The Middle East and the North Africa are on fire. The Tunisia’s revolt was swiftly followed by the toppling of Mubarak in Egypt. Both rulers ought to count their blessings as they were just lucky to come out of it with their lives. Is Gaddafi going to be as lucky when Libyans celebrate his demise, oh, about a week from now? And what about the Asad dynasty in Syria? Jordan loves their king, but just look at what happened in Bahrain last week: the monarchy lost all the popular support they used to enjoy when they misjudged the situation and sent troops to the Pearl roundabout to shoot water canons, gas canisters, rubber bullets and live rounds into the crowds gathering there. The demonstrators were just hoping for some changes. Now, they are are calling for their royal heads.
As I write these lines I hear of a massacre taking place on the streets of Tripoli, after Benghazi was taken over by the protesters yesterday. Curly Colonel is probably busy wiring his ill-gotten fortune to Lichtenstein or the Caiman Islands, while his son Saif feebly attempts to control the damage by putting a spin on the events, lying about the casualties, and warning of the civil war looming on the horizon unless status quo is maintained. It seems that nobody can put this genie back in the box, though. There’s writing on the wall and it says: Gaddafi, enough out of you!
In Kuwait, the people are taking to the streets as well. That country’s situation seems much more complex than Egypt’s as sectarian differences lie at the heart of most issues. Even the tiny Djibouti hopes for a long overdue regime change. Yemen’s government hangs on by a thread as well.
Rallies are rocking Rabat and Marakesh in Morocco where the king was asked to control corruption more effectively and to give up some of his power, and in Algiers, the Algerian capital, the human rights groups are on the streets in full force.
The Emiratis are watching BBC, CNN, Al Jazeera, and Al Arabiya with a baited breath these days, I’m sure. And so are the Saudis. Even though there’s talk of forming a caliphate in the Middle East, it is not likely that the Wahhabi flavor of Islam will be the favored one. There are no crowds on the streets of Dubai or Riyadh yet, but as entrenched corrupt tyrants fall one by one, the rest of the sheikhs, kings, and emperors must not feel like they are sitting pretty. It may be just a matter of time for them to be looking for safe haven elsewhere on the planet.
You can piss off some of the people some of the time, but not all of the people all the time. For the Middle East turmoil is nothing new as these countries have been a powder keg since World War II, with only brief intervals of relative calm. One doesn’t need a crystal ball to see that big changes are coming to the area and that the so-called superpowers will need to come up fast with policies adjusted for the new scenarios that are evolving as we speak.
The question of the day seems to be: who’s next? If I was a gambler, I’d place my bet on Muammar Al-Gaddafi of Libya. Good riddance, too!
An update: Gaddafi was killed 8 months later, on October 20, 2011.