World Citizen: The 10 Stories of 2011 that Changed the World

World Citizen: The 10 Stories of 2011 that Changed the World

It's too soon to know how the events of this fast-fading year will ultimately reshape our world, but the upheaval we witnessed in 2011 will most assuredly keep future historians ponderously occupied. Indeed, it was a year of uprooting, breaking up and tilling the geopolitical soil -- a year that will have mattered in many ways, many of which we don't yet fully understand, but that clearly represent a turning point. Ten events in particular reshaped the global landscape in 2011.

The Arab Uprisings. The spark lit by Tunisian food vendor Mohammed Bouazizi at the end of 2010 set much of the Arab world alight, and the events that followed threatened to tear apart the political and military alliances that had held the Middle East order in place for decades. The region that had seemed most immune to change, with nearly two dozen dictators in what looked like firm control of their countries, erupted in a chain reaction of popular revolutions. The first to fall, in January, was then-Tunisian President Zine el Abidine Ben Ali, and the success of the Tunisian revolution electrified the long-repressed people of the region. Before long, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak -- Washington and Israel's closest friend in the Arab world -- was overthrown. NATO then helped push out Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi, and now countless other despots found themselves under pressure.

In the Middle East, it wasn't just the West that suffered strategic losses. Iran's only friend in the Arab world, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, saw the wrath of his people directed at him and tried to snuff it out with gunfire, killing thousands of demonstrators. His future remains a question mark for 2012.

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