The Daily Demarche
Wednesday, February 23, 2005
You say you want a revolution?
Hello all! I've been tied up for the last few days and had to ask Smiley to shoulder the load, so thanks Smiley and of course to all of you for reading and commenting and especially for linking to us. This was a big week here at the Demarche, we hit 100,000 on the site meter and "evolved" again in the TTLB Ecosystem. We hope you are all enjoying this as much as we are! And now on with the show...

You say you want a revolution
Well you know
We all want to change the world ~ The Beatles

The events in Lebanon over the last few weeks have been astounding to witness. The assassination of former PM Hariri has unified the anti-Syrian populace, and brought together disparate portions of the Arab population in the region like nothing before. As one protestor phrased it:

"It is the beginning of a new Arab revolution," argues Samir Franjieh, one of the organizers of the opposition. "It's the first time a whole Arab society is seeking change -- Christians and Muslims, men and women, rich and poor."

I have no doubt that the murder of Hariri provided an excellent focal point for the long-suffering people of Lebanon. But it takes more than focus to convince people to unite and face a very real threat. It takes hope. And where, pray tell, did hope come from for the Lebanese? Read on:

"It's strange for me to say it, but this process of change has started because of the American invasion of Iraq," explains Jumblatt. "I was cynical about Iraq. But when I saw the Iraqi people voting three weeks ago, 8 million of them, it was the start of a new Arab world." Jumblatt says this spark of democratic revolt is spreading. "The Syrian people, the Egyptian people, all say that something is changing. The Berlin Wall has fallen. We can see it."

As the President visits Europe this week, this is the message that he and his team should be spreading. Things are changing. The static malaise that has shrouded the Middle East for so long is being shaken off. Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya (sort of) and now Lebanon, which can only have a trickle down effect on Syria and then Iran. As the president has said so often, freedom is on the march.

Of course there are those in the ME who oppose this idea, and in fact go so far as to equate the new liberals in the Arab world with the terrorists who have held the region down for decades:

"… The Arab arena has recently experienced a new group of extremists [who are] more dangerous to the Arabs than the fanatic fundamentalists. [There are] few differences between the old and new kinds [of extremists]: the new [extremists] do anything they want throughout the world, and gain respect and esteem, while the other kind hide in caves in Afghanistan and languish in the darkness of the jails; the first [kind] wear new suits and Western clothes, [while] the old [kind] are clad in Arab robes, Afghan clothes, and hats. In addition, [the second kind grow] long beards, while the new extremists are clean-shaven."

As the peoples of the world struggle to move forward those who would oppress them for their own gain, or out of race hatred, remain stuck in the past. From a recent Hizbollah rally:

Hassan Nasrallah: "We consider it [America] to be an enemy because it wants to humiliate our governments, our regimes, and our peoples. Because it is the greatest plunderer our treasures, our oil, and our resources, while millions in our nation suffer unemployment, poverty, hunger, unmarriagability, ignorance, darkness, and so on. America… This American administration is an enemy. Our motto, which we are not afraid to repeat year after year, is: 'Death to America.'"

Crowd: "Death to America"
"Death to America"
"Death to America"
"Death to America"
"Death to America"
"Death to America"

The last time there was this much flux in the ME and we heard chants like that we lost an Embassy in Iran. Today we read about blogs in Iran, and the growing support for freedom of expression. With a median age of 23.5 years and a majority of the population under 30, today’s youth in Iran are a far cry from the generation that stormed the gates in 1979. According to Der Spiegel:

They watch TV from all over the world, even though satellite connections are illegal, download pop music from the internet, and order banned American movies from overseas relatives. They drink alcohol. And their drug parties are no less wild than those in Berlin or New York.Tehran lives with every extreme. Drugs, AIDS and prostitution have become a mass phenomenon in a country that likes to see itself as a model for the Islamic world.

In short, they are fed up with the mullahcrocy. They are ready for a revolution, but for one ingredient. Hope. We know they are watching TV, and listening to the radio, and surfing the net. If the MSM truly wants the Bush administration to avoid bloodshed in Iran (or at least American lead bloodshed) they can help by getting out the message: your wall has fallen. Arabs are ready for democracy, and the world will support you.

The conditions for revolution in Iran are ripe. If the rest of the world, and particularly the moderate Arab world, can supply hope, we might yet see a democratic miracle in Iran. This is the challenge for diplomats around the world, and the clock is ticking.

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dé·marche 1) A course of action; a maneuver. 2) A diplomatic representation or protest 3) A statement or protest addressed by citizens to public authorities.

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