Saturday, February 26, 2011

So, is it a longing for democratization or merely resurgent pan-Arab nationalistic fervour?

This recent triumphalist post from Angry Arab is interesting in its reckless lack of consideration for the platitudes of MSM towards the "democratization" wave that it sweeping the Arab world. I'm quoting it in full and highlighting the most telling statements:

I have argued in public speeches (although I have not published it yet) about "the rejuvenation of Arab nationalism" in the wake of the war on Iraq back in 1991. I still stand by my thesis and now find ample evidence of it. This is an unreported story of the developments in the Arab world: how the events in Tunisia have affected every Arab country in one way or another, and only Arab countries. How the slogans are being changed from maghrib to mashriq without an organizational orchestration. Tunisia is leading the way: it is setting the tone and pace of the uprisings. I am watching live footage of demonstrations in Tunisia today: and the slogans could not be clearer: a voice of Arab nationalist solidarity. There are flags of most Arab countries in the protests in Tunisia today, and as soon as Bin Ali fled, Tunisians were chanting about the "liberation of Palestine." Egyptian protesters have been more cautious in their collective action because: 1) Egyptian nationalism is strong and have been nurtured for decades by Sadat and Mubarak AND Camp David; 2) Egyptian protesters are keen on not antagonizing the military at this point for many reasons, and the Arab nationalist manifestation would translate into undermining that precious--by US/Israeli standards--treaty. But these are revolutionary time: Alexander Kerensky is barely remembered in the Russian Revolution. Ahmad Shafiq will be a footnote to the story. The Tunisian protesters will also lead the way in how they keep pushing: after they achieve victories, they push even more. Now they want to bring down the cabinet and to create a constitutional convention. Finally: what is Aljazeera if not an Arab nationalist phenomenon? Also, note that Islamist from Tunisia to Morocco and to Egypt are now increasingly speaking about the "Arab ummah".

By way of explanation of the meaning of Mashriq-Maghrib, you can read here :

"Histories of the period often draw on the difference between East and West in their commentaries on events, as in the case of the Andalusian Ibn Said who argued that the Mashriq was more stable because its people were less likely to rebel against an unpopular ruler, being more mindful of the horrors of civil strife and the dangers of occupation than their Maghrebi counterparts.

A Muslim writing in Arabic in a part of Europe, Spain, which was then regarded as part of the Arab Maghreb, and who was writing in an era when Andalus was ruled by Muluk-ul-Tawaif (Kings of Sects) sees tolerance for tyranny as quite a useful thing if it stops the state from breaking down as it eventually did when Andalusia went the way of Carthage. "


I'm paying attention to what this one angry blogger says because it gives me some access, at least one kind of perspective, into
the vast subconscious ocean of historical references that informs the Arab Street's perception of itself and its place in the world.

It seems that the rest of the world watches the explosion of rage and mutiny in the Arab countries and cannot make up its mind as to whether this bodes well for future peace, or not.

Here is Andre Glucksmann, trying to sort out his own puzzled struggle between wanting to believe and actual believing:

"A power of opposites, freedom offers "the deepest abyss and highest heaven" (Schelling). Europe's path shows us that a revolution can go in any direction, towards a republic, but also towards terror, conquests and wars. In the same moment that the power is shaking in Cairo, Tehran is celebrating the 32nd anniversary of its revolution with a festival of hangings and savage torture. Egypt - please God - is neither Khomeni's Iran, nor Lenin's Russia nor the Germany of the Nazi revolution. Egypt will become what its youth in their eagerness to breathe and communicate freely, what its Muslim brothers, its suspicious and secretive army, and its rich and poor who live light years apart, want to make of it.

Forty percent of Egyptians suffer from malnutrition, 30 percent are illiterate. This makes democracy difficult and fragile but in no way impossible. If it were, Parisians would never have occupied the Bastille. According to a PEW poll from June 2010, 82 percent of Egyptian Muslims want the introduction of Sharia law and stoning for adulteresses; 77 percent find it normal for thieves to have their hands hacked off and 84 percent are in favour of the death penalty for anyone who changes religion. This puts a lid on any overly rosy predictions for the future.

From the revolution and its repetitions to democracy and a secular republic, France needed two hundred years. In Russia and in China the interval will not be less, if indeed the journey ever reaches an end at all. Even the United States, which believed that the kingdom of heaven could be reached within ten years, was mistaken. First came a horrific civil war, a class war and a battle for civil rights - a long two hundred years of rage.

Saying revolution and freedom is not the same as saying democracy, respect for minorities, equal rights and good relations with neighbouring nations. All this has yet to be achieved. We welcome the Arab revolution and will continue to watch with our eyes open to the potential dangers. But we should not pretend it is something it is not: all the risks, even the worst dangers, still lie ahead. We only need to look back at our own history: the future has no guarantee.



At 10:00 AM EST, Anonymous Bella said...

AA to Arab masses: 'Let them eat Pan-Arabism!'


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