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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

the aftermath of the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions « Previous | |Next »
February 19, 2011

The popular uprising against autocratic, corrupt regimes in the Middle East and north Africa has now spread to Yemen, Libya and Bahrain. In the latter the protests have been met with violence: a barrage of choking tear gas, shotgun blasts, and police brutality. Similarly in Libya.

BellSArabstatestotter.jpg Steve Bell

These one-party states have zero compunction about brutally repressing political opponents, usually by using their security police and armed services to kill large numbers of their countrymen to keep themselves in power. In Libya arbitrary arrest, detention, torture, and disappearance are the norm as well as the continued and systematic abuse of human rights.

In The Nation Juan Cole says:

In recent decades, however, each ruling party, backed by a nationalist officer corps, increasingly became little more than an appendage of the president for life and his extended clan. The massive networks of informers and secret police worked for the interests of the central executive. These governments took steps in recent decades toward neoliberal policies of privatization and a smaller public sector under pressure from Washington and allied institutions—and the process was often corrupt. The ruling families used their prior knowledge of important economic policy initiatives to engage in a kind of insider trading, advantaging their relatives and buddies.

Each uprising different in origin and is marked by a refusal for a return to business as usual.

Update
In Libya, the Gaddafi regime, facing a wave of unprecedented protests throughout the country now including the capital of Tripoli and a pattern of diplomatic and military defections, has unleashed the full force of the Libyan military and its mercenaries on significant segments of the unarmed population. In Open Dermocracy Fred Halliday describes the regime thus:

it resembles a protection-racket run by a family group and its associates who wrested control of a state and its people by force and then ruled for forty years with no attempt to secure popular legitimation...it is a state of robbers, in formal terms a kleptocracy. The Libyan people have for far too long been denied the right to choose their own leaders and political system - and to benefit from their country's wealth via oil-and-gas deals of the kind the west is now so keen to promote.

The Gaddafi regime is desperate and it is fighting for its life. This makes conciliation and compromise, and purposive work between elements of the military, remnants of the old regime and opposition groups towards reform, far more difficult. It is nationalism and social consciousness, not Islamism, that has brought pro-democratic Arabs out onto the streets. It is economic want and inequality as much as political repression.

It appears that the military has split wide open.. If the men with the guns stand their ground for the Gaddafi state, the demonstrators have failed. If some come over, there is some chance of victory.

The broader picture is that the three pillars upon which Western influence in the Middle East was built – a strong military presence, commercial ties, and a string of dollar-dependent states – are crumbling. A new region is in formation.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 9:00 PM | | Comments (6)
Comments

Comments

"These one-party states have zero compunction about brutally repressing political opponents..."

That's one of the wonderful things about our two-party state! Both parties understand that they'll eventually get a go at steering the ship... and (just slightly) change course for a couple of years.

It's oh-so-cool to see how we use democracy to make things better... isn't it?

Gaddafi is relying on brute force to crush what began last week as peaceful protests but now threaten his regime in Libya. Troops and mercenaries have been shooting unarmed demonstrators in the country's second city of Benghazi.

Gadaffi has few qualms about mowing down his own people. However, it does appear that the regime has lost control of the city of Benghazi, Libya’s second-largest city,

meanwhile the US wielded a veto against a security council resolution condemning Israeli settlements. Barack Obama is vetoing his own policy.

Britain, Germany and France, all allies of Israel, voted in favour of the motion. Not sure about Australia.

Will Gadaffi bomb the anti-government protesters from the air? He has used the navy to bomb the protesters in Tripoli

This is a regime that is willing to hold on to power regardless of the consequences. Gaddafi, of course, once routinely reviled. has become something of a Western favourite for his cooperation against Islamic terrorism and illegal immigration to Europe, and for his oil.