Mubarak is gone: Who's next?

With once-entrenched dictators toppled in Egypt and Tunisia, the world is wondering if Middle East autocrats like Yemen's president will be next

Yemen's 32-year President Ali Abdullah Saleh may be the next ousted Arab power as the country is already in its fourth day of anti-government protests.
(Image credit: Corbis)

The wave of popular uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East has already swept Egypt's Hosni Mubarak and Tunisia's Zine el Abidine Ben Ali from power. Now, everyone from Western leaders to Arab protesters to nervous autocrats across the Muslim world are wondering: Who's next? The region's "longtime implacable dictators" are all acutely aware that the world is watching, says Joel Brinkley in the San Francisco Chronicle, but they also know that "a few months from now, this moment will have passed." Who might not make it that long?

YEMEN: President Ali Abdullah Saleh

"Surely, the obvious 'next' candidate is Yemen," says Jason Ditz in After 32 years in power, Saleh has pledged to stand down when his term ends in 2013. But anti-government protesters aren't satisfied, and Monday marked the fourth day of continuous demonstrations and violent clashes with armed Saleh supporters. "Temperatures are high and getting higher," says Siddhartha Mahanta in Mother Jones. And given the country's high unemployment and government corruption, "there is a sincere likelihood of change," says Gregory White in Business Insider.

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IRAN: President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Mubarak's fall has reinvigorated the passions that fueled the 2009 "Green Revolution," which went largely underground after harsh government crackdowns. Thousands defied government warnings Monday and took to the streets in Tehran and other big cities, ostensibly in solidarity with Egyptians, but also shouting "death to the dictator." The chance of a full-scale uprising is "moderate," says Mahanta in Mother Jones, but the odds of another crackdown are "tragically high."

BAHRAIN: King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa

Protesters held an Egypt-style "day of rage" on Monday, and the "deep grievances" of the country's poorer Shiite Muslim minority make Bahrain "the most susceptible" of the Gulf states to popular revolt, says regional analyst Theodore Karasik, as quoted by Bloomberg Businessweek. King Hamad, part of the Sunni elite, tried to "bribe" each family in the country with thousands of dollars, but that may not be enough to pacify the protesters, says Ditz in Bahrain is "the biggest wild-card" in the region.

PALESTINE: President Mahmoud Abbas

The day after Mubarak fell, Abbas and the ruling Fatah party scheduled long-overdue national elections for September, and on Monday the entire cabinet resigned. This shows that Abbas is "freaking out," says Khaled Abu Toameh in The Jerusalem Post. "In the eyes of many Palestinians, Abbas is not much different from Hosni Mubarak," and these acts of "desperation" are an attempt to keep Egypt's "anti-government wave" from washing him out of power.

ALGERIA: President Abdelaziz Bouteflika

Algerians were among the first to hit the streets in this wave of Arab uprisings, but the Bouteflika regime was slow to respond. The foreign minister finally said Monday that the government will end the repressive 19-year-old emergency laws "in the coming days," but insisted, "Algeria is not Tunisia or Egypt." Actually, Algeria's situation is remarkably similar to Egypt's, says Vivienne Walt in Time, so "that statement might be wishful thinking" on the part of the Bouteflika government.

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