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  • On Bidding Farewell To A Historic Year
    Tue, 27 December 2011
    Elias Harfoush

    The end of a year prompts us to make comparisons, especially if it is the type of year that eventually turns into a historic one. In this sense, 2011 was a historic year by excellence, not only because it was the year of the Arab Spring – which is not a minor thing – but also because the Arabs, for the first time since a long while, can pride themselves in being the exporters of the dreams of change to other places on earth, places that should have served as examples for them. Thus, the breeze of the Arab Spring infiltrated the streets of London, Athens, Madrid, Moscow, and even Tel Aviv. It also went all the way to Wall Street where the tents that were erected to host the protestors against economic monopolization, financial corruption, and the unjust differences in taxation were replicas of the tents of the Arab liberation arenas although the slogans were different.

    Time Magazine, through its annual tradition, went as far as to select the heroes of these protests all over the world, as the figure of the passing year. The magazine did not highlight the fact that the differences between the demands of the protestors in Europe, USA and the Arab world were different; and the fact that the fate awaiting them in the face of the security forces was also different. Indeed, some protestors might go to the police station at most, while others are threatened to go to their grave. But still, something is pushing these protestors, most of whom are not thirty yet, to go out and protest. Modern communication means are credited for the organization of protests and the facilitation of the access to slogans. However, the largest credit must be given to those who were using these means, i.e. the youth themselves. Hope in a better future pushed these youths to confront oppression in order to achieve their dreams, although many of them knew that they might not benefit from the realization of these demands because they could pay their own blood as a price to achieve their slogans.

    When reviewing the year 2011, one is compelled to compare it to the events of the year 1989. This is not only because of the similarity between the collapse of the Berlin wall back then and the collapse of the Arab wall of fear this year; but also because of the repercussions of the earthquake caused by the collapse of the Soviet Union on the entire socialist structure and the entire international relationships, and also because of the effect of the surprise caused by that earthquake on all the observers, including those who pretend to be well aware of the internal structure of that system. There was also a major surprise in front of the collapse of the Arab regimes and the exceptional surge of the Arab youth in order to confront the killing and oppression machines that the regimes used in order to maintain their long lives. Who would have imagined that the streets of Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Yemen, and of course Syria would see the events that we have and still are witnessing this year?

    But, what is to come after this courage that was expressed by the Arab youth in the face of their governments’ oppression? The streets of the Russian cities or Eastern Europe did not see the same amount of blood that we are currently seeing in the Arab streets. The cost of moving from dictatorship to democracy was not a hefty one in those countries the way it is in the Arab countries where the revolutions are taking place. That shift had succeeded because of the western European support of the colored revolutions of Eastern Europe. In addition, the organizing political institutions – including unions and parties – were ready to win in the voting ballots, which is something that the revolting Arab youths do not have. Indeed, these youths are capable of announcing “what they do not want;” but they do not have the sufficient organization to ask for and to impose “what they want.”

    The best proof to the importance of that western support to Eastern Europe is the events that are currently taking place in Russia, which lacks this support. The Russian youth today are back to having the same dreams that another generation had had twenty years earlier. The Russian youth are now taking out again, to call for confronting corruption and election fraud. The voice of Mikhail Gorbachev – who buried the Soviet Union with the hoe of the “Glasnost” – is now calling on Vladimir Putin to listen to the voices of the protestors in the Russian cities and to step down from the “throne” of the Kremlin.

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