Revolutionary Middle East Change - by Stephen Lendman
Democratic Middle East birth pangs may have legs enough to spread regionally, including in Occupied Palestine.
Officially launched in Cairo in 1959, the General Union of Palestinian Students (GUPS) offers hope, driven by a commitment for Palestinian liberation. With more than 100 chapters and over 100,000 members, it's organized rallies, political debates, cultural programs, and other initiatives to spread truths about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.
Perhaps inspired by events across the region, on January 27, its press release headlined, "Palestinian students claim right to participate in shaping our destiny," saying:
"....(I)n order to reassert our inalienable rights, (we) claim our right to democratically participate in the shaping of our destiny. We begin a national initiative to campaign for direct elections to the Palestinian National Council (the PLO's legislative body) on the clear understanding that only a reformed national representative institution, that includes all Palestinians, those struggling in the homeland and those struggling in exile, can create a representative Palestinian platform, and restore the PLO as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people."
If popular uprisings offer democratic hope in Tunisia, Algeria, Jordan, Yemen and Egypt, why not Palestine freed from occupation!
Currently, Egypt is the epicenter of regional change, and since the 1978 Camp David Accords, the linchpin of US Middle East imperial policy. However, under Mubarak's brutal dictatorship, perhaps its day of reckoning has arrived, Robert Fisk saying:
What's wrong is visible and clear. "The filth and the slums, the open sewers and the corruption of every government official, the bulging prisons, the laughable elections, the whole vast, sclerotic edifice of power has at last brought Egyptians on to the streets....This is not an Islamic uprising - though it could become one - (it) is just one mass of Egyptians stifled by decades of failure and humiliation."
Even New York Times writer Michael Slackman noticed, headlining his January 28 article, "Egyptians' Fury Has Smoldered Beneath the Surface for Decades," saying:
"The litany of complaints against Mr. Mubarak is well known....The police are brutal. Elections are rigged. Corruption is rampant. Life gets harder for the masses as the rich grow richer and the poor grow poorer. Even as Egypt's economy (grew, so did) people living in poverty...."
Around half its 80 million people are impoverished, living on $2 a day or less. Unemployment is high, especially for youths. In contrast, "walled compounds spring up outside cities with green lawns and swimming pools." It's a nation "where those with money have built a parallel world of private schools and exclusive clubs, leaving the rundown cities to the poor."
Wesleyan University Professor Anne Mariel Peters says "The whole system is seen as (Mubarak's) fault. People do believe (he's) the absolute dictator."
They remember the hypocrisy of his 1981 inaugural address, saying:
"We will embark on our great path: not stopping or hesitating, building and not destroying, protecting and not threatening, preserving and not squandering."
Instead, he solidified absolute power. According to American University Professor Diane Singerman:
"Once you hollow out civil society and repress the unions and you concentrate so much power around your hands, you are vulnerable and it becomes the flip side of stability. I think he is hated for good reason: the constant humiliation, the over-the-top sort of need to control everything, the excessive force."