Friday, 11 February 2011

Eygpt. What is At Stake ?

I have not had time to look in too much detail as to the significance of the "people power" events in Tunisia or Egypt. But instead of obsessing too much about the possibility of Islamists getting into power, in Egypt the Muslim Brotherhood, there is a need to let people there determine their own future.

The best thing is that Western governments accept that democracy in the Mahgreb and the Middle East will produce governments that large numbers of the people there have willed-for good or ill. It's far better that that is accepted and even if Islamist governments are voted in to accept them.This was accepted by the most perceptive writer Malise Ruthen in his brilliant A Fury for God.

The alternative is for the Western nations to keep backing dictators, as the craven and pathetic Blair has effectively done, due to "vital interests" and further aid the cause of terrorism.It might be that a wave of revolution will cause "instability" in the the Middle East.

Yet its better the west does not interfere as any new governments must trade with Europe anyway and even if the government were Islamist it would find itself having to deal with economic realities rather quickly.

Timothy Garton Ash at least understood the way events in the Near East are interconnected to those of Europe, ( If this is young Arabs' 1989, Europe must be ready with a bold response, The Guardian, Wednesday 2 February 2011 )

As a result of decades of migration, the young Arabs whom you see chanting angrily on the streets of Cairo, Tunis and Amman already have cousins in Madrid, Paris and London.

If these uprisings succeed, and what emerges is not another Islamist dictatorship, these young, often unemployed, frustrated men and women will see life chances at home. The gulf between their life experience in Casablanca and Madrid, Tunis and Paris, will gradually diminish – and with it that cultural cognitive dissonance which can lead to the Moroccan suicide bomber on a Madrid commuter train. As their homelands modernise, young Arabs – and nearly one third of the population of the north African littoral is between the age of 15 and 30 – will circulate across the Mediterranean, contributing to European economies, and to paying the pensions of rapidly ageing European societies. The examples of modernisation and reform will also resonate across the Islamic world.

If these risings fail, and the Arab world sinks back into a slough of autocracy, then tens of millions of these young men and women will carry their pathologies of frustration across the sea, shaking Europe to its foundations. If the risings succeed in deposing the latest round of tyrants, but violent, illiberal Islamist forces gain the upper hand in some of those countries, producing so many new Irans, then heaven help us all. Such are the stakes.

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