Notionally a constitutional monarchy, the Moroccan government has been accused of using the courts to imprison peaceful opponents. King Mohammed VI retains the power to dissolve parliament and dismiss or appoint the prime minister.
Criticising the monarchy or Islam remains to be punishable by law, however the personal press has had some success in breaking taboos and investigating authorities corruption. There has been progress below Prime Minister Abbas El Fassi, who took workplace in 2007, but Morocco nonetheless endures high unemployment rates, especially amongst its youthful population.
GDP: $Forty three.86bn
Prime Minister Ghannouchi
Few had suspected such a swift fall from grace for President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, who on 14 January caved in to the large protests and fled the North African nation he had dominated over with an iron fist for 23 years.
Accused over his many years in energy of suppressing the opposition, censoring the media and detaining dissidents, Mr Ben Ali had nonetheless managed to take care of his stranglehold on power by offering an inexpensive quality of life for residents. But lately inflation and unemployment have hit the nation exhausting, and other people have baulked at seeing Mr Ben Ali, his reviled spouse and prolonged family showing to get wealthier and buy up holiday homes by the sea, while the individuals languished in poverty. It took the self-immolation of 1 determined unemployed college graduate in December last year to set off a sequence of protests. Information of the dissent unfold by Twitter and Fb, culminating in the large protests that forced Mr Ben Ali from power earlier this month. Since the popular uprising, the hastily cobbled-together government led by Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi has struggled to keep up law and order, with protesters insisting that the cabinet be purged of any remnants of Mr Ben Ali’s regime.
It remains to be seen if Tunisia will emerge as the Middle East’s second full democracy – a label at the moment only applied to Israel – with no date set yet for elections.
President Michel Suleiman
For as soon as within the fragile world of Center Japanese politics, Lebanon shouldn’t be centre stage. The country continues to be reeling from the 2005 assassination of its former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, who was killed in a automobile bomb attack. The coalition government in Beirut collapsed last week when a UN report, which is anticipated to assert that the Iran- and Syria-backed Hezbollah had a hand in Hariri’s murder, was handed to prosecutors in Lebanon and the “Party of Godabandoned the administration.
The social gathering is already again, nevertheless, after President Michel Suleiman appointed the Hezbollah-backed Najib Mikati as the brand new head of his authorities, in what, by Middle East requirements, is a extremely democraticstate. Nonetheless, such is the worry of Hezbollah in Israel that the fast menace to stability in Lebanon might properly come from Tel Aviv, reasonably than riots from a discontent population.
King Abdullah II
Energy lies squarely within the arms of King Abdullah II, who inherited an absolute monarchy from his father, who ruled for forty six years earlier than his demise in 1999. Guarantees of political reform are yet to materialise, with the King wielding the ability to appoint ministers, dismiss parliament and rule by decree.
Jordan languished in the bottom quarter of the 2010 Democracy Index, and discontent is growing. Sporadic protests over inflation and unemployment – which is estimated at between 12 and 25 per cent – broke out throughout the country after the Tunisian unrest, and an Islamist opposition chief stoked the flames by calling for Jordanians to be granted the right to elect their leaders.
With strong help from the Bedouin-dominated military and monetary backing from their allies in Washington, King Abdullah appears to be protected for the time being. The Prime Minister has announced a multi-million-pound meals and gas subsidy package deal, and the King has in latest days made additional promise of reform, even assembly with the Jordanian arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, thought of the most important opposition group within the kingdom. The Muslim Brotherhood has, however, referred to as for a contemporary spherical of demonstrations.
President Bashar al-Assad
President Bashar al-Assad has been in energy since 2000, succeeding his father and persevering with his authoritarian rule with all opposition events banned, the media strictly controlled and any dissenting voices harshly handled.
Syria has been managed by the Baath Occasion since it took energy in 1963, and those who speak out against the federal government are steadily jailed on fees of “weakening nationwide morale Emergency rule stays in effect in Syria, and authorities are persistently accused of violating civilian rights, arresting activists, detaining bloggers and proscribing freedom to travel.
There are conditions for discontent: unemployment is between 10 and 25 per cent, and the population is annoyed at the widening hole between the wealthy and the poor. Apparently unnerved by the protests in Tunisia, the authorities not too long ago sharply raised a heating oil allowance for public employees, reversing a policy of slashing subsidies in the face of many years of financial stagnation. Then, on Wednesday, customers reported that programmes they used to entry Fb Chat had apparently been blocked in what regarded like a transfer to curtail any on-line protest movement. Syrian media barely reported the overthrow of Tunisia’s Mr Ben Ali.
President Jalal Talabani
For many years Saddam Hussein held the dubious accolade of being the region’s most infamous dictator. Since US-led forces ejected him from energy 2003, Iraq has seen a messy transition in direction of democracy, however the power-sharing government has struggled to take care of order over insurgents and militia groups and plenty of Iraqis are anxious about what’s going to happen when all the remaining US forces depart by the top of the yr.
