Pubblicato   da     www.americacallsitaly.org    marzo     2011                         HOME

ARAB  UPRISING

 

Il QUADRO STORICO

 

Giovanni De Sio Cesari

 

Il problema

Le rivolte di questi giorni sono esplose improvvise e soprattutto impreviste: una nuova generazione, nata su  internet  più che dalla storia del  Medio Oriente, sembra essersi materializzata improvvisante sulle piazze arabe come  venuta dal nulla. In qualche modo è anche vero, si tratta di qualcosa di veramente  nuovo, di una discontinuità in un mondo profondamente tradizionalista nel quale la religione rende ogni innovazione simile a una blasfemia: tuttavia il mondo al quale si trovano di fonte, che vogliono cambiare è un mondo che nasce dal processo storico del Medio Oriente: occorre allora tener presente un quadro generale storico, anche se sommario, per comprendere l’impatto e l’esito che le rivolte potrebbero avere.

Per oltre mille anni islam e mondo cristiano  si sono incontrati ma  soprattutto scontrati  sanguinosamente con alterne vicende. L’ultima volta però che une esercito islamico è stato alla  pari con  uno cristiano è stato nel 1683 nella battaglia di Vienna. Da allora l’islam non è stato più in grado di competere con l’Occidente che lo ha andava sempre più sopravanzando. Nel 1798 un piccolo esercito francese,  al comando di Napoleone,  sconfisse con irrisoria facilità i mammelucchi, una aristocrazia guerriera che da sei secoli dominava l’Egitto: in quella occasione  il mondo arabo  cominciò a prendere  coscienza  della propria arretratezza.  Si manifestarono già da allora due tendenze  opposte, tuttora esistenti. Alcuni ritennero che per uscire dalla decadenza bisognava adottare gli stili di vita occidentali (laici, moderati, diremmo ora ) e altri invece che bisognava tornare integralmente alle  tradizioni islamiche  (integralisti, talebani diremmo oggi ) Nell’800 tutto il mondo arabo  fu direttamente o indirettamente sotto il controllo europeo (colonialismo ) e in genere ,ma non sempre,  la resistenza più accanita agli europei venne dalla correnti integraliste ( ad esempio: i senussi in Libia, i Dervisci nel Sudan )  

Nel ‘900 invece la guida della lotta al colonialismo fu assunta da movimenti detti “nazionalisti”,  laici, che si richiamavano alla cultura  occidentale, genericamente di sinistra, per combattere l’Occidente colonialista  con l’emarginazione quindi dei movimenti integralisti che furono spesso duramente perseguitati.

 

Nazionalismo e integralismo

Dopo la seconda guerra mondiale venne  anche la fine del colonialismo più o meno  pacificamente (tranne che in Algeria  dove si combattè una guerra spietata  ) e le potenze lasciarono  al potere  governi più o meno amici ma un po dovunque questi furono spazzati via dei movimenti nazionalisti, il primo e più importante dei quali fu quello egiziano guidato da Nasser ( Nasserismo)  I movimenti nazionalisti allora si installarono  oltre che in  Egitto. in Siria e in Iraq ( partito bath socialista) nel FLN palestinese , in Libia, in Algeria e Tunisia  dopo la cacciata dei francesi  nello Yemen in Sudan  Tutti questi paesi pure non essendo comunisti guardavano pero a Mosca  come alleata contro gli americani e europei  anche per la lotta contro  Israele. da essi sostenuta L’Arabia Saudita e gli emirati restavano invece a governi integralisti  strettamente alleati con l’Occidente, In Giordania la monarchia riusciva  mantenersi con spericolati equilibrismi fra nazionalisti e occidentali mentre quella  del Marocco pure restava non nemica degli occidentali

 Nel complesso  quindi il mondo arabo abbracciava con grande entusiasmo il nazionalismo di cui erano testimonianze le grandi manifestazioni popolari : le masse popolari si aspettavano da esso la Nahda (il rinascimento) .Si pensava  che la rinascita sarebbe  venuti dall’affrancamento dal colonialismo  e dal neo colonialismo, dall’adozione di modelli moderni occidentali e laici che avrebbero portato al  progresso, a livelli di benessere  simili a quelli occidentali. In nessun paese però veniva impiantato un sistema democratico pluralistico  di modello occidentale  e dovunque si affermava un partito unico senza libertà democratiche: d’altra parte lo stesso avveniva in tutti i paesi ex coloniali  eccetto l’India,  che è un caso a parte. e anche nei paesi europei comunisti

