Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Birth of a New Middle East


The Birth of a New Middle East

Ali Asghar Kazemi

February 24, 2011


The year 2011 will be remembered as an important landmark in contemporary history of mankind and in particular the Middle East and the Arab world. Indeed, we are currently witnessing history in the making and parts of it are still in the process of achievement. Just like in childbirth, most often the process is accompanied by intense and sometimes prolonged pain.

The throbbing level depends on factors such as physical, psychological and pathological conditions of the person (society) involved. This means that people with prior experience of revolts and revolutions may more easily run through the change and accept its consequences. While, in societies with traditional authoritarian rules, low level of development, education, natural resources, may endure more pain in the process. In some cases, the society involved may fall into a “post-traumatic stress disorder”[1] which can be interpreted as civil wars, and other symptoms associated with internal crises etc.

What happened in North Africa and the Middle East during the past two months, may symbolize the kinds of change that are initiated through an unanticipated marriage of people’s and new international media, which together gives birth to self-consciousness and revolt against rulers and dictators no longer attuned with the necessities of our times.[2]

Tunisia which first set example in the series of revolution and swiftly overthrown the incumbent regime, had a relatively modest experience of democracy but in the long run became under an authoritarian corrupt rule that was no longer accountable to the people. Egyptians had a bit more difficulty in bringing down Mubarak who resisted to the last point but finally he was forced to step down. Unlike Ben Ali who quickly left the country, Mubarak preferred to stay in the country. Eventually, he knew that if he quits Egypt, people will demand his trial, as they did in the case of Ben Ali.

In other places in the Middle East, situation has varied depending on the factors cited above. In Yemen and Bahrain, while the governments have given some concessions to protestors in order to curb at least momentarily the uprising, in Libya the so-called “Mad Man” (Gaddafi) has so far resisted giving up the power and has even used war plane to bombard and deter the unprotected people.

This means that the suffering associated with the birth of the new child is too high to bear, unless a quick surgical operation, eventually with the help of foreign intervention, is taken place. In such case, possibly the whole world will be affected by the event.

The New Middle East will undoubtedly be different from the past. But eventually, the apprehension of some pessimists who fear that it will fall in the hands of Islamic fundamentalists is unfounded. However, democratic peace-loving states should not take this for granted and ought to do everything possible to avoid that opportunist lefts or rights take advantage of the situation.

If things are left at the will and initiative of the enlightened people of the region, without prejudice and grudge, the birth of the “New Middle East” will be a happy event that would pave the way for democracy, prosperity, peace and harmony in the world. /

[1] I have borrowed this term from regular childbirth literature.

[2] See my article on “ The Power of People Plus Media” Middle East Academic Forum

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