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Thursday, February 22, 2024

Arabia: mirage or revolution

By Ardain Isma

CSMS Magazine

News Analysis

This article that follows is a revised version of an earlier reflection done by Dr. Ardain Isma on the issue of “revolution” in the Arab World. This analysis still maintains its freshness, for nothing has been fundamentally changed in this part of the world since the people of Tunisia rose up over two years ego.  

When the Arab mass movement started in Tunisia over two years ago, Arabia rose to its feet and wholeheartedly embraced a golden opportunity to rid itself from kleptomaniac dynasties that have been ruling its life for ages. The fall of Mubarak just two weeks after Ben Ali fled Tunis emboldened the masses resolves even more to press ahead with what seemed then the making of a social sweep that was going to engulf autocratic, Arabic rulers and dump them to the sea.

From the start, I cautioned on the euphoria. Then, I believed it was too soon to start talking about a revolution, as they were calling it then and they’re still calling it in some quarters. While a revolution is a social upheaval with the potentials to overthrow the current order in a drastic and fundamental way, not all socials upheavals can produce such desired end. A revolution can never achieve its objectives unless it is guided by a revolutionary vanguard, which usually comes about in the form of a revolutionary party or a national liberation front with the sole agenda is to bring to bear the people desire for radical change.

Every revolution must have its leaders and sometimes evolved around a national figure. The American Revolution had its own national hero embodied in George Washington’s persona. In Haiti, it was Dessalines and his top military commanders backed by the revolted slaves that deracinated more than 200 years of French rule. The list goes on…

But in the Arab world, no such organization has been spotted. The movement is largely leaderless, which makes it easier to send people into the streets, but also makes them utterly vulnerable to all form of exploitations. A leaderless movement can only succeed in changing a government, but not in changing an entrenched and corrupt state bureaucracy that has to be surgically removed. But until the corrupt system of repression is gone, speaking of revolution only makes a mockery of the people genuine thirst for change.  

In modern-day social movements, nowhere in the world can we witness such gross form of abuse or misuse of the word “revolution” than in Arabia. In Tunisia as well as in Egypt, the dynasties are gone, but the fight for a true people power is just beginning, for all practical purposes. Society is divided in class, and each class has its own strategic interests that it wants to safeguard at all costs. A bourgeois democracy does not in any way mean a people’s democracy. The interest of the upper-class and that of the masses will never reach a point of convergence, even if at some critical times in history one can witness an alliance between the two to overthrow a current order of the State.

A skin-deep love affair

The alliance is always tactical, not strategic, and for that it will only be short-lived. The alliance cannot hold because the “love” is always skin-deep, and the more powerful—the bourgeoisie—is destined, as it seems, to get the biggest share of the pie. In this unspoken and unwritten agreement, no references were made to the faith of either side should one party decide to breakaway, which leaves the pie for the most powerful in the inevitable custody divorce.

The western powers and the recalcitrant bourgeois and oligarchs of North Africa and the Middle East speak with one voice when they speak about representative democracy, which diametrically at odds with the participatory democracy that the people are dying for daily in the streets of Arabia. They want a greater voice in the destiny of their countries. They want as soon as possible to close the ever growing social, financial and educational gap. They want justice, social justice after years of living under brutal dictatorships.

To get the real sense of the plots mounting on the back of the Arab masses, one just has to look at the current state of affairs in the mass movement. In Syria, the people in arms are being led by Arab extremists backed by sultanates from the Persian Gulf and the Western powers. When were Brussels, Paris and Washington so akin to genuine mass movements in the Third World?  In Libya, the democracy movement has been hijacked by international plotters as NATO in the hunt to kill Kaddafi has carpet-bombed  the country’s urban centers, killing unnamed numbers of innocent civilians and leaving Libya completely broken. In Yemen, reactionary elements with the military hierarchy and the Islamic clergy have stolen the show, now leaving the democracy demonstrators on the sidelines like dazed spectators of a political chest match in a hazy day.  In Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and other Gulf dynasties, the movement has been all but suppressed, and those who dare to move to open defiance know they will do it at their own peril, for there will be no one or western country at the end of the day that will come to their rescue.

Finally, while at a glance it looks like Arab rulers are invincible, but it is just a mirage. No dynasty is unbreakable in the face of an organized revolutionary movement. Drastic societal changes do not come easy, for sacrifices are inevitable. But the masses of Arabia have already overcome a major obstacle in their quest to free themselves from these despots. They have already overcome their fear. What they need to do now is to put forward their own revolutionary vanguard to guide them along the path to liberation. Until that happens, the anticipated bloody summer will definitely materialize.

Note: Dr. Ardain Isma heads the Center for Strategic and Multicultural Studies (CSMS). He teaches Cross-Cultural Studies at the University of North Florida (UNF). He is a novelist and also chief editor for CSMS Magazine. He may be reached at: publisher@csmsmagazine.org

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