When a people-driven revolution takes place in a region known for wars, violence, and death, our first instinct is to look for signs of more violence and death in the future.But these Arab Revolutions have been baked organically by people who are tired of corruption, violence, and disfranchisement. With their eyes glued unto windows showing a western world of comfort and accountability their leaders misled them into believing evil lurks behind every western idea, the masses are rising for their own pan-Arabia’s slice of heaven.
- The Revolution first started in Tunisia, a relatively secular country with umbilical ties to France, one of the leading secular countries in Europe. The Muslim Brotherhood in Tunisia has superficial roots incapable of shaking the tree of its social order.
- In Egypt, the uprisings caught the Muslim Brotherhood by surprise. They did not join immediately and once they joined, their slogans and political maneuverings did not sit well with the crowds grown tired by “resistance” and exclusionary practices imposed upon them by a fanged dictator. Further, Daniel Pipes points in his article “3 Reasons for Optimism After Middle East Unrest” to an act of civility on the part of the Egyptian people pointing to a hopeful sign.
- The uprisings in Libya, as well, do not involve any Islamist flavor. The people are just tired of watching the so-called leader Qaddafi sit comfortably in his cooled tent while they simmer economically in the desert hot sun. The unfortunate killings by Qaddafi is partially the result of a not so nimble US foreign policy.
- In Bahrain, the people are rising to demand equality and an inclusionary government. Since the majority of the people in Bahrain are Shia with little voice in their own affairs, it was a question of time before this GCC country succumbed to logic. In Iraq, we know that the Iraqi Shia do not get along with the Iranian Shia presently in power, which is not too dissimilar from Syrian Sunnis not getting along with the Saudi Sunnis in power today. From all signals, any change of government in Bahrain will tip the balance in favor of democracy and not the Mullahs of Iran as some fear.
- In Yemen, al-Qaeda is strong and the people are ignorant enough to fall in their traps. The facts remain negatively fluid and the results should be of concern to all Arabs. Between the Mullahs of Iran threatening closure of Hormuz and the pirates of Somalia, the region cannot afford to also have al-Qaeda operate the narrow waterways transporting oil in the Gulf of Aden.
- Israel is basking in the knowledge that when Arab dictators are powerless suddenly it is no longer about the Palestinians, Jerusalem, settlements, or a distraction called Mavi Marmara. This only confirms that Democratic nations will always survive non-democratic upheavals as they did the 1917 Bolsheviks Revolution and the 1933 rise of Nazism. Today’s 2011 Arab Revolutions is a manifestation of surviving the upheavals of dictatorial Arab regimes, which everyone hopes it will lead to vibrant democracies with time and support.
- We have yet to see any uprisings in Saudi Arabia but it won’t be long to follow. With most men of the ruling Royal Family pushing into their eighties, Saudis sense that their time has come. Any uprising in that large swath of land has the potential of splitting the country given that the Shia are the majority in the Eastern oil-rich Province, the Wahabbis control Najd or the center, and most of the liberals reside in western Saudi Arabia in Jeddah where Makah and Medina also happen to be geographically located. No other Arab country is as ready to break apart as Saudi Arabia is mostly united artificially to satisfy the whims of an empire long gone.
- Qatar and the UAE may be the only two GCC countries where a street uprising may never happen. The reasons have to do with their homogeneous social order, population size, and the ease with which both countries have spread the wealth to most of their citizens. There is no malcontent in the UAE amongst the population but many exist amongst members of the ruling families of the seven Emirates; however, in Qatar, there is a small minority resentful of the absolute powers yielded by the al-Thanis but not enough to cause any uprisings.
- In Syria, the country has awaken. The people are in the process of rubbing their eyes and once they are out of bed, large street demonstrations will spontaneously ignite many parts of the country. Assad is aware of this fact given that the Arab Revolutions are about economics and not about the Palestinian Cause. Had Arab uprisings not jolted the Syrian regime, the 3,000 or so spontaneous demonstrators that hit the streets of Damascus on Feb. 17 to protest the beatings of an innocent man at the hands of Syrian policemen would have been met with more beatings; instead, Assad sent the Interior Minister Sammour to relieve tensions. Soon, Syrians will realize that this small gesture still does not allay their miseries and that’s when hell will break loose in Syria and it won’t be sparked or directed by the Muslim Brotherhood.
- Iran is the gem because of its size and a history steeped in many rises and falls. If the country capitulates to real Democratic forces, Syria will follow shortly thereafter. Demonstrations are taking place as the Mullahs tighten the screws on the opposition, which makes ripe for change given the will of its people.
2011 may be the year of the Rabbit in China but it is certainly the year of the Tiger for the people of the Middle East. A Tiger forced to destitution and tyranny but whose rise is historic.