…and the blood continues to spill. After an almost peaceful transition in Tunisia as well as Egypt, the road to democracy in the Middle East looked smoother than previously thought. But that was certainly not the case.
The fleeing of Tunisian president Zine Al-Abidine Ben Ali stimulated the protests across the region. The flames reached Egypt. Thanks to social media, Egyptians took just 18 days in making history by forcing the authoritarian ruler, Hosni Mubarak to leave after being in power for three decades. Inspired by the attacks in neighbouring countries, Libyans raised their voice against the strongman, Muammar Gaddafi. More than participating in protests, Libyans are now trying hard to defend themselves from the lethal forces. The protests have turned deadly.
Same scenario prevails in other Arab countries, such as Bahrain, Yemen and Syria. The stubbornness of Gaddafi has given impetus to other Arab dictators, who are not willing to relinquish their command. The fight led by the new Arab generation with the help of Internet seems to be on the edge. Loosely-organised protests and chaotic leadership are changing the balance of power – back into the hands of the repressors.
Bahrain is waging unrelenting crackdown on Shi’ite protesters out on the streets in the Sunni-led kingdom. Tanks are deployed in the capital Manama of the Persian Gulf island. Activists fear of being carried out by forces during night raids in the impoverished Shi’ite villages around Manama.
The troops of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in Bahrain have made the issue more complicated. Bahrain’s government invited the forces from Gulf states to crush the protests; but is this strategy a part of the solution to the crisis?
Yemen has another tense landscape. Troubled with Islamist militancy, Yemeni forces reportedly killed dozens of demonstrators. Ali Abdullah Saleh is crying ‘al Qaeda’ in a bid to win time for his presidency. But it has not impressed the people on the streets. They know the trick. Often held back by live rounds and teargas, Yemeni protesters keep up their zeal and move ahead.
The international community, including the so-called protectors of democracy, has almost failed to help protesters raise their head fearlessly. Even the no-fly zone in Libya is not helping rebels achieve anything. They make a step forward and forces loyal to Gaddafi push them two steps back.
The uprising has revived the hope for a new world order. Condemning violence won’t help. It is imperative for the global bodies bearing the responsibility of maintaining peace to come forward and propose a solution to the whole crisis. Persuading the oppressive leaders to pay heed to the voices of their people and engage in talks is the only option left.
In fact, some despots are trying to paint the uprising against their thrones with the colour of sectarianism. It is interesting to see how youth came onto the streets without taking refuge of any political party, such as the Muslim Brotherhood. However, the bitter repression may dissipate the newly-discovered power of the Arab people.