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2011 was a year of global tumult, marked by widespread social and political uprisings, economic crises, and a great deal more. We saw the fall of multiple dictators, welcomed a new country (South Sudan), witnessed our planet's population grow to 7 billion, and watched in horror as Japan was struck by a devastating earthquake, a tsunami, and a nuclear disaster. From the Arab Spring to Los Indignados to Occupy Wall Street, citizens around the world took to the streets in massive numbers, protesting against governments and financial institutions, risking arrest, injury, and in some cases their lives. Collected here is Part 1 of a three-part photo summary of the last year, covering 2011's first several months. Be sure to also see Part 2, and Part 3 of the series - totaling 120 images in all. [40 photos + 1 more]

A wave approaches Miyako City from the Heigawa estuary in Iwate Prefecture after the magnitude 9.0 earthquake struck the area March 11, 2011. The earthquake, the most powerful ever known to have hit Japan, combined with the massive tsunami, claimed more than 15,800 lives, devastated many eastern coastline communities, and triggered a nuclear catastrophe at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power station. (Reuters/Mainichi Shimbun)

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When dictators are overthrown by rebel or military forces, their many elaborate palaces, mansions and bunkers are evacuated, left behind for the new forces to rummage through.

From Saddam Hussein’s palace, Maqar-el-Tharthar, a massive residence at Lake Tharthar, to Moamer Kadhafi’s homes and his families homes scattered throughout Libya, the first peek into their lavish lifestyles come to life as rebels enter each residence.

 The Palaces Left Behind

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American soldiers patrolled inside a palace which belonged to Uday Hussein in Baghdad, Thursday, April 10, 2003. The palace was heavily bomed by coalition airpower. (Tyler Hicks/The New York Times) #

 The Palaces Left Behind

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Soldiers and civilians occupy the office of ousted Romanian Leader Ceaucescu in the Central Committee headquarters 26 December 1989 in Bucharest. Nicolae Ceaucescu and his wife Elena has been executed 25 December 1989. (Photo credit should read PATRICK HERTZOG/AFP/Getty Images) #

 The Palaces Left Behind

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Anti-Communist soldier (L) sticks a bayonet through a portrait of late Romanian Communist leader Nicolae Ceausescu 28 December 1989 in Sibiu as the anti-Communist uprising to end Nicolae Ceausescu's 24 years of dictatorial rule continue. The communist dictator N. Ceausescu and his wife Elena were deposed and executed by a firing squad 25 December 1989. Eight years after the December 1989 revolution which toppled Ceausescu, Romania has begun lifting the veil on the "mysteries" surrounding the uprising and the circumstances which brought former president Ion Iliescu to power. According to general prosecutor Sorin Moisescu, reports put about at the time of "terrorists loyal to Ceausescu" provoking bloody diversions to sow panic in the population, were "fabricated" to justify Iliescu's takeover. "Nothing that happened after 22 December 1989 was due to chance. The deaths of some of the demonstrators were supposed to provide legitimacy to the new regime" Moisecu said 24 December 1998. (Photo credit should read MICHEL GANGNE/AFP/Getty Images) #

 The Palaces Left Behind

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An inside view of the Saddam Hussein's palace, Maqar-el-Tharthar is seen on June 11, 2003 at Lake Tharthar, Iraq. Saddam celebrated his birthday in 1999 by building Maqar-el-Tharthar, the so-called "Green Palace" which is the biggest and most elaborate of President Saddam's palaces. It covers two and a half square miles and consists of a Presidential and VIP residential compounds; it is the second only to the President's Tikrit residence in overall size. The complex was not bombed by Coalition forces but has been completely looted afterwards by Iraqis. (Photo by Marco Di Lauro/Getty Images) #

 The Palaces Left Behind

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An Iraqi woman and her daughter cross a smoke filled intersection with looted tables April 11, 2003 in downtown Baghdad, Iraq. Widespread looting of both government buildings and private businesses is rampant across Baghdad following the collapse of local authority after coalition forces took the city. (Photo by Scott Nelson/Getty Images) #

