Regardless to the outcome

Valuable lessons from the Egyptian revolution

What happened in Egypt took everyone by surprise. Egyptians, Arabs, and even people and leaders in the west did not expect the momentum of Tunisian uprising to sweep the well-rooted authoritarian regime in Egypt this quickly. I wrote about the wrong bets that were made by some western leaders along the way, and today I want to talk about what this moment means for the future of the American and European policies in the Middle East.

The long established legacy of the western leaders of finding allies in the leaders of the Arab nations, not the nations themselves is now seems to be the reason for their predicament. Do they choose to take the side of value of freedom and human rights, or to take the side of the rulers who provide them with what they want? The latter option has proved to provide merely short term benefits.

If the leaders of the western nations, and Obama in particular, is welling to truly reach out to the Islamic world as he said in the very capital where the revolt is now taking place, he should take the side of the people. If for some devious political consideration he, and other western leaders, can’t make up their minds at this moment because they are not sure who will end up ruling Egypt in a week from now, they should at least learn from their mistake.

Partnerships with countries in this region should not be on the expense of the overwhelming majority’s interest. Instead, the interest of the public, and the respect of human rights and freedoms should be a basic condition for any partnership with any regime in the Arab world.

Arabs are not the ignorant farmers and herds anymore. The overwhelming majority of Arabs are educated youth, who understand politics very well, probably even better than their peers in the developed world. These youths are enlightened and up-to-date with the new trends of life, from technology all the way to civil and environmental activism.

On the other hand, the dictatorships in the Arab world are ruling with the mindset of the last century. It’s as if they were frozen in time, and the speech of Mubarak yesterday is the best example for that. The rulers are distant from their nations, and they have completely lost any sort of connection or credibility among their populations. The only thing that was allowing these dictators to stay in power was the fear that they spread in their people. This fear has disappeared now, and these regimes now stand naked in front of their nations.

This historical moment will change the course of history in the Middle East forever, turning all the tables, and leaving nothing as it used to be. This is why it is crucial for the western leaders, and for the western nations, to understand that there can’t be any sustainable partnership with any regime here against the well of its nations.

America in particular can no longer afford to talk about it’s respect for human rights while shaking hands with those who slaughter their nations. This is a defining moment, and it’s time for the American foreign policy to make a long term decision regarding this region, whether to take a firmer stand when it comes to human right situation inside the countries that it considers to be important allies, or to stop ranting about human rights altogether and prepare for the political tsunami that will sweep its allies and leave the US with no friends in the Arab world.

This region has changed, and it is crucial for the western countries to reconsider their policies here, otherwise they are risking to be out of touch, just like the rulers they support.

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