Monday, April 30, 2012

Fall of the Middle Eastern Leaders

The Arab League Combats violence in Syria
In recent weeks the Arab League has met to discuss Syria. But everyone’s discussing Syria, and it’s not so much who they’re discussing as where they’re discussing it: Iraq. This is the first such summit that has been held in this contentious country in over two decades. The irony is not lost on the outside world, as countries like Algeria, Iran, Egypt, Libya, Sudan, Yemen and many more—composing 21 in total—work to relieve the violent repression meted out upon Syrians by Assad, and call for civilian groups “to unify its ranks and prepare…to enter into serious dialogue (with the regime) to achieve the democratic life which is demanded by the Syrian people”. Did we really just hear that right? “The democratic life”? What happened to the brutal, authoritarian regimes that defined the majority of the Middle East just half a decade ago? Well, they fell.
            But why?
            Gaddafi enacted economic policies that boosted revenue and instituted polices that hiked the countries literacy rate up eighty percent, increased the life expectancy twenty years, established equal rights, provided fresh water to the country and even eliminated Libya’s extensive debt.
A young Gadaffi inspired hope in his people and enacted
incredible reforms
            Mubarak extended Egyption economic power through the use of privatization and support of selling shares to the public sector. He also looked to enact peaceful reform and opposed the invasion of Iraq and continually worked to provide a peaceful solution between Israel and Palestine.
            Ben Ali, of Tunisia, tripled his country’s GDP in less than thirty years, fought poverty and worked extensively to follow a moderate foreign policy plan, enhance tourism and sustain agricultural production.
            The point is, none of these three former leaders began their career with fear tactics and despotic rule in mind. Their initial reforms were wildly successful, but despite these achievements, they all failed to provide the basic democratic needs their people craved. Nothing could be substituted for this primal need: not economic opportunities, not gender or racial equalities, and so as their rules extended, and the problems magnified through the necessity to maintain power with more military force, they were all ousted.
Gadaffi was eventually killed by his
own people for his brutal repression
            A year after the Revolutions and these newly-reformed countries work to spread their idealistic concepts of freedom to Syria—a country whose current conflicts are quite similar to those of Egypt and Libya. Piece by piece, the legacy left by these Middle Eastern leaders is being replaced by a Western style of thinking.
            Mubarak has long abandoned his post and lives in Sharm el-Sheikh, Ben Ali resides in Saudi Arabia and Gadaffi is dead, stabbed and shot by his own people. Three parallel stories of power and corruption. Yet despite all they good that they did, the one thing these leaders opposed, is the one thing that these countries will soon be known to stand for: democracy.

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