanted to create a modern nation. One of the examples is that the traditional headscarf was prohibited in public places and the Arabic alphabet was replaced with the Latin alphabet. The military was tasked by the government in 1961 to protect the Turkish republic’s integrity and secularism as described in the constitution something the army takes very seriously.

Sole ruler

Both under Gamal Abdel Nasser, Anwar al-Sadat and Hosni Mubarak, Egypt as a modern state has been characterized by sole ruler to a limited extend and haven’t allowed political oppositions. Nasser was a charismatic leader and Mubarak was a leader with not much support but with a determination to rule as long as possible. Despite all the differences, we can speak about Turkey as a model because of its bright developments over the past 10 years.

The road to democratization

After being a candidate in the EU in 1999, the requirement to fulfil the Copenhagen criteria for membership weakened the military’s role in Turkey. The National Security Council, where national security policy issues are discussed, have also been reformed and now consists of more civilian members than before when there was an emphasis on military officers. An attempted military intervention was still made as in 2007 it was revealed that there existed a right-wing military network that was planning a coup.

Since March 2003, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) have been in power. It is a moderate Islamist party, such as; that wishes to go in for a Turkish EU membership. This kind of moderate form of Islamic rule won’t happen over night in Egypt and if it would happen, then it does need a better functioning multi party system.

Statistic numbers

A survey conducted by the polling institute Pew Research Center before the protest wave began, shows clear differences between Egypt and Turkey. 72% of Turks see democracy as the absolute best form of government. 50% Egyptians do the same. 85% of Egyptians believe it is positive that Islam has an influence in politics and the number in Turkey is only 38%. When it comes to Islamic extremism, 61% of the Egyptians are strongly or partly concerned about it, while in Turkey 40% of Turks feel the same. While 52% of Turks see a conflict between the forces that will modernize the society and the fundamentalists, only 31% of Egyptians think the same. These numbers show that the Egyptians do want religion to play a role, but it gets disturbed by the extremists. In Turkey, the democratic way of thinking is quite strong, and soon 90 years of separation between state and Islam seems to have entrenched themselves. Turkey is an important model not only for Egypt but for the whole Middle East as it appears as a mediator whenever the storm hits its neighbours.

This was proven when President Abdullah Gül was awarded with the 2010 Chatham House Prize in London. Abdullah Gül has been a smooth operator and described as “the first proudly observant Muslim to be head of the secular Turkish state that wants to put an end to mutterings in Western capitals about Turkey’s shift to the East.” He was contributed this prize “for his contribution both to international relations and Turkeys development as a vibrant democratic state.”
While Gül will be remembered for his positive achievements, the Arab leaders will be remembered for their dictatorship, corruption and lack of respect for democracy.

Facts:

  • Turkey;

  • Governance: Republic.
  • Population: 77, 8 million.
  • Capital: Ankara.
  • Important export: Electronics, textile, agriculture products.
  • Economical growth: 4,7 %.
  • Living: Number 83 on UN’s list over 182 countries.
  • Corruption: Number 56 on Transparency s list over 180 countries, where 1 is least corrupt.
  • Surface area: 783.562 sqkms.
  • Egypt

  • Governance: Republic.
  • Population: 80 million.
  • Capital: Cairo.
  • Important export: Oil, cotton, metal products.
  • Economical growth: 4, 6 %.
  • Living: Number 101 on UN’s list over 182 countries.
  • Corruption: Number 98 on Transparency s list over 180 countries, where 1 is least corrupt.
  • Surface: 1 million sqkms.

Statesman of Egypt – Gamal Abdel Nasser

Born on Jan. 15, 1918: A graduate of the Royal Military Academy, Gamal Abdel Nasser first rose to prominence as an officer in the first Arab-Israeli war, where he gained recognition for holding out for three weeks in 1948 while his battalion was surrounded in what came to be known as the “Faluja Pocket”. While serving in the army, Nasser become the leader of a covert organization called the Free Officers whose goal was to overthrow the hereditary Egyptian royalty and free Egypt from British influence. These goals were accomplished in a 1952 coup d’etat which ended with King Farouk’s exile after Nasser vetoed his execution. Though he was the real leader of the new government, Nasser remained unknown to the public media until 1954 when he assumed the role of Prime Minister and published his book “Philosophy of the Revolution”, a call for pan-Arab resistance to imperialism. In 1956, Nasser proclaimed the adoption of “Arab Socialism” in Egypt and was elected almost unanimously to the office of Egyptian President. Later that year, Egypt nationalized the British-run Suez Canal to pay for a massive public works project, the Aswan High Dam. This invited an invasion of the Sinai Peninsula by Israel and the decimation of Egypt’s air force by British and French bombers, but also won Nasser the respect of many leaders of the “nonaligned” nations – countries which were allied with neither the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact nor the United States-headed North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Further, the prevention of a full-scale British invasion by both a Soviet threat of nuclear war and a United States warning of further reprisals set the tone for “Third World” affairs for years to come, as Nasser had established that weaker states could keep their independence by playing NATO and the Warsaw Pact against each other. Nasser would continue as a major leader of the nonaligned states until his death in 1970; among his efforts at “small power” independence were his support of Kenya’s Mau Mau movement in the late 1950s and the periodic rallying of Arab states against foreign domination. As president, his record of success was decidedly mixed: he finally finished the Aswan High Dam with Soviet assistance in 1968, but was constantly frustrated in his struggle against Israel, including an embarrassing defeat in the Six-Day War of 1967. Though he is almost unanimously regarded as a hero in the Arab world (he was the recipient of one of the largest state funerals in the region’s history).

