Damascus, Oct 21: Opposition leaders in Syria predicted that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad would follow Gaddafi to become the next Middle East strongman to be deposed in the Arab Spring.
Even as Libya's National Transitional Council prepared to declare victory in the civil war last night, celebrating crowds spilt into the streets of the Syrian city of Homs, an activist in the country said.
“They are chanting that this is a day of cheer and hope,” a spokesman for the Syrian Revolution General Commission said. “We are all very happy and we hope that this will happen to Bashar al-Assad next. We hope that the Arab League will help us after this great achievement.”
Amr al-Azm, a dissident in exile in the United States who helped form the opposition Syrian National Council earlier this year said that Mr Assad should learn the lesson of those who had already gone. Zine al-Abedine Ben Ali of Tunisia ran away earlier this year, and is now alive and in Saudi Arabia.
Hosni Mubarak struggled on until removed by the army, peacefully in the end, and is in prison and on trial. Gaddafi, as Assad seems willing to do, fought with all the force he thought necessary, and lies dead.
“If I were a member of the regime, Bashar or (his brother) Maher, I would start to feel rather concerned,” he said. “These dictators who won't hand over power, this is how they seem to end up.”
Every twist in the brief history of the Arab Spring has given rise to yet more twists, from the moment a vegetable seller set himself on fire in protest at Ben Ali's petty officialdom and inequalities in Tunisia last December.
The uprising against Gaddafi was an immediate response to the fall of Mubarak, and now his death will ripple across the region. Assad will be uppermost in many people's minds, but President Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen, recovering from an assassination attempt himself, is still refusing to keep promises to do a deal to transfer power.
On Thursday, he made a fresh demand for assurances of his safety if he stepped aside.
Niger to Libya's south is facing demands from Libya to hand over leading Gaddafi officials, including Saadi Gaddafi, his third son. Seeing the fate of his father will make him even more determined to resist.
Algeria, which has an uneasy relationship with the new government, has refused to surrender Gaddafi's wife, Safiya, and children, Mohammed, Hannibal and Aisha, who also fled across the border.
Its leader, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, will be experiencing his own nerves. He owes his position to his own success in putting down a long and bloody Islamist uprising and has faced renewed protests this year.
The strong al-Qaeda cell in the south, —the reason Bouteflika has support from the West and received William Hague this week — demonstrates the implications of the Arab Spring for security across the world. Mr al-Azm says that even the fate of Gaddafi will not sway Assad.
“He will not change a thing,” he said. “He will keep killing and killing — he doesn't know anything else. We hope we will one day find him in a hole too.”