Friday, February 25, 2011

The Arab Revolution – A Sleeping Giant Awakens

Egypt's revolution
 Most of us have witnessed reports of political turmoil in the Arab world which started in Tunisia with the Jasmine revolution and caused the ousting of long-time Tunisian ruler, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. This unrest advanced to Egypt in much greater dimension eventually causing its ruler, Hosni Mubarak, to step down in recent weeks and surrender his power to the military until an election can be held and another leader can be chosen by the people of Egypt as a first step in the transition from a totalitarian system into democracy.

Opposing groups from other countries of North Africa and the Middle East such as Yemen, Jordan, Libya and Bahrain have understood that this is a unique moment in history for them to make a move and do all kinds of demonstrations to try to oust their governments and push for a better quality of life and a more open and fair society.

What these societies are echoing in one voice in the Arab world and Africa is that there is distrust in their governmental institutions. One may think that such institutions were established with the sole purpose of protecting the interests of all citizens, when in fact they are not suitably structured to fulfill such expectation.

Due to an overspread state of corruption, these states are basically unable to provide their people with the basic freedoms necessary for them to grow as individuals and help them to reach their aspirations to produce better and higher lives for themselves and their families.

For very long, the people have realized that these totalitarian government systems are flawed. These opposition groups representing populations of those countries are simply demanding what they believe they deserve by right: a more respectful life for all citizens, institutions which are not corrupted, and more focused on the interests and priorities of their citizens than those of themselves.

All of the anti-government demonstrations of these few past days in North of Africa and Arab countries are an indication that people are fed up with the status quo and they are willing to fight and to do whatever it takes to promote changes in government system.

These ongoing developments are reminders that the political scenarios of the world are constantly evolving as people from distant cultures become more integrated and more aware of their rights. The internet has created a major impact in these events and it has been used as one of the most important tools to disseminate information among the people; to organize themselves and call for demonstration acts. People have also been able to watch pro-democracy uprisings events on satellite television and communicate with other activists through internet social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.

Individuals from every corner of the globe have a much better understanding of their government’s policies and how these policies have affected them overtime. They are also aware of what is going on in different countries and they cannot help making comparisons to their own. All of this is possible because technology has shortened the distances significantly and people are getting more educated on events at a very fast pace as they can access news media in real time from just about any place on the globe very quickly.

The events occurring in the Arab world are indications that people cannot be fooled for too long anymore in this information era. People know what is going on, what works for them and what does not. All the chain reaction manifestations occurring in that part of the world lead us to believe that the people decided to face the fear which has inhibited them for so long and they finally vowed to fight for their rights. Obviously whatever result from those uprising actions will come at a price. It is certain that many lives will be lost as it has happened over these past few weeks. It is expected that government security forces will keep on trying to obstruct any kind of anti-government demonstrations.

With the world watching all the action in the Arab world up close, it seems that some of these governments are still inflexible and all of these developments are making them very nervous about the possibility of losing the power which they held for so long. Despite that, many hope that some of those governments will follow the path that Tunisia and Egypt took and be willing to compromise and maybe give democracy a chance. One of the low sides when dealing with totalitarian government is that such systems are usually corrupted at all levels and the taxpayers do not usually see their resources being utilized on projects which would benefit them and in a way to promote the well being of the country’s population.

For the most part, large amounts of such resources end up in the pockets of officials who occupy privileged positions with the government or of companies which interests are directly lined up with those who represent the government body. Such a vicious cycle results in a very disproportionate build-up of wealth by those privileged individuals while the common citizen, the majority, struggles usually in conditions of extreme poverty.

In order to be in control, such systems always base themselves on force, sometimes with acts of violence. In addition to this, fraud is always present in their tactics to maintain their power. A very clear example of this is how the Libyan government has reacted in the past few days in the face of the huge anti-government acts by demonstrators in Tripoli and other cities in an attempt to overthrow President Moammar Gadhafi who has been in power for the past 41 years. There have been reports of disproportionate power been used against the demonstrators by that government in order to contain the acts against the interests of the state.

In the face of what is going on in the Arab world these days I draw a few comparisons with the Antigone drama written in 442 B.C by Sophocles. One can easily detect the insecurities reveled by King Creon when his authority is questioned or challenged by Antigone who acts against the established order, but for a cause which is greater than herself. In this case, King Creon is represented here by those rulers who, not surprisingly, are very uneasy about the actions of a population which publicly challenges the sense of order imposed by them. Antigone is the personification of the anti-government demonstrators, who for the safeguarding of human rights and restoration of civil liberties which are considered noble causes and much like what Antigone wanted to attain.In the play.

Antigone is found guilty and dies as a winner for sticking with her convictions. Creon is a proud man and goes ahead with the plan of punishing Antigone.In the end Antigone comes out stronger even though she lost her life but Creon is disgraced by his own arrogance and inflexible views. Since those pro-democracy demonstrations have erupted weeks ago in the North Africa and Arab world, hundreds of people have lost their lives fighting for something which certainly will impact the lives of the future generations.

Roughly, once this whole thing settles it is possible that it will bring a sentiment of stability for the region and better conditions for those populations. The only way to attain this is by the realization that the status quo is not working for the people and something must be done about it to correct what is not functioning properly. In light of the facts, one hopes that the events which unfold right now will have a happy ending and will go into the history books as one of the greatest developments in history for the Arab world.


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