Social networks: Arabs warn Assad, Saleh, they're next

Three gone, two more to go

The capture and death of Libya's ousted strongman Moamer Gathafi has sparked an online frenzy in the Arab world, with social networking sites warning Syria's President Bashar al-Assad and Yemen's Ali Abdullah Saleh their time is up.
"Gathafi called his people rats. He ended his life in a hole like a rat," tweeted @al4a10m in Arabic. "Tyrants, here is the lesson: your end is inevitable."
For activists and bloggers across the Arab world, Gathafi's demise breathed new life into the popular revolts in Yemen and Syria, where months-long popular revolts have failed to oust the autocratic leaders of both countries.
Pictures of Gathafi, bloodied and bruised, were plastered on the front pages of newspapers across the region as online opinions ranged from glee to disgust.
"Gathafi's end should be a lesson to the likes of Arab leaders everywhere -- those tyrants should know that the minute you point weapons at your own people, you lose your legitimacy," read an editorial in the Palestinian daily Al Quds.
"The third tyrant, dead in a hole," gloated the independent Egyptian daily Al-Masry Al-Youm, as the state-owned Al-Akhbar hailed "The end of the dictator."
As graphic images of Gathafi's lifeless body circulated like wildfire in grainy mobile phone footage online, social networks and blogs exploded with predictions -- often brutal -- of the demise of Saleh and Assad.
"Saleh, did you sleep well last night?" tweeted @Falihalhajri, addressing the Yemeni leader.
"Ben Ali fled, Mubarak is charged, Gathafi was killed. The more the tyrant resists, the more horrible his punishment," tweeted @essamz.
"It looks like Bashar will be crucified right in the middle of Damascus."
Syria's opposition movement in particular has been reinvigorated by Gathafi's killing, renewing calls for Friday demonstrations against Assad and giving grim warnings of his likely fate.
"What happened yesterday sends a clear, forceful and determined message, especially to the Syrian president," said Hilal Khashan, political science professor at the American University of Beirut.
"The message is that the use of extreme force to repress the people, the iron-fist policy, no longer works," Khashan said. "Eventually the people will prevail.
"I think we are beginning to see the seeds of liberalism in this region. It will be a long march but things will change."
Yemen and Syria have been hard-hit by spiralling violence as popular revolts are met with increasingly deadly force, with the death tolls rising as the two leaders refuse to heed the call of their people to step down.
The demise of Gathafi, shot in the head on Thursday after being dragged out of a sewage pipe by revolutionary forces near his hometown of Sirte, has given opposition movements across the region a boost.
"Your turn has come Doctor," Syrian protesters wrote on their Facebook page, referring to Assad, who is an ophthalmologist.
"Our revolution will prevail, we will continue to demand, loud and clear, for the regime to fall and to tell the world that the Syrian people will never surrender," it added.
But despite the online euphoria, Khashan suggested that worse may be yet to come.
"If anything, they (Assad and Saleh) will embark on more repression and a heavier-handed use of force," he said. "If they are going to go, they will inflict as much damage as possible."