 The Palaces Left Behind

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A US soldier sits in a seat at the Radwaniyah Palace used during the toppled regime of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein as a reception palace for guests near Baghdad's international airport 25 June 2003. The international press was taken on a tour of the palaces by the US military, three months after the fall of Baghdad. TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images #

 The Palaces Left Behind

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A journalist films inside one of the main reception rooms of toppled leader Saddam Hussein's 'Peace Palace' or 'Qasr al-Salam' in Baghdad 25 June 2003. The international press was taken on a tour of the palaces by the US military, three months after the fall of Baghdad. TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images #

 The Palaces Left Behind

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A US soldier sits on the stairs at the entrance of toppled Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's damaged 'Peace Palace' or 'Qasr al-Salam' in Baghdad 25 June 2003. The international press was taken on a tour of the palaces by the US military, three months after the fall of Baghdad. TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images #

 The Palaces Left Behind

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U.S. Army Specialist Ureses Zamora, from Las Vegas, Nevada, of the 4th Infantry Division, usues a laptop in a former palace of Saddam Hussein November 12, 2003 in a former Saddam Hussein palace in Tikrit, Iraq. The soldiers are living in relative comfort as they continue to pursue the enemy in Saddam Hussein's hometown. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images) #

 The Palaces Left Behind

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CAMP VICTORY, IRAQ - JULY 1: Soldiers stand at attention during a change of command ceremony July 1, 2004 in Camp Victory, Iraq. Gen. Casey took command of the forces from Gen. Sanchez in a change of command ceremony at the elaborate Al-Faw Palace in Camp Victory. (Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images) #

 The Palaces Left Behind

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** FILE ** U.S. Army soldiers Spc. Daniel Andrews of Lynchburg, Va., left, and Pvt. Robert Knott of Fort Hood, Tex., both from Alfa Company-588 swim in an indoor pool at one of ousted Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's palaces, now a U.S. Army base, in Tikrit, Iraq, Monday Sept. 1, 2003. U.S. soldiers stationed here in this riverside palace complex that once belonged to Saddam Hussein face constant danger from Iraqi insurgents whenever they leave the base. But once inside, they are getting to kick back inincreasing style. (AP Photo/Murad Sezer) #

 The Palaces Left Behind

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A US Army soldier from the 1-22 Battalion of the 4th Infantry Division (Task Force Ironhorse) shoots the ball during a basketball game inside one of ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's former palaces along the banks of the Tigris river in Tikrit, 180km (110 miles) north of Baghdad, 23 November 2003. With their marble interiors, domed roofs and intricate arabesque stucco, the headquarters of the 4th ID look more like a vision from a Middle Eastern fairy tale than a military camp. The resort-like series of palaces now called Forward Base Ironhorse used to be a favorite resting place of Saddam before US-led coalition forces ousted him in April. AFP PHOTO/Mauricio LIMA (Photo credit should read MAURICIO LIMA/AFP/Getty Images) #

 The Palaces Left Behind

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TACLOBAN, PHILIPPINES: Visitors view the bedroom of Imelda Marcos at the Santo Nino shrine 13 October 2004 that was sequestered by the government. When the former first lady built the mansion in 1981 in her hometown Tacloban, it was dubbed by many as the Malacanang presidential palace of the south. The mansion named after religious icon of the Child Jesus stands as a monument to the obscene excesses of the Marcos years whenthe late dictator Ferdinand Marcos was deposed by military-backed people power revolt in 1986 after 20 years in power. AFP PHOTO ROMEO GACAD (Photo credit should read ROMEO GACAD/AFP/Getty Images) #

 The Palaces Left Behind

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TACLOBAN, PHILIPPINES: The bathroom with jacuzzi of the former first lady Imelda Marcos at the Santo Nino shrine 13 October 2004 that was sequestered by the government. When Imelda built the mansion in 1981 in her hometown Tacloban, it was dubbed by many as the Malacanang presidential palace of the south. The mansion named after religious icon of the Child Jesus stands as a monument to the obscene excesses of the Marcos years when the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos was deposed in 1986 by a military-backed people power revolt after 20 years in power. AFP PHOTO ROMEO GACAD (Photo credit should read ROMEO GACAD/AFP/Getty Images) #