 Le promesse pero del nazionalismo non si realizzarono, il progresso sperato rimase un miraggio. Nel 67 la disastrosa  guerra dei sei giorni contro Israele non fu solo una sconfitta militare  ma evidenzio ancora la arretratezza araba: non riuscire  nemmeno ad aver ragione di un piccolo stato come Israele fu sentita come  Naksa  un crollo generale delle illusioni  e delle aspirazioni arabe

Il nazionalismo comunque continuò a reggere la maggior parte del mondo arabo ma comincio sempre più a degradare verso  dittature sempre meno  popolari perché incapaci di risolvere i problemi. Venne meno anche il collante patriottico anti occidentale man mano  che quei regimi si avvicinavano all’Occidente con il declino e poi la sparizione  dell’unione Sovietica. Iniziò, come sempre l’Egitto che alla  fine degli anni 70 passò all’alleanza diretta con gli americani rompendo il fronte anti israeliano.

I fallimenti del nazionalismo  riportarono  allora alla ribalta i movimenti fondamentalisti islamici  che ebbero poi improvviso impulso dalla  rivoluzione Khomeinista dell’Iran e dalla  guerra in Afganistan   Si verificò allora un rovesciamento delle alleanze con l’Occidente. I nazionalisti erano nemici dei fondamentalisti (si ricordi ad esempio la persecuzione dei Fratelli Mussulmani da parte di Nasser) e quindi in qualche modo gli americani guardavano ad essi nel senso che i nemici dei mie nemici sono miei amici e d’altra parte gli unici veri alleati dell’America erano i sauditi ( ed emirati) fortemente  integralisti.

Ma ora invece il timore del fondamentalisti nato dalla rivoluzione khomeinista faceva degli ex nemici nazionalisti preziosi e insostituibili alleati : si appoggiava quindi Saddam Hussein nella sua lunga e sanguinosa  guerra contro l’Iran sciita  e fondamentalista. Dopo l’11 settembre il timore crebbe poi oltre ogni misura e quindi i governi nazionalisti , anche se corrotti  inefficienti e antipopolari. comunque  erano preferibili ai fondamentalista .

 

La crisi

i regimi nazionalisti quindi hanno trovato  una ulteriore legittimazione : semplificando certamente  troppo, ma per dar l’idea: meglio  un Mubarak che la shariah. Ma la legittimazione popolare dei primi tempi ormai si era dissolta , non aveva più nessuna base : Mubarak e Ben Ali e anche Gheddafi di fronte alle rivolte hanno ricordato le lotte vere o presunte contro il colonialismo  ma esso è ormai un fatto del passato storico non più operante perchè si sono ormai allineati con  l‘occidente  in lotta con gli integralismi, anzi hanno fatto della lotta all’integralismo un mezzo per avere aiuto e appoggio dagli occidentali .

 A rendere più drammatica la situazione è sopraggiunto anche un altro fatto: il prevalere di correnti economiche liberiste che complessivamente  accettate  da quei regimi, ha dissolto anche quel socialismo arabo, una specie di Welfare (simile ma più povero di quelli occidentali)  per cui  vi era pur sempre un aiuto per i più poveri in paesi gremiti di poverissimi. Il neoliberismo  ha  sviluppato negli ultimi anni il PIL  ma a tutto vantaggio dei ceti benestanti e la forbice fra ricchi  e poveri si è andata allargando ( come avvenuto anche in Italia )

A un certo punto però  è sopraggiunto il diffondersi delle  nuove tecnologie comunicative ( internet e ancora di più al Jazeera)_è nato allora  il confronto con l’Occidente e ancora di più con  gli altri paesi emergenti : perche  noi arabi siamo fermi mentre altri paesi (la Cina soprattutto) stanno correndo?

A questo punto sono scesi nelle piazze soprattutto, ma non solo, i giovani che quel confronto avevano potuto farlo: lo schema  della lotta fa un islam fondamentalista e uno moderato è apparso ormai obsoleto, funzionale al mantenimento di oligarchie corrotte e inefficienti. A questo punto il consenso è caduto tutto all’improvviso. Con esso sono caduti anche i vecchi regimi  cosi come era avvenuto tante volte nella storia: non sappiamo pero come questo vuoto potrà essere riempito perche se le folle gridano alla  caduta dei tiranni non hanno però nessun  programma concreto per risollevare l’economia, combattere la miseria e la corruzione.

