Beware of the wrath of the people.
The Tunisian uprising which began as an impromptu protest galvanized by an increasingly educated society with a bleak future, has changed in to what has been termed as “ The Arab Awakening of 2011” is leading the Arab world in to an unchartered political water. The wave of popular demands for democracy and economic justice has spread to Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Morocco, Syria, etc. with no end in sight. No Arab country seems to be immune. What is in common here is, that all the leadership in the countries hosting their citizens’ wrath have been dictatorial, and corrupt. There is always a limit to patience. When people are pushed to their limits, they explode, and that is what we are witnessing in the Arab streets.
One thing is for sure. The genie is out of the bottle in the Arab world. The people are demanding for a real change. They want a government that is accountable to its citizens. They want a transparent government, and a government that is representative. I doubt if any sorts of bribes and promises of some lame reforms would save these autocrats. It is simply astonishing, because these uprisings are not led by the usual suspects, such as trade unions, political parties, religious leaders, and not even by certain NGOs who are known to foment color revolutions. I think this will force think tanks, advisors, intelligence organizations, etc. to make a definite paradigm shift in their future political analysis.
What is totally terrifying is the unpredictability and uncontrollable nature of the uprising. It is too early to tell what the likely outcome of the mass upheaval would be in the countries that are engulfed with spontaneous mass uprisings. The concern some political analysts air in reference to this democratic struggle might not result in creating a democratic system, is a point well taken. But, in the absence of any fundamental and elementary freedom in these societies, there is no choice except to wait and see where the dice might fall.
What governments need to pay extra attention to should be high unemployment rate; with a large population of an educated youth force with shattered expectations, and an uneven distribution of wealth. These problems are also faced by democratic governments as well. With the use of new information technologies to quickly spread news and images to help organize street protests, no government will be able to escape the wrath of the citizens.
Those governments who objectively understand the existence of the problems within their societies will be able to find remedies, in time. Those who are blind and deaf to the realities within society, those government leaders who love to hear sugar coated lies from their snake oil salesmen advisors, those leaders who are way removed from the “real” people and are surrounded by cheerleaders are bound to repeat the usual historical mistake. False sense of security cannot replicate the reality. Neither Zine Al-Abiidine Ben Ali nor Hosni Mubarak thought that they will be kicked out so quickly by the same people that they had oppressed for long and had taken them for granted.
I love and respect truthful writers who are fearless and principled.
Professor Mekonen Haddis