Different leaders Interpret differently the happenings of the past few months in the Middle East depending on the color of glasses they are wearing but a time has come now for the Arab leaders to remove heir colored glasses and face the truth head on. The desert storm is blowing fast. Unlike the “Desert Storm” of 1990 necessitated by the invasion of Kuwait by Sadism Hussein, this storm has been created by an Inward implosion In the region, though traces of external influence is clearly visible.
The storm is so strong that even in the less vulnerable Gulf countries tremors are felt while In other Middle Eastern countries it has uprooted regimes or at least shaken the foundations of empires and kingdoms. The uniqueness of the Middle Eastern countries – autocratic rule, oppression of people. Employment, poverty of the masses, human rights violations – is the main reason why countries after countries have collapsed or are collapsing Like a pack of cards. No one would have Imagined a few months back that small trigger in Tunisia would cause such a ripple effect throughout the Middle East.
Mohammed Bouzouki lit himself on tire on December 17, 2010 in a small town of Tunisia protesting against police brutality against him but the fire went out of control, caught the entire Middle East. The pressure compressed for the last few decades has been finally burst open. Last three months have been anxious moments not only for Arabs but also for expatriates living in Middle East. A close look at what is happening in this region and why it is happening may be of relevance for the people of Coastal Karakas.
I may not be exaggerating If I say that when Middle East, especially Gulf countries, sneeze we Indians catch cold – naturally so when lacks of Indian expatriates are living there. The evacuation of Indian expatriates from Egypt and Libya is almost complete and there is no need to worry much in other regions except that situation In Bahrain need to be watched closely. Hen the opposition could not put up their fight anymore against the government forces of Bahrain assisted by troops from Saudi and AAU, now it is believed they have retorted to terrorize common Indians and Pakistanis in order to make them leave the country.
When I spoke to a friend living in Bahrain a couple of days ago to enquire about the situation there, he didn’t show any sign of panic but he did mention that venturing out after dusk Is a bit scary. The demand for regime change in Bahrain looks like a cry from the neighboring Iran, the majority Shih populace there are interested more in lagging with their mentor Iran than live under the rule of minority Sunnis government. May be because of the Iran factor, the West, especially US, is closing Tripoli and other places in Libya to protect Libyan.
Interestingly, countries like AJAX, Qatar and Saudi Arabia are supporting the government in the Kingdom of Bahrain to crush the majority revolt voice but at the same time, are giving a helping hand to US and others to De-throne Gadding in Libya. Another region to be watched closely by Indians is Saudi Arabia. A big number of Indian expatriates are spread across a vast land area in Saudi. It is a known fact that unemployment and poverty in the interior parts of Saudi are very alarming. Voice of dissent can be heard from here and there but I feel Saudi government will not spare any stone unturned to crush the rebellion.
It is very unfortunate that the Saudi Arabian authorities went to the extent of interpreting Islam in a twisted way and the Imam of Grand Mosque decreed that revolting against rulers is UN-lilacs. Instead, the rulers should have done a soul searching exercise to analyze whether the life styles and their functioning has any resemblance to that of life styles and functioning of early rulers of Islam. If the subdued whisper becomes louder and echoes throughout Saudi Arabia, situation may go out of control posing greater threats to expatriates there.
Controlling violence in Saudi may be more challenging than any other Gulf country because of its vast geographical area and population. As of now, we expatriates can relax but not the rulers of the Kingdom. Processions were held and still going on in parts of Oman but here people are basically more interested in Jobs, better salaries, better living conditions than regime change. Even the protests are restricted to certain industrial pockets of Oman. The nature of protests here is more of non-violent but Sultan Kabobs should not underestimate the threat.
The government should not allow the desert sand to get heated up to a level when even the entire Greenland ice won’t be able to cool down the situation. The best outcome of the current awakening is that the Arab leaders, especially leaders of ICC have woken up from their deep slumber. They have realized that unless they share the wealth of the nation with the people of the nation their future is murky. They have now committed billions of money for developmental schemes in their own countries and also they have pooled a fund for roving economic package to the people of Oman and Bahrain.
Indians can anticipate a bright scope in Gulf region in the near future due to increased developmental works there. The bigger question is whether the autocratic rule in the Gulf region can be sustained for ever only through economic packages – the rulers should have introspections. Earlier they understand that democracy is the better viable form of government , it is better for them, their people and the rest of the world. Modern history has seen rise and fall of many regimes and dynasties throughout the world – some through violent revolutions and takeovers, some wrought non-violent means , yet another through process of evolution over time.
The present wave of change blowing over Midwest has swept a few regimes already and time alone will decide how many more regimes will crumble under this mighty wave. History repeats – yes no doubt, history repeats. The current cry of people for change from Mashers to Maggie countries has all the resemblances of the French Revolution from where the countries world over have picked up the political principles of liberty, equality and fraternity and enshrined these idealistic principles in their constitutions.
