“After so many years of political stagnation, we were left with choices between the bad and the worse,” said Fadel Shallak, a Lebanese writer and a former government minister. “Now there’s something happening in the Arab world. A collective voice is being heard again.”
The unrest is indeed grassroots but it is not the sort of movement that wants to mimic Western democracies, but wants out of the tyrannies they are now experiencing. These shifts could change the global international relations in significant ways.
The changes may have deep repercussions for the United States. Mouin Rabbani, an analyst in Jordan, said economic frustrations mirrored resentment at governments perceived as agents of the United States and its allies. In fact, a more democratic Arab world, given recent polling, is likely to be much more hostile to American policy.
But the preoccupation now is internal….
And this is not Islam vs. the West, but it is the recovery of a common Arab heritage and identity. But what happens in Egypt will determine the immediate future of the Middle East’s pervasive unrest.
For the first time in a generation, it is not religion, nor the adventures of a single leader, nor wars with Israel that have energized the region. Across Egypt and the Middle East, a somewhat nostalgic notion of a common Arab identity, intersecting with a visceral sense of what amounts to a decent life, is driving protests that have bound the region in a sense of a shared destiny.
“The experience of Tunisia will remain the guiding light for Egypt and may be so for people in Yemen, Sudan and the rest of the Arab world looking for change, with a readiness to accept risk, especially given that even the worst possibilities are better than the status quo,” Talal Salman, the editor of Al Safir, wrote on Friday.
A chant in Egypt put it more bluntly, playing on the longstanding chants of Islamists that “Islam is the solution.” “Tunisia,” they shouted, “is the solution.”