 

 

 

Carrying through the revolution

 

by Mohamed El-Moktar , Al Arabiya

 

 

The momentum of current events is bewildering; all the more so as the contagion is spreading at a never-before-seen pace, conferring a historical dimension to the unfolding revolutionary upheavals brewing these days all over the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). The psychological barrier of fear shackling minds for so long has finally been completely shattered. Fed up with decades of corruption and oppression, threats and intimidations, peoples have reached the utmost limit of their humanly possible patience. They have had more than enough of the asphyxiating status quo.
 

All that was needed, in this context of morally undignified existence was a trigger mechanism; and that hurriedly came from the least expected quarter and in the form of a desperate, human act, the daring self- immolation of a young Tunisian street vendor called Mohamed Bouazizi from the town of Sidi Bouzid. After having had his cart and wares unfairly confiscated by an unscrupulous policeman, under the pretext of not being licensed, he went to the municipality to reclaim his vital belongings.

 

There, he was not only rebuked but underwent another senseless humiliating ordeal. He was purportedly spat upon, adding insult to injury, by the female bureaucrat to whom he went to lodge a complaint. Feeling once again humiliated, he angrily left threatening to burn himself if the issue was not immediately solved. Half an hour later he daringly carried through this dreadful threat. That's how it all started.

In essence, Bouazizi was the straw that broke the camel's back. His immolation surprisingly released the spark triggering the still unfolding regional uprising. Because of that initiating incident, popular protests ensued all over Tunisia ultimately leading to the departure on 14 January of longtime autocratic president Zein Al-Abidine bin Ali. Similar scenes of individual self-immolations were repeated in other Arab countries (Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Mauritania) but it was in Egypt where the emulation was stronger and its effects more consequential.

After 18 days of unprecedented popular demonstrations headed by an amazingly heterogeneous array of youth groups (Muslims, Christians, males, females, Islamists, Liberals, Communists) later joined by labour unions, professional syndicates and a few military officers, another longtime authoritarian ruler Hosni Mubarak was forced to step down in disgrace on 11 February.

For the first time since the era of independence from European colonialism, peoples of the Middle East feel that something big and astonishing is occurring in their midst. From Algiers to Manama, from Tripoli to Sanaa, there is a renewed sense of pride.

Headed by a new generation of protesters, these uprisings mark indeed a watershed in the history of social movements in the Arab world: they are neither ideological nor violent. Moreover, they are leaderless. They constitute the genuine work of a new brand of protesters whose sense of civility and dignity stand in sharp contrast with the violent nature and bloody provocations of the autocratic regimes they are courageously opposing.

This younger generation succeeded in part because of the virtual empowerment afforded them by the use of new means of communication and the ensuing facility of social networking: Facebook, Twitter, Blogspot, YouTube, Satellite TV channels. All these tools played an important role in raising the public political awareness.

Assuredly, these high-tech information means helped young people to spread their messages faster and interact more efficiently with their peers. Thus, they succeeded where their elders have utterly failed. People whose basic human rights were suppressed for so long were able, nonetheless, to transcend the many hurdles of censorship, writing their own version of events on a daily basis and directly informing the world of their predicament.

By virtue of their ingenuity, they were capable of expressing themselves responsibly and voicing their opposition to tyranny with sophistication. They were capable at last of venting their frustrations over official corruption and high unemployment, over elections riggings and nepotism. They were capable of putting to shame culturally backward and generationally disconnected political leaderships. Although it wasn't the only reason, socioeconomic malaise was certainly a motivating force for the ongoing revolt.

Despite recent economic growth in countries like Egypt, Tunisia, and to a lesser extent Morocco, there remains a huge gap between the haves and have-nots. Worse, social disparities have tremendously increased during this time of growth for the simple reason that its revenues have been so unevenly distributed among the population.

In fact, with the exception of the upper middle class, very few have effectively benefited from the liberalisation of the economy; a trend not surprisingly championed in Egypt by someone like Gamal Mubarak and in Tunisia by the entourage of Bin Ali and his in-laws in particular, presumably in conformity with the neoliberal spirit of the Washington Consensus.

In effect this absurd philosophy conspicuously epitomised by the infamous "trickle-down effect" slogan proved many times to be wrong. Indeed for many years peoples in this region have powerlessly undergone some of the worst adverse effects of the anti-social austerity measures so loudly promoted, and often imposed, by international financial institutions (IMF and World Bank) as the panacea for ailing economies; they were even being prescribed in times of boom.

Yet in the absence of safety nets for the poor, given the level of official corruption and the lack of institutional accountability, the promotion of unhinged capitalism in these countries amounted to nothing less than a giveaway of state assets to a coterie of profiteers and greed-driven speculators. Hence the boiling storm lurking under the neat surface of macroeconomic efficiency.

