The Middle East: Democracy is Breaking Out All Over
Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times says that a new day has dawned in the Middle East
It’s a new day in the Arab world — and, let’s hope, in American relations to the Arab world.That era of debauched America foreign policy vis-a-vis the Middle East needs to be over.
The truth is that the United States has been behind the curve not only in Tunisia and Egypt for the last few weeks, but in the entire Middle East for decades. We supported corrupt autocrats as long as they kept oil flowing and weren’t too aggressive toward Israel.
The flowering of Middle Eastern liberty started a couple of weeks ago with a Tunisian man, trying to eke out a meager living, who was fed up with how poorly his government treated him:
The latest convulsions engulfing the Arab world, from Tunisia to Egypt to Algeria, began with a Tunisian man setting himself on fire, known as self-immolation.
Mohammed Al Bouazizi doused himself in petrol and lit a match in front of a government building after a policeman shut down his innovative but illegal attempts to sell fruit on the street. He was a 26-year-old man unable to find a job after graduating from university, epitomising the failed aspirations of so many within the Arab world, where almost half the population are under 30.
Within weeks several other similar cases occurred in Tunisia, helping to drive the popular coup ousting the country's president.
From there it spread to Egypt, where, last Friday, former dictator Hosni Mubarak stepped down.
In the last few hours, the oligarchy of Saudi Arabia is, perhaps surprisingly, encouraging a peaceful transition of power in Egypt.
The Egyptian military and police force currently seem bent on something other than peace, however, having just gone into Tahrir Square in Cairo, inflaming the anger and frustration of hundreds of thousands of protesters by hurriedly dismantling the tent cities that had been erected there in recent days in support of the protests.
There is also now talk in places like Algeria, Yemen, and Libya of throwing off the oppressor's yoke:
According to Anthony Skinner of political risk consultancy Maplecroft: "[The successful revolution inEgypt] has broken a psychological barrier not just for North Africa but across the Middle East. I think you could see some contamination in terms of protests; Morocco, perhaps Jordan, Yemen."
In Yemen, already, thousands of people have taken to the streets. Some chanted: "Yesterday Tunisia, today Egypt, and tomorrow Yemenis will break their chains." These chants presage the potentials of oppressed populations in north Africa and the Middle East to rise up for change.
In the Persian portion of the (so called "Arab") Middle East, Iranians are planning protests for Monday. This will probably draw the ire of the die-hard American conservative right, however, because the spearhead of the protests is the "Green Wave" one of Iran's leading environmental groups:
Protesters are organizing marches across Iran under the aegis of Iran's Green Movement, inspired by the recent successful uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia.
The Green Movement, also known as Green Wave, made international headlines after the rigged 2009 Iranian presidential elections in which Ahmadinejad was installed for a second term in office.
Monday's protests in Iran have been called by Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, whom the Green Movement backed as opposition candidates two years ago.
It is a mistake for Americans to hold a grudge against democracy in the Middle East simply because exercises in democracy may not yield in various countries the leadership that is amicable to United States interest. Persians and Arabs are morally justified in expecting the US to stay out of its business, considering that American interests have consistently been inimical to democracy and liberty in those countries.
The best thing Americans can do now is pray for the Egyptians. Pray for the Iranians. Pray for the Tunisians, Libyans, and Algerians. Pray for the people of Jordan, Syria, and Yemen.
We claim to want to spread democracy to the world, but our foreign policy of support for Middle Eastern dictators has shown consistently otherwise. It's time, America, to take off the "Uncle Sam" mask and allow the nations of the earth to choose for themselves what they want to be, rather than cramming a false brand of "so-called" democracy down their throat.