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Sunday, 30 January 2011

Arab World in Revolt?

It could be the start of something much bigger. Tunisia went up in flames first, Libya, the next door neighbour is probably coming to a slow boil and could erupt if Gadafi slips, Egypt has erupted, the Palestinians blame Israel for their woes, but can't get their own act together and the Iranian Regime is said to be fomenting rebellion in Yehmen, Oman, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq and aiming at Saudi Arabia ...

While it is commonly believed in the West that all these places are filled with fanatical Muslims, the truth is probably a little different. Almost all of them are governed by one form of Autocracy or another. In nearly every case, corruption is rampant, and the Mullahs and fanatics exploit the frustrations, hopes and ambitions of those who aren't benefitting from the gravy train. So these eruptions of civil unrest may be the first glimmer of an indication of something bigger in prospect, a collapse of the current "Arab Hegemony" of the Muslim world.

I suspect it will happen in two parts, first, the current crop of autocrats will be swept aside and replaced by a new crop of Theocratic Dictators like Iran's. Eventually the religious restrictions on freedom of expression, choice and belief will come under attack as it has in the West - and then Islam will find itself being rolled aside and perhaps even rejected by its natural followers. But before then, we are in for a very explosive, dangerous and bitter transition.

And sadly, faiths of all sorts will be blamed...

2 comments:

  1. I wonder upon what you base your conclusions. I am not as hopeful.

    Christendom had a 600 year start on Islam, and the rot started with Protestantism in Germany about 500 years ago, then a major blow was England decamping from the clutches of Holy Mother the Church.

    The difference is Christendom had a central authority controlling a hierarchical network of bishops,priests, princes, kings, which crossed borders, Islam does not.

    In Christendom people did not rebel against the ideology, nor their local rulers but against the central authority, the Church of Rome, its monopoly on religious ideology and its corruption.

    Local rulers distanced themselves from the religious authorities whose power diminished.

    Protestantism introduced the concept of self-reliance, individual responsibility and thought,and enlightened self-interest, rather than reliance on a central autocracy which discouraged individuality and encouraged the notion that a simplistic life of low means was virtuous, desires for education and upward mobility a sin.

    I do not see that happening in Islamic countries, nor are they united against a single authority.

    Pakistan, for example, has actually gone from emerging democracy 60 years ago to a closed religious autocracy and shit-hole, having taken Afghanistan with it.

    I do see us making the reverse journey in the West as the EU takes over from where Holy Mother the Church left off a few centuries ago.

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  2. I agree with much of what you say here, however, the first stage of this 'revolt' will move them toward a 'theocratic' form of autocracy such as that visible in Iran - and contrary to the ideal that Islam has no "central authority" this is precisely what is emerging in the form of the leadership of the Mullahs.

    It is my belief that things will get much worse in the Islamic/Arab world as they revolt against their present crop of autocrats and then find themselves held in thrall by the Mullahs who take very much the same view as the medieval Roman authority did - poor is good for you and minimal education is good for us. This is already beginning to backfire in Iran and will do so in other coutries - it was one of the drivers in Tunisia and Egypt has an even larger educated population. So does Libya and the Saudis probably have a better education/literacy rate than the English. The example of Pakistan and Afghanistant is a good one, but here we must accept some of the blame. Our interventions during the Cold War armed the terrorists and taught them that power comes from the barrel of a gun. This is true in Africa as well where the major powers fought their 'war' using surrogates and insurgents. We are now reaping the 'benefit' of that.

    Iran currently funds the terror group Hamas and the dissidents in Yemen and several other states around Saudi and possibly the active groups in Saudi itself. They have both religious and ideological reasons for wanting to overthrow the Saudi Kingdom and a longer goal is to deprive the west of access to oil.

    That said, I have many friends in that part of the world and from them I learn that the influence of the Mullahs is no longer as attractive to many of the younger folk as it was. Access to education and to the internet has allowed them to see that the "enemy" isn't as bad as they are told and in fact enjoy a standard of living and a freedom of choice they want for themselves. My Iranian friends all - privately - rail against the restrictions on their choices inposed by the "Supreme Leader" of the Shia Clergy and watch with mounting anger as these "clergy" indulge in the amassing of wealth and property while telling the "believers" they are furthering the "Will of God."

    This is one of the reasons I can see the current troubles in the Middle East leading first to a Theocracy (The return to Libya of a banned radical cleric shows an almost deja vu parallel with the return of Khomeni to Iran) and then, a slow revolution turning against the imposition of restrictions and "Religious Police" charged with keeping everyone "faithful." It is starting to backfire in Iran, there are under currents in Saudi and already in many British cities the young second and thrid generation Mulims are showing signs of paying "lipservice" only to their elders and Mullahs.

    As you say, Islam is roughly 600 years behind Christianity - it is, in fact Arian Gnosticism - and though it isn't structured on the same lines as the Roman Church was in the 1500s, it does have a religious caste and leadership and they will be the ones who will be targetted when the populace eventually turn on the impositions of that clergy.

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