Dictators of Africa – Part 5

Daniel arap Moi – Kenya  – 1978–2002

President of Kenya. Changed constitution to establish a de jure one-party state; resorted to repressive rule, including torture and imprisonment without trial.

Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo – Equatorial Guinea – 1979–present

Chairman of the Supreme Military Council 1979-1982; President of Equatorial Guinea 1982–present. Deposed his uncle in a violent coup; opposition is banned in all but name.

José Eduardo dos Santos – Angola – 1979–present

President of Angola. One-party state; did not stand for election until 1992.

João Bernardo Vieira – Guinea-Bissau – 1980–1984 and 2005–present

Become president by a coup. Killing and exiled opposition. Famous for the Guinea-Bissau Civil War.

Samuel K. Doe – Liberia – 1980–1990

Chairman of the People’s Redemption Council 1980-1984; President of Liberia 1984-1990. Gained power in a military coup that killed President William R. Tolbert, Jr., a reformer. Promoted Krahn chauvinism and “died a multi-millionaire and proud owner of mansions and estates”.

Robert Mugabe – Zimbabwe – 1980–present

Gained power through election, and repeatedly re-elected, but criticized for steps used to maintain power. From 1999 on, used police and militant groups like the War Veterans Association and Border Gezi Youth to enforce ZANU-PF policies and to prevent opponents from voting; called “king” by his aides. Arrested and tortured opponents and human rights activists; gave amnesty to murderers of his political opponents in 2000; ignores court rulings. Criticized as dictator by Desmond Tutu and Vladimir Putin.

Jerry Rawlings – Ghana – 1981–1992

Gained power in a military coup during 1979 but handed it over. Re-took power in another coup of 1981. Elected President in 1992 and again in 1996 before standing aside as per the constitution.

André Kolingba – Central African Republic – 1981–1993

Chairman of the Military Committee of National Recovery 1981-1985; President of the Central African Republic 1985-1993. Gained power in a coup; persecuted opposition; allowed (and lost) free elections in 1993. Attempted second coup in 2001.

Hosni Mubarak – Egypt – 1981–present

President of Egypt. Did not stand in a contested election until 2005, when a highly-restricted democratic process was allowed.

Paul Biya – Cameroon – 1982–present

He served under President Ahmadou Ahidjo and became Prime Minister in 1975. Ahidjo resigned on November 6, 1982 and Biya became president. After years of totalitarian rule, he allowed the creation of opposition parties in 1990 but his re-elections have been marked by widespread fraud and intimidation.

 

Dictators of Africa – Part 4

Mohamed Siad Barre – Somalia – 1969–1991

Chairman of the Supreme Revolutionary Council 1969-1976; President of Somalia 1976-1991. In 1969, during the power vacuum following the assassination of President Abdirashid Ali Shermarke, the military staged a coup and took over. Barre was to rule for the next twenty-two years. He attempted to develop a personality cult; large posters of him were common in the capital Mogadishu during his reign, many of which can still be seen today. He dreamed of a “Greater Somalia” and tried unsuccessfully to annex the Ogaden—legally Ethiopian territory—in 1977 to realize this end (see Ogaden War).

Anwar Sadat – Egypt – 1970–1981

President of Egypt 1970-1981. Unelected, suppressed opposition in what was termed “The Corrective Revolution”, Assassinated.

Idi Amin – Uganda – 1971–1979

President of Uganda, later (1976) declared as for Life. Deposed in 1979 after declaring war on Tanzania.

Mengistu Haile Mariam – Ethiopia – 1974–1991

Chairman of the Provisional Military Administrative Council (Derg) in 1974 and 1977–1987; President of Ethiopia 1987-1991. One-party state; repression of opposition; tens of thousands of extrajudicial killings.

Olusegun Obasanjo – Nigeria – 1976–1979

Head of the Federal Military Government of Nigeria between 1976 and 1979. Elected President of Nigeria in 1999. Chairman of the African Union 2004-2006.

Jean-Baptiste Bagaza – Burundi – 1976–1987

President of Burundi. Widely described as a military dictator.

Albert René – Seychelles – 1977–2004

President of Seychelles. Deposed the elected president Sir James Mancham and promulgated a one-party constitution after a period of rule by decree. Created the National Youth Service (NYS), a compulsory educational institution that included traditional curricula interlaced with political indoctrination and paramilitary training.

