Best of 2011, The Year the News Wouldn't Stop: Part 1

Published December 29th, 2011 - 22:19 GMT

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Epic drama from a show-man: Libya went on a journey, spanning theatrical speeches, violent protests and NATO bombs and intervention. The late Colonel Gaddafi was toppled in Tripoli before meeting his people-powered death in Sirte. The transitional government rejoiced victory, raising a new flag, and ushering in a new era for a transformed Libya.
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Image 1 of 15: Epic drama from a show-man: Libya went on a journey, spanning theatrical speeches, violent protests and NATO bombs and intervention. The late Colonel Gaddafi was toppled in Tripoli before meeting his people-powered death in Sirte. The transitional government rejoiced victory, raising a new flag, and ushering in a new era for a transformed Libya.

Down with the most wanted man: Not the year for Arab leaders or international dictators. Osama Bin Laden was captured, killed and buried at sea in a dramatic mid-year finale of a 10 year, Bush-begun chase. 6 months later, a non-Arab dictator was finished by the deciding hands of death rather than mortal protest. Kim Jung-Il was succeeded by son.
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Image 1 of 15: Down with the most wanted man: Not the year for Arab leaders or international dictators. Osama Bin Laden was captured, killed and buried at sea in a dramatic mid-year finale of a 10 year, Bush-begun chase. 6 months later, a non-Arab dictator was finished by the deciding hands of death rather than mortal protest. Kim Jung-Il was succeeded by son.

Changing faces of the revolution: The big headliner Egypt, presented us with many different abiding images for its story of change. A resplendent Tahrir Square lit the way for others to follow, and the face of a declined dictator emerged bed-bound. Finally, the army turned on the people and the 'girl in the blue bra' spelt troubled transition.
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Image 1 of 15: Changing faces of the revolution: The big headliner Egypt, presented us with many different abiding images for its story of change. A resplendent Tahrir Square lit the way for others to follow, and the face of a declined dictator emerged bed-bound. Finally, the army turned on the people and the 'girl in the blue bra' spelt troubled transition.

Natural disaster season: Australia drowned in floods that claimed 35 lives. New Zealand felt more than neighborly shock waves as Christ Church quaked in the country's darkest day, setting the tone for the year ahead in natural & political instability. Tornado Alley, USA, was next as Alabama & Missouri felt the brunt of tornados & hurricanes.
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Image 1 of 15: Natural disaster season: Australia drowned in floods that claimed 35 lives. New Zealand felt more than neighborly shock waves as Christ Church quaked in the country's darkest day, setting the tone for the year ahead in natural & political instability. Tornado Alley, USA, was next as Alabama & Missouri felt the brunt of tornados & hurricanes.

As the year progressed, or regressed into a panoply of crises, Europe caught fire, as in the UK as people exclaimed 'London's Burning!'. Some underclass-led people-rage was unleashed in street riots that targeted high streets in a 'despicable' spectacle of common hooliganism. Meanwhile Greece flagged trouble, and bannered Europe's cry for help.
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Image 1 of 15: As the year progressed, or regressed into a panoply of crises, Europe caught fire, as in the UK as people exclaimed "London's Burning!". Some underclass-led people-rage was unleashed in street riots that targeted high streets in a 'despicable' spectacle of common hooliganism. Meanwhile Greece flagged trouble, and bannered Europe's cry for help.

Palestine, for a change, was not the main talk in the region. Side-lined, it still managed to steal notice with the audacity of a UN bid that underscored a Palestinian Spring. UNESCO membership was attained as was a Palestinian prisoner exchange with Israeli soldier Shalit; A failed flotilla mission was matched by the dream to join the UN club.
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Image 1 of 15: Palestine, for a change, was not the main talk in the region. Side-lined, it still managed to steal notice with the audacity of a UN bid that underscored a Palestinian Spring. UNESCO membership was attained as was a Palestinian prisoner exchange with Israeli soldier Shalit; A failed flotilla mission was matched by the dream to join the UN club.

