When violence first broke out in Tunisia in January 2011, few observers would have predicted that waves of unrest would engulf North Africa and the Arab world. When demonstrations swiftly spread to Algeria, Sudan, Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, and Jordan, observers hastened to place bets on which regime would be the next to fall. That Hosni Mubarak would be felled next came perhaps as no surprise; Egypt had for years been on a knife’s edge, liberalizing and modernizing society while closing all space for political and social participation. Most analysts then turned their attention to Sudan, Yemen, and Bahrain, predicting that surely one of these three would be the next to falter. Yet almost no one expected that Muammar Gaddafi’s Libya would be the next domino in line. Having ruled the country for forty-one years and destroyed all semblance of a free media, of opposition politics, or of civil society, Libya was assumed to be ruthlessly stable.

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