 The Palaces Left Behind

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BAGHDAD, Iraq: Iraqi soldiers gestures to a giant mural of ousted Iraqi Dictator Saddam Hussein still hanging in of his former palaces in Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone in this image taken 19 October 2005. Once a Pan Arab champion, Saddam the feared Iraqi leader will go on trial 28 November 2005 on charges linked to the killing of 148 Shiite villagers. AFP PHOTO/KARIM SAHIB (Photo credit should read KARIM SAHIB/AFP/Getty Images) #

 The Palaces Left Behind

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HILLAH, IRAQ, APRIL 21: A worker makes a bed inside a marbled room where Saddam supposedly once slept, at one of the former dictator 's palace villas, which can be rented for about USD170 a night on April 21, 2009 in the city of Hillah in Babil province about 50 miles south of Baghdad, Iraq. The Palace, which is adjacent to the remains of the ancient city of Babylon, was purged of anything of value by looters as Saddam's regime fell in April 2003 and then occupied by US and coalition forces until late 2006. The palace was opened to public who can visit it for about 85 US cents. Some of its surrounded villas have been converted into hotel rooms. (Photo by Muhannad Fala'ah/Getty Images) #

 The Palaces Left Behind

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A looter carries away a chair inside Saddam Hussein's main palace in Baghdad 12 April, 2003. Looting has plagued Baghdad and other Iraqi cities since US forces won control of the capital 09 April. Hundreds of Iraqis, including police officers, answered 12 April an urgent US appeal to help restore order and services to Baghdad after an orgy of looting followed weeks of heavy coalition bombardment. AFP PHOTO ODD ANDERSEN (Photo credit should read ODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty Images) #

 The Palaces Left Behind

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US Army Sergeant Craig Zentkovich from Connecticut belonging to the 1st Brigade Combat Team photographs a pink bedroom at Saddam Hussein's presidential palace 13 April 2003. The palace is located in a vast military compound near the airport southwest of the capital. AFP PHOTO/Romeo GACAD (Photo credit should read ROMEO GACAD/AFP/Getty Images) #

 The Palaces Left Behind

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A US marine walks inside the presidential palace in Port-Au-Prince 09 March 2004. Troops from France, the US and Chile have poured into the country in an effort to stabilize the country after former Haitian president Jean Bertrand Aristide fled the country 29 February 2004. AFP PHOTO/Jaime RAZURI (Photo credit should read JAIME RAZURI/AFP/Getty Images) #

 The Palaces Left Behind

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A soldier of the rebel Alliance of Laurent-Desire Kabila, surrounded by looters, uses his weapon to hit a photograph of ousted Zairean President Mobutu Sese Seko 20 May 1997 in the house the former leader kept at the Tshatshi military camp in Kinshasa. In October 1996, Zairean opposition leader Laurent Desire Kabila, as head of the newly formed Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire, rallied forces consisting mostly of Tutsi from eastern Zaire and launched a full-scale rebellion against Mobutu, forcing him to flee the country, following failed peace talks in May 1997. On 17 May 1997, Kabila installed himself as head of state after his troops took control of Kinshasa and renamed the country the Democratic Republic of Congo. (Photo credit should read PASCAL GUYOT/AFP/Getty Images) #

 The Palaces Left Behind

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Afghan youth play football in front of the ruins of the Darul Aman Palace in Kabul on December 3, 2010. Afghan government officials hit back at "stupid" allegations made in leaked US diplomatic cables about corruption but refused to comment on a damning assessment of President Hamid Karzai. Deputy presidential spokesman Hamed Elmi downplayed documents released by Internet whistleblower WikiLeaks as "not much new," with "nothing substantive to negatively affect our good relations with the international community". AFP PHOTO/Massoud HOSSAINI (Photo credit should read MASSOUD HOSSAINI/AFP/Getty Images) #

 The Palaces Left Behind

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A child stands in a room of the former palace of late dictator Mobutu Sese Seko, in Gbadolite, on November 24, 2010. Mobutu built two private residences and an official presidential palace among other buildings in Gbadolite and Kawele. Mobutu came to power in a 1965 coup, five years after the central African nation gained independence from Belgium. He ruled Zaire for 32 years, plunging the country into a long economic crisis marked by state corruption, the embezzlement of funds and excessive luxuries. AFP PHOTO / GWENN DUBOURTHOUMIEU (Photo credit should read Gwenn Dubourthoumieu/AFP/Getty Images) #

