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Lesson of History

Morocco’s largest daily newspaper, Al Massae, has been running excerpts from Palestinian journalist Abdel Bari Atwan’s memoir A Country of Words. Here is an excerpt from his latest editorial, “Kyrgyz Lesson to Arab Peoples,” in which he draws lessons from the recent popular revolt against strongman President Kurmanbek Bakiyev.

    President Bakiyev’s downfall was that his regime was characterized by corruption, cronyism, supression of the populace by the security forces and looting public funds, in a manner not that far removed from that of his counterparts in some Arab and Islamic countries.
    Bakiyev… held deeply flawed elections and appointed members of his family — including his eldest son — to key positions, just as certain Arab leaders are wont to do. …
    Some may argue that people in these repressive Arab states are too frightened of the security forces to rebel and this is why they are so passive and submissive. Yet the security forces in Kyrgyzstan are proving to be exceptionally brutal and violent — they opened fire on protesters, killing well over a hundred to date, and yet they continue to demonstrate, even storming the presidential palace and setting it on fire.
    People who are oppressed must start to defend their interests and their basic human rights; they need to be prepared to make sacrifices for this lofty goal. Since they do not, it seems that the problem is no longer Arab rulers alone, but Arab people as well. …
    No amount of foreign bases in Kyrgyzstan can ultimately protect an unpopular leader from the anger of the people and their demands for political reform and true democracy. If the Arab people would only learn this simple lesson of history our current state of opression would be ended.

Via Palestinian Pundit.


Comment from Imad
Time: May 2, 2010, 05:41

This is also a lesson that could be learned in several other places, like Iran (if not the latest protests, then at least the Iranian Revolution of 1979) or Indonesia when they ousted Suharto and began the process to develop a more genuine democracy in 1998.

They also had gone through what the Kyrgyz are going through. Hopefully the Kyrgyz people would be better because of it.

Comment from Vikas
Time: May 7, 2010, 05:28

I am a regular reader of your blog. Today, I have two takes on your post.

Take 1 :
Its always inspiring to see people take up rebellion en-masse to fight for the cause of their freedom and social justice. Being from India, I have read volumes about my own ancestors’ relentless struggle for independence from foreign occupation. But I don’t feel its true that a crowd can take up a cause on its own. There needs to be some leader, or some proclaimed group of leaders, to lead the masses into such a struggle. The Leader needs to be very focused on the goal and have an utterly unselfish intent. From examples of freedom struggle in India or revolution in Cuba, this is what I infer. Now, is it possible for a few leaders to stand up in the Arab world and face an oppressive regime? A really brutal regime can easily single out these leaders and snuff them out. What will the crowd do then? Isn’t it like cutting off the head of a snake? Maybe there were rebellion starters in Arab states but were quietly strangulated. Haven’t we heard how Saddam Hussein used to eliminate a threat as soon as he got wind of it?

Take 2 :
Removing an oppressive leader may not be a long term solution for sure. Its only with the hope of a better world that people have to fight. Its possible that it may buy a few days of peace, but given the reptilian nature of our brains, sooner or later another regime will appear which could make history repeat. I remember that quote from the movie Munich which roughly went like.. “Every time we killed one of their leaders, only to be replaced with someone more brutal and more shrewd”

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