What we are witnessing in the Arab world that began with the self immolation of a fruit seller in Tunisia, the subsequent rebellion there which saw the departure of the dictator Ben Ali and his 23 year rule has inspired a populist political rebellion well beyond Tunisia that has connected with and touched a nerve in many (most?)Arab people.
What started in Tunisia (the demand that Ben Ali step down over his corruption, oppression, high food prices, widespread unemployment and poverty and the humiliation by government agents that caused the desperate act of self immolation) has spread to Egypt with mass demonstrations that began Tuesday, continuing despite an official crackdown by the Mubarak regime. Through internet postings (Twitter and Facebook) larger demonstrations are planned for today in Cairo and other Egyptian cities. Former Chief U.N. nuclear inspector Mohamed ElBaradei (and an Egyptian himself) has joined in the call for Mubarak to step down.
Yesterday saw thousands marching in Sanaa, the capitol of Yemen calling for President Ali Abdullah Saleh, in power for 32 years to step down.
All these countries are different unto themselves, but the people in all of them share similar circumstances of living under dictatorial rule with repression and oppression that brings personal humiliation, lack of respect and dignity toward the individual at the hands of their government, extreme poverty, unemployment, rising prices for necessities along with widespread official corruption.
In all the Arab countries in rebellion their governments and their leaders are client states of the U.S. In the name of maintaining stability and our "war on terrorism" we have supported these country's autocrats with military hardware and training of their security forces.
Significantly, none of these indigenous rebellions have anything to do with fundamentalist, Islamic Jihadist terrorism.
The Egyptian government accuses the "Muslim Brotherhood" of being behind the people's insurrection, but the "Brotherhood" is just a convenient scapegoat, an excuse for the government to attempt to intimidate and crack down on the demonstrator's call for Mubarak to step down.
The rebellions have all been spontaneous and internet connected, not led by activist types and their groups who are the "usual" opponents of the government. They are amorphous swellings of "ordinary" people inspired to join in and take part in these movements to overthrow their oppressors.
As to the U.S., our sordid history in conducting coups and assassinations of legitimately elected governments and leaders (Iran, Chile, South Viet Nam, Nicaragua et al) and then actively supporting the subsequent repressive regimes we conspired to bring to power, our one sided support of the Israelis occupation of the Palestinians and now our endless war on terror, pre-emptive war and occupation of Muslim countries all under the guise of bringing freedom and democracy at the point of a gun, puts us on the wrong side of history particularly in the current turmoil roiling the Arab world, all in our client states.
Ironically, The U.S. support of these tyrants running these governments has not been an issue voiced by the Arab people in their indigenous rebellions.
Hopefully this will give pause to our own governments policy of hegemony that has (up to now) equated all Arab rebellion as radical, Islamist Jihadist terrorism inspired by Osama bin laden and those of his ilk.
Our hubris and exceptionalism assumes we control the world.
The Arab people in rebellion somehow didn't get that memo.