By: Tareq Azizeh
The Media as well as some of the literature dealing with the events that have taken place during the past four years in a number of Arab countries, have persisted in calling these events the "Arab Spring." It seems that the label was intended as an approximation thereof to the wave of overwhelming popular protests witnessed by Eastern European countries during the early 1990s, following the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989; perhaps in the hope that the uprisings of the Arab peoples will also achieve what the erstwhile popular protests of East Europe had. These ended in a wave of democratic change, by means of which dictatorial regimes that were satellites of the Soviet Union tumbled, with the latter eventually following suit, and disintegrating in that same era.
The history of the "Arab Spring" began with the end of this century's first decade. The young Tunisian Mohamed Bouazizi, was slapped and insulted by a policewoman who wanted to prevent him from selling his vegetables on a pushcart in the village of Sidi Bouzid, Tunisia, under the pretext of not having a proper license. The young man tried to object and filed a complaint with the region's officials—but to no avail. In protest, he angrily doused himself in gasoline and set fire to himself, on December 17, 2010, eventually succumbing to his self-inflicted severe burns.
Bouazizi's incident did not simply pass as merely another individual protest; rather it became the spark that ignited a wave of mass protests in Tunisia, the outcome of which was to out an end to the rule of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who ignominuously fled the country on January 14, 2011, after almost a quarter of a century of absolute rule.
The Bouazizi fire did not confine itself to Tunisia, as the flames quickly spread in the Arab tinderbox. This fire came to regimes that opted not to leave power without first scorching everything in the wake of their demise. They have, through years of their own despotism, given rise to a multitude of reasons allowing an inferno to eat away their tinder-dry societies.
They have consistently claimed the futures of generations of young people, throwing them into a spiral of despair and deprivation, to the point that one young men took matters into his own hands and immolated himself, as a reaction to dictatorship and the policies of looting and exclusion these regimes have so blindly pursued. Dictatorship also has played the largest role in creating a rife environment for the blooming of a "Spring" of extremism.
It, therefore, seems completely logical to say that it is this very brand of tyranny, one of whose achievement was to found circumstances and situations of chronic obstruction and to compound the masses' despair, which peaked with Bouazizi's desperate action; is at the same moment the tyranny which continues to breed extremism and nihilism, the most pronounced forms of which one may find manifested in ISIS' al-Baghdadi's alleged "Islamic State," and Islamic Caliphate. These nihlist jihadists' criminal conduct has managed to surpass even the darkest imagination of Hollywood's proudest horror or Action moviemakers. The burning alive of the captive Jordanian pilot was nothing less than a tragic embodiment of nihilism and barbarism run amok. It also represents an expression of that ever-raging inferno, which Arab peoples had once dared to believe would bring an end to their tragedies—tragedies that will persist, so long as tyranny has not been removed.
It should also be recalled that the responsibility for its' [ISIS] heinous activities does not squarely lie with the local dictatorships alone. Western governments also share in that responsibility, as they tout their vaunted democracy and respect for "human rights;" while continuing to sponsor and protecting their retinue of the same tyrannical and plundering regimes.
Furthermore, it is also imperative to hold "sacred texts," and the "culture and heritage" they have produced responsible, for burdening Arab and Islamic peoples. They are replete with a massive reserve out of which the jihadi lunatics—of all ideological shades, bents, financiers, and agendas they serve—can readily draw support, justification, or credibility for their holy war to reinstate their own "paradise lost" of the Caliphate. Every slaughter, every slash-and-burn action, and all terrorism wholly predicates itself on the wealth of heritage buried in thousands of traditional tomes and books.
Tyranny is one and the same, regardless of the ideology behind which it attempts to hide itself. The question, therefore, remains justified: Is there really a fundamental difference between the burning of Muaz al-Kasasbeh in front of the cameras of "the Mujahideen of the Islamic State," under al-Baghdadi; and the dissolution in acid of Faraj Allah al-Helu's body at the hands of the United Arab Republic [UAE, the union state between Syria and Egypt, 1958—1961] intelligence under Gamal Abdel Nasser?
* Opinion Articles do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Radio Rozana.