Elections in March last yr proved inconclusive, leading to months of uncertainty. Finally, a energy-sharing deal was brokered in November, with veteran Kurd chief Jalal Talabani named as President for a third term.
King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz
Absolute monarch King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz has ruled the desert kingdom since 2005, the latest in a protracted line of royals in cost. Though the 87-yr-outdated is in ailing-well being and runs a strict authoritarian state, the distribution of oil wealth largely retains the populace joyful. The royalsbiggest challenge is Islamist extremist groups, and the monarchy cracks down hard on any challenges to their authority. Saudi Arabia, along with different oil-rich Gulf states similar to Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, are typically less vulnerable to Tunisian-fashion uprisings because the population profit from the spoils of pure sources.
President Ali Abdullah Saleh
Tens of hundreds of people took to the streets of Yemen final week to demand an finish to the three-decade rule of President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
The poorest nation within the Center East and a largely tribal society, Yemen has extra issues than most. It has emerged as a brand new base for al-Qa’ida militants driven out of their traditional sanctuaries on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. Yemen can be battling a secessionist movement within the south, an on-off rebellion within the north, and grinding poverty. Its oil reserves, which make up 70 p.c of the government’s revenue, are dwindling and the nation relies on US assist. Nearly half of all Yemenis live beneath the poverty line and unemployment is at least 35 per cent.
Mr Saleh, whom many analysts accuse of overseeing a corrupt regime that has did not sort out financial grievances, has reacted to the unrest by backtracking on his plans to hunt another term in 2013 and denying accusations that he will attempt at hand over energy to his son.
He has additionally promised to slash taxes and cap food costs and increase the salaries of civil servants and the military.
Mr Saleh gained a seven-yr term in Yemen’s first open presidential election, in 2006. Observers said the poll was fair but opposition events complained of vote rigging. The primary problem to Mr Saleh, analysts say, would probably come if the assorted opposition groups, particularly the rebels within the south and the north, were to look beyond their own explicit grievances to mount a broader political challenge.
Inhabitants: Eighty four.5m
President Hosni Mubarak
Egypt has been ruled with a heavy hand by former air drive commander Hosni Mubarak because the 1981 assassination of Anwar Sadat. Now aged 82, President Mubarak is widely considered as symbolising the outdated guard of autocratic Arab leaders.
The Human Rights Watch report this yr detailed a listing of abuses within the Arab world’s most populous nation, together with torture by the police, harassment of political opponents, violence in opposition to demonstrators and arbitrary detention.
Religious events are banned – partly to stem the problem from the Muslim Brotherhood – and though the structure was modified in 2007 to permit presidential challengers, they arestrictly curtailed to lock out any serious opponents.
Mr Mubarak has not stated if he will contest presidential elections due in September, and there are experiences that he’s grooming his son Gamal Mubarak to succeed him. Mohamed ElBaradei, the Nobel laureate and former head of the Worldwide Atomic Energy Agency, has come out as a powerful opposition voice. However as the constitution stands, it is almost impossible for independent candidates to stand.
What worries the West most is the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamic motion based in Egypt in 1928, which has important help among the inhabitants. It has influenced religious teams – both moderate and excessive – throughout the Muslim world.
Colonel Muammar al Gaddafi
The longest-serving leader in the Arab world, Colonel Muammar al Gaddafi has dominated Libya since seizing energy in a bloodless coup in 1969. The eccentric dictator stated he was “painedby the fall of Mr Ben Ali. However despite his pariah status overseas and corruption at home, soaring oil prices have allowed Colonel Gaddafi to take care of excessive levels of financial growth, while Libyans take pleasure in a life expectancy of 75, one in all the very best in Africa.
Like many oil-rich states, unemployment among the many native population is high, with thousands and thousands of immigrants employed to do the menial jobs. However despite little or no political openness and restrictions on freedom of expression, there isn’t any sign that the Libyans have much inclination to rise up towards their sixty nine-yr-outdated leader.
President Abdelaziz Bouteflika
Two folks had been killed and hundreds of others injured earlier this month as Algerians offended on the high price of dwelling clashed with the police. President Abdelaziz Bouteflika moved swiftly to cut food prices, and calm has returned for now, but many are sad at Mr Bouteflika’s heavy-handed rule, and unemployment is estimated to be round 20 per cent among the many young.
Mr Bouteflika was elected in 1999 and gained a 3rd 5-12 months term in 2009. However with more than ninety per cent of ballots solid in his favour, there was widespread criticism of vote fraud and accusations that he had quashed all viable opposition. Though there has been an opening up of the media and widening political freedoms, Mr Bouteflika was criticised for extending the presidential term in office and persevering with a ban on the Islamic Salvation Front.
Algeria can be below an indefinite state of emergency, which the government claims is needed to fight Islamist militancy, however Human Rights Watch says it additionally permits widespread restrictions on freedom of expression, association and meeting.
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