Tunisia, once hailed as a model of economic progress by the IMF and even the EU, struggled however during the last two years to weather the storm of the recent global recession. Its economy -- very dependent on tourism and textile export -- was harshly affected by the slowdown in Europe and Chinese competition; hence the potential popular discontent.

Despite its apparently better macroeconomic figures, Egypt didn't fare well either. How could it do so when approximately 20 per cent of its entire population has to live on less than a dollar a day and another 40 per cent is compelled to eke out a living on barely $2 a day? Algeria and Libya, despite a record windfall of petrodollars, remained wracked with the same structural problems of administrative corruption, high unemployment, widespread poverty, lack of adequate training, and bureaucratic incompetence and inefficiency.

The marginal country of Mauritania remains in many respects a virtual "basket case". It is in a way to the Maghreb region what Yemen is to the Arabian Peninsula: a politically unstable and economically vulnerable entity divided along ethnic and tribal lines, another perhaps potentially failed state in the making.

Notwithstanding the democratic veneer of its political institutions, Morocco remains in every sense an absolutist monarchy. Its economy is less robust than that of Tunisia and socio-economic disparities are much higher. To divert the attention of people from the real socio-economic problems, the ruling king continues to point the finger to the same traditional scapegoat: the secessionist rebellion of Polisario.

Brandishing the "sacrosanct" banner of territorial palace for delaying any serious demand for change.

Making ends meet is therefore a constant struggle for the average household in the region. People in the Maghreb spend over 60 per cent of their income on food staples. Yet the question is not just a question of food and basic necessities. It is more importantly, as shown by the demonstrations of Bahrainis, a matter of freedom and dignity than anything else. Thus the protest is not limited to poor- and middle- income countries because the same yearning for freedom can be heard in Kuwait.

The word revolution is very scary to those at the helms of power, but for the many living under tyranny a transformation is more than wishful thinking, it is an urgent necessity. After all, the pretext of stability so often lauded proved to be false because at the end nothing sustainable could be achieved under the burden of oppression or egregious inequity.

The scale of discontent in MENA w
as never appropriately measured nor was the potential time bomb ever detected. No one ever imagined or remotely anticipated the possibility of a Bin Ali or a Mubarak slipping out of their palaces in the dead of night. As long as oil kept flowing and a semblance of stability was there, the disparaging consequences were of no concern to the West. Yet this is only the beginning, for many more seismic poundings will rattle the Arabic fortresses of tyranny.

The obsession with political stability was not only a question of shortsightedness; it was most of all a matter of strategic miscalculation. Sooner or later, the artificial screen will crack under the weight of repression. It denotes on the part of some in the West a lack of insightful intelligence. Changing political environments all around the world couldn't go forever unnoticed by Arabs; they should have had some kind of impact on those watching from the sidelines. Their mindsets should somehow have been affected or shaped by world events.

Moreover, the power of new means of communications has been greatly under- estimated. The almost instantaneous translation by Al-Jazeera of WikiLeaks revelations marked a turning point in the media revolution taking place in the Middle East. The portion of those revelations relating to the Bin Ali regime's corruption or Mubarak's subservient tyranny have certainly had an impact on the collective psyche of Tunisians and Egyptians. It was perhaps the precursor that made possible the revolutionary uprising.

However, these upsetting changes in the region could be a boon for the US in the long run provided they are correctly understood by American policy-makers. A more vigorous American effort to empower civil institutions would certainly be a welcome development. More importantly a more serious involvement by the US to put an end to the Palestinian statelessness would undoubtedly bolster American credibility in the region and enhance the potential of regional stability.

In light of the recent American veto in the UN Security Council, that seems wishful thinking. Yet there is no doubt that a long due settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict will do more to enhance US long-term strategic interests and national security than any war on terror or overseas invasion. For the Arab masses there is an absolute consensus as regard the plight of Palestinians and the legitimacy of their historical grievances; and no peace process would be viewed as credible if it does not address the issues at the core of that problem, namely, the West Bank settlements, East Jerusalem and the return of Palestinian refugees.

Given the importance of peace between Palestinians and Israelis for the stability of the region, would the US seize this historical opportunity to solve the question or would it remain, as usual, the prisoner of narrow interests advocated by private lobbies at the expense of American national interest? That remains the key question.

Ironically, though, the Palestinian predicament has also been exploited by many Arab leaders in order to divert the attention of their peoples from the important issues of political and institutional change.

