Friday, February 11, 2011


February 9, 2011

By Janvier T. Chando

As the world watches the manifestation of “Peoples’ Power” (PP) in the Greater Middle East, the question that dominates is---How far would it go? Would it be like Eastern Europe between 1989-1990 when undemocratic leftist regimes were brought down, ushering in a new era of freedom, reforms, economic liberalization, liberal democracy and integration with the rest of Europe; or would the rumblings in the Middle East produce anarchy and provide a fertile ground for the emergence of barbaric regimes like post-shah Iran, Hamas-controlled Gaza in the Palestinian territories, post-Siad-Barre Somalia or post-Najibulla Afghanistan?

Whatever the outcome, the region will never be the same again. In a region where the myth of a strong man justifies political repression, economic stagnation, religious intolerance, the failure to embrace progress and modernity, the cultivation of myths that are out of touch with reality and where an external enemy must always be found to blame for the peoples’ miseries; the feet and voices in the streets come as a welcome relief.

Whether we like it or not, the chaos in the streets is producing positive change that the dictatorial Islamists, pro-Western regimes and anti-western regimes can not stop. The peoples’ voices will never be taken for granted again. It is against this backdrop that The Muslim Brotherhood is shy about advocating a radical agenda of seizing power for itself in Egypt and why fundamentalists were left in the cold in Tunisia.

Never again would a dictator impose himself on the Tunisian people for more than a decade. Never would an absolute Monarchy in Morocco deny the people their basic rights and freedom, and never would presidents impose their sons on their nations as successors after their deaths. That means Assad would have to leave either honorably or otherwise.  The mullahs in Iran would have to give power back to the people or lose their people and give their interpretation of the religion a bad name.  The Gulf States would have to implement social and political reforms to march their economic progress and even Saudi Arabia would have to stop treating its people like clueless children. The other Maghreb states and the rest of the region need to move with the positive wing of change or else find themselves swept by it.

It is against the backdrop of a progressive and tolerant Middle East emerging from the current uncertainty that the Big Powers should revise their policies on treating other dictatorships in the rest of the world. Corrupt anti-people dictatorships abound in Africa. Paul Biya of Cameroon otherwise known as the crafter of the best election-rigging machinery in the world has been in power for twenty nine years, supported in his stay by his French masters. He would practice his election-rigging art again in October of 2011. Others like him thrive in central, west and southern Africa. Only with the dismantling of these regimes will there be economic and democratic progress in these regions.

Strong voices are emerging to facilitate this process of democracy. The progressive world should not fail to take sides with these advocates of democracy and freedom when the moment arrives. They are the African continent’s only bargain with the future.

 Janvier T. Chando is an author and political writer.