Sunday, January 23, 2011

Tunisian Wind is Sweeping Across the Sahara

For better or for worse, it looks as though the events that transpired in the last couple of weeks are having quite an impact on the rest of the Arab world. Of course the outcome from country to country will be quite different. Tunisia, despite of its autocratic regime, is quite moderate. Its aversion from radical Islam reflects a much more pragmatic nature towards the dominant religion people of the Maghrab region have.

Of course, the perception that the people can come out to the street and scare the regime into submission is being noticed. As I stated in a previous post, all sorts of radicals, revolutionaries or just plane folks who want more, are going to come crawling out of their holes and make a stand.

Jordanians are staging 'bread' protests. This does not seem to reflect any major aversion of the people with their royals, but rather an attempt to gain some minor victories with it, such as reduced food prices or increased subsidies. The fact that the protesters are carrying loaves of bread as props seems a little cynical to me.

Meanwhile, the world's favourite 'victims' are attempting to stage solidarity protests. Of course the Palestinian Authority has blocked such attempts. The PA is routinely ranked as one of the most corrupt administrative bodies in the world. If a Palestinian state were to be declared tomorrow, it will surely be one of the most corrupt in the world. That's why, I see no intention on the side of the PA to declare independence and demand the IDF removed from the West Bank. If that were to happen, the events of Tunis will look like kids' show in comparison.

The most recent country to experience public displays of discontent is Yemen. It seems as though all Arab regimes are on the defensive, playing nice and trying to bribe their population with a bit of cash. My impression is that in the Middle East, those temporary minor victories will trigger more pressure from the population.

This however, does not at all mean that the Arab world is facing a wave of democratic revolutions. I believe the true long term implication of these events will only be well understood within decade. Just as the outcome of the popular revolutions of 1848 in Europe started becoming apparent after the first world war, I think the true outcome of the current wave of demonstrations will be felt only in the next generation.


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