Saturday, September 10, 2011

Arab Spring needs a Second Revolution

August 27, 2011

By Saeed Qureshi

Arab Spring imperatively needs the Second Revolution. The dazzling Arab spring or revolution that took off with the self immolation of a Tunisian street vender Mohamed Bouazizi on December 17 last year is in dire need of being shifted into the next gear of revolution. In these 8 months the Arab despotic regimes have undergone an unprecedented transformation.

The subdued and enslaved yet enraged and galvanized people swept away their tyrannical and degenerate rulers with their blood and historic sacrifices that will go down in history as watershed break from the gory past with a shimmering present and glorious destiny.

As the history offers incontrovertible evidence, Arab nations have never been so liberated and emancipated as they have been from the dawn of the unique protest of the Tunisian heroic martyr. He would be rightfully remembered as the trend setter of a monumental change now sweeping across the Arab lands and dismantling the tribal and family dynasties.

The dictators are falling like house of cards and paper tigers one after another. They were intrinsically made of chaff and sawdust but were coated in steel with the help of their brutal military network and intelligence mafias. They ruled their people with an iron hand and brooked no leniency or mercy even for the smallest mishaps by their subjects. The brutality and callousness have been the dominant weapons with the Arab rulers to crush and suppress their populations and keep them under their boots.

A whole century has gone by that these heartless potentates’ have been treating their people like rats. Externally they were like mercenaries and surrogates of foreign imperialist powers with whom they bonded themselves in unholy alliances for their survival against their own people.

They squandered their enormous wealth from domestic sources on their castles, palaces, diamonds, Precious robes, Jewellery, on buying useless weapons and on lavish vacationing aboard.

The ultimate power belongs to the people provided they are united and rise against their ferocious tormentors and cruel masters. It is a stout eye opener and a spine chilling lesson to see a modern-era pharaoh of Egypt, Hosni Mubarak lying and chained in cage before the court.

His unrivaled grandeur and arrogance and power to kill and arrest the citizens is a story of the past. Also the Tunisian despot Zainul Abidine is now an absconder and going through the pangs of fearful hallucinations.

The Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh, notorious for his brutality and cunning is languishing in a Saudi hospital with scars of humiliation and torturous feelings of nostalgia about the magnificent of his past as an absolute ruler.

The Libyan strong man Col Qaddafi that held his ruthless sway over his people for 42 years is yet to awaken to the hard and inescapable reality that he is worthless like a straw and would soon be blown away in the dustbin of history with all the calumny of debased and alienated despots.

The Syrian head of state Bashar al Assad is living up to the loathsome tradition of his butcher father to kill and destroy people with heavy weaponry and with all the might of the state’s coercive apparatus. His days are numbered but power and absolute power snatches the common sense and freezes stark perception of oncoming calamity. His end is foregone.

But with all these overwhelming developments the desired outcome of a democratic era and the dawn of veritable emancipated society seem to be far away. In Egypt the interim military government is going by snail’s pace to bring about the vital and coveted constitutional changes and hold general elections to embrace Egypt with a real democratic culture. The young revolutionaries that fomented the great revolution are now being chased away by the soldiers and intelligence operatives from the historic Tehrir Square.

The revolt that had picked up unprecedented momentum and pace in Bahrain is grinded to a halt due to enormous pressure from the government and barbaric tactics employed by the ruling cabal. The Saudi royal autocratic regime is falling behind the Bahrain surrogate government to stay in power by defeating the people’s will with extreme brutality.

The Arab spring or revolution should not be piecemeal. It should be wholesome and should encompass the entire region. The fight between the oppressed and the oppressors is not yet over. It is logically a hard and long drawn haul to defeat and annihilate the well entrenched autocracies that can go to any length of savagery to hold on to power.And that is what is happening in Libya, Yemen, Bahrain and Syria.

But once the autocratic oriental despots are overthrown, the establishment of a new political edifice would have its own thorny and arduous course and no one knows how long and protracted it would be. To think that it would be simply a switch over from despotism of ages to a fine, smiling, smooth and orderly democratic aura, resplendent with the features of modern societies; is a fallacious assumption.

If the despots are overthrown and popular systems of government supersede, there is going to be another phase of internal fighting and turmoil between the religious radicals and reactionary forces on one side and exponents of a democratic and progressive order on the other.

The religious fundamentalists and even liberal Islamists are waiting in silence for the first phase to be over and then they will come out to throw their gauntlets to the liberal and secular counterparts. That clash must be averted at any cost. The leadership on both sides of isles must sink their difference for a broader consensus and unity to run the country by forging mutual understanding.

But for present there is a stalemated situation in Arab lands resounding with the echoes of change and razing the decadent autocracies. The spirit and fervor of revolution is slowly dissipating and that is what the interim governments in these tumultuous societies want to happen.

The old order somehow seems to be still at play from behind the curtains in all these Arab states where Arab spring flowered and bloomed with great expectations of qualitative and real change consistent with the popular sentiment.

As such, there is a pressing and urgent need for the people of these countries to not sit back and watch the slow paced unfolding scenarios. There is a possibility that the old orders comeback in the news garbs and formats. The people sacrifices should not go in vain. The vanguards of revolution should not let the spirit and glow of change for representative political systems to whittle down.

The Egyptian revolutionaries especially youth can once again converge on the Tehrir Square to thwart the slow moving interim set up. They should also provide a leading and vanguard role for revival of protests in the restive Arab lands where the seeds of revolutions have been sown but the soil is still sterile.

The Arab springs certainly needs a second stormy revolutionary phase that should aim at hastening the transfer of power to the people’s representatives via fair and free ballot. The Arab spring must not be allowed to be watered down by the agents of the dismantled and discredited and anti-people dispensations.

The Arab spring’s trail blazers and forerunners should rise up once again in unison in all the six countries (Tunisia, Egypt, Libya Syria, Yemen, Bahrain) now seething with the popular urge for change and press for swift transfer of power to the people’s chosen representatives. The Western democracies should help and facilitate the fruition and fructification of the underlying objectives of the monumental revolution, diplomatically, politically and economically.

They can help these grassroots movements with even military support as has been done in Libya to remove the vestiges of the predatory, authoritarian, reactionary and tyrannical regimes. Such much needed support to the cause of the Arab people would be paid back to these helping countries with abiding gratitude by the newly established cosmopolitan and liberated societies.

The writer is a senior journalist and a former diplomat
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