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A New Deal for Arab People

In recent years the Arab lands have been reduced to a uniform discourse, which well suited those in America such as Bernard Lewis who tried to convince their political masters that a clash of civilisations between the West and Islam was inevitable. However, over the past twelve months a series of revolts recast the map of the Middle East. When the revolts in Tunisia and Egypt started, many Western commentators failed to understand how young Arabs peacefully managed to overthrow well-entrenched dictators such as Ben Ali and Mubarak. Their initial reactions fitted into a broader collective spirit of Orientalism, which long gave up hope on Arab societies ever joining contemporary trends towards democratization. It was not Islam or poverty that provoked the uprisings – it was the crushing humiliation that had deprived the majority of the Arabs who are under the age of thirty of the right to assert control over their own lives.

A New Deal for Arab People
Arab regimes may be starting to pay attention to the sentiments and values of their own people.

The anger of the damned is with us once more: the fall and subsequent disappearance of Muammar Gaddafi caps a tumultuous twelve months during which a series of Arab revolts has recast the map of the Middle East. Regimes in Tunisia and Egypt have been ejected by their own people 
– and the same goes for Libya with massive economic and military help from Qatar and a NATO backed-military operation. Other tyrannies in Syria and Yemen are fighting for survival but the intervention of the Arab League, for decades a monument to immobility and irrelevance, in Damascus suggests that we may be witnessing “the first tangible impact of the Arab uprisings, citizens revolts and revolutions on those Arab elites that still control most governments in the region. Arab regimes may be starting to pay attention to the sentiments and values of their own people, who reject the killings of civilians that has taken place in Syria since March.”1 In Bahrain the minority Sunni rule against a Shia majority has been maintained with Saudi support at the cost of much blood; Morocco, Algeria and Jordan have so far emerged more or less unscathed but predicting what the future holds in store for them is hazardous. In Tunisia a revolution is in the making, in Egypt it looks unlikely the army will surrender its dominant role in security and economic affairs.

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