‘Dictators always look good until the last minutes.’ Thomas Masaryk
I have always been intrigued by dictators. It has always amazed me how these lone individuals could maintain absolute power in countries where the majority of the population despised or at least disliked them. Of course, having never lived under a dictatorship I cannot fully comprehend what it means to have that constant threat of being removed from your life without trace; just for being disgruntled and unhappy with the direction your country is going in. The feeling that if the man in charge doesn’t approve of you, that yourself and those closed to you can be removed without a trace must be so intense I can’t even imagine it. Fear. This is what my general overview of dictators has lead me to see is there main weapon. Of course, dictators may not go to such extremes; they can simply have your name slandered, blackball you from your industry and just make life extremely unbearable.
So what the heck has happened in 2011 then?? The roll call of the dictators who have been removed is impressive especially considering the number of years they had been in power. Colonel Gaddafi of Libya (43 years), Hosni Mubarek of Egypt (30 years), Zine El Abidine Ben Ali of Tunisia (24 years) have become particularly famous in their roles as the bad guys in the Arab revolution. The people of North Africa truly looked fear in the eyes and rose up to show such strength and unity that I have never seen in my lifetime.
And how did these big bad dictators react? Some left without much of a fight (Zine Ben Ali), likely believing he could find exile in a ‘friendlier’ country. Others put up slightly more resistance (Mubarek), but as every dictator knows once the army turns on you, it’s all over. Then you had Colonel Gaddafi. The ‘mad dog’ as Ronald Reagan called him was never going to go lightly. Mounting a 6 month campaign of terror against his own people and the rebel army he was finally vanquished and put down like the dog he really was. As human beings we shouldn’t take pleasure in anyone’s suffering; however I find myself making a small exception for these power hungry rascals who have killed, tortured and ruined so many families all for power and money. And how did they end up? On the run, in jail and murdered respectively. Heck, it’s just a theory but I think this annus horribilis for the dictators might have contributed to the ‘untimely’ demise of ‘Dear Leader’ Kim Jong-Il of North Korea. Though he only put in a ‘paltry’ 17 years compared to his peers, his regime is perhaps the most despicable – not even allowing citizens the freedom to leave there ‘socialist paradise’.
As well as these dastardly dictators, there’s a special mention for Silvio Berlusconi of Italy whose dominance of the media led to him being an elected dictator for 14 years (with less maliciousness though I might add); who is facing blackmail, bribery and underage sex cases (what a guy!); Laurent Gbagbo of Ivory Coast (11 years) who tried to dispute an official election and dropped his country into civil war and whose now facing a cases in the Hague of crimes against humanity.
So it seems like 2011 was a year of real justice against the dictator? Unfortunately not. The dictator still has a strong grasp in Africa, with at least 8 in total the most famous being Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe (31 years)
We had the other hereditary dictator Bashar-Al-Assad pulling out all the shots – literally – to stay in power. Killing your people is something not amiss to the dictator. But to do it so openly and brazenly in this day and age is extremely rare. It shows the fear has now been transferred from the people to the dictators. This is an encouraging sign for 2012 and hopefully we will see more scoundrels finishing there last minutes like the way they lived – obscenely.
So 2011 has indeed been a special one for the people. What happens after a revolution is a topic for another article and for the peoples of those countries but for standing strong against such despicable characters I can only salute those citizens. And those who continue to rise up in Syria, Yemen, Egypt (again) and beyond your courage is an inspiration to all of us and shows the power of good will in a seemingly evil world.
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