The Pan-Arab Revolution: A Perfect Storm of Freedom

Posted on 14/02/2011 by

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During the final days of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s dictatorship, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said “the Middle East is facing a perfect storm”. Senator John McCain called the protests a “virus”. This was, to be certain, not the most complimentary of things to be said, by the self-proclaimed most free country on earth; a country which owes its own existence to a handful of violent and bloody wars. These are condemnations, coming from a country which supports many dictatorships across the world, and indeed has the strongest hand in supporting the oppression of the most number of people.

Why this ‘perfect storm’ comment was made is quite clear, to me at least, although I suspect that Secretary Clinton herself was unaware of the greater situation. As far as I can tell, this is a statement arising out of fear: even though total recognition has not yet set in, the Egyptian Revolution marks the end of the US-backed oppression, both direct and indirect, of the Middle East. It is a sign of the fear which is silently filling the halls of the US government, because the oppressed have risen up en masse and said ‘no more’.

As Mona Eltawahy said consistently throughout the Revolution, Egyptians have lost their fear. She was right: they lost their fear. She meant of ex-President Mubarak, I believe, but I think they have shed a much deeper, malignant fear, which theretofore had kept the Arab world under a pall of dictatorship. That fear is the fear of the US military machine.

Much effort has gone into the US government bolstering its self-image across the world. Part and parcel of that has been presenting the visage of an invincible super-power which can crush any insurgency before it has a chance to organise. The US government truly believes this to be the case, and until Egypt rose up, so did almost everyone else. It was a successful propaganda campaign, perhaps one of the best in history: the oppressed were kept in their place by the perceived shadowy threat of the US military machine, looming quietly behind the dictator du jour.

This perceived threat has been shown hollow, because there was nothing the US government could do to keep its immediately preferred dictators in power, both in Tunisia and Egypt. The only thing which the US government could possibly do now is to militarily invade Egypt; an event which, although not impossible, will take too long to plan. The course of the Middle East will be long since decided, by the time the US military has drawn up war plans.

On top of that, the governments of Egypt and Tunisia were forced to give an inch; as they noble saying rightly goes, the people will take a mile. There will be nothing which can stop the people of these two countries from fully reshaping their governments, and expurgating every last trace of the former dictatorships. The US government cannot do anything to stop this process: coming out in favour of a pro-regime candidate will only hasten that person’s removal from power. There is no way to remove those images of Egyptian protesters holding up tear gas canisters marked “Made in USA”; there is no way to make the people forget that the US government was behind their oppressors.

The US government has lost its most potent asset, the perception of invincibility and omnipotence. The supposedly powerful, undeposable Mubarak has been thrust from power after a slim but tumultuous eighteen days. The fear which he used to stay in power for thirty years was dispelled in that time; all else will follow in turn. With Mubarak went any fear of the US government, and its supposed ability to maintain its preferred dictators in the face of any challenge.

Ending these fears have been part and parcel of an awakening which is greater than just the Tunisian and Egyptian people. They are at the forefront of the world, by virtue of being the first to throw off their shackles, and refuse to put them back on in a different form. They have awakened to both the true nature of their oppression, and their ability to change things for the better. One comment I recall from Twitter was along the lines of “one dictator a month will be nice”. It will be nice, and it will also be faster than that.

This awakening will expand much faster than anyone presently expects, simply because the more dictators fall, the less people will fear their oppressors. And as this happens, more and more of the world will become self-ruled again, as is the right of every people; the US government’s oppression of the world will crumble, starting in the Middle East. As the people there free themselves, they do more than simply that: they bring hope to an entire world which lives in dreadful conditions, imposed under the auspices of the US military machine.

When Secretary Clinton said ‘a perfect storm’, she could not have given higher praise, for a perfect storm it is indeed. Rightfully emboldened by the toppling of the Tunisian and Egyptian dictatorships, the Arab world is becoming conscious of itself again. The Washington Post, of all papers, hailed the return of Pan-Arabism, calling Al Jazeera the new Nasser. The images which Al Jazeera broadcasts do show the rise of this new Pan-Arab ethic, one which is arising from the ground up, not the top down. This is a perfect storm of freedom: it is, in a word, beautiful.

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Posted in: Analysis