These autocratic rulers have unashamedly exploited the misery of the Palestinians in the past just as they are now invoking the specter of Islamism to stay indefinitely in power. If anything it is their despotic behaviour that nurtured in the first place the rise of radical political Islam. Their policies of exclusion undoubtedly helped increase the ranks of angry youth heading the current revolt.

If the most difficult goal, namely the removal from power of tyrants, has been achieved in Tunisia and Egypt, and is still underway in Libya, the most important thing, the establishment of democracy, remains a distant objective. It is all the more difficult when, as in the case of Egypt, the task is being entrusted to the higher brass of the military. One shouldn't harbour any illusions about the intentions of corrupt elites whose interests are much the same as those of the apparatchiks of the old system. The current unelected panel of jurists in charge of drafting a new constitution is directly overseen by the Higher Council of the Armed Forces.

Many of the basic demands of the protesters are still unfulfilled. Worse, some prominent figures of the old regime who openly resisted the demand for change and didn't hide their animosity towards the protesters, like Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul- Gheit, are unfortunately still in charge.

To be truly legitimate and ultimately viable any permanent constitutional change should be entrusted to an elected constituent assembly. People didn't die for the sake of a constitutional make-up. They wanted change, real change. They deserve no less than that considering that many of them sacrificed or were ready to sacrifice their lives for the revolution.



* The writer is a political analyst. Published in Egypt's AL AHRAM WEEKLY's March 3-9 issu

 

 

Counter-terrorism and Arab revolt

The West should not fear recent uprisings, as they address legitimate grievances.

 

by Robert L. Grenier, al jazeera

 

The fires were still smoldering in Tunisia, and violent clashes with Egyptian security forces were just beginning when I got a call from a journalist friend, the first of many such calls from reporters covering the "national security" beat in the US. "Your stomach must be in a knot," he said.

For a second, I had no idea what he meant. Far from being upset, I was overtaken with the euphoria felt by many at the sight of North African Arabs, among whom I had lived for many years, finally bestirring themselves to throw off the authoritarian shackles which had held them in thrall for so long. 

This was something I had anticipated as an imminent development beginning literally over 20 years before, and had long since begun to despair of ever seeing in my lifetime. But now, at last, here it was beginning. 

Such bravery, such discipline – in a word, such nobility – expressed by ordinary citizens in countries for which I had developed a strong affection over many years filled me with what I can only describe as a reflective pride.

But then, just as quickly, it dawned on me:  Ah, of course. As a longtime practitioner and promoter of US counter-terrorism policy, mustn't I be dismayed at the prospective loss of the allies and partners upon whose cooperation we had relied for so many years? It was a perfectly understandable presumption, and a perfectly reasonable question. And the answer, quite simply, was "no". 

My satisfaction in seeing the start of the democratic uprising now spreading with almost unimaginable speed across the Arab world was occasioned not just by my empathy for the Arabs, but upon a fundamental grasp of the true interests of my own people. 

Faustian bargins

The fact of the matter is that for those seized by the long-term struggle to deal with the scourge of terrorism in the Islamic world, the "Arab revolt" is the best possible news; and for the terrorists themselves, it is the worst that could happen.

For an American to begin to understand why, it is necessary to understand the inherent contradiction which has lain at the heart of the Faustian bargain upon which American counter-terrorism policy in much of the Arab and Muslim worlds has been built. 

Make no mistake: It is a Faustian bargain which I, myself, have embraced. Those who must take actual responsibility for the lives of those whom they have sworn to protect –  must live in the world as it is, and not as they would have it. 

In war, one must seize the help of allies where one can find them. The fact that western powers were forced to cooperate with Stalin during World War II did not make him or his regime any less odious; and the fact that the democracies subsequently had little choice but to acquiesce in their eastern ally's enslavement of Eastern Europe did not afford much comfort to the enslaved. 

A minimum requirement of decency, however, is that when one makes a bargain with the devil, one at least takes account of the moral cost in doing so.

Broader solutions

In the case of the so-called war on terror, however, the contradiction has gone even further than that. All those engaged in the struggle have recognised that mere tactical success – capturing or killing terrorists – cannot bring about a lasting solution to the problem. 

The solution to the problem of Islamically-inspired terrorism can only be provided by Muslims themselves. The long-term challenge is not posed by the terrorists – they can always be dealt with, and their Takfiri-inspired madness carries with it the seeds of its own destruction. 

