After forcing Tunisian President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali out of the country and removing Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak from the power, the youth brigade is displaying its breathtaking prowess on Libyan streets. And their target is strongman Muammar Gaddafi. Huge protests across the Arab world have shaken several monarchies.
In an exclusive interview with Kamna Arora of Zeenews.com, Nathan J Brown, an expert on Middle East affairs, discusses the consequences of Arab uprising and the US’ response to it.
Nathan J Brown is Professor of Political Science and International Affairs at George Washington University and a non-resident Senior Associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
Kamna: How do you look at the Arab uprising? Is the uprising that kicked off with the ouster of Ben Ali a completely new development or fallout of the sentiments that were already prevailing across the region?
Brown: There are two things that are not new. First, there have been mass uprisings before. Second, there has been a wide and growing gap between regimes and societies for many years. What is new is that those are now combined. Past uprisings have been anti-colonial or economic; this one is political. The gap between the ruler and the ruled, while deep, had led to resignation and despair rather than action.
I do not know how this wave of uprisings will end, but it is dramatic in its mass base and political nature.
Kamna: Young people have played the most significant role in stirring revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and other countries in the region. What is the future of the youth in the countries post revolution?
Brown: On an economic level, the demands (for jobs and a better future) will be difficult to meet. But on a cultural level, we may see an end to a strong spirit of deference by the youth towards elders.
Kamna: What are the ramifications of these protests for the world?
Brown: So far, because they focus on internal political issues, the ramifications do not seem large. But if the uprisings result in governments that are more responsive to public opinion, there will be international ramifications. I do not expect a total change in that regard -- national interests will continue to be configured in some similar ways -- but I think the tone and some of the content of policies will change under popular pressure. The close security cooperation between the US and some regimes in the region may come under some pressure.
Kamna: How do you rate the US’ response to the protests taking place in the region?
Brown: The US has adjusted well. It has sometimes been awkward and a bit slow, but considering how close it was with some of the regimes in the region, it has been more agile than I would have expected. That has prevented the US from itself becoming an issue in the uprisings. I do not expect the US to be a force for change, but it can be a force that does not resist change. And I think that is basically (perhaps a bit unevenly) what has happened.