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Unrest and revolution in the Arab world....Europe is cheering but....
by Christos Mouzeviris
2011-03-04 09:35:21
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For the past few weeks we've seen an amazing expression and desire of ordinary people throughout the Arab World, for democracy and prosperity. One by one, people in countries in North Africa and the Middle East rise, protest and even managed to overthrow regimes that have been established for decades. From Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt and now Bahrain, Libya and Yemen we watch pictures and videos of a real revolution that is taking in the Arab world! And about time too, many will say!

The region has been ruled by totalitarian regimes for decades, plagued by corruption and lacking of any progress, freedom, prosperity and jobs. Many of the region's citizens were migrating to Europe, and this status quo seemed to be unchangeable. Our leaders did business with the leaders of the region and perhaps even supported them. It possibly suited them this fine political balance that favored everyone but the people of the region.

Suddenly we witness an uprising in the Arab world. And while the European media feast on the news that come from those countries and the European public are watching fascinated by them, our leaders remain observant. What is going on? Are they afraid that they may be next? Could such mass uprising ever happen in Europe? Are they unsettled by the change of the status in those countries? Are they just observing to see the outcome, or even possibly the revolution was initiated and manipulated by the western or other powers exactly for the reason to destabilize the region? But what for? Why now? Why not so many decades before?

Europe and the world is gripped by an ongoing crisis. Most European countries suffer still from the recession and we witnessed two Euro-zone countries receiving a bail out from the IMF, and many more EU and non EU European countries having already received loans from it. People in Italy are protesting against their ruling elite demanding the resignation of PM Berlusconi. In Greece, Iceland,Ireland and many eastern European states we saw protests over the economic crisis, the cuts, the IMF loans and the oppression of the working force. In Belgium recently the people are protesting over the failure of their leaders to (eventually) get it together and form a Government. So Europe at the moment is not a very different place to be. What fascinates us though is that in North Africa people have actually managed to oust their leaders and their Governments!

How different Europe is? Don't we have well established political elites that rule us since the WW2 too? The fact that we do not have them in the form of juntas or regimes like the one in Libya, I guess comes down to the history of decolonization in Northern Africa. When the European powers left the region, they helped those regimes be established and this lasted until now. Europe always meddled with the affairs of this region. The question is, who is behind all this, and why now? Recessions came and went in the past but the Arabs did not protest as passionately. I just hope that this is for the best of the people of those countries, and they will get the freedom and democracy that they are fighting for.

It is inspirational what is happening right now in the southern coast of the Mediterranean  and beyond.When it was the last time that we saw people seizing power? What impact this will have to Europe and us? So far we only see a rise of illegal immigrants from the region coming to Europe. Is there anything else that we need to take note of? I have read recently an article on the British PM David Cameron stating that multiculturalism has failed in Europe, echoing the German Chancellor's Merkel similar remarks about a year ago. The remarks came soon after protests of the far right in Britain against the spread of Islam in the UK. In fact all three main European Powers' leaders (Cameron, Merkel, Sarkozy) made the same remarks recently. So where are we heading?

If Europe is turning against its multiculturalism agenda then what next for Europe's Muslims? Perhaps the riots and democratization of the Arab world is coming on the right time? For decades the region was dipped in poverty, deprivation and emigration into Europe. Now with the establishment of new political elites will this trend continue, or will we see a total change in the region and their economies among other things? Will this change continue further to issues that concern Europe, the relations between the two regions and their traditional approach? Is it by chance that we see a constant change in the Euro-Mediterranean area in all aspects from social to financial, foreign to energy, immigration to employment policies? Take Greece for example in Europe and the social and political changes that took place there after the IMF loan.

We are living in exciting and challenging times, perhaps even more than when the Berlin wall fell and Europe reunited. The changes that will follow will perhaps not only affect Europe, but North Africa, Middle East and all the near regions. We must be vigilant and careful. I will repeat that my sincere hopes are for the best of the people affected.

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