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Popular Uprising: Eve of the End of Era of Domination and Transition to New World Order (Part XIII and final )

Egypt’s journey over the past half century is a common denominator of the current popular uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East, as elucidated in the previous series of articles.  Accordingly, it was spelt out that mismanagement that gave rise to the culture of corruption and plunder, an economic order that benefit only a handful of internal and external exploiters, dependency that paralyzed military capacity and political servitude that undermined national dignity are the main causes of the uprising.  This article would highlight the prevailing state of instability in the majority of African and Middle East countries, as well as others.

Part XIII and final

Egypt’s journey over the past half century is a common denominator of the current popular uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East, as elucidated in the previous series of articles.  Accordingly, it was spelt out that mismanagement that gave rise to the culture of corruption and plunder, an economic order that benefit only a handful of internal and external exploiters, dependency that paralyzed military capacity and political servitude that undermined national dignity are the main causes of the uprising.  This article would highlight the prevailing state of instability in the majority of African and Middle East countries, as well as others.

Family-based politics: One of the major causes of instability

Before outlining the nature of family-based politics in many countries in the Middle East, Africa and others, it is worth quoting the reply President Isaias Afwerki gave in 2009 to a question by journalists representing various media outlets as to why he doesn’t bring members of his family with him during visits abroad:

“The reason why the issue of democracy and non-democracy is becoming a major question in a number of countries is basically because nations are becoming family-owned. In some societies, a nation is nominally referred to as one belonging to the people, whereas in actual fact it is owned by a single family. It is a single family that controls the government and does whatever it likes through monopolizing economic and political power. On our part, we don’t want to see such an order getting established. We do not allow the existence of supremacy of any group or family in which the people are ruled by families and corrupt individuals who place themselves above the law….”, the President elucidated.

Indeed, this is true of the objective situation in the majority of the countries of Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Latin America and even in the developed nations. In we look at the situation in the African and the Middle East regions, the root cause of the current popular uprising is the existence of extremely narrow family-based politics that marginalizes the majority population. Although the role of external interference is not to be viewed lightly, the prevailing narrow family and clique-based politics is, nonetheless, paving the way for such interference.

It is to be noted that in countries under monarchial rule, the royal family monopolizes all political and administrative authority, land ownership and other national resources. The vast majority of the population are considered mere servants of the royalty. The people have no say at all in the management of their land. Such a situation naturally gives rise to unlimited exploitation of natural resources on the part of a single family, while at the same time the majority of the population are marginalized.

Many countries of North Africa and the Middle East fell under feudal rule following decolonization. But it is inconceivable under a feudal system to build a viable nation through implement development programs for the benefit of the people.  And short of a just political system, stability is unthinkable.  As a result of popular uprising and military coups against feudal rule, several monarchies in the Middle East and North Africa were overthrown. If at all there exist remnants of the previous royal families, they are but a few.  

As history fully attests, it does not mean that popular uprising always leads to a just political order. In many instances, even those political forces that assumed power overthrowing royal families through coup d’état and popular revolutions often resort to group politics that is not much different from a family-based one. In gross violation of their previous pledge to uphold the popular cause, they bring friends, relatives and the like into their camp, thus ending up in ruthless exploitation of national resources.    

External forces, especially western companies, non-governmental organizations and western banks are the very ones that not only lay the groundwork for rampant corruption but also push those who seize power following the demise of feudal rule to get involved in the same mess. However, apart from external factors, the decisive factor for rampant corruption remains the domestic one. In this connection, first ladies, close relatives and friends, as well as capital owners are often the very ones that prompt persons in authority to practice corruption. Hence, a leader keen to serve the people with honesty and dedication needs to keep distant from such elements.

It is to be recalled that at the time the ousted  Tunisian President Bin Ali was engaged in hectic preparations to leave the country amidst the popular uprising in February 2011, his rapacious wife was looking for  a plane to transport gold assets to foreign land, on top of the assets she deposited abroad. This so-called first lady used to get commission from various trade and economic activities in the country. There are also many similar greedy first ladies in different countries. Taking a close glance at this region, Azeb Mesfin, the wife of the Ethiopian Premier, and Khadra, wife of the Djiboutian leader, engage in rapacious practices in a bid to amass wealth through monopolizing all economic and trade activities in the two poor nations. This obviously is a prelude to the inevitable failure of both states. It is worth mentioning at this juncture that the Eritrean government’s move in the early 90s to legally prohibit the wives of government officials from owning business firms was essentially aimed at averting this type of malaise. The  significance of combating conflict of interest emanating from such instance on time is obvious (although there are some corrupt individuals who for the time being are engaged in covert business activities under different names).     

In line with the open-door policy that paved the way for free market, gullible observers may think that it would speed up development process through active trade and economic activities. However, under family-based political setting most business firms are owned by a handful of state officials who seek to amass wealth in complicity with foreign companies.

It is a common practice to witness western countries deploying their own soldiers in those areas where their companies operate in gross violation of the sovereignty of a particular nation. And all the expense for the upkeep of the foreign soldiers is covered by the home country itself. As the