Historic Documents of 2011
Publication Year: 2012
For more than 40 years the Historic Documents series has made primary source research easy by presenting excerpts from documents on the important events of each year for the United States and the world. Each volume includes approximately 70 events with well over 100 documents from the previous year, from official or other influential reports and surveys, to speeches from leaders and opinion makers, to court cases, legislation, testimony, and much more. Historic Documents is renowned for the well-written and informative background, history, and context it provides for each document. Each volume begins with an insightful essay that sets the year’s events in context, and each document or group of documents is preceded by a comprehensive introduction that provides background information on the event. ...
- Front Matter
Copyright by Sage Publications, Inc.
Major political upheavals across North Africa and the Middle East, a devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan, contentious debates on the American deficit and economy, the killing of Osama bin Laden, continuing economic crisis in the European Union, and significant Supreme Court rulings on the First Amendment, class action suits, prison overcrowding, and climate change are just a few of the topics of national and international significance chosen for discussion in Historic Documents of 2011. This edition marks the fortieth volume of a CQ Press project that began with Historic Documents of 1972. This series allows students, librarians, journalists, scholars, and others to research and understand the most important domestic and foreign issues and events of the year through primary source documents. To aid research, many of the lengthy documents written for specialized audiences have been excerpted to highlight the most important sections. The official statements, news conferences, speeches, special studies, and court decisions presented here should be of lasting public and academic interest.
Historic Documents of 2011 opens with an “Overview of 2011,” a sweeping narrative of the key events and issues of the year that provides context for the documents that follow. The balance of the book is organized chronologically, with each article comprising an introduction entitled “Document in Context” and one or more related documents on a specific event, issue, or topic. Often an event is not limited to a particular day. Consequently, readers will find that some events include multiple documents that may span several months. Their placement in the book corresponds to the date of the first document included for that event. The event introductions provide context and an account of further developments during the year. A thematic table of contents (p. xvii) and a list of documents organized by source (p. xxi) follow the standard table of contents and assist readers in locating events and documents.
As events, issues, and consequences become more complex and far reaching, these introductions and documents yield important information and deepen understanding about the world's increasing interconnectedness. As memories of current events fade, these selections will continue to further understanding of the events and issues that have shaped the lives of people around the world.
Overview of 2011
The year 2011 was characterized by continuing global economic distress, historic civil unrest in the Middle East, and domestic policy struggles in the U.S. When President Barack Obama took the podium for his January 2011 State of the Union address, he made clear that the year would be dominated more by political bickering than substantial work on the issues plaguing the nation, including continued unemployment, a slow-growing economy, and rising debt, by making few new spending and program proposals. With Republicans gaining control in the U.S. House of Representatives, and narrowing the Democratic majority in the Senate in the 2010 midterm elections, passage of any bill required extensive political negotiations. This was evident as Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate nearly failed to reach a compromise on the FY2012 budget, which would have led to a government shutdown, and came close to failing to reach an agreement on raising the debt ceiling before the United States defaulted. Both chambers failed to reach a consensus on how to handle U.S. debt while also encouraging economic growth and job creation, and it is likely that most difficult decisions will be left until after the 2012 presidential and Congressional elections.
Internationally, 2011 brought the overthrow of autocratic rulers and hints of reform in the Middle East, and continued financial hardship, especially in Europe. The Arab Spring dominated headlines with anti-government demonstrations that took place across Africa and the Middle East calling for economic equality, the end of corruption in government, and political reform. Demonstrations took place in Tunisia, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Yemen, and Libya, with minor uprisings occurring in a number of other nations. By the end of 2011, the movements brought down the leaders of Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya. In Europe, the focus was on Greece's continued financial distress and its impact on the overall stability of the monetary union. EU leaders were forced to extend another bailout to the country and subsequently agreed to a Fiscal Treaty that would require all nations to cap their debt or risk hefty fines.