 The Palaces Left Behind

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Tunisian workers remove on January 17, 2011 portraits of ousted President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali from the prime minister's office in Tunis. Tunisian protesters on January 17 called for the abolition of Ben Ali's ruling party amid a chaotic power vacuum as politicians prepared a government of national unity. The Moroccan press welcomed on January 17 the fall of Ben Ali after weeks of street protests, and said it was a lesson for north Africa and the Arab world. AFP PHOTO / FETHI BELAID (Photo credit should read FETHI BELAID/AFP/Getty Images) #

 The Palaces Left Behind

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A Libyan rebel stands inside the front door of a luxurious complex that rebels and local residents claim to be the holiday home of the Kadhafi family in Ain Zara close to Tripoli, on August 31, 2011. Numerous luxury buildings have been discovered by rebels as they get increased access to areas after the ouster of Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi and his loyalist forces. AFP PHOTO/CARL DE SOUZA (Photo credit should read CARL DE SOUZA/AFP/Getty Images) #

 The Palaces Left Behind

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A general shot shows the gardens of a luxurious complex that rebels and local residents claim to be the holiday home of the Kadhafi family in Ain Zara close to Tripoli, on August 31, 2011. Numerous luxury buildings have been discovered by Libyan rebels as they get increased access to areas after ousted Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi and his loyalist forces were forced to abandon their residences. AFP PHOTO/Carl de Souza (Photo credit should read CARL DE SOUZA/AFP/Getty Images) #

 The Palaces Left Behind

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A general view shows a luxurious complex that rebels and local residents claim to be the holiday home of the Kadhafi family in Ain Zara close to Tripoli, on August 31, 2011. Numerous luxury buildings have been discovered by rebels as they get increased access to areas after the ouster of Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi and his loyalist forces. AFP PHOTO/CARL DE SOUZA (Photo credit should read CARL DE SOUZA/AFP/Getty Images) #

 The Palaces Left Behind

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A Libyan rebel walks past a swimming pool outside the mansion of Motassem Kadhafi, a son of Libya's embattled leader, in Tripoli on August 30, 2011. Libya's rebels issued an ultimatum for Moamer Kadhafi's forces to surrender or face a military onslaught, as NATO said the strongman is still able to command his troops despite being on the run. AFP PHOTO/PATRICK BAZ (Photo credit should read PATRICK BAZ/AFP/Getty Images) #

 The Palaces Left Behind

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Libyan rebels inspect the mansion of Motassem Kadhafi, a son of Libya's embattled leader, in Tripoli on August 30, 2011. Libya's rebels issued an ultimatum for Moamer Kadhafi's forces to surrender or face a military onslaught, as NATO said the strongman is still able to command his troops despite being on the run. AFP PHOTO/PATRICK BAZ (Photo credit should read PATRICK BAZ/AFP/Getty Images) #

 The Palaces Left Behind

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Libyan rebels inspect an empty swimming pool at the mansion of Motassem Kadhafi, a son of Libya's embattled leader, in Tripoli on August 30, 2011. Libya's rebels issued an ultimatum for Moamer Kadhafi's forces to surrender or face a military onslaught, as NATO said the strongman is still able to command his troops despite being on the run. AFP PHOTO/PATRICK BAZ (Photo credit should read PATRICK BAZ/AFP/Getty Images) #

 The Palaces Left Behind

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A Libyan rebel poses for a souvenir picture outside the mansion of Motassem Kadhafi, a son of Libya's embattled leader, in Tripoli on August 30, 2011. Libya's rebels issued an ultimatum for Moamer Kadhafi's forces to surrender or face a military onslaught, as NATO said the strongman is still able to command his troops despite being on the run. AFP PHOTO/PATRICK BAZ (Photo credit should read PATRICK BAZ/AFP/Getty Images) #

