Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Will Arab Dictators Learn The Lesson?

by Khaled Abu Toameh

The toppling of Bin Ali has brought joy to the Arab masses and panic to their corrupt leaders. The majority of Arab presidents and monarchs, however, continue to live in denial. They are only concerned with one thing: how to maintain their regimes and fortunes.

Arab dictators think that by banning Facebook and Google they can hide the sun with one finger.

It is not that these dictators have not learned the lesson; they do not want to learn the lesson.

The deposed Tunisian dictator and his family thought that they could keep their people in the dark forever. Obviously, they were mistaken: in the age of modern technology and Youtube, it is almost impossible to hide the truth. The Tunisian uprising is a tsunami that is threatening to sweep the entire Arab world, and there is not much the Arab dictators can do to stop it.

Most of the Arab dictators have good reason to be afraid for their regimes in light of the popular uprising that toppled Tunisian President Zein al-Abideen Bin Ali.

Some of these dictators have even started taking measures to appease their constituents. These measures include reducing prices of basic foods and promises to solve problems related to unemployment and lack of democracy.

But these new measures seem to be too little and too late. Most of the Arabs do not seem to trust their unelected presidents and monarchs, and are fed up with empty promises.

For now, most of the Arab tyrants are continuing to bury their heads in the sand, refusing to listen to the grievances of their people. They also seem to be ignoring the alarm bell that has been sounded in the aftermath of the Tunisian intifada.

Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, for example, has chosen to criticize the Tunisian people who erupted against Bin Ali. Gaddafi believes that the Tunisians made a mistake by toppling Bin Ali and should have waited for another three years until his term in office expired.

Shortly before he was forced to flee Tunisia, Bin Ali had good news for his angry people: he would not seek re-election in 2014. The Tunisians, of course, did not buy this promise and insisted on getting rid of him and his regime.

So Gaddafi's advice to the Tunisian people is that they should have tolerated the authoritarian regime of Bin Ali -- which has been oppressing them for more than two decades -- for three more years.

The Egyptian dictator also does not seem to have learned the lessons of the Tunisian uprising. Asked whether Egypt was concerned that the intifada, or uprising, in Tunisia would spread to other parts of the Arab world, Mubarak's arrogant foreign minister, Ahmed Aboul Geith, had only one word to say: "Nonsense."

The media that is controlled by Arab dictators has, for its part, been trying to play down the significance of the removal of Bin Ali from power through a popular uprising. This media continues to defend Arab totalitarian regimes, ignoring increased talk in the Arab world about the need to copy the Tunisian model.

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Khaled Abu Toameh

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

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