For the first time in recent history, the Arab masses in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Jordan, and elsewhere have turned their anger towards the decadent regimes, rather than the US; they are not burning the US flags but government buildings. The regime changes may signify gaining real independence and breaking free from the last shackles of the post-colonial model, which was setup after the First World War. The masses are seeking to liberate their country from these self-serving regimes; indeed, liberation always comes from within.
If the demonstrations were taking place in the streets of Tehran, instead of Egypt or Tunisia, there would have been a prompt and unanimous response from the Western governments, demanding a regime change; instead, the US has suggested further `democratic’ reforms to quell the demonstrations. This sort of response only adds further resentment, as it suggests that Mubarak’s regime has some level of democratic credentials. According to the `election’ results, for the last three decades Mubarak has been winning with a substantial majority, so where are his supporters now. Everyone knows the Egyptian elections are farcical, especially when you muzzle the opposition.
The Western governments are pressing on the Mubarak regime to respect the rights of the people to express their views, and to lift censorship placed on the mobile and internet, communications. The central point about democracy is not just about the right of the masses to express their opinions, but such opinions should be implemented by the government as their representatives. In the case of Egypt, they are demonstrating for a representative government, and the removal of the current dictatorship.
There is great reluctance to label Mubarak as a dictator by the US and other Western governments, primarily because he has done tremendous amount of work in stabilising the region in favour of Israel, and keeping Hamas and the Islamic movements inside Egypt, at bay. In the build up to Iraq war and after, the US was desperately looking for a mass uprising similar to Egypt, but it never materialised. However, Iraq was allegedly worth invading to remove a relatively popular dictator (not the mythical WMDs), whilst the current unpopular dictators of Egypt, Saudi and the other Gulf States are worth giving support; that is the reward for being subservient to American interests. All this serves as a reminder that national interests and not principles of democracy dictate the US foreign policy in the region.
Even if Mubarak manages to remain in power, the regime is unlikely to continue after his demise. The likelihood of a possible power vacuum emerging has naturally raised discussion on the types of government that is likely to succeed. There are two main candidates: Islamic orientated government headed by the Muslim Brotherhood or a pro-western secular regime. Mohamed ElBaradei, the Nobel prize-winning former UN official, has gained some attention, however, at this stage, it looks unlikely that he commands enough support to take power or form a stable government. As for the possibility of a pro-Islamic regime emerging, the Islamophobes and the Zionist dominated press are already busy scare mongering with speculation of violence escalating, as a Islamic government is likely to give greater assistance to the Palestinians. On the contrary, a strong Egypt and Iran could provide stability by acting as a counter weight to the rabid dog, Israel, by putting it on a leash, so that it stops biting Palestinian women and children.
Whatever government comes to power, it should not be an issue for the West, if it is the people's choice! As lovers of democracy, surely they should respect the outcome of a free and fair election. Of course, Hamas might have something to say about this who won the election with a landslide victory! Regardless of, who or what, succeeds in Egypt, Tunisia or elsewhere, if the Arab world is to make progress, it needs to build a stable government that is accountable to the masses, where the rule of law prevails, corruption and nepotism is erased. These few changes can transform the Arab world substantially, setting the pace for greater unification under the banner of Islam or Arab nationalism. If the domino effect proceeds towards Syria and beyond, the Arab world could finally gain independence, and who knows, another Salahuddin could emerge.
Yamin Zakaria (email@example.com)
Published on 30/1/2011