What is happening in the Arab World?

Posted in Broader Middle East | 08-Apr-11 | Author: Ruba Zinati

Most of the peaceful demonstrations that are being witnessed by all in the Arab World-- particularly in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and Libya; though some evolved into an armed conflict as in the case of Libya, came as a result of the accumulation of anger and rage that the people of the region could no longer bear and tolerate. They realized that waiting for a change in favor of the common citizen and in the interest of the nation will not come by itself or by any other major power. They have also realized that all the calls for democracy and human rights declared by the west, stopped at the doorstep of their countries. In many cases the west contradicted its calls for democracy and good governance by supporting the dictators of these countries so as their interests are served. In accordance it was concluded that it is for the people to take the initiatives in order to control their own destiny not allowing the others to manipulate their will. Taking matters into their hands was the only option left in order to achieve the desired changes and aspirations, after being ruled for decades by dysfunctional governments/regimes that crafted laws, system of education and system of life in order to maintain the dictators' hold of power. For these legitimate demands the people went into the streets in peaceful demonstrations insisting for the change. Although, there were other orchestrated demonstrations planned to serve foreign/regional agendas, that intended to make use of both: the current situation in the whole Arab region and the sympathizing international community with the freedom demanding uprisings and revolutions that ought to be looked upon differently.

The situation was so volatile that it only needed a spark and that spark came from Tunisia. It was a spontaneous case of refusing the situation of a long term dictatorship and entrenched corruption that managed to shrink the hope of the ordinary citizen for a descent life. Erupting in the face of the governments that humiliated, downgraded, undignified its citizens, and robbed the states' resources for decades was an expected outcome. The demonstrators demanded for a genuine change of the whole system of governance including crafting new constitutions that will bring their countries into the dawn of the twenty first century and be an active part in the new world system. They demanded for new paradigms where the relationship between the governor and the governed is organized by a social contract that guarantees for the governed the universal values, needs and global public goods that they have been deprived from for decades. In so doing the governor and the government guarantee their legality in the streets and constituencies as from there their legitimacy should be derived. Previously such regimes maintained their "legitimacy" from the repression they practiced on their people and played the game of serving the allies' interests in the region and counted on the support of those allies. In fact, such support was the life supporting system of their regimes especially during the cold war strategies of containment policy and spheres of influence distributions that served the military and security stability of the two super powers during that era. Those policies of the cold war have been replaced by policies of the global war on terrorism that currently is run by the same mentality and almost the same system of defense of that of the cold war but the targeted enemy is the different. In exchange for maintaining the "stability" of the region which is an important element in the policies of fighting terrorism, the dictators took the chance to solidify their grip on power within the tradeoffs between the stability of the region and the support for the democratization that has been practiced by the west.

One of the shortages of these global policies of fighting terrorism is the overlooking of the root causes of the problems that were and still facing these societies. Terrorism, in most of the cases, came as a frustrated and desperate response to the unresolved problems and conflicts of the region. Not dealing with these problems and conflicts, and, at the same time, imposing policies and measures of fighting terrorism contributed in escalating the feeling of antagonism among the people in the region in an already volatile situation.

The majority of the people in the region seek a better life in their own countries, following, the increased hardships of life in their societies that include social, economic and security difficulties and challenges. In addition to the hardships they faced in the western societies which they sought to try to make a life in. They have been struck there with the realities along with the decreasing chances of having the desired opportunities of building lives. This came as a result for a number of reasons such as the tightening measures of the aftermath of 9/11/2001 attacks leading to the growing rift between the Arabs and Muslims on one side and the western societies on the other to the degree that the Middle Easterners were always scrutinized and in many cases being suspected for the mere fact of their religion or ethnicity. Consequently, their perception of seeking a better life in countries other than their own has been severely affected. Furthermore, comparing between the paces of development in their societies with other societies and realizing that their countries instead of being in the process of developing they are halted, repressed and governed in an autocratic dysfunctional manner. Nevertheless, their countries are rich in natural resources, have geographical importance and comprising a good level of educated youth. But all of this is being seen as wasted because of the entrenched corruption that these regimes suffer from. Moreover, the reforming process appeared to be a very complicated time consuming task if not an impossible one. In such an environment the matters were ready for eruption whether it could be attributed to external factors, agendas and interests or solely internal uprisings.

It is very much clear the importance of the region for all its neighbors and beyond, for its; geopolitical importance that influence directly the world security as it affects the present and future global energy security, its natural resources, its markets, its treaties in addition to a number of other important factors. Henceforth, it would be naïve if the external interventions in the region's developing events aiming at the endeavor of influencing the path and pace of these events to serve the interveners' interests are rolled out. The crucial thing here is for such external interventions to be aligned with the interests of the people of the region and up to their aspirations as without doing so the problems and conflicts would be sustained resulting in new forms and mechanisms of responses by the masses in the region which do not come in line with the interests of any.