Arab Spring- Winds of Change Reflections of an Arab-Canadian by Salim Rachid

The house of cards that for so long propped up the kings, queens, and jacks of the Arab world now teeters on the precipice of a period of profound uncertainty and probable cataclysm. The new battle line of this asymmetrical war between the people and their state is Syria; it is anyone’s guess what country is next in line. Elsewhere in the region, autocrats, their minions and vigilantes, wistfully nostalgic of their past days of unbounded command, eye the streets with great suspicion, fully aware that any “subversion” might indeed be a point of no return, for the winds of change only ever blow in one direction.

This phenomenon we call the ‘Arab Spring’ is as much the product of a vast awakening and mass revelation of the people as it is of the blatant excesses of paranoid regimes, their cult of fear, and their relentless onslaught of conspiracies and half-baked truths. These uprisings are the peoples’ way of saying “enough!” to the empty promises, saccharine speeches, and deceitful smiles of megalomaniac leaders and their shadow regimes. As the opposition knows too well, the art of asymmetrical warfare is not about inflicting damage but provoking response. Following from this, governments in Syria, Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Bahrain, Yemen, and elsewhere dug their own graves the moment they were provoked onto the streets. Governments have been drawn into a dangerous game in which they are the eventual losers from day one. Those that have succeeded in subduing the protests are only delaying the inevitable change that will come sooner or later.

Watching this phantasmagoria of horror unfold, we ought not to be fooled by claims that the Arab Spring could have been eluded. A hidden revolution in the Arab world was in the making long before the events in Tunisia that set it in motion. The only difference now is that governments have the audacity to kill their citizens out in the open and in plain daylight, rather than secretly as they had done before, within the walls of interior ministries, police stations, and prisons. Sadly, peaceful political evolution was and remains a luxury that was never afforded to our part of the world. The people of the region stood at a crossroads in 2010: to live in the darkness of tyranny and daily humiliation or die in the light of revolution and a promise for greater freedom. It is the latter road, the one less traveled, that we find ourselves on today. Revolutions are never linear and always messy; they follow no logic, equation, or formula. Though the freedom we fight for today might prove to be ephemeral tomorrow, though despots might be replaced by ochlocrats, and stifling stability may give way to anarchy, change must sometimes happen for its own sake.


Salim Rachid

Salim Rachid is the Chair of the Couchiching Conversations & Roundtables. 


The Couchiching Institute on Public Affairs invites opinions and commentary about public affairs issues by various thought leaders, members, and individuals to be presented on our blog. Opinions expressed on the Couchiching Institute Blog are solely those of the writer and not of the Institute.

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