Two months ago, a young Tunisian vegetable-seller killed himself in protest when officials in his home town of Sidi Bouzid prevented him from selling his wares on the street.
That was December. Now it is February. What became known as the Jasmine Revolution swept through Tunisia, exiling its President of 23 years and ushering hope for freedom and democracy. Egypt followed, ousting President Mubarak from his 30-year rule after a protest in Tahrir Square that saw more protesters’ children in impromptu day-care groups than molotov cocktails.
Unrest has swept the states of the Arab League. Protests have rocked Morocco, Algeria, Jordan, Syria and Yemen. Tensions are flaring once again in Iran. Bahrain ordered its soldiers to open fire on their people. And tonight Libya lies on the brink of revolution or civil war, the east of the country reportedly under civilian rule as army units defect, police stations burn and hundreds lie dead.
I wonder if Mohamed Bouazizi had any idea, back in December, that his death would be the catalyst for the greatest unrest the region has seen in decades?
And I wonder how many other situations, political or otherwise, are susceptible to the same butterfly effect. How many other butterflies are there out there whose simple, local actions will end up tearing countries apart?