Monday, January 31, 2011

The Sound of People Power

For the perspective of a reporter/commentator outside of the United States, check out this article by the Asia Time's reporter Pepe Escobar:
Islamophobes of the world, shut up and listen to the sound of people power. Your artificial Middle East dichotomy - it's either "our" dictators or jihadism - was never more than a cheap trick. Political repression, mass unemployment and rising food prices are more lethal than an army of suicide bombers. This is the actual way history is written; a country of 80 million - two-thirds of which born after their dictator came to power in 1981, and no less than the heart of the Arab world - finally shatters the Wall of Fear and crosses to the side of self-respect.

Egypt's neo-Pharaoh Hosni Mubarak threw a curfew; people never left the streets. The police dissolved; citizens themselves organized for security. The tanks rolled in; people kept singing "hand in hand, the army and people are together". This is no think-tank-engineered color revolution, this is not regimented Islamists; this is average Egyptians bearing the national flag, "together, as individuals, in a great co-operative effort to reclaim our country", in the words of Egyptian Nobel prize-winning novelist Ahdaf Soueif.

But then, inevitable as death, counter-revolution reared its weaponized head. Made in USA fighter jets and military helicopters "bravely" flying low over the crowds at Tahrir Square (picture the Mubarak regime as the occupation army in Egypt; and imagine the West's outrage if this was happening in Tehran). Military commanders cozying up on state TV. A threat that made-in-USA tanks in the streets - manned by elite combat troops - would soon mean business (although soldiers told al-Jazeera reporters they would not fire a single bullet). To top it off, "subversive" al-Jazeera abruptly taken off the air.

The Egyptian intifada - among its multiple meanings - smashed to pieces the Western-concocted propaganda drive of "Arabs as terrorists". Now, minds finally decolonized, Arabs are inspiring the whole world, teaching the West how to go about democratic change. And guess what: one does not need "shock and awe", renditions, torture and trillions of Pentagon dollars to make it work! No wonder Washington, Tel Aviv, Riyadh, London or Paris never saw it coming.

We are all Egyptians now. The Latin American virus - bye-bye dictatorships plus arrogant, myopic neo-liberalism - has contaminated the Middle East. First Tunisia. Now Egypt. Next Yemen and possibly Jordan. Soon the House of Saud (no wonder they blamed the Egyptian people for the "riots"). But the Northern African political earthquake of Tunisia 2011 also got its spark from the 2010 mass strikes in Europe - Greece, Italy, France, the United Kingdom. Rage, rage, against political repression, dictatorship, police brutality, out of control food prices, inflation, miserable wages, mass unemployment.

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