Europe started the year in a white state of snow-crisis at freeze-down mode, and finished the year in a shut-down 
of a different kind, peaking in economic collapse. Severe weather saw Russia's coldest winter. As the year progressed, severe rainfall afflicted Thailand in a record monsoon catastrophe.
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Image 1 of 15: Europe started the year in a white state of snow-crisis at freeze-down mode, and finished the year in a shut-down of a different kind, peaking in economic collapse. Severe weather saw Russia's coldest winter. As the year progressed, severe rainfall afflicted Thailand in a record monsoon catastrophe.

Yemen made strides for women and Arab persistence: Stubborn leader Ali Abdulla Saleh finally signed  a pledge to handover power not before being wounded and burnt (a growing trend in the fired up region) early on in June. Power transfer-treaties were brokered and Nobel Peace Prizes collected byTawakul Karman-- the woman protestor honored.
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Image 1 of 15: Yemen made strides for women and Arab persistence: Stubborn leader Ali Abdulla Saleh finally signed a pledge to handover power not before being wounded and burnt (a growing trend in the fired up region) early on in June. Power transfer-treaties were brokered and Nobel Peace Prizes collected byTawakul Karman-- the woman protestor honored.

Syria, surprisingly to many who didn't predict the subdued population joining the fray, followed the Arab suit and began an uprising that grew into an ongoing face-off between the old-Ba'ath regime and the opposition movement. Neither international warning nor recent Arab-imposed sanctions have deterred ruler Bashar al Assad's crackdown.
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Image 1 of 15: Syria, surprisingly to many who didn't predict the subdued population joining the fray, followed the Arab suit and began an uprising that grew into an ongoing face-off between the old-Ba'ath regime and the opposition movement. Neither international warning nor recent Arab-imposed sanctions have deterred ruler Bashar al Assad's crackdown.

The United Arab Emirates celebrated in lavish style its 40th anniversary in a year that coincided with China's Communist Party's 90th birthday. The UAE event celebrated the inspiration of founding father Sheikh Zayed, the first President of the UAE. Qatar too indulged in national day commemorations to mark 40 years since its foundation.
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Image 1 of 15: The United Arab Emirates celebrated in lavish style its 40th anniversary in a year that coincided with China's Communist Party's 90th birthday. The UAE event celebrated the inspiration of founding father Sheikh Zayed, the first President of the UAE. Qatar too indulged in national day commemorations to mark 40 years since its foundation.

Last but not least, even first! From the face that launched a thousand revolutions, the spark of burning (im)potent rage, fruit peddler Mohammed Bouazizi set alight himself and a whole Arab revolution that ravaged the region; to Tunisia's runaway leader Zine Abidine Ben Ali; to a new face of Tunisian hope in coalition leader Moncef Marzouki.
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Image 1 of 15: Last but not least, even first! From the face that launched a thousand revolutions, the spark of burning (im)potent rage, fruit peddler Mohammed Bouazizi set alight himself and a whole Arab revolution that ravaged the region; to Tunisia's runaway leader Zine Abidine Ben Ali; to a new face of Tunisian hope in coalition leader Moncef Marzouki.

Jordan rode the waves of change and staved-off a fully-fledged uprising: Not to be left out, Jordanians waged controlled Friday protests, that eventually died down. By August, HM King Abdullah II declared constitutional review panels in response to reformist demands. Out with the old, in with a new: Prime Minister Khasawneh took over by October.
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Image 1 of 15: Jordan rode the waves of change and staved-off a fully-fledged uprising: Not to be left out, Jordanians waged controlled Friday protests, that eventually died down. By August, HM King Abdullah II declared constitutional review panels in response to reformist demands. Out with the old, in with a new: Prime Minister Khasawneh took over by October.

Debt disease occupies world street: A Western Spring came from a jeopardized world economy and people empowered (infected by Arab anger) enough to publicly protest. 'Occupy Wall Street' travelled from the debt-ridden US via London's Stock Exchange, and across many European capitals. The Arab Spring had shed paper-note leaves in a Western 'Fall'.
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Image 1 of 15: Debt disease occupies world street: A Western Spring came from a jeopardized world economy and people empowered (infected by Arab anger) enough to publicly protest. 'Occupy Wall Street' travelled from the debt-ridden US via London's Stock Exchange, and across many European capitals. The Arab Spring had shed paper-note leaves in a Western 'Fall'.