Although the global economic downturn continued to slow in 2011, no nation had completely recovered. In the United States, January 2011 opened with bright economic news of decreasing unemployment and rising payrolls, but quickly turned into a rollercoaster ride as the stock market experienced drastic rises and falls and consumer confidence continued to waver. The U.S. Census Bureau reported that the nation's poverty rate hit its highest level in seventeen years in 2010, with poverty rising across all sectors of the American population. A supplemental poverty report released by the bureau in November, which took into account social service benefits, medical care expenses, and payroll taxes, and also accounted for the cost of living in different parts of the country and whether a person rents or owns a [Page xxxvi]home, found 49.1 million Americans living in poverty, making the economic landscape in the United States worse than the official measure had shown. Both reports found evidence that government investments made to expand unemployment insurance, food stamps, and other welfare benefit programs had a significant impact on a number of Americans.
Two reports released in 2011 established the cause of the financial collapse of 2007–2009. The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission released the first official government review of the crisis, and found that it was caused by widespread financial regulation failure, too many risky business practices at financial firms, excessive borrowing, little preparation or knowledge on how to deal with a financial crisis, and a lack of ethics and accountability. According to the report, the financial sector and government watchdogs ignored warning signs of an impending fiscal crisis, and placed too much faith in financial markets to correct themselves. The Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations released its own report that described reckless business practices that led to the financial crisis and were ignored by banks and federal regulators. Both reports expressed concern that without significant changes in government oversight and corporate responsibility, a repeat financial crisis could occur.
Anger over the lack of accountability in the financial sector and growing gap between the rich and poor manifested itself in the fall of 2011 in the Occupy Wall Street protests that began in New York City and spread across the country and around the world. The protesters, who set up camps where they lived for months, called themselves “the 99 percent,” harkening to a federal report showing a concentration of America's wealth among the top one percent of income earners. The protesters decried corporate greed and social inequality and made demands ranging from the wealthy paying their fair share of taxes to banks being held accountable for their role in the financial crisis to more government intervention to aid the jobless.
In Europe, one year after austerity measures and bailouts drew public ire, leaders were again faced with growing debt. Greece was the year's biggest challenge, and it was put to European leaders to find a way to save the nation from default and financial collapse, and in turn protect the monetary union from significant damage. In July, EU member nations agreed to restructure Greece's debts by lowering interest rates and giving the nation more time to pay back what it had borrowed. Although the July agreement gave an initial boost to the Greek economy, as the year went on, the country's debts continued piling up and the government collapsed as citizens took to the streets protesting the spending cuts made to public programs.
In December, EU leaders met again to not only decide how to handle the situation in Greece but also to formulate a Fiscal Compact that would help avoid future financial crises. The Fiscal Compact, agreed to by most member nations, included a stipulation that EU governments keep structural deficits below 0.5 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), with an automatic fine levied for any government exceeding the 3 percent deficit limit. It additionally created a $930 billion bailout fund for future financial distress. The United Kingdom did not agree to the Fiscal Compact, fearing further infringement on its sovereignty by the European Union, and the Czech Republic also declined to be party to the deal.
The large number of Republican victories at the state level during the 2010 midterm elections brought a number of fiscally conservative leaders to office. With state revenue still well below its 2008 peak, when governors delivered their State of the State addresses in [Page xxxvii]early 2011, few ambitious agendas were announced; the focus instead was on continuing to cut back. Constitutional requirements for states to balance their budgets forced difficult financial decisions on state leaders. Many chose to make significant spending cuts in education, health care, unemployment compensation, and services for the elderly and disabled. Some states coupled these cutbacks with tax hikes.
The difficult economic decisions pitted a number of governors and legislators against each other and the public. Minnesota's governor and legislature could not reach a consensus on how to close the state's $5 billion budget gap in the biennial budget, leading to a two-week shutdown of state government in July. In Wisconsin, newly elected Governor Scott Walker, a Republican, proposed a budget bill for 2011 that required additional contributions from state employees to their pensions and health care plans and included provisions that would restrict collective bargaining rights. Unions and Democratic politicians from across the country called the move an assault on public employee rights, and Wisconsin's Democratic state senators fled to Illinois to prevent Republicans from having a quorum for a vote on the bill. Republican lawmakers worked around the need for a quorum by stripping all spending provisions from the budget bill and instead voted to pass a revised version that kept the collective bargaining restrictions intact. The union fight in Wisconsin prompted nine recall elections for members of the state Assembly and Senate. A recall election for Governor Walker was set for June 5, 2012.
