All Articles Tagged "jasmine revolution"
When I first heard of the political unrest happening in Tunisia, I, like the rest of America, was enamored. The images of a bunch of average folks waving signs of democracy, chanting a chorus of ‘Yes We Can,’ and taking their own political destiny into their own hands all seemed so surreal.
Tunisia was then followed by Egypt, which also sent chills down my spine. What we were supposedly witnessing in Egypt was the textbook case of a revolution. And it’s easy to get caught up in the images of ordinary folks toppling the entrenched autocrats and corrupt governments.
But since Tunisia and Egypt, uprisings have now taken on a life of its own with similar demonstrations occurring throughout the Middle East and North Africa in countries such as Jordan, Libya, Morocco, Algeria, Yemen, Lebanon, Bahrain, and most recently, Libya.
That’s when I had to pause my celebration of the Jasmine Revolution and wonder, what the heck is really going on here?
You can say it’s my skeptical mind or a case of paranoia brought on by watching too many episodes of Jesse Ventura’s Conspiracy Theory, but all of this, all at once, and all in one particular region? Surely, I am not alone in my curiosity. So, for the purpose of exploring all options, I propose this question: Is it at all possible that a bunch of people inspired by one single event decided to just get up one day and demand their leaders to step down?
Most of these countries have little in common except for being in the same geographical region. In contrast to the Arab monarchies of Egypt, Bahrain and Morocco, countries such as Iran and Yemen both have free elections and their presidents do not rule for decades. Moreover, some of these countries, such as Egypt and Jordan, are largely modern and secular societies in comparison to the clerical caste of ayatollahs, who impose a theocratic dictatorship in other parts of the region.
Of course, the media has over-simplified the nature of these movements as being the people’s revolution brought on by a desire for democracy. However, none of these demonstrations and uprisings can be traced back to a single flagship issue.
In Tunisia, Ben Ali was ousted because of mass corruption within the government. The uprising in Egypt had a lot to do with rising unemployment and increased costs in food and energy. And in Bahrain, where it is divided unequally between Islamic denominations, the unrest there is between the Shiite Muslim majority and the Sunnis, who are the ruling class.
It’s easy to speculate that much of the unrest is rooted in attempts to destabilize the region for political and economic purposes. Saif al-Islam, son of Mummar Khadhafi, has gone on record to accuse foreigners and opposition groups that have ties to both the United States and Al-Qaeda of fomenting unrest in Libya. In the Daily Telegraph, it speculates that the U.S. government has secretly backed leading figures behind the Egyptian uprising, and has been planning a “regime change” for the past three years. In most of these cases, the White House—U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton in particular—has been supporting the protests across the region.
However, there is no clear link to prove that the U.S. or any other group had a hand in any of the uprisings. Nor is there proof of how destabilization of the Middle East and North Africa region would greatly benefit the U.S. Government.
Perhaps this is just a peasant uprising, or maybe there are more orchestrated agendas occurring behind the scenes. Either way, it’s pretty clear that the Middle East and its people are heading for uncharted destinations that will take years to fully understand the implications. As the demonstrations and uprisings in both Bahrain and Libya turn deadly, and with the Jasmine Revolution now spreading to Iraq—a country with a government less than six months old—we in the Western world should watch carefully but resist taking sides too quickly because we really don’t have a clue as to what’s going on.
Charing Ball is the author of the blog People, Places & Things.