Arab Dictators become a dying breed: By the time some Arab leaders had been dealt with by their inflamed -  and baying for blood, as well as change - populace, a common rhyme much like King Henry VIII had inspired, could recall the fate of the first batch of leaders to fade: Fled, ousted, exiled; Ousted, ill, tried; Ousted, killed, defiled.
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Image 1 of 15: Arab Dictators become a dying breed: By the time some Arab leaders had been dealt with by their inflamed - and baying for blood, as well as change - populace, a common rhyme much like King Henry VIII had inspired, could recall the fate of the first batch of leaders to fade: Fled, ousted, exiled; Ousted, ill, tried; Ousted, killed, defiled.

Monumental US Pullout: After the invasion came the withdrawal. Nine years later. December 18, the US flag went down and an Iraqi one was re-instated, marking the complete US troop exit from Iraq, as mandated in 2008 to take place by the end of December 2011. Iraqis were left free to handle their own affairs, even 'Spring' if desired.
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Image 1 of 15: Monumental US Pullout: After the invasion came the withdrawal. Nine years later. December 18, the US flag went down and an Iraqi one was re-instated, marking the complete US troop exit from Iraq, as mandated in 2008 to take place by the end of December 2011. Iraqis were left free to handle their own affairs, even 'Spring' if desired.

A reminder in brief of the tumultuous news schedule of the year passed. 2011 saw news churned out globally at such a rate that had viewers transfixed to their TV screens, computers and phones for constant updates. In no order of importance or calendar chronology, Al Bawaba offers you its very own review in montage of the year in two parts: one slideshow can only go so far in a premium period that saw news editors doubling their efforts to keep abreast of the regional output alone, not neglecting the turbulent world beyond the Middle East. 

In this year of non-stop, often traumatic news, nature behaved unpredictably as did the world's people it turned out. They 'turned out' en masse in public squares and streets to protest against unpopular regimes and dictatorships, as well as unjust financial systems. They created a storm of people power to shake up the system-- employing incidentally largely peaceful means of demonstration- to match the gale-force weather storms that swept across the continents.

In a year forecast by some to be the last for human existence, the events of 2011, rich in doom and gloom, seemed to foreshadow eschatologically monumental tidings for 2012.

People and news vied to be seen out protesting, to be recorded and heard, to be 'Face-booked' or Tweeted.

The year 2011 was an outpouring of anger - whether from the people railing against old regimes, or by the Heavens or Mother Nature spewing forth at all and sundry, the unlucky victims, it seemed.

The Middle East still held center stage come rain or shine (and 'boy' did it rain). The Arab peoples hogged the headlines with their crises. Long-reigning Arab dictators were challenged, floundered and eventually toppled, or else survived the year through but only by a hair. The region even got its share of inclement weather and disaster, including flooding in Jeddah, and the terrible earthquake of Turkey.

But globally too, erratic weather matched unexpected rebellion. Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Japan and Turkey as well as the United States found themselves unprepared for the forces of nature unleashed in earthquake, tornado or typhoon. Japan's Tsunami caused the largest scale devestation of the year (see Part 2) leaving the world aghast and humbled by the loss of entire communities.

Spoilt for Choice by Arab revolts:

Al Bawaba did not know where to look this year, cause turn its attention to one country, and another one would steal back the headlines with a toppling leader maybe-biting the dust. Record traffic to the website spoke volumes, including hot keyword-generated searches within the site, with Hosni Mubarak commanding1577 article mentions, Muammar Gaddafi attracting a good 1398 references and Bashar al-Assad rustling up1253 citings in relevent articles.

On a positive note or two, people are nominating Mohamed Bouazizi as the man who changed the world in 2011. A Yemeni protestor earnt the region and Arab women a Nobel Peace Prize.

And let's not forget that some of the saga stories of 2011 have only just started. A leader's fate is by no means a forgone conclusion. Though regional patterns have emerged, the twists and resolutions of these tales of the unexpected remain to be explored during the following year. And no doubt, the element of surprise will not disappear just because we have departed from 2011. Of that we can be sure.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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