Sunday, February 27, 2011


Tunisia, Bahrain and Egypt, though not representative of the freedoms that those living in the West claim as their birthright, and though edging at times between autocratic and repressive, did not choose to attack their own populations who rose up in revolt against the prevailing governments in those countries. They did seek to appease, to appear as though, while maintaining a semblance of dignity, they would also consider entertaining many of the demands that the protesters insisted upon, to achieve some semblance of democracy.

In each of these countries' governmental collapses, appeasement was too little too late, it did not manage to succeed, and the protest movement has gained the upper hand in forcing change. But it speaks volumes about the kinds of monarchy, dictatorship, autocracy that governed. It will remain unclear for some time what will eventually result from the changes demanded and acceded to.

Those countries already had some of the trappings of a civilized country, even though they were ruled as benevolent tyrannies.

For Libya things have turned out far differently, and there is much vacillation in opinion whether the end is near or whether the country will be divided, with enough force left on the part of Moammar Gadhafi to eventually regain the upper hand. If that occurs there will be far more killing than the several thousand deaths that have already occurred.

And then what? If Gadhafi prevails in the end, his iron-fisted manic rule will become even more intolerable.

In Egypt, the generals controlling its powerful armed forces may or may not permit a civilian-led government to rule the country. But the armed forces will never peacefully agree to surrender their influence and their power. Unless they are out-manoeuvred by a clever government like that of Turkey's which overturned a tradition of secularism to become Islamist, and which has succeeded in partially marginalizing the power of its military.

In Tunisia where a secularist government in a Muslim-majority country with a high literacy and education level prevails it is likely that the threat of Islamism will remain muted. Egypt has no such assurance, given the organization and international outreach of the Muslim Brotherhood. Bahrain's ruling family will have little choice but to step aside to allow the Shia majority to take control of their own fortunes in that tiny country.

The surge of interest in a more free society through the achievement of democracy and the imagined employment opportunities and prosperity it could bring seems set to impact Morocco, Algeria, and certainly Yemen. Jordan will undertake some remedial actions to more fairly represent the interests of the more populous West Bank as opposed to the tribal Bedouin East Bank Jordanians, but the monarchy will remain.

Lebanon, with its clan and tribal and religious animosities is a tinder box awaiting another lighted fuse to explode again into civil conflict. It has the scaffolding of a democratic society, but it is intolerably weighted with incendiary, traditional suspicion and hatred. As for Syria, it seems inscrutable, wavering between allegiance to Iran and still wanting to be accepted as part of the Arab Brotherhood.

If Iran's opposition managed to topple the revolutionary regime and its rigidly fanatical ayatollahs, its population would prove ready for the transition toward democratic freedoms. At which time the alliance between Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas would falter. With the Muslim Brotherhood presumably picking up the thread of Islamist jihad.

Labels: , , ,

Follow @rheytah Tweet