It was against this politically charged backdrop that the 2012 Republican presidential primary race got underway. From early 2011, a large pool of contenders jockeyed for front-runner status and the right to take on President Obama in the November 2012 general election. Hot-button issues for the candidates included creating jobs, rebuilding the U.S. economy, and social issues like abortion and gay marriage. It was not until December that the field narrowed to the four most likely candidates: former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, and Texas Representative Ron Paul.
In the White House, the president grappled with the ongoing impact of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. More than eight years after it began, the war in Iraq came to an end just before Christmas when the last group of 50,000 soldiers departed the country. A small contingent of 200 service members remained in Iraq to protect the U.S. embassy in Baghdad. With the U.S. troop presence ended, the question became what role America would continue to play in the country.
September 2011 marked the ten-year anniversary of American troop presence in Afghanistan, and public opinion of the war reached its lowest level. Throughout the year, the United States and its coalition partners began making plans for an accelerated troop withdrawal to begin in 2011 and conclude by 2014. As the international community debated the best methods and timeline for a troop withdrawal, the Taliban was making a slow comeback and it was readily apparent that Afghanistan was still struggling to take control of its own security and did not yet have the governance structures in place to ensure the democratic reforms the international community hoped to see. By the end of 2011, 10,000 U.S. troops had left Afghanistan.
After nearly ten years of unsuccessful attempts to locate and capture the man considered responsible for planning the September 11 attacks on the United States, in the early morning hours of May 1, a Navy SEAL team raided the Pakistan compound of Osama bin Laden, killing the al Qaeda leader. The location of bin Laden's compound in Pakistan raised questions about whether Pakistan had been supporting the terrorist leader while he was in hiding, and left open the question of the ongoing relationship between the United States and Pakistan.
As Republicans and Democrats squabbled on the House and Senate floor over national debt and spending, political leaders and the public were reexamining civil discourse in the United States. The impact of inflammatory language used by politicians and opinion leaders, and the anti-government sentiment gripping the country was brought to the forefront on January 8, 2011, when an assassination attempt was made on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., as she spoke with constituents. Six people were killed in the incident and Giffords was shot in the head. Despite having a bullet penetrate her brain, Giffords made a recovery that doctors consistently referred to as miraculous, but resigned her seat in Congress in January 2012.
Despite being partway through the fiscal year, early 2011 was dominated by a deadlock on the fiscal year 2011 federal budget. Thus far, the government had been kept operational by a series of temporary spending measures. In mid-February, the House of Representatives passed a budget that included $61 billion in spending cuts, but the Senate, backed by President Obama, refused to vote on the bill. April 8 marked the deadline for the FY2011 budget or another continuing resolution to be passed, and in the weeks leading up to this deadline protracted negotiations took place at the White House between members of both parties. Just hours before the deadline, both the House and Senate agreed to a budget that would cut $38.5 billion in spending, the largest non-defense cut in U.S. history.
On May 16, the United States officially reached its debt ceiling, the cap that limits the amount of money the government can borrow. The secretary of the treasury, Timothy Geithner, said that he would be able to stop the government from defaulting until at least August 2, but both he and the president encouraged Congress to act quickly to raise the debt ceiling. Republicans and Democrats argued not only over whether it would be prudent to raise the debt ceiling in the current economic environment, but also over what impact a default would have. With the clock ticking on the August 2 deadline, leaders from both parties met at the White House, where on July 31, they reached a bipartisan agreement to raise the debt ceiling while making $2.4 trillion in spending cuts over the next decade. Despite the agreement, on August 5, credit rating agency Standard & Poor's downgraded the U.S. rating to AA+, one notch below the highest possible score. The downgrade was mostly symbolic, but the agency announced that if the United States did not take additional steps to deal with its ever-growing deficit, another downgrade was possible.
As part of the debt ceiling agreement, the House and Senate formed a congressional super committee, formally known as the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, tasked with finding $1.2 trillion of the $2.4 trillion in cuts. If the group failed to make recommendations for cuts, or if Congress failed to pass the recommendations, $1.2 trillion in automatic cuts would be made in January 2013 to military spending, education, transportation, and Medicare payments. Republicans and Democrats on the twelve-member committee made numerous proposals on how to make the necessary cuts, but in the end could not reach an agreement that made Republicans, who wanted to avoid tax cuts, and Democrats, who wanted to preserve entitlement spending, happy. On November 21, the committee announced that after three months of work, it had failed to reach a consensus, thus triggering the automatic future cuts.