 The Palaces Left Behind

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Former Abu Slim prisoner, Sami Sadiq Abu Ruwais, stands next to a swimming pool inside a luxurious complex that rebels and local residents claim to be the holiday home of the Kadhafi family in Ain Zara close to Tripoli, on August 31, 2011. Numerous luxury buildings have been discovered by rebels as they get increased access to areas after the ouster of Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi and his loyalist forces. AFP PHOTO/CARL DE SOUZA (Photo credit should read CARL DE SOUZA/AFP/Getty Images) #

 The Palaces Left Behind

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A Libyan rebel inspects an underground network of bunkers under the mansion of Motassem Kadhafi, a son of Libya's embattled leader, in Tripoli on August 30, 2011. Libya's rebels issued an ultimatum for Moamer Kadhafi's forces to surrender or face a military onslaught, as NATO said the strongman is still able to command his troops despite being on the run. AFP PHOTO/PATRICK BAZ (Photo credit should read PATRICK BAZ/AFP/Getty Images) #

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Their homelands are torn by war, economic distress, political strife, or environmental collapse. They choose to leave, or have no choice. They're called migrants, refugees, or internally displaced people. The labels are inadequate as often circumstances could allow all three descriptions, or some combination of them. Once in their new countries, they face difficult transitions, discrimination, or outright hostility. Host countries are burdened with the economic and political repercussions of the arrivals, while home nations are sometimes saddled with a "brain drain" of their most important human resources. Immigration is a hot-button issue in the American presidential race, and a wave of new arrivals from Libya to Italy has left the European Union struggling with decisions over the Schengen policy of borderless travel between member nations. Gathered here are images of some of the estimated 214 million people worldwide in the process of redefining what "home" means to them. -- Lane Turner (47 photos total)
Rescuers help people in the sea after a boat carrying some 250 migrants crashed into rocks as they tried to enter the port of Pantelleria, an island off the southern coast of Italy, on April 13. Italy is struggling to cope with a mass influx of immigrants from north Africa, many of whom risk their lives by sailing across the often stormy Meditteranean in makeshift vessels. (Francesco Malavolta/AFP/Getty Images)

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As militiamen and mercenaries loyal to Moammar Khadafy ferociously strike back at rebels in and around the Libyan capital of Tripoli, much of the rest of the nation is embracing a bracing reality: After 41 years of ruthless and total control by Khadafy, they are suddenly free to rule themselves. In Benghazi, Libya's second-largest city and the cradle of the revolt, chants of jubilation are interspersed with quiet meetings. Neighborhood leaders are working to figure out such tasks as how to direct traffic and ensure utilities are up and running as they craft a plan for the future of the city. For guest workers and other expatriates, the future is no longer Libya. By the tens of thousands, they have been attempting to flee the violence, massing at ports as they await ships, overrunning the main airport,, and crossing by any means possible into Tunisia. Here's a look at one day -- Thursday -- in the life of those parts of Libya under rebel control. -- Paula Nelson (33 photos total)
Exclamations of joy fill the air as residents of Benghazi find themselves in an unimaginable situation: Freed from Moammar Khadafy's rule for the first time in more than four decades. (Suhaib Salem/Reuters)

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Beginning in December of last year, a series of ongoing protests in the streets of Tunisia escalated to the point where President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali - who had ruled the country for 23 years - at first declared he would not seek re-election, then fled the country on January 14th. An interim government was assembled, but protesters remain in the streets, demanding removal of all traces of Ben Ali's old RCD party. Protesters' frustrations with high unemployment, inflation and corruption drove them to the streets after a pivotal event, when a young Tunisian vendor named Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire after police confiscated his produce cart. Bouazizi died of his injuries days later. Collected here are images of the turmoil in Tunisia over the past couple of weeks. (40 photos total)
People demonstrate during a protest in central Tunis on January 17, 2011. After weeks of demonstrations, Tunisian protesters called for the abolition of ousted president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali's ruling party on January 17 amid a chaotic power vacuum as politicians prepared a government of national unity. Hundreds of people rallied in Tunis and there were similar protests in Sidi Bouzid and Regueb in central Tunisia -- two towns at the heart of the movement that forced Ben Ali to resign and flee on Friday after 23 years in power. (MARTIN BUREAU/AFP/Getty Images)

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