World politics were going through a dull phase most part of 2010 and global affairs pundits were writing those rather usual yearly reviews on China’s human rights, Iran’s Nuke question, the Afghan withdrawal, Britain-America special relationship with the cliched Churchill quotations and the Pakistan problem. It looked as if that year would roll by, but suddenly one Mid-December morning came the news that a string of protests have started in the North African state of Tunisia against its ruler for over twenty three years, President Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali. The outbreak mentioned as the Jasmine Revolution, triggered a chain of revolutions across various Middle Eastern and North African countries now known as the Arab Spring. These revolutions were against a bunch of exorbitant dictators who looked irremovable. Four years later, it is time for revolutionary reflections.
Just ten days into the Jasmine revolution, the Tunisian effect had rubbed on its neighbor Algeria where self-immolation led to the lifting of nineteen year old state of emergency. All of a sudden the year that was muddling through ended with a revolutionary bang and brought eager anticipation of democratic births in 2011. The new year did not disappoint, as the news of revolution swam the Mediterranean Sea and hit Lebanon and in a few days that baton passed on to the other Arabic neighbors Jordan, Oman, even the poorest Arab State of Yemen, Saudi Arabia (where revolt was least expected, leading to “Men only” elections in September next) and various other North African minnows. By the end of January the world powers and especially the United States had to reevaluate its foreign policy towards Arabia as rapid power changes were occurring to its allies and foes alike.
A major revolution broke out in Egypt at the beginning of 2011 (known as Egyptian revolution) where, millions across religious and economic backgrounds protested against president Hosin Mubarak. Most of the western powers supported the protests calling for the end of police brutality on peaceful protestors. Amidst all this action the third major revolution started in Libya against the de-facto ruler since its kingdom fell in 1969, Muammar Gaddafi. Since that fall, Libya has been a totalitarian state with constant Human Right violation and a high state of corruption. Thanks to the protests and UN intervention Gaddafi Fell in 2011. But the unrest has affected the region as most of the E.U. countries and United States have made it a “No Fly Zone.”
Chain Reactions are born due to decades of totalitarianism, Human Rights violations, government corruptions, economic downfall, unemployment and poverty. The great Christopher Hitchens defined totalitarianism brilliantly, “The essential principle of totalitarianism is to make laws that are impossible to obey.” Also, Hitchens masterfully blended religion and oppression, he said “The Totalitarian to me is the enemy. The one that is absolute, the one that wants control over the inside of your head. Not just your actions and your taxes.” Religion and demography are huge factors in political power fight in the Islamic world, the best examples being the hapless Hezbollah, Hamas and the Islamic state whose formation is to revive the religious caliphate and as they call it, waging of religious war against non-jihadi infidels.
Seeing the current state in the Arab world one tends to wonder whether this Arab Spring revolution is a success? It is true that the situation in Arabia looks gloomy but Tunisia’s success gives one a glimmer of hope. Democracies ought to stand up for human freedoms and the fight against religious tyranny. The best way to do that is through Social media, which was key in Arab Spring and shall be in future revolutions; after all this is the “Electronic Era.”
Opinion By Vikas Sharma Vemuri
Photo By Mosa’ab Elshamy – Flickr License