In late 2011, a heated debate took place in the House and Senate over the extension of payroll tax cuts first established in 2010 that were set to expire in March 2012. The battle hinged on how to pay for continuing the extension. Democrats proposed raising taxes on [Page xxxix]high-income earners, which Republicans opposed. Unable to reach an agreement by the end of December to extend the tax cuts for a full year, the House and Senate agreed to a two-month extension that would give them time when they returned from recess in January to continue debating the measure. It was not until February 17, 2012, when the House and Senate agreed to extend the tax cut that impacted 160 million mostly middle-class Americans. In the compromise bill, cuts were made to federal health care programs and government pensions to help cover spending increases, new limits were put on unemployment compensation, and cuts were made to preventative health care spending mandated by the Affordable Care Act of 2010.
Supreme Court Decisions
In 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a number of important decisions on topics ranging from First Amendment rights and methods to curb illegal immigration to pharmaceuticals and greenhouse gas emissions. The Court heard two major First Amendment cases during the year. The first, Snyder v. Phelps, dealt with the small Westboro Baptist Church that actively protests the funerals of soldiers killed in action with picket signs bearing messages such as “Thank God for Dead Soldiers” and “God Hates Fags.” The case against the church was brought by the father of fallen soldier Matthew Snyder who claimed he had been emotionally harmed by seeing these protesters near his son's funeral. In an 8–1 decision, the Court ruled that the First Amendment of the Constitution protected the right of the Westboro Baptist Church to picket the Snyder's funeral. Writing for the majority, Chief Justice John Roberts made clear that the First Amendment cannot be used to punish a speaker for pain inflicted by the speech, and that “the government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable.” Following the ruling, the Westboro Baptist Church promised to continue picketing military funerals at an increased rate.
Another First Amendment case that drew public attention was that of Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association in which the Court ruled 7–2 on June 27, 2011, to overturn a California law that prohibited violent video games from being sold or rented to children. Four different opinions were issued with the ruling, highlighting the difficulty justices had in reaching a conclusion in a case that pits constitutional principles that are hundreds of years old against the newer technology of video gaming.
Congressional inaction on stronger immigration laws has prompted a number of states to take action to curb the influx of illegal Hispanic immigrants. In 2011, an Arizona statute with this aim landed on the Court's docket. In Chamber of Commerce v. Whiting, the Court reviewed a state law that allowed for the revocation of business licenses from companies found to knowingly hire illegal immigrants. The federal government asserted that it held the upper hand in illegal immigration enforcement, and that its own laws preempt state regulation. On May 26, 2011, a divided Court ruled 5–3 that federal law does not prohibit Arizona from invoking its business license statute. The minority expressed concern that the Court was overstepping the authority given to states by Congress and was setting up an environment ripe for discrimination against people of Hispanic origin. Because federal immigration authority has typically superseded state law, the Court's ruling may open up a loophole and allow for the creation and enforcement of fifty state immigration policies.
On June 20, 2011, the Supreme Court ruled on a class action case against the nation's largest retailer, Wal-Mart. The case was brought by 1.5 million current and former female employees of the company who claimed that they had been discriminated against in wage [Page xl]and promotion decisions. In a 5–4 decision in Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes, the Court did not rule on whether discrimination had taken place, but instead determined that the case could not proceed as a class action lawsuit because the parties to the case did not have enough in common to meet the class action threshold. The decision is expected to make it more difficult for employees of any company to prove commonality for a class action case.
The Court also took up the issue of greenhouse gas emissions. On June 20, 2011, the Court ruled unanimously in American Electric Power Co. v. Connecticut to block a lawsuit brought by six states, New York City, and three private land trusts claiming that the millions of tons of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere each year by four power companies and the Tennessee Valley Authority were dangerous and contributed to global warming. Those bringing the suit wanted the Court to put a cap on the carbon dioxide emissions of these companies. Instead, the Court found that it is the role of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to regulate greenhouse gases through the Clean Air Act, and outside of ensuring that the EPA fulfills what is required of it under the Clean Air Act, the Court cannot regulate greenhouse gases.
