In Tunisia, Egypt and the Palestinian territories such national character is well established. In these societies the sense of belonging to the country -with its developed civil society institutions- is deeply engraved in the psyche of its people. On the other hand, in societies where the development of a national character is overshadowed by stronger affiliation to the tribe, ethnicity, or sectarian divide, such powerful attachments might slow down or even trump revolutionary zeal for real change. The interaction between these forces will determine the success or failure of each uprising.
But clearly there is a domino effect in the background. The victory in Tunisia sparked the Egyptian revolution. Change
in Libya would surely accelerate any drastic changes in Algeria, which would in turn influence Morocco and Mauritania. Likewise, if any of the GCC countries become a constitutional monarchy, then other neighboring countries and Jordan might be forced to follow suit for the royal families to survive.
But throughout these spectacular revolutions and popular protests the only consistent policy of the West has been its inconsistency. From France's subtle support (and American stillness) of Ben Ali's regime, to the flip-flop of the American administration and the European Union in the case of Mubarak's, the rhetoric was too confused, too late, or did not match the required actions. When Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently visited Egypt, the youth leaders of the revolution refused to meet with her citing her early remarks of support to the Mubarak regime.
Likewise, the different policies of each Western government toward Libya, Yemen, and Bahrain are quite telling. On the one hand stern and tough messages are given to Gaddafi, while looking the other way in the other cases even though harsh military crackdown was the order of the day in most instances. Unfortunately, for most countries economic and strategic interests trump declared values and ideals.
But who would have thought that all these colossal changes across the Arab World would have taken place in less than three months!
The speedy downfall of the Tunisian and Egyptian regimes have raised the hopes of millions across the region (and even worldwide) that the demise of the remaining autocratic regimes across the Arab world was imminent. But the slowdown in the progress or frustrations in tangible achievements of the various protests, uprisings, and revolutions should be put into perspective.
Great revolutions that bring genuine political change are historical episodes that demand enormous efforts and sacrifices, but above all necessitate patience and perseverance, and take months, and sometimes even years, to achieve their goals.
One of the ultimate lessons of history is that when faced with the determination of their people, tyrants and dictators end up in its dustbin. Which is exactly what the Mahatma meant when he consoled his people during the darkest days of their struggle against British imperialism, "When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants and murderers and for a time they seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall --think of it, always."
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