Revisiting the Arab Spring
I grew up when there were curfews that lasted for days, when listening to the wrong radio station could land you in jail, when a stupid, illiterate “security/mokhabarat” could haul you to jail for no reason and I remember when and actually saw “darak” policemen on horses raid villages breaking into homes mixing rice, oil, lentil and flour in the middle of the floor.
Yes, in those days we did live in fear and so did hundreds of millions of Arabs. That is why dictatorship flourished all over the Arab world and that is why 30 and 40 years later, sooner rather than later the people and nations are paying the price of fear and are paying the very heavy price of dictatorship in blood, lives and destruction.
One has to wonder what Egypt would be like if Nasser was not a military and political dictator. Would Egypt have lost the ’67 War and would Egypt have Sadat and Hosni Mubarak as leaders? Would Egypt be in the terrible mess it is in now and have been for the last 50 years? While Hosni Mubarak, his family and his friends looted the country, world financial institutions were demanding the Egyptian government reduce and even cancel subsidies on bread and other basic food such as fava beans, the stable food for the majority of the Egyptian people. Those lucky families are able to have chicken or boney meat once a week if any.
One has to wonder would Iraq be the same if it did not have a criminal dictator like Saddam Hussein. Would Iraq be in the terrible mess it is in now. Would Iraq have engaged in its 8 years with Iran for and on behalf of the US? Would Saddam waste the nation’s wealth and over one million of his citizens over a reckless war? But then we had our own George W. Bush and our two wars and we are not even Iraq, and we have our own “elected dictatorship.”
Saddam’s dictatorship was something to remember engaging Iraq from one war to anther, from the war with Iran to the war on Kuwait and that of course led to the American/Israeli invasion of Iraq. Millions of people were wasted and trillions flushed down the drain. George W. Bush did the same, flushed trillions down the drain, putting the country in perpetual danger.
Hafez al-Assad was no different from Saddam. He took over in a military coup, ruled the country with an iron fist and allowed his family to loot the country and, to preserve his family rule, engaged in deliberate war against the city of Hamah, no different from the Assad family attack on the city of Homs. His brother as commander of Saraya El-Diffa’a, or Presidential Guard, claimed to have killed not less than 38,000 in the city of Hamah back in ’82.
His son Bashar is following in his father’s and uncle footsteps. In a dictatorship the country became a family farm and the people vassals of the regime. Bashar became fully engaged declaring war on his people to preserve his rule, only to have several countries carving out Syria while he watched.
Ali Saleh, as a commander of the Yemeni army, took over the entire country placing members of his family in key positions in the army, the petroleum industry, airlines, and commerce. Elections were rigged every time and while he was the clear winner in these elections the entire nation of Yemen was the loser. And now with the war in Yemen ranging for the third year it will take Yemen generations to recover and rebuild.
Muammar Qaddafi was not different from all the other dictators of his time. He ruined the country with his reckless misadventures in Chad, Sudan, Africa, Philippines and in Northern Ireland, wasting tens of billions on ‘revolutionary’ ventures while his country and people were living in a state of fear.
Tens of thousands of the best and brightest went into exile, with a nation lacking all of the basic services. Libya could be a Dubai or Abu-Dhabi but it was not. No one dared to challenge Qaddafi, and people ended up paying a very heavy price, the nation divided and in ruins.
Ben Ali of Tunisia was no different. He was a security functionary who knew how to use fear to take over an entire nation. He hijacked the nation allowing his security forces to stifle freedom of speech, freedom of assembly as he and his family fleeced the nation, all the while Western institutions and Western leaders were praising his leadership and the great economic miracle he achieved for Tunisia, which proved to be a house of cards.
Somehow it seems that representatives of Western institutions and leaderships prefer the lavish comfort of the 5 star hotels and presidential guesthouses over traveling to the countryside to see the widespread misery the majority of Tunisians and Egyptians lived in.
In Iran, Indonesia, Latin and Central America, and Somalia, the story is the same, military dictators taking over the country in a coup d’état and establishing themselves as rulers for life, imprisoning oppositions, looting the country and destroying the nation’s civil societies and any semblance of a representative government.
From Tunisia to Indonesia parliamentary elections were rigged in favor of the dictators and their cronies, security forces there not to protect the nation but to protect the regime where hundreds of thousands simply disappeared within the corridors of the ministries of interiors and security agencies.
The Palestinians were and are no different. Fooled by Yasser Arafat and his Palestine Liberation Organizations, tens of thousands died, millions saw their lives ruined in Jordan, Lebanon, Kuwait and the Gulf, only to discover Arafat used all the deaths only to establish his credibility as manager of the Israeli Occupation.
In Jordan, Egypt and many other countries, becoming a kindergarten teacher would require formal approval from “mokhabarat/security services” and if one does not have a certificate then one does not exist, incognito, they could not rent a house, or get a job, they are simply nobody.
Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Guatemala, Indonesia, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Egypt, Syria, Tunisia, Yemen, and many other nations and people all paid a very heavy price for accepting to live in fear for so long.
These nations and countries also paid a very heavy price for not snuffing these criminal dictatorships early on when the price would have been much less.
Dictatorships, even those funded and sponsored by countries like the US, France and England among others, will sooner rather than later fall, and must and will fall by the will of the people, not NATO jets. Sooner rather than later even the most corrupt indoctrinated army will turn against its masters and return to its roots, the people. Syria does not need NATO or US jets, it needs its own army to turn against the dictatorship of Bashar al-Assad and his family.
And yes, there is a heavy price for dictatorship and heavier price for freedom. The Arab World is paying the price now.