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Monday, October 24, 2011

Where Was The World Before The Arab Spring?

Only a few months ago, the “dictator” and “tyrant” Moammar Gaddafi was “Colonel” Gaddafi, ruler of Libya. An eccentric man for sure who is not sure whether to refer to himself as an Arab or African. A man who ruled Libya with an unmistakable iron fist for generations and was hated by the west, then welcomed by the west, then hated again, then welcomed again, all without an explanation or justification. Just because a deal was made with him at a time or a deal was broken at other times.

Forgive me if I’m surprised to see the outpour of condemnation and outcry against his dictatorship and tyranny as if they were only discovered on February 14th of 2011 when his people decided to follow in the footsteps of their brethren in Tunisia and Egypt and call for an end to his rule.

Wasn’t the same scenario followed in Egypt? How can an entire country and the whole world view Hosni Mubarak as only a tyrant and dictator? Wasn’t the man opening every single World Economic Forum on the Middle East in Sharm El Sheikh with his same tired old rhetoric to the same boring applause at the end from participants and world leaders alike? Wasn’t he hailed and welcomed the world over as the true peace maker and the man who is holding Egypt together from the many evils that lurked around the country and the region? How do we explain the silence by many that surrounded the Mubarak presidency and his family’s tyranny prior to January 25th? The Mubarak “tyranny” certainly did not start on that date but we as a world community willingly joined in the chorus of silence and the group of blind witnesses to many wrongs that were happening in Egypt for decades.

How about Tunisia? I was invited to speak at a women’s conference around this time last year under the patronage of Tunisia’s then First Lady Leila Ben Ali. I declined because of my busy schedule, not because the Ben Ali regime had been dictatorial or tyrannical towards its own people. Some of us knew about dissatisfied Tunisians but we kept dealing with Zine El Abidine Ben Ali as the lawful president of Tunisia. No one ever challenged his rule or asked him to step down. He was welcomed the world over and treated with dignity wherever he went including his own country. That conference in October 2010 went on and many dignitaries and speakers attended. No one had in mind that only a month after a young Tunisian man will set himself on fire and start a revolution. It was certainly not in Mrs. Ben Ali or her husband’s wildest dreams to be ousted from the presidency or out of their country.

This brings me to the fundamental question of what does the new Middle East want? Are we witnessing reform movements, revolutions or coup d'états? Are Arab leaders dictators and need to be removed from power or are they pests that need to be degraded to that level and insulted and put on display in meat fridges as unquestionable proof they no longer are in power?

Confusion is rampant among all; the players, the observers, the aggressors and the victims are all confused. If Gaddafi were not confused, he would not fight until the end and hide in a hole thinking he might still hold any power. If the Libyan rebels were not confused they would not allow the killing of the man after capturing him and they would not make it a point to humiliate him further. If Egyptians were not confused, they would not deal with Hosni Mubarak as if no one in Egypt still supports him. Apparently millions still do. To ignore them will only bring animosity and a new unjust rule, perhaps even more unjust than what preceded it.

The new Middle East needs to be inclusive just as the opposition was demanding inclusion for its members. Bringing down regimes and ousting leaders should not be about humiliating the old regime and excluding it and its supporters. This will only create a reverse revolution.

If Tunisia’s Islamists win the majority of seats in the country’s first national elections since independence, will the world still hail this revolution and the new order it ushered in?

We need to step away and define our stance on the 2011 developments in the Middle East region. Assess the leaders that fell and those still hanging on to power. Define the problems, project solutions and design a clear action plan forward. True democracies are inclusive not exclusive. True democracies are representative of all the people not only those who led the revolutions. True democracies are built not imposed. True democracies are lived.

View This Article In Arabic

3 Comments:

Keep the conversation going...

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Something is not right here. The whole of the Arab Countries are suddenly falling apart. I know that most of the Arab leaders are corrupted (Check their bank accounts). But, why now? Hafez Al-Asad murdered over 10,000 of Syrian people in Hama, the UN didn't say a word. He stayed in power for years!! Lebanese President Bashir Al-Jumaiel was Killed, Prime ministers was killed and over 20 senior Lebanese politicians also killed and no one gave a damn. The UN keep telling Bashar Al-Asad that they're watching and threatening (8 months now) >3000 Syrian people been killed. Sanction after sanction. You know what? I hate politics. No one is idiot anymore. Lots of clever people around. With my limited knowledge in politics ready to challege any politician subject to one week notice.

October 25, 2011 at 12:42 PM  
Blogger gregory said...

leaders change, but the consciousness of the people hasn't, so we get things like egypt, continuing authoritarianism.

what do people want? they don't know. yet.

even democracy is a temporary level of development.

what's being born is the structure that allows growth and change, and is so far un-named. anywhere.

October 25, 2011 at 1:19 PM  
Anonymous Salem Ehtawsh said...

I am going to ask you the same question that you asked the world. Where were you during the last 10 years and how many articles did you write about those dictators ? Why did you not mention or refer to Syria in your above article.
Thank you.

October 30, 2011 at 7:36 AM  

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