Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Arab Counter-Spring distracts from the authentic desires of the Middle East

We are seeing the other side of the Arab Spring movement of last year.  This is the “counter Spring”.  I note, however, that these actors in the Middle East are all, I think, men.  Compare the picture attached to the New York Times article on demonstrations in Yeman with the statement by a young woman in Yemen a year ago.  

This woman was appealing for American help in protecting the movement for democracy there.  
In that case, the crowd behind her included a number of women, and she spoke in impeccable English.  

I am prepared to believe that this young woman, whose name will surely never be known, represents the genuine longings of young people in the Middle East.  What I fear is that such individuals will give up and leave – escape to the States or Europe. That would mean that as usual the nations of the Middle East will be run by the most conservative and defensive elements of the society.  And mostly men [as in the NYTimes picture].  Something needs to happen to force the leadership of these countries to listen to the heartfelt appeals of these young people.  

The Middle East has not changed:  the hope for democracy has not died.  But this society is now, as it was a year ago, sharply divided.  What we see now is the attempts of a few, again, to co-opt September 11 as a vehicle of refusal.  It is reactive and defensive.  Lets hope Egypt and Yemen will join the Libyans in punishing such lawless behavior. 

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