The Arab World: Unfinished revolutions

In Egypt, Syria and Bahrain, the fight for democracy persists. The liberations of Tunis and Tripoli were just the start.

As people camp out once again in Tahrir Square, demanding an end to military rule in Egypt, the army fire tear gas to break up the protest. The revolution resumes in Cairo, it seems. 

And after months of provincial revolt in Syria, rockets are fired into Damascus by renegade army units almost as thousands of Ba'athist regime supporters assemble to flag their allegience to Bashar al-Assad. Civil War looms in Syria. 

In Bahrain, the Shia majority remains subordinated by the Sunni monarchy. Whilst inevitable, reform in Manama remains a distant prospect for the moment.

This painful process of change in North Africa and the Middle East, initiated by Mohamed Bouazizi's self-imolation in Tunisia on 17 December 2010, is taking a very long time. But do we expect too much too soon?

The French Revolution to remove the monarchy took ten years 1789-99, and the People Power Revolution in the Philippines took from 1983 until 1986 to eject Ferdinand Marcos. So popular uprisings can take an age to conclude.

It's painful to watch, dangerous for participants, and damaging for economies. Democracy doesn't always result, as we witnessed when the Bolsheviks took power in Russia in 1917 and the Islamists kicked out the Shah of Iran in 1979. But countries have to evolve in their own way in their own time. 

Luckily these days social media and modern technology can speed up the process. Yet desired outcomes aren't certain once the revolt begins. Not every country can be gifted a star like Nelson Mandela or Václav Havel

We can only hope that out of the mayhem in Syria, the clamp-down in Bahrain, and the frustration in Egypt, democrats of genuine calibre emerge to steer their countries forward.

Check out all articles here.

No comments:

Post a Comment