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02/25/11

Fire In The Belly: How The Middle East Is Won

By Sousan M. Alemansour, Attorney at Law, Irvine, California

As the fire of the Middle East and North African countries take hold of the old and the brittle, ushering in the young and strong, The United States of America continues to monitor the events with great anticipation. The stark realization that the fear of heart is replaced by soulful hope is tantalizing. The atmosphere beckons the unearthing of the truth, about The Middle East, about its people, their desires, about the dictators and their failures. The coquetry of the fires of The Middle East, in the night sky of the desert, is breathtaking. Let The Middle East begin its destiny toward greatness.

Freedom House 2010 Middle East
source: freedom house

There are as many questions as there are pundits: Why? Why did the fires begin? Why did they begin now? Who set the fire? Will it success or will it fail? Is the 2011 Revolution similar to the 1848 Revolutions of Europe, “The Spring of People”?

To be sure, Europe’s spring died. Middle East’s Spring will not. In his Time piece Fareed Zakaria quips . . . “ will history fail to turn in the Middle East?” quoting A.J.P. Taylor, a British historian who allegedly usurped the mis quote from George Macaulay Trevely.

The pessimist sees disaster in waiting, The optimist sees potential for success.

The reasons for the uprising of 2011 are clear. Lack of constitutional reform, if one ever existed, enforcement of perpetual “emergency laws”, governance by despotism, discrimination and fear, government monopoly of resources and refusal to surrender to people the right to self govern are but some of the reasons for the uprising. The 2011 Revolutions supported by the growing population of the courageous youth with access to the internet will leave this planet for ever changed. Make no mistake; the uprising will also for ever change Islam.

And so, with great hope one might inquire as to the forces necessary to ensure success of the 2011 uprising of the Middle East and The North African countries. History may lend a hand.

It is common knowledge that the doubling of the population, famine, economic recession, differing ideological beliefs incapable of conciliation combined with enactment of repressive measures, such as the Six Act (1539) were Europe’s leading problems. The Six Act, of course refers to legislation introduced by the British Government to prevent any future citizen disturbances and labeled any meeting for radical reform as an overt act of treasonable conspiracy.

Save Russia, Spain, and the Scandinavian countries, the 1848 “spring time of people” was afoot in France, The Hapsburg Empire, Italy, and in The German States. At the time France opposed electoral reform and crushed Lamartine’s calls for the “Rights of Man.” The revolution in France spread to rebellion in Austria for liberal reforms. Italian nationals and liberals sought to end foreign domination of Italy. The many riots in small German cities resulted in the establishment of German National Assembly. By the time the revolution reached England on April 10, 1848, the “spring” amounted to little more than a Chartist demonstration (taking its name from People’s Charter of 1838) and eventual suppression of the Young Irelanders by Britain.

The “spring” died in Europe because it was insipid, because its ideas were inchoate and because its goals were insular. The population of Europe in 1848 was unsophisticated having just two years earlier recovered from famine. The middle class was afraid of the working class thus causing class tension and risking lower class radicalism.

The uprising of 1848 failed because of the inability of the opposition parties to formulate a unified voice of demand which eventually led to the overall political failure. The old and sclerotic monarchies remained and continued their crown. Undoubtedly, some positive results occurred. There was the spread of parliamentary governments, the extension of manhood suffrage in France, the abolition of manorialism in Central Europe, the beginnings of the German and Italian unification movements, and the establishment of Hungary as an equal partner with Austria under Hapsburg rule.

But, here is why The Middle East will succeed:

First, the Middle East Revolutions of 2011 stand for rather than against. The Middle East Revolutions stand for equality, for economic growth, for freedom of religion and from and it stands for the right to vote. Europe stood against liberal reform. Citizens of different class opposed each other and radicalism was feared. The Middle East does not fear radicalism, because it has been radical. It is now on its way to liberalization of ideas, laws and principles.

Second, internet repression will not succeed. Mass communication is one of the keys to success. The United States of America, according to the Secretary of State Clinton, will invest an additional $25m to help online dissidents and digital activists fight state repression. Information is power.

Third, the Middle East’s youth and women seeking equality of rights and sharing of resources are educated, highly educated. That was not the case in 1848. Education is the cornerstone of any civilized and successful society. It is the educated who can write the constitution. It is the educated who understands that there must be an executive, legislative and judicial branch of the government and it is the educated who understands that each citizen must be afforded due process of laws. Education is a progressive discovery of our ignorance. Will Durant (1885-1981) U.S. author and historian.

Fourth, the population of Middle East embraces inclusion. The Middle East, where the Jewish, Christian and Muslim communities have lived side by side for thousands of years stands strong because it is capable of inclusion of its diverse citizens, regardless of the deeds of the dictators. Europe’s 1848 rejected inclusion even of its own class. In fact, Europe continues to reject inclusion as is evident from France’s recent deportation of Roma, Angela Merkel’s admission and acknowledgement of her country’s failure in multiculturalism (October 20, 2010), and last but not least Britain David Cameron’s acknowledgement of multiculturalism and his country’s failure. Alas, the old and sclerotic have not changed.

So, while pundits will hang on to their “wallet” so as to prevent themselves from being duped, those of us who are Middle East born and are U.S. bred strongly believe that The Middle East will succeed in its Revolution.

We shall see.

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