 

Dictators of Africa – Part 1

Gamal Abdel Nasser – Egypt – 1954–1970

Prime Minister of Egypt 1954-1962; President of Egypt 1956-1970. Part of a group of officers in control of Egypt after the coup against British supported King Farouk in 1952; In February 1954, Egyptian Statesman. A graduate of the Royal Military Academy, Gamal Abdel Nasser first rose to prominence as an officer in the first Arab-Israeli war, where he gained recognition for holding out for three weeks in 1948 while his battalion was surrounded in what came to be known as the “Faluja Pocket”. Nasser forced President Muhammad Naguib to appoint him prime minister and give up most practical power to him; later in that year Naguib resigned and Nasser became president by self-appointment; elected by popular vote (as only candidate) in 1956, and subsequently. Many personalistic elements to Nasser’s rule, but nominal parliamentary system under Nasser’s 1956-1970 presidency until his death in 1970.

Ahmed Sékou Touré – Guinea – 1958–1984

President of Guinea. Widely described as a dictator with estimates of up to 50,000 extrajudicial killings during his rule and 250,000 Guineans fleeing his rule.

David Dacko – Central African Republic – 1960–1966, 1979–1981

President of the Central African Republic. Banned opposition; Gained power by coup in 1979, though subsequently stood for election

Modibo Keita – Mali – 1960–1968

Schoolteacher and first president of Mali. Forced socialization and extensive protectionism severely harmed the economy and continued the country’s dependence on aid donors. Discontent with these policies led Keita to implement his own “Cultural Revolution” and establish a network of people’s militias to inform on and punish dissent. In the last few years of his presidency, full powers were vested in an extralegal “National Committee for Defense of the Revolution”. He was deposed in a military coup.

François Tombalbaye – Chad – 1960–1975

Head of State 1960-1962; President of Chad 1962-1975. Never fought a contested election; imprisoned opposition leaders. Launched a “Cultural Revolution” in the early 1970s encouraging authenticité.

Moktar Ould Daddah – Mauritania – 1960–1978

President of Mauritania 1960-1978. Elected President upon independence from France; merged four largest parties into Mauritanian People’s Party, which he made the sole legal party; changed constitution in 1964 to make one party state with authoritarian Presidency; re-elected uncontested three times (1966, 1971 and 1976); overthrown by military in 1978 due to dissatisfaction with the War in Western Sahara.

 

Pharaoh of Modern Egypt-Hosni Mubarak

Muhammad Hosni Sayyid Mubarak محمد حسني سيد مبارك‎,

Introduction

Born May 4, 1928 is the fourth and former President of the Arab Republic of Egypt.

He was appointed Vice President in 1975, and assumed the Presidency on October 14, 1981, following the assassination of President Anwar El Sadat. He is the longest-serving Egyptian ruler since Muhammad. Before he entered politics Mubarak was a career officer in the Egyptian Air Force, serving as its commander from 1972 to 1975. Beginning on January 25, 2011, a popular uprising called for his resignation as president of Egypt. On February 1, 2011, Mubarak announced that he will not seek another term in the upcoming presidential election.

On February 5, 2011 Egyptian state media reported that senior members of the ruling National Democratic Party, including President Hosni Mubarak, had resigned from leadership roles within the party. It was later clarified that Mubarak would stay on as president however.

Military Ref

In November 1967 Mubarak became the Air Force Academy’s commander and two years later he became Chief of Staff for the Egyptian Air Force. As chief of staff of the Egyptian Air Force in 1971, he bluffed his Soviet air force advisers into a humiliating defeat. It was during the 1969-71 War of Attrition that followed Egypt‘s total defeat in the 1967 Six Day War. About 18,000 Soviet military advisers were in Egypt, courtesy of Gamal Abdel Nasser. His military career reached its pinnacle in 1972 when he became Commander of the Air Force and Egyptian Deputy Minister of Defence and the following year he was promoted to air chief marshal in recognition of service during the October War of 1973. Estimates of the wealth of Mubarak and his family range from US$40 billion to $70 billion as per military contracts while Mubarak was an Air Force officer.

Assassination attempts

According to the BBC, Mubarak has survived six assassination attempts. In June 1995 there was an alleged assassination attempt involving noxious gases and Egyptian Islamic Jihad while he was in Ethiopia for a conference of the Organization of African Unity. He was also reportedly injured by a knife-wielding assailant in Port Said in September 1999.

Stance on the invasion of Iraq in 2003

President Mubarak spoke out against the 2003 war on Iraq, arguing that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict should be resolved first. He also claimed that the war would cause “100 Bin Laden s’. However, President Mubarak does not support an immediate US pull out from Iraq as he believes it will lead to probable chaos.

Awards

Mubarak was awarded the Jawaharlal Nehru Award in 1995. Mubarak was honored for his “unique role in providing stability and progress to his country, in upholding the Arab cause, in promoting peace and understanding in the region.

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