“A disgrace to the world” is what these dictators are, to millions of protestors in the Middle East. Dictatorship is probably the worst form of government and this has been proved time and again through the recent spate of upheavals in the region. Freedom has knocked their doors, violence has instilled hope in them, protests have given a boost to their confidence and their fight against tyranny has brought them together on a single platform.
Colonel Maummar Gaddafi, a self-proclaimed “guide of the revolution” who has ruled Libya for 41 years is considered as the most oppressive despot in Africa and the Middle East. The sound of gunfire, mortars and continuous bombings in Benghazi has extended to Tripoli. The callousness of the army in Benghazi, which shot live rounds at people on the street, has not stemmed the determination of people to continue protesting. The hospitals seem to be out of beds to accommodate those who are injured in the shootout. Dead bodies are a common sight in the cities.
At the same time, doors are shut for international journalists to cover the unrest in Libya. Local journalists are more or less threatened and intimidated by the Libyan authorities, and therefore, the news that the international journalists should rely on is mostly in favor of the tyrant’s regime. Everything is controlled by the government authorities, including the Internet.
There were reports that Gaddafi clandestinely flew to Venezuela when the cataclysm was taking shape. But, Gaddafi dismissed the allegations conveniently saying he was very much in the country. BBC reported that “Libya’s diplomats at the United Nations in New York called for international intervention to stop the government’s violent action against street demonstrations in their homeland.” The violence in the country has helped oil prices to shoot up.
In the unrest index in the Middle East analyzed and published by BBC recently, Yemen tops the list with unrest index being 86.9 percent followed by Libya which is at 71 percent and Egypt at 67.6 percent.
While news from Libya hogged the headlines, Bahrain also had a vital role to play in the Middle East’s unrest. In the euphoria of the moment, people in Pearl Square wanted to throw out monarchy and bring in reform. Some got onto their knees to plead, pray and join hands. It almost turned into a place of worship. The opposition demanded a shift to democracy with an elected government. The police continued their atrocities on a peaceful group of demonstrators and created a ruckus.
The power is vested in the hands of King Sheik Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa and his close aides now. But this dynamic could change at any moment. While the government seems to be wavering between withdrawing security forces and attacking protestors, it managed to release many protestors who were imprisoned. Some returned home limping, few with bruised bodies. One boy was blind in the right eye.
In Yemen, Ali Abdullah Saleh seems unyielding in giving up his three decades of authoritarian rule. The Joint Meeting party, which is a group of opposition parties, has joined the young protestors and is condemning Saleh’s acts of repression.
“Why do the protestors want to return to chaos?” asks Saleh instead of stepping down. The encampment of people in Sana looked well organized and seemed like they took their cues from the revolution in Egypt. “Saleh must resign not govern. We want our freedom and our lives back” said one of the protestors.
What is happening in the Middle East is not something that was planned on Facebook by a group of outrageous youngsters, nor is it a movement of Islamist zealots who have planned to hijack a plane. It is a movement against being looted by thuggish policies of pompous countries like the U.S. People have been hungry and unemployed and have become tired of western powers’ constant interference in their country’s affairs. As an Egyptian journalist said “This is the real story of the revolution that’s sweeping the Arab world.”
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