Leaders in the Arab Spring era: Where are they now?

Bashar al-Assad, Hosni Mubarak, Ali Abdullah Saleh, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and Muammar Gaddafi [Reuters, Getty Images]
Bashar al-Assad, Hosni Mubarak, Ali Abdullah Saleh, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and Muammar Gaddafi [Reuters, Getty Images]

The killing of former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh by Houthi rebels on Monday marks the end of another Arab leader deposed by the Arab Spring protests.

Saleh’s death came after he announced the end of his cooperation with the Houthis on Saturday, in a move orchestrated by the United Arab Emirates, one of the key forces in the Saudi-led coalition battling the Houthis.

The former president had ruled North Yemen since 1978 before North and South Yemen merged in 1990. Saleh was then sworn in as president of a united Yemen. He remained president until 2012 when he formally ceded power to Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, the Saudi-backed president currently fighting the Houthis.

Saleh’s resignation followed the Yemeni revolution, which was part of the broader Arab Spring that took hold of the region in early 2011.

The uprisings also deposed, came close to deposing, or ended the lives of, the leaders of Tunisia, Egypt, Syria and Libya. Here is a guide to the current status of the leaders of those countries.

Zine El Abidine Ben Ali of Tunisia – living in Saudi Arabia

The Arab Spring started in December 2010 with protests against the president of Tunisia, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

Ben Ali had been in power since a coup d’etat in 1987. Rising inflation, unemployment, state oppression and other issues are considered to be contributing factors to the uprising in 2010.

The moment that led to the Arab Spring? Mohammed Bouazizi, the sole provider for his extended family of eight, lit himself on fire in the town of Sidi Bouzid, 300 kilometres south of Tunis. He was protesting against poverty.

Ben Ali resigned three weeks after protests started and fled Tunisia for Saudi Arabia. He and his wife Leila were tried in absentia on charges of corruption, theft and unlawful possession of cash and jewellery. They were found guilty and sentenced to 35 years in prison…

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