Saturday, March 12, 2005

The mighty wind that Berkeley missed

Orly Halpern writing in the Jerusalem Post in an feature article titles A Democratic Electric Shock (registration required) points to the rapid changes seen lately on the Arab Street. It seems the White House was not incorrect in assuming that the Arab Street wasn’t reserving its’ anger for America, as much as it was against the lack of freedom found in their own lives.
Like Hizballah’s attempt to put their tired old incitements and tirades back on the public’s radar with a staged mob, signs of counterbalance, if not permanent cracking in the tyrannical order appear to be emerging.

«First, millions of Iraqis defy terrorists by flocking to vote in their country's first-ever free election; then thousands of Lebanese take to the streets demanding Syria leave their land; a few days later Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak announces a multi-candidate presidential election; and finally, the street demonstrations lead to the Lebanese government's resignation. Not long before all this the Palestinians elected democratically Mahmoud Abbas to succeed the autocratic Yasser Arafat.

An editorial in the Saudi Arab News daily earlier this month wrote: "Winds of change are blowing though the region... Until a few weeks ago, change was seen as driven from outside, by the Americans. Those who still think that are clearly wrong. The Americans may have done some of the initial driving but it is now being driven from within. The Middle East is ready for change and wants change, but not only between Palestinians and Israelis."

But the most penetrating and invasive reform engine in the Middle East has been globalization. Satellite TV dishes dot Arab capitals and Internet is highly accessible in most Arab countries. Knowledge is power, and Mideastern regimes have made sure to control its flow by owning most print and broadcast media.

Now, however, times are changing, and "leaders can no longer control information," said Newton, "so now people can make their own judgments and form their own conclusions."»
I wonder - will
these folks ever get it?

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