The End of the Era of the Dictators: Who’s Next?

Amnesty International’s Rally in Solidarity with Egypt in Trafalgar Square

Yesterday, a metaphor broke out over Trafalgar Square, as dark clouds rolled away over Egypt and the gloom of Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year tyranny was dispelled in the bright winter sunshine of people power.

First Ben Ali in Tunisia after 23 years, now Mubarak in Egypt after 30 years – who’s next?

The speed of the fall of these dictators is astonishing. The Tunisians deposed Ben Ali in 28 days; the Egyptians have ousted Mubarak in just 18 days.

Anatomy of a Revolution

We can see from the two time-lines below, that the response of both the Tunisian and Egyptian regimes has been both predictable and doomed to failure.

The Tunisian and Egyptian regimes both responded to the just grievances of their people with increasingly desperate threats, violence, cosmetic governmental reshuffles and sweet-talk of a childish “just five more minutes!” variety. But persistence, fortified by the justice of their cause, has won the day for the people.

Tunisian revolution time-line

  • 17 December – Self-immolation of Mohamed Bouazizi in Tunisia sparks nationwide protests.
  • 28 December – Ben Ali calls the protesters “extremists and mercenaries”.
  • 29 December – Ben Ali reshuffles his government.
  • 6 January – Tunisian lawyers launch a general strike.
  • 8 January – Six protesters killed by the Tunisian police.
  • 13 January – Ben Ali announces he won’t stand for re-election.
  • 14 January – Ben Ali flees to Saudi Arabia, after 23 years in power.

Egyptian revolution time-line

  • 25 January – Widespread protests in Egypt.
  • 29 January – Mubarak reshuffles his government.
  • 1 February – Mubarak announces he won’t stand for re-election.
  • 1 February – Mubarak calls some of the protesters “outlaws” and calls their protests “unfortunate clashes, mobilised and controlled by political forces that wanted to escalate and worsen the situation”.
  • 2 FebruaryViolent clashes between anti-Mubarak and pro-Mubarak provocateurs.
  • 10 February – Mubarak denies he will be stepping down, but will be handing more powers to his deputy.
  • 11 February – Mubarak resigns, fleeing to Sharm el-Sheikh, after 30 years in power.

What’s Next?

How the hell do I know? But all my wishes are for a peaceful return of power to the people of North Africa and the Middle East. They deserve it.

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David Charles is co-writer of BBC radio sitcom Foiled. He also writes for The Bike Project, Thighs of Steel, and the Elevate Festival. He blogs at

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