They are armed, and I am not going to fight a losing battle and kill my men over a demolished shrine," said Fawzi Abd al-Aali, the former Libyan interior minister, before he "resigned" in August. He was referring to the armed Salafi groups that were accused of destroying Sufi shrines. One of the accused groups was the Ansar al-Shariah Brigade, which was quick to support the demolition but denied any responsibility for it.
You are the authority, above any other authority. You are the protectors. Whoever seeks protection away from you is a fool Е and the army and the police are hearing me," said Egypt's president-elect, Mohamed Morsi, to hundreds of thousands in Tahrir Square.
Middle Eastern autocrats routinely warn their people of rivers of blood, Western occupation, poverty, chaos and al-Qaida if their regimes are toppled. Those threats were heard in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, Syria and Ч rendered in black-comedy style Ч in Libya. But there is a strong belief across the region that the costs of removing autocracies, as high as they might be, are low compared with the damage inflicted by the current rulers.