History teaches us that where acute problems of unemployment and cost of its citizens, where voice of people are crushed by the autocratic rulers, where there is no dignity or respect for life – revolutions are bound to happen. That is what caused the French Revolution at the bag end of the eighteenth century, that is what is causing the “Desert Revolution” now. So far this revolution has uprooted two regimes completely, another two, Libya and Yemen are on the verge of collapsing at the time of this article. Libya is probably following the path of Iraq, a path towards no-return.
Even I do not wonder if the Rwanda experience where more than 800,000 people were massacred in a ruthless genocide a couple of years back, resurfaces in Libya since Mummer Gadding has sworn to open the gates of weapons storage and distribute weapons to one million civilians. Embattled All Abdullah Sales of Yemen has been enacting new emergency laws to quash the popular uprising on one hand and offering various kinds of concessions to the opposition including conducting a free and fair election as early as December 2011 on the other but the youth leaders at the Sauna’s square, the epicenter of the protests, are bent on his complete ouster.
Ben All of Tunisia could not withstand the enormous might of the popular uprising and was forced to step down, now exiled in Saudi Arabia. Hosting Umbra’s 31 year rule in Egypt ended by a well organized, non-violent protest throughout Egypt. Though the protest in Egypt was branded as a revolution by tech savvy youth by harnessing effectively social networking sites, US involvement is widely doubted and is confirmed by Weeklies revelations of late. It is believed now that US Embassy in Cairo was engaged in providing training to dissidents in New York for the past three years.
I am quite baffled here, why US has to dismantle a close associate Embark who was not only a puppet of US but also was in very good terms with Israel. It is hard to assume that US sincerely wanted a change of regime from an autocratic rule into a democracy. In the case of Tunisia and Egypt, external interference was not very obvious but in Libya it is a different case, it looks as if US, France and I-J are on their toes to attack and grab the prey, all in the name of protecting Libya and Libyan, a task they are very familiar to take on themselves, a messed up task they undertook in Iraq and Afghan.
Both in Tunisia and Egypt, whether with outside support or not, the youth, coupled with modern communication tools, played main role in throwing out the rusted regimes from power. This voice of revolt has awakened the youths in all the neighboring countries, including Yemen, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Iran, and in some of the Gulf countries too. The oppressed people in these countries are asking for change of governments – from autocracies to self ruled democracies. People of this region and the rest of the world are cheering the protesters and welcoming regime changes.
The famous English poet of yesteryear William Wordsmith enthusiastically wrote about the outcome of the French Revolution -” Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, But to be young was very heaven! ” . Yes, when we optimistically think about the fruits of revolution, we feel elated but at the same time let us not forget the negative side of the revolution. British Parliamentarian Edmund Burke in his polemical tract about the French Revolution predicted quite presciently that the French would eventually turn to violence to enforce their decisions and his prediction turned out to be very prophetic.
I am foreseeing a similar situation in the middle east. Though the world is portraying the present uprising as an urge for a demand for better standards of living. My this statement gets credence from the fact that people in AAU and in Qatar are not much bothered about what is happening around them because they are leading a comfortable, peaceful life in their respective places thanks to the farsightedness of the past and present rulers.
Youths of the middle east region seem to be a bit under illusion that change of governments into democracy will automatically solve all of their economic woes. If they are under such an impression, they are doomed. In Egypt, even after throwing out Hosting Embark and in spite of beginning of democratic process of selecting the new people’s government, people are still protesting – protesting for Jobs, higher wages, and better standard of living. When the people don’t see their aspirations getting fulfilled, we can expect more violence in the region.
Violently bringing down the regimes and destroying lives and properties of their own will bring in more chaos and perils than fulfilling their aspirations. I am of the opinion that gradual change and a kind of organic continuity in society stretching across the generations are preferable to Eileen, rapid changes in the structure of any government. People and governments around the globe prescribe democracy for the middle east, no doubt I too recommend democracy but I will have to express my reservations too.
Democracy is rule by majority but it does not ensure a fair rule, majority decision need not be always a right decision. We are experiencing the negative side of the democratic system every day in India. I personally prefer an autocratic ruler with democratic principles to a democratic government with a bunch of autocratic decision makers. Democracy is best for a nation where people are educated and enlightened, where hey value their duty Just like their rights, where majority respects minority concerns , and where human lives are valued more than anything else.
I do not undermine the people of Middle East but I feel it is too early to expect to reap the fruits of democracy in Middle East. Nevertheless, before ending, let me unequivocally state that democracy is the best form of government for the Middle East in the absence of true Islamic governance. And a warning too to the surviving rulers of the Mid East – wake up if you have not, the desert storm may spin you in the whirlpool if you continue to roam in a fool’s paradise.