The real challenge is in the latent sympathy which exists among Muslim populations for those who are at least willing to stand up for the downtrodden, the humiliated, and the dispossessed – even if their methods or their ultimate goals carry little appeal. 

It is this broad-based sympathy among some – and the ambivalence felt by many others -- which makes it difficult to isolate and eradicate those maniacally devoted to hatred and destruction, and which provides them a ready pool of new recruits.

If there is a counter to the underlying appeal of terrorism, then, it is in providing an alternative means of redressing the legitimate grievances which the terrorists exploit for their purposes. If those grievances include injustice, humiliation, and brutal repression by western-backed regimes, then the best means of countering and isolating the extremists lies in appeals to international justice, social empowerment and democratic reform. 

If the West were actually to engage in a war of ideas, to try to address the fundamental causes of resort to terrorism, it would begin by addressing its policies in these areas.

Policy over public relations

I vividly recall attending a White House meeting in 2005, organised specifically to discuss the so-called "War of Ideas," and means of countering the "terrorist narrative". 

As the senior official responsible for countering terrorism overseas, I recall having earnestly explained the importance of policy over public relations, making the case that our problems with the Muslim world were not based on some colossal misunderstanding which could be rectified with a clever public relations campaign. 

I pointed out the centrality of democratic reform for what we were trying to do, and cited the inevitable tensions which we would have to acknowledge and to manage if we were to push forward President Bush’s "freedom agenda" while trying somehow to maintain cooperative intelligence relationships with the very same repressive regimes which our democratisation policies would have to be designed, in effect, to undermine.

I recall just as vividly the blank stares with which these statements were greeted. As I look back on it now, it seems clear that the stares I solicited did not mask incomprehension: What they conveyed was active hostility. 

In the Bush White House it was forbidden to speak of "root causes" of terrorism, as this would suggest some degree of legitimacy on the part of those who should only be thought of as mindless killers. 

And as for Faustian bargains, well, no one was willing to concede that we had made one, much less attempt to manage it. It didn’t take many such encounters to demonstrate that effective US engagement in a war of ideas in the Muslim world was a non-starter. 

'War of ideas' 

To the extent that any such attempts have been made, they have been confined to bland attempts at public relations, focusing on messages that are distinctly beside the point, reflected in photos of smiling Muslim-Americans extolling the religious tolerance of their adopted country. 

And as bad as the George W. Bush administration may have been in this respect, the Obama administration, the President's smooth rhetoric notwithstanding, has arguably up to now been worse.

In fact, any American effort to engage in a "war of ideas" in the Muslim world, even if effectively waged, could and would have been of only marginal importance. 

The real counter-narrative to that of the terrorists is being seen now, in the streets of Sfax, Kasserine, Alexandria, Port Said, Benghazi and Zawiyah. 

There, and throughout the Middle East, ordinary citizens are revealing the lie which lurks at the heart of the terrorist appeal. That narrative suggests that the Muslims are condemned to a life of injustice and humiliation, that their fate is controlled by unaccountable forces, and that among those are the repressive regimes which could not exist without the support of western oppressors.

Rebuking Bin Laden

What the Arabs are demonstrating now is that they can, in fact, be the masters of their own fate; that they themselves carry the means of redressing the injustices and humiliations that have been visited upon them. 

True democratic empowerment is the best means by which the message and the tactics of the Takfiris can be rendered irrelevant.  And what is most compelling is that the Arabs and the Muslims are not being empowered by others:  They are empowering themselves.

The struggle is by no means over. Indeed, it has only fairly begun. Its logic remains to be played out in other parts of the region. 

And indeed, its promise could yet be betrayed:  Revolutions are often hijacked, and the noble sentiments behind them often suborned by opportunists who do not share the values which gave them rise. 

Still and all, it is morning again in the Arab world, redolent with the promise not just of a democratic future, but one liberated from the spectre and the fear of terrorism. 

The Osama Bin Ladens and the Ayman Zawahiris have much to fear in the current course of events. They are being relegated, precisely by those whom they would pretend lead, to the dustbin of history.

 

 

 

Robert L. Grenier is Chairman of ERG Partners, a financial advisory and consulting firm. He retired from CIA in 2006, following a 27-year career in the CIA’s Clandestine Service. Mr. Grenier served as Director of the CIA Counter-Terrorism Center (CTC) from 2004 to 2006, coordinated CIA activities in Iraq from 2002 to 2004 as the Iraq Mission Manager, and was the CIA Chief of Station in Islamabad, Pakistan before and after the 9/11 attacks.

 

 

 

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