My people love me
"I am telling you that my response to your demands and your messages and your requests is my commitment that I will never go back on. I am determined to fulfill what I have promised you in all honesty, and I'm determined to execute and carry out what I have promised without going back to the past.... Egypt will remain until I deliver and surrender its -- it to others." - Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, televised speech, Feb. 10, 2011.
"Move forward, challenge, pick up your weapons, go to the fight for liberating Libya inch by inch from the traitors and from NATO... The blood of martyrs is fuel for the battle.... The end of colonialism is near. The end of the rats (rebels) is near, as they flee." - Former Libyan Leader Muammar al-Qaddafi, audio broadcast, Aug. 15, 2011.
"I am not talking here on behalf of the Tunisians or the Egyptians. I am talking on behalf of the Syrians. It is something we always adopt. We have more difficult circumstances than most of the Arab countries but in spite of that Syria is stable. Why? Because you have to be very closely linked to the beliefs of the people. This is the core issue. When there is divergence between your policy and the people's beliefs and interests, you will have this vacuum that creates disturbance." - Bashar al-Assad, interview with the Wall Street Journal, Jan. 31, 2011.
It wasn't a great year for dictatorial bombast. A day after his speech promising to fulfill his term and hand over power only when he was ready, Mubarak stepped down, reportedly under pressure from his own military. Libya's rebels took Tripoli a little over a week after Qaddafi assured the "rats" that their end was near and the leader met his own bloody end on Oct. 20. (Qaddafi, at least, did fulfill his promise to die on Libyan soil rather than flee.) Assad may still be hanging on to power, but after months of protests and with his country on the brink of civil war, his assurances that Syria was insulated from the uprising seen elsewhere in the Arab world seem absurdly optimistic now.