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Changing Political Demography in Arab Peninsula

Changing Political Demography in Arab Peninsula

By Nayyar N Khan

Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia, Protests in Egypt and Yemen and responsibility of International Community to stand with struggling people in the Arab Peninsula

During the last Presidential election’s campaign in the United States the central slogans of Barack Obama were “Yes We Can” and “Change We Can Believe in”. These slogans were so attractive and powerful that youth of the United States felt something energetic amid uncertain circumstances both domestic and abroad. These slogans resonated throughout the States and even crossed the geographical boundaries, causing echoes beyond the waves and tides of the Atlantic and Pacific. In 2008, global finance and economy witnessed the thunders of a devastating recession. Amid staggering figures of unemployment and an insecure economic future, Citizens across the nation believed in the truthfulness of these slogans. Above all, the magnetic power of campaign speeches pulled together people of all colors, faiths and ethnicity and the campaign became a movement for the promised CHANGE. It ended with the victory of democrats and the Oval Office welcomed the 44th President on January 20th 2009.

After that the promised changes never materialized in bureaucracy and diplomatic terminology, and its resonance sunk out of sight somewhere in the fathomless depths of the Atlantic and Pacific. During the last quarter of 2010, the globe resonated with another thunder and its aftershocks. These came from the documents made public by “Wicky Leaks”.

The resonance of CHANGE that had seemingly disappeared once again made its way up to the surface and was picked up by the youth of Tunisia in Africa. A slogan of change raised by the unemployed and desperate youth turned into violent clashes between the protesters and the loyal security forces of the King. Within a matter of days the mighty King was out of his palace and a resident in the lands of the Saudi Royal Family.

A young and educated Tunisian national, Mohammad Bouazizi could not find job and started working as a vendor to feed his family. Ruthless police confiscated his cart. This unemployed young man then set himself on fire to protest the injustices committed against the people by the ruling elites and their criminal institutions. The news of his death spread like the flames that destroyed him, and served as a guiding light for his countrymen. His tragic death sent a strong message across the country and people in Tunisia stood with firm commitment to fight the injustices surrounding their lives. They had heard the phrases like “Yes We can”, and “Change We Can Believe in”. They gathered bravery and took to the streets to show their ultimate desire to throw away the cruel and stormy darkness. They hoped for changes, for the blessings of social justice, equality, democracy and peace in their land. Within the matter of days their cruel monarch fled to another land, taking wealth he had looted from the people. A series of protests forced President Zine-el-Abidine Bin Ali to end his era of tyranny and subjugation after 23 years of iron fist rule.

Within the matter of days, the wave of these protests and chanting slogans reached the geographical boundaries of Egypt and Yemen. Ordinary people living in these countries were inspired by the triumph of the Tunisian people, and they too began to demand positive changes for their political, economic and social future.

The Associated Press reported that “Just days before fleeing Tunisia, the embattled leader went on national television to promise 300,000 new jobs over two years. Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak did much the same as riots gripped Cairo and other cities: offering more economic opportunities in a country where half the people live on less than $2 a day. The pledges-under-siege have something else in common: an acknowledgment that the unprecedented anger on Arab streets is at its core a long-brewing rage against decades of economic imbalances that have rewarded the political elite and left most others on the margins.”

Syrian President Bashar Assad addressed the protests in Egypt, Tunisia and Yemen, saying they spell the beginning of a "new era" in the Middle East in which Arab rulers will have to enact democratic reforms. Assad's comments came in an interview published in Wall Street Journal.

But the situation on the ground is now beyond the promise of reform packages and pledges to do more. The people just do not want to live under the conditions they have suffered under for decades. They want equal rights as promised in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and other International Conventions and Covenants guaranteeing honor, dignity and security in all the spheres of political, social and economic matters for all mankind, where ever we are.

No matter what will be the ultimate outcome of these series of protests, challenging the injustices committed by the national governments over decades: one point is clear that people do not want to live under dictatorship and tyranny. The events across Tunisia, Egypt and Yemen have jolted the tyrants of the Arab Peninsula and they are trying to safeguard their governments by pretending to offer political, economic and administrative reforms. These reforms are nothing but a bureaucratic tool to disillusion the protesting masses. At this critical time in history, the political leaders who do not deliver change will destroy their countries. It is incumbent upon all leaders to create road maps that ensure human rights and political freedoms will be honored within all geographical boundaries worldwide.

It is also the foremost responsibility of the International Community, including United Nations, the United States, European Union and the regional organizations like African Union, Arab League, and Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) to step in and intervene in a timely fashion. We now live in a global world. What happens far away affects every one of us directly or indirectly. The right to freedom of opinion, assembly, speech, peaceful protest and the right to have a freely elected government are the universally recognized values and norms that the entire world strives for. Therefore, if the people are protesting peacefully for internationally recognized rights, they should be respected and heard. Otherwise, any mishap can alter the peaceful aspirations, with the result that global peace and security will be under serious threat.

The conflict in these countries is not ever simple, but can easily be negotiated and settled. Otherwise, these protests could turn violent and the wrong outcomes will be achieved.

"Is it going to be a new era toward more chaos, or more stability by accepting the demands and needs of protesting masses? That is the question,” The answer definitely lies in the efforts of the international community. If the international institutions acted promptly as per the demands and aspirations of the protesting people and if the international community stands shoulder to shoulder with these suffering people to promote the noble values of democracy, social justice and fundamental human rights, then the political shape of this planet can attain a positive change. Otherwise chaotic situations and anarchy will be reinstated. People around the globe could lose their faith and hope for equal rights. The world cannot move forward until these conflicts lead to positive changes for all people.

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{Writer is a US based political analyst and peace activist. His major focus is International Peace and Conflict Resolution. He can be reached at globalpeace2002@hotmail.com.}

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