On June 23, 2011, the Supreme Court ruled for the third time in as many years on federal preemption in state medical labeling lawsuits. In the case of Pliva v. Mensing, the Court ruled 5–4 that generic drug companies cannot be sued in state courts for failing to provide labeling that adequately describes side effects because they are bound by Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations that require them to use the same label as their brand name counterpart. With the Court's ruling, those harmed by generic drugs now have no judicial recourse through state court, and drug manufacturers will be able to avoid some liability for injury caused by their products.
Internationally, 2011 brought new governments, renewed hope for government reform, and continuing global tensions with nuclear nations. Nigeria, Russia, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) all held significant elections in 2011. In Nigeria, where the government shifted from military to democratic rule in 1999, religious and regional divides have continued to spread because of government corruption and competition for natural resource wealth. In 2011, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, a Christian, broke with a tradition that had helped keep religious tension at bay by announcing that he would seek a second term rather than allowing a Muslim president to take office and continue the Muslim-Christian presidential rotation that had been in place since 1999. Jonathan was reelected in April and was met with rioting and escalating violence.
In the DRC, President Joseph Kabila announced in January that he had revised the constitution to elect the president in one round of voting rather than through a runoff system in which one candidate must receive at least 50 percent of the vote. His opponents saw it as a move to ensure a Kabila victory in the 2011 presidential election. Kabila's election campaign was fraught with violence and allegations that his security forces had detained and shot voters who protested the Kabila regime. Despite voting irregularities exposed by international election observers, Kabila was declared the victor on December 9, 2011. Kabila's reelection raised questions about his administration's ability to effectively govern a starkly divided nation.
In Russia, where prime minister and former president Vladimir Putin has dominated the political scene, 2011 brought an unexpected challenge. Putin's party, United Russia, was expected to handily win the December election for the lower house of parliament, the [Page xli]State Duma, where it held a more than two-thirds majority. However, growing distrust of the party and continued economic hardship, led voters to deal United Russia a significant blow, taking away its opposition-proof majority. Following the election, tens of thousands protested in Russian cities, motivated by allegations of vote fraud during the December 4 Duma vote. The protesters demanded new Duma elections, investigations into election fraud, a more open and transparent political system, and the release of prisoners arrested for protesting. The Duma election and subsequent protests had little impact on Putin, who was elected to a third non-consecutive term as president in March 2012.
The year brought a renewed sense of hope for citizens in Saudi Arabia and South Sudan. South Sudan gained independence from Sudan on July 9, 2011, after fifty-six years of armed struggle. A Comprehensive Peace Agreement from 2005 paved the way for the southern third of Sudan to cede. The agreement allowed for a referendum on separation that was passed by more than 98 percent of voters in January 2011. The new nation, which is led by the Sudanese People's Liberation Movement and President Salva Kiir, will provide new opportunities to investors—the nation holds 75 percent of the former Sudan's oil reserves and is located on abundant land ripe for crop production.
In September 2011, historic changes came to Saudi Arabia when King Abdullah announced that women would be given the right to participate in elections and government in the coming years. The move, provoked by political uprisings in other Arab nations in 2011, was a small step toward greater freedom for females in the kingdom, where their rights remain severely restricted.
International tension over nuclear capabilities in North Korea and Iran dominated headlines once again in 2011. In November, the United Nations's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) released a report on nuclear activity in Iran. The report provided evidence that the nation was not following through on its obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and was instead continuing its bomb-making program. The report gave no evidence that a nuclear weapon had been completed, but did indicate that weapons research and possible uranium acquisition was ongoing. Although Iran has long claimed that its nuclear program is purely for peaceful, civilian means, the IAEA was unable to confirm that there was no military aim of the program. Iran called the IAEA report “unbalanced, unprofessional,” and motivated by political pressure from the United States in an effort to give Israel a case for a preemptive military strike against Iran.
Questions about the ongoing nuclear program in North Korea reached a peak on December 19, 2011, when it was announced that the nation's leader, Kim Jong-il, had died of a heart attack. Following Kim's death, his son, the young and untested Kim Jong-un assumed power, but a full transition is expected to take months or years. The new Kim is expected to rule North Korea in a similar fashion to his father, which leaves in doubt whether the six-party nuclear effort to disarm North Korea will move forward. After Kim's death, it was anticipated that tension would rise between North and South Korea, and there was some expectation that the North might attempt to militarily provoke the South to stave off questions of who is truly in charge in the communist state.
Anti-government demonstrations spread across Africa and the Middle East in 2011, with protesters seeking regime change, democratic reforms, and economic equality. What became known as Arab Spring began in December 2010 in Tunisia when citizens turned to social media and took to the streets of the capital, determined to take [Page xlii]down the government of President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, who they blamed for economic inequality. Ben Ali responded by firing his government and promising not to run for reelection in 2014. When his promises did not placate the demonstrators, Ben Ali declared a state of emergency. On January 14, the president made the surprising announcement that he would temporarily step down from his post. He subsequently fled the country, ending his twenty-three year reign.
Jordanians took to the streets in January protesting rising unemployment and high food and fuel prices. Unlike their counterparts in other Arab Spring nations, the protesters in Jordan were not attempting to topple King Abdullah II's monarchy, but instead sought government reforms that would take away some of the king's power and place it in the hands of a democratically elected body. The protests were largely peaceful, and resulted in few deaths. King Abdullah II responded to the demonstrations by naming a new cabinet and prime minister and promising future electoral reform, but offered little indication of when this might take place.
The pro-democracy movement in Yemen spanned 2011 and went into 2012, as protesters sought to remove President Ali Abdullah Saleh from power. During the demonstrations, Saleh wavered between promising to accept a number of international power transfer deals that were offered and using force against protesters. In November, Saleh consented to an agreement forged by the Gulf Cooperation Council to cede power to his vice president. In signing the agreement, Saleh avoided any future prosecution arising from his treatment of protesters, a point of contention among many anti-government demonstrators. It was not until February 25, 2012, when Saleh formally handed power over to his vice president.
In late January 2011, pro-democracy protesters took to Cairo, Egypt's Tahrir Square to protest the autocratic reign of President Hosni Mubarak. Nearly one million Egyptians participated in the protests, speaking out against government corruption, torture, and unemployment. On February 11, 2011, after weeks of refusing to give up power, Mubarak resigned his position, handing power to the nation's military. Citizen jubilation quickly turned to disdain for the new military regime after its leaders announced that they would remain in control of the nation's government, even after presidential and parliamentary elections took place.
In early 2011, protesters in Syria banded together to speak out against the policies of President Bashar al-Assad, specifically those involving unlawful torture and detention. Protesters called for Assad and his security forces to end one-party rule that had led to widespread corruption. Assad responded with violent crackdowns, allowing force to be used against the protesters, which resulted in the death of at least 3,500 and countless arrests. In response to Assad's crackdown, the protesters turned their demands to the president's removal from office. In response, Assad made a number of promises to reform his government and increase transparency, only to continue the violent crackdowns. In early 2012, the United Nations helped to broker a ceasefire with Assad, which was set to take effect on April 10.
In Bahrain, King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa was forced to face Shiite unrest that had been brewing against the Sunni leadership since 2009. In February and March 2011, protesters came to Bahrain's capital, frustrated by housing, education, and employment discrimination against the Shiite majority population. The protesters demanded a constitutional monarchy, an elected government, and the end of gerrymandering that kept Shiites out of government power. The king violently cracked [Page xliii]down on protesters under the guise of emergency law. The three-month state of emergency was lifted on June 1, 2011, and by November, still facing unrest despite a heavy police presence, the king established a commission to investigate possible human rights violations during the spring. The commission found evidence of government involvement in many deaths, illegal detentions, and unlawful torture. King Hamad responded by promising to work with his government to institute reforms that he said would help avoid future unrest.
Arab Spring reached Libya in February as protesters called for the overthrow of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi's four-decade regime. Throughout the spring and summer, Qaddafi defiantly remained in his position while subsequently authorizing his security forces to use any tactic necessary to stop the demonstrations. The anti-government protesters formed armed rebel groups that clashed with Qaddafi forces for control of major cities up and down the coast. Starting in March, UN and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) member states provided airstrikes in support of the rebel movement aiming to protect civilians from Qaddafi's security forces. The international aid coupled with rebel advances led to the overthrow of Qaddafi and his government in August. On October 20, Qaddafi was killed by his detractors.