Faces of the Mideast Revolutions

The president’s ineffectual statement on Friday’s massacre in Syria is the latest act in a White House drama that begin in 2009, starring a brilliant intellect who is nonetheless confounded by events. Christopher Dickey and John Barry on Obama’s flailing foreign policy—which appears headed for unmitigated disaster.

Clockwise from top left: AP Photo (3); AFP / Getty Images (3) Getty Images; Reuters / Landov

After three months of revolt and revolution, it’s amazing to remember that this all began with a fruit vendor. On December 17, 2010, following an unsuccessful attempt to lodge a complaint with the government, 26-year-old Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire in the small Tunisian city of Sidi Bouzid. His self-immolation set off nationwide protests the next day. They spread to Egypt weeks later. And now popular movements have engulfed the wider Middle East and North Africa in what’s come to be known as the Arab Spring. At the heart of the revolution and revolt are the raw passions of people demanding justice and freedom. Many of the people in the following images may just be ordinary citizens on any other day, but in these moments, they’re emotions are extraordinary.

Christopher Furlong / Getty Images

Tunisia

A protester runs down an alleyway behind the prime minister’s office on January 23 in Tunis, carrying a Che Guevara flag. Demonstrators traveled from the countryside to descend on the prime minister’s office, where they met with no resistance from the army.

Marco Salustro / Corbis

Tunisia

Angry protesters demand that Ben Ali’s party’s sign be removed from its headquarters.

Marco Salustro / Corbis

Tunisia

Screaming crowds protest against the Constitutional Democratic Rally in Tunis on January 18, 2011.

Marco Salustro / Corbis

Tunisia

Demonstrators demand that Ben Ali step down immediately, despite the announcement of a new election to take place in 60 days.

Christopher Furlong / Getty Images

Tunisia

Even the children were raging on January 23rd. Here, a young girl joins protesters outside the prime minister’s office in Tunis.

Christopher Furlong / Getty Images

Tunisia

Protesters run along Avenue Bourghiba in Tunis on January 20, 2011.

Manoocher Deghati / AP Photo

Egypt

This mural commemorating the revolution that overthrew President Hosni Mubarak appears in the Zamalek neighborhood of Cairo.

Chris Hondros / Getty Images

Egypt

An anti-government protester weeps during Islamic prayers in Tahrir Square in Cairo in January.

Mohammed Abed / AFP / Getty Images

Egypt


An Egyptian woman demonstrates outside the Lawyer’s Syndicate in Cairo on January 27, 2011.

Miguel Medina / AFP / Getty Images

Egypt

Egyptians in Tahrir Square pray for victims killed during protests.

John Moore / Getty Images

Egypt

An anti-government protester is overcome with emotion after hearing that President Hosni Mubarak resigned February 11, 2011.

Peter Macdiarmid / Getty Images

Egypt

Protesters in Tahrir Square celebrate on January 30, 2011, after hearing a false rumor that President Mubarak had left the country.

Joseph Eid / AFP / Getty Images

Bahrain

A relative of Abdulrassul Hujairi mourns at his funeral in the village of Buri in Bahrain on March 21, 2011, two days after the Shiite man went missing. He disappeared during protests, and the people who found his body said it bore signs of torture.

James Lawler Duggan / Reuters / Landov

Bahrain

An anti-government protester shouts at the burial of Ahmed Abdullah Ahsan on March 19, 2011. Ahsan was killed when military forces cleared the Pearl Roundabout in Bahrain.

Hassan Ammar / AP Photo

Bahrain

Shiite anti-government protesters chant in Manama, Bahrain, on February 18, 2011.

Sergey Ponomarev / AP Photo

Bahrain

Bahrainis yell during the funeral of Ahmed Farhan, a 29 year old who was killed in Sitra, on March 18, 2011. He was killed hours after the king declared martial law in response to escalating protests.

Hamad Mohammed / Reuters / Landov

Bahrain

A man prays for injured demonstrators after riot police stormed an anti-government protest camp in Manama and fought protesters in the street, killing four people.

Caren Firouz / Retuers / Landov

Bahrain

Anti-government protesters celebrate retaking the Pearl Roundabout in Manama on February 19, 2011.

Ahmad Gharabli / AFP / Getty Images

Yemen

Hordes of anti-government Yemenis demonstrate in Sana'a on March 11, 2011.

Ahmad Gharabli / AFP / Getty Images

Yemen

A supporter of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh participates in a rally in Sana'a on March 3, 2011.

Ahmad Gharabli / AFP / Getty Images

Yemen

An anti-government protesters shouts during a demonstration in Sana'a on March 26.

Jewel Samad / AFP / Getty Images

Yemen

A little boy joins a demonstration against Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh on March 26, 2011.

Ahmad Gharabli / AFP / Getty Images

Yemen

A mob of Yemeni protesters demand the resignation of President Saleh in Sana'a on April 2, 2011.

Ahmad Gharabli / AFP / Getty Images

Yemen

A Yemeni soldier who defected to the opposition joins an anti-government demonstration on March 31, 2011.

Ahmad Gharabli / AFP / Getty Images

Yemen

Yemenis protest against the regime in Sana'a on March 6, 2011, a day after the president dismissed opposition calls for his resignation.

Ahmad Gharabli / AFP / Getty Images

Yemen

A little girl in Sana'a, Yemen, shows off her hands, which say “leave you butcher” in Arabic.

Hussein Malla / AP Photo

Libya

A Libyan woman protests against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in Benghazi on February 25, 2011. The placard in the background in Arabic reads “The people want the leader to step down.”

Marwan Naamani / AFP / Getty Images

Libya

Protesters demonstrate outside a hotel during a meeting between African heads of state and Libyan rebel leaders in Benghazi on April 11, 2011. Rebels reject any mediation if it does not include the removal of Gaddafi.

Hussein Malla / AP Photo

Libya

Anti-Gaddafi demonstrators mobilize in Benghazi on March 4, 2011.

Hussein Malla / AP Photo

Libya

One of many children swept up in the protests, this little anti-Gaddafi protester's face is painted in the colors of the old Libyan flag during a protest in Benghazi on March 1, 2011.

Nichole Sobecki / Corbis

Libya

Anti-Gaddafi protesters demand change in Benghazi.

Hussein Malla / AP Photo

Syria

Anti-government protesters flash victory signs while they protest in the city of Dara'a, Syria on March 23.

Reuters / Landov

Syria

A demonstration in the Syrian city of Homs on April 18, 2011.

Muzaffar Salman / AP Photo

Syria


Anti-government protesters flood the streets of Damascus on March 25, 2011.