Global Security Headlines

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The #MidEast Ablaze

While Global Security Monitor prepares a more thorough review of the Middle East in Mubarak's wake, we offer an interim note.

From Morocco to Af-Pak, an arc of fire consumes the old order of the Middle East.

The diverse region of Arab monarchs and despots will forever be changed by the so-called Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia. Its ramifications rattle the brittle regimes with scant legitimacy to govern.

A new Middle East is emerging with each shift in the political sands of a storied region wracked by religious warfare, economic despair, and shattered dreams of the angry youth raging in the Arab Street.

Brittle Regimes
Despite their vaunted security apparatus, secret police, and strong-arm rule, in the end, the fall of former  ''President'' Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali of Tunisia and ''President'' Hosni Mubarak of Egypt seemed anti-climatic.

Ali, 71, and Mubarak, 82, held in check more radical elements in their respective countries as long as possible. The brittle rule of the old men was clearly out of step of the needs and desires of the Arab Street and they paid the ultimate price by those who rule by force.

The shock waves of their collapse continue to undermine regional autocrats.

Falling Dominoes
When will the last domino fall?

Morocco. Algeria. Libya. Yemen. Jordan. Bahrain. Monarchs and dictators face the ire of their people. The thirst for freedom is innate in the human soul amid a world where slavery is the norm.

Zany Colonel Khadafy of Libya appears ready to fight to the bitter end. Unlike Tunisia and Egypt, the Libyan strongman has no compunction for using the full weight of the military against the people.

The defection to Malta of the two air force colonels who refused to do so gives little relief. Reports of other planes bombing the people demonstrated yet some loyalty to the regime.

The expected return of a key opposition leader to Bahrain cannot redound positively for the rulers on the tiny oil kingdom in the Persian Gulf as a tug-of-war between Saudi Arabia and Iran plays out.

Algerian strongman Abdelaziz Bouteflika has thus far staved off the ''Egyptian effect,'' but it is  yet not clear he can resist the demands from the Street for an end to his authoritarian rule and miserable living conditions.

It is difficult to determine just when the dominoes will stop falling.

Economic Consequences
MENA (Middle East and North Africa) is home to the world's largest proven oil reserves.

Like a full goblet of wine, the slightest jolt in political, economic, and social events in the region and it spills out and prices soar.

The world economic recovery is fragile pressured by the spike in commodity prices and now the surge in oil threatening to undercut any gains made.

Who fills the vacuum?
When dictators fall, the strongest and most organized opposition group has the best shot of claiming the mantle to lead.

In many cases in the regimes that are on the brink in the MENA, Islamist fascists are poised to bring order to the resulting chaos.

Speculation about ''democracy'' in countries who have only known repression and misrule is only happy talk. Only Israel has managed a Western-style pluralist government with legitimate consent of the governed.

The potential for mal-actors to exploit the power vacuums emerging in the breakdown of the previous dictatorial orders is great. GSM explores the winners and losers in its coming examination of the phenomenon occurring the region today.

Final Words
The fear of the strongman dictating the course of affairs in individual Arab countries is over. Those lucky to survive the current wave of opposition must reform or flee.

The rage in the Arab Street has steadily built among the delusions of the dysfunctional society in each of the afflicted countries.

High unemployment, squalid living conditions, and broken dreams despite the wealth of the country and/or its despotic leader fueled the wave of opposition to the older Middle East order.

Stir in a liberal dose of Islamist fascism, nuclear ambitions of Iran and Syria, a Pakistan moving closer to implosion, and a notable decline in US influence, it is not difficult for a dispassionate observer to see more upheaval in a  region that plays a significant role in the world economy as long as oil is its lifeblood.

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