Saturday, January 22, 2011
One of America’s greatest fears: populist movements demanding democracy in the Mid-East
by Larry Geller
Che Guevara was seen in Tunisia's Jasmine Revolution
Artwork by Carlos Latuff (2011)
Writers and intellectuals, scrap men and taxi drivers now speak bravely about the prospect of rebirth across the Middle East. Facebook pages bloom with strategies for rebellion. Jordanians, Libyans and Algerians have taken to the streets. Egyptians are planning nationwide demonstrations.
[LA Times, Tunisia nudges Arab world out of its hopelessness, 1/23/2011]
AWEEK AFTER Tunisia's popular revolution, the country's direction remains far from settled - and unrest in its Arab neighbors is rising. Seven people in Algeria and nine in Egypt have set themselves on fire, or attempted to, in imitation of the desperate man who triggered Tunisia's uprising. There were mass anti-government demonstrations in Jordan on Friday, and Egypt's opposition has called one for Tuesday…
[Washington Post, The Middle East's growing political unrest, 1/22/2011]
"As happened with an unknown electricians' union in a Gdansk shipyard in 1980 that required years more to transform an entire political universe a decade later," [Beirut-based analyst Rami] Khouri wrote in the Financial Times on Monday, "I suspect Tunisia's impact on the Arab world will similarly play itself out in stages ... The transformation of much of the rest of the Arab world is likely to follow in a less dramatic manner — but it will follow for sure."
(Will Tunisia's "hunger revolution" spread?)
And that certainty represents a crisis for U.S. policy toward the Arab world. While President Obama saluted the courage of the Tunisian people, U.S. national-security strategy in the Middle East continues to rest heavily on autocrats lacking in popular legitimacy. Despite urging reform, Washington has shown a pronounced hesitation over the question of Arab democracy, which in most Arab countries would produce governments less closely aligned with Washington than many of the autocrats. In 2006, the Bush Administration pushed the Palestinian Authority to hold democratic elections, but when those were won convincingly by Hamas, Washington reversed itself, insisting that President Mahmoud Abbas ignore the verdict of the electorate and adopt many of the authoritarian practices for which the U.S. had chastised Yasser Arafat.
[Time, Tunisia Domino? No, but a U.S. Democracy Dilemma, 1/18/2011]
The prospect of Venezuelas springing up in the Mid-East must be terrifying to Washington. Not that this is guaranteed, of course, things could go nowhere or could go badly wrong.
Anything that threatens the flow of oil and the huge profits of oligarchs is opposed by the US Govt.. Human rights and democracy are secondary talking points for diplomats. Thanx to Wikileaks we know how that conversation goes.