November 18, 2011 • In web :: Features
The Arab Spring
Writer Sima Sahar Zerehi spent much of her time tracking the Middle Eastern and North African revolutions on Twitter. She put together a primer on what happened over the past few months in these regions.
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Within days of the fall of Mubarak, demonstrations began in Libya in opposition to the county's eccentric leader Muammar Gaddafi who presided as the ruler of the country for 42 years.
The country fell into a civil war as Gaddafi's army clashed with revolutionary forces on February 15, following a series of peaceful protests. Gaddafi's armed forces faced off against the demonstrators with a clear show of force--within days the protests escalated to a national uprising.
After months of fighting, the forces opposing Gaddafi--the National Transitional Council--caught up with the former leader in his former hometown Sirte, where they captured and killed him on October 20, 2011.
While global governments remained largely passive through the Tunisian and Egyptian uprisings, the attitude towards oil-rich Libya had been one of decisive action.
Taking an active stance against Gaddafi, the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution freezing the assets of Gaddafi and ten members of his inner circle, and restricted their travel. The U.N. authorized member states to establish and enforce a no-fly zone over Libya as well as referred the actions of the Gaddafi government to the International Criminal Court for investigation. On June 27 an arrest warrant for Gaddafi was issued on the grounds of committing crimes against humanity. This led to an intense cat-and-mouse chase, with NTC fighters hunting for Gaddafi and eventually laying siege to Sirte as fighters pushed on.
For weeks, thousands of activists on Twitter would unite to offer minute commentary about Gaddafi's numerous long-winded and rambling speeches--mocking his far-fetched theories about the reasons behind the revolutionary momentum in Libya, reasons as ludicrous as hallucinatory drugs.
While everything from Gaddafi's fashion choices to his turn of speech were widely mocked the bulk of the online chatter focused primarily on his despotic rule. In fact, a popular hash tag was created to highlight his legacy of crimes against his own people: #Gaddaficrimes. Following his bloody death, photos were captured on mobile phones and news of death spread quickly through the Twitterverse.
The situation in Libya continues to be precarious despite the ongoing presence of U.N. forces and the death of their former leader. As it stands, the future of Libya is unclear.