Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Arab Dictators Have not Learned the Lesson

by Khaled Abu Toameh

The popular uprising in Egypt shows that Arab dictators have still have not learned the lesson and are determined to cling on to power – even at the cost of killing their own people and destroying their countries.

Hosni Mubarak, like the rest of the Arab dictators, will fight to the last Arab to stay in power for as long as possible.

These dictators have never cared about their people. Their efforts have always been directed toward ensuring the survival of their regimes.

For decades, the Arab dictators have crushed critics and political opponents at home, driving many Arabs and Muslims into the open arms of Islamic fundamentalism.

The secular opposition in the Arab world has been forced to seek refuge in North America and Europe.

Iran and its proxies in the Middle East have moved to take advantage of the situation – filling the vacuum created by the absence of a strong secular opposition.

Lebanon has already fallen into the hands of the Iranian-backed Hizbullah.

The Gaza Strip, with its million and a half Palestinians, is controlled by Hamas, another agent of the Iranians in the Middle East.

The Muslim Brotherhood, which has much in common with Iran's radical regime, also seems to be on the rise in Jordan and Egypt.

Many Arabs believe that Jordan and Syria will be the next countries to witness a popular uprising after Egypt.

Even Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas does not appear to have drawn conclusions from the events in Tunisia and Egypt.

Instead of promoting democracy and freedoms in the areas under his control in the West Bank, Abbas, whose term in office expired in January 2009, is committing the same mistakes that other dictators have been making.

By cracking down on journalists and political opponents, Abbas is playing into the hands of Hamas.

Moreover, Abbas has banned Palestinians from voicing their support for the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt – a move that has angered many people in the West Bank.

Similarly, Mubarak thinks that banning Al-Jazeera or Facebook and beating foreign correspondents on the streets of Cairo and Alexandria could salvage his regime.

Many Arabs were hoping that the uprising which toppled the regime of Tunisian tyrant Zine El-Abideen Bin Ali would serve as a message of warning to the rest of the dictators in the Arab world.

But the Arab regimes do not want to read the writing on the wall. The message has obviously not been absorbed in most Arab capitals, where the dictators continue to bury their heads in the sand, thinking that this way they could get away with oppression and financial corruption.

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Khaled Abu Toameh

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