As revolution shakes the Arab world, a series of films explore the roots of the uprisings and ask ‘what next’?
This was perhaps the biggest news year in the last two decades.
In 2011, protesters overthrew entrenched autocracies, the US caught its most wanted man, a devastating earthquake and tsunami thrashed Japan, a new country was established in South Sudan, the European Union teetered on the verge of collapse while famine ravaged the horn of Africa and demonstrators moblised across the globe to slam excesses in the financial industry.
Even before the countdown to the year 2011 had begun, the rapid-fire pace of news events to unfold over the next 12 months had already been set in motion in the Arab world.
Protests had begun to simmer in Tunisia and the rumblings of discontent with the status quo had begun to emerge in Egypt. By late January, one president had been overthrown and another looked in imminent danger of following suit.
What started in Tunisia soon spread across the Arab region – engulfing Libya and Egypt before crossing the continent’s borders en route to Bahrain, Yemen and Syria. The election process has started in Tunisia and Egypt. Libya is in the midst of establishing a new order, protesters were crushed in Bahrain and the rebellion is still unfolding in Yemen and Syria.
The struggle to establish real democracy in a region long held under the boot of dictators will continue through 2012. The future, of course, remains unwritten, but we have done our best to document history, by the minute, bringing breaking news and in-depth analysis to our viewers.
We uncovered the Palestine papers, exposing what Palestinian and Israeli leaders were really discussing behind closed doors, and often without the consent of their people. Riots in London, the death of the “Dear Leader” in North Korea, election violence in the Ivory Coast and the departure of US troops from Iraq, nine years after the invasion, rounded out our top stories.
Prior to the killing of Osama bin Laden by US special forces in Pakistan, the peak of the triple disaster in Japan was the most viewed news day our website has ever had. For a network typically associated with events in the Middle East, we found it heartening that viewers turned to us en masse for news of the calamity in Asia.
At Al Jazeera, we have had a front row seat to watch these events unfold. While we covered the news, the news seemed to support our network. We went from being “vicious, inaccurate and inexcusable” in the words of Donald Rumsfeld to being a source of “real news” according to Hillary Clinton.
As we reporters vote on this year’s top stories, we feel lucky to have had the privilege to cover one of the biggest news years in recent memory.
We will continue providing our global viewers with “real news” in 2012. This is our promise. Stay tuned.