Revolution update - Syria, Libya, Egypt, Tunisia democracy ?

       

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Revolution Update in Syria, Tunisia, Libya and Egypt

February 6, 2014 -- Civil war rages in Syria, with an estimated 130,000 people killed and millions displaced after nearly three years of fighting.

-- Los Angeles Times

July 3, 2013 -- After days of mounting speculation and brinksmanship, the Egyptian army carried out its threat to end the country's crippling ideological divide by ousting President Mohamed Morsi -- just over one year after he was inaugurated as the country's first democratically elected civilian President.

-- Time Magazine

The (forty-nine) blood-spattered children lie on a patterned rug, their wounds graphic proof that youth offers no protection from the dark forces unleashed in Syria.

The grisly scenes posted online Saturday (May 26, 2012) from Houla, a township in Homs province, drew international condemnation and in the view of some, have the potential to become a turning point in the 14-month rebellion against the government of President Bashar Assad.

-- Los Angeles Times

ia protests, Arab revolution

Syria protests - Arab revolution

Syria protests, Arab revolution

The revolutions that have swept the Arab world had a simple and tragic beginning. A young man in Tunisia had finally endured too much of the repressive regime under which he lived, and burned himself to death. It seemed to be the only way he could protest and leave no victim to be punished. He was Mohamed Bouazizi, a 26-year-old who could not find work after finishing his education. He earned a bare living operating a fruit and vegetable cart, until that was also taken away from him for not having a proper permit. So he went to the front steps of the governor's office in his small town of Sidi Bouzid in central Tunisia, poured gasoline upon himself, and went up in flames on December 17, 2010. It would take an agonizing three weeks for him to die from those critical burns. Yet just like the legendary Phoenix that arose again from its own ashes, his death gave life to a revolution. 

Tunisia revolution bouazizi

Tunisia revolution Bouazizi

Tunisia revolution bouazizi

His flames ignited Tunisia, where his countrymen drove out their repressive ruler Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali on January 14, 2011. Somewhat shockingly, this example was followed in Egypt, the Arab world's most highly populated country. Hundreds of thousands gathered in Cairo's Tahrir Square and other places of protest, and endured 846 deaths (as of April 19, 2011) at the hands of Hosni Mubarak's police and militias. But in the end it was Mubarak who surrendered to the impassioned revolution on February 11, 2011. 

Revolts in Libya came next, with ruler Moammar Kadafi literally fighting back with his army against his own people. The total number of people killed in this fighting is said to have exceeded 30,000. French leader Nicolas Sarkozy insisted on allied support for the rebels in Libya, and Barak Obama agreed to supply US jet fighters and Tomahawk missles to this effort. NATO took over leadership of the military support, and local rebels successfully captured Tripoli, the nation's capital. Kadafi ended up dead in a meat locker, the people of the country took over the government, but peace has not yet fully returned to Libya.

Syria has also been plunged into repeated cycles of passionate protests followed by the killing of protesters and harsh treatment of those arrested. Bashar Assad seems to see this bloodshed as the foundation for his rule, but it only seems to push more people into revolt. The death toll among Syrian protesters and public was reported to have reached 200 on April 15, 2011 / 307 on April 22542 on May 6 / 800 on May 17 / 1100 on June 7 / 1400 on July 2 / 2000 on August 14 / 2200 on September 1 / 2700 on October 5 / 3000 on November 2 / 4000 on December 8, 2011 / 5000 on January 11 / 7500 on March 1 / 9000 on May 18 / 10,000 on May 27 / 17,000 on August 23, 2012 / 60,000 on January 3, 2013 / 80,000 on April 8 / 100,000 on June 13, 2013 / 130,000 on February 6, 2014.

Egypt revolution

Egypt revolution

Egypt revolution photos by Amobasher

Will the result of all this be democracy? It is widely assumed that if democracy came it would be new to this part of the world, but that is not true. Tunisia, the birthplace of these revolutions, was one of the birthplaces of democracy.

The powerful city-state of Carthage once stood only a few miles from the current capital city of Tunis, and it ruled over northern Tunisia. This was the city of Hannibal, who led his soldiers and elephants across the Alps to attack Rome from the rear and raise fear along the Italian peninsula. Rome eventually won those wars, and relegated Carthage-Tunisia to the backwaters of history. But before that happened, no less an authority than the Greek philosopher Aristotle wrote about the early democracies in Carthage, Minoan Crete, and Sparta. See more about Carthage here.

Carthage - Tunisia map

Carthage - Tunisia map

Carthage - Tunisia map

That is no guarantee that democracy will take root in today's Tunisia. But the reasonable actions taken by the Tunisian people so far suggest that something remains in their culture that is compatible with democracy. Like an old tree sawed off to a stump, there appear to be some small green shoots coming up, and a return of the tree is possible. But not guaranteed.

The fate of Libya, Egypt, Tunisia and Syria is mainly in the hands of the people who live in those lands. And that is as it should be. But to the extent that the rest of us get involved in what is happening there, let's keep in mind what real goal should be. It's to end up with people able to control their own destiny, and to be tolerant of others, even if they share a different religious belief. The events in Egypt are a cautionary tale. It has democracy, in a manner of speaking, but seems to be dominated by an intolerant religious group. 

Let's try to do better next time in places like Syria. To the extent we give people support, it should come with strings attached -- that they swear on whatever book they hold holy that they will be tolerant if they win. If they refuse, we need to find someone else to support.

While celebrating the American Revolution, the French Revolution, and the British Glorious Revolution, let's remember there are other revolutions going on that feel equally as critical to the people who live there.

A young man named Bouazizi, along with women, children and men from many walks of life have died to make their revolutions possible. There was a day when we cared about things like that. Does it still touch you at all?

 

Neda Agha-Soltan died in Iran


Ali Habibi-Mousavi

Comments:

That poor woman who lost her husband and children, then died of a broken heart. My thoughts and prayers go with all the families who have lost loved ones.

-- Alicia, Canada

Donated some of my credit card points to a relief fund. I'm not in favor of sending troops over there, but felt I should do something.

-- Bill, Boston

I donít want my brotherís blood to have been spilled for nothing.

-- Samia Bouazizi, Tunisia

[Sister of the man who

started the revolution]

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Related Article:

Neda Agha Soltan

shot in Iran protests

Civil War Brotherhood

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"Revolution"

by the Beatles

You say you want a revolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world
You tell me that it's evolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world
But when you talk about destruction
Don't you know that you can count me out
Don't you know it's gonna be all right
all right, all right.

Revolution by the Beatles

Revolution by the Beatles

Revolution by the Beatles

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