No one knows how things will turn out in Tunisia now that the people have forced their president to resign. There is unrest in Yemen, Jordan, Syria, Iran, and protests planned across the Middle East.
Here is the importance of all these protests, rebellions or whatever you want to label them: it is the people who are causing the change. It is important to note the use of social networking tools, but the really important thing to note is that the change is not being pushed upon these people by the United States, the West, or some outside forces. These changes are being led by the people.
Western foreign policy and especially that of the United States has been one of forcibly imposing democracy upon nations when they no longer had a use for the government of said nation. Iraq has been a perfect example of American foreign policy. America was allied with Saddam Hussein when it was in their best interest against Iran, but once Saddam decided to defy the West’s larger plan, he became a threat and was deposed. America then installed a government that was pro-USA. In the meantime, Western governments keep dictators like Mubarak in place because they are our dictators, or to quote Rudy Giuliani in a recent CNN interview, “You have dictators, and you have dictators.”
Since the protests began in Egypt, you may have noticed that Western governments have been reluctant to come out on one side or the other until the violence began. Western governments are having a hard time with the idea that the people of these regions could be calling the shots, which is hypocritical. Who are we to tell others how to run their country or how their path to the future should lay? America fought Britain for its own path to “freedom,” and it has had ups and downs. Canada negotiated its democracy, but most nations did not see democracy as an instant result of any revolution or convention. Democracy cannot be imposed. It is something that grows.
What we are witnessing in Tunisia, Egypt and the Middle East is the foundation of the people’s own form of government. It may not come right away. Extremists may highjack it, but at the end of the day the people have realized that they have a voice and with that voice they have power to make change. When any group is empowered it finds that it can make change.
Democracy is a living thing that should be nurtured. It takes the people’s involvement to ensure its development. The people of Egypt and the Middle East are laying the foundation of democratic reform in the region. It may not come as a direct result of the unrest in the region, but it will come because the people have realized that they are the power. The government, no matter how brutal or how strong its grip is, cannot hold on if the people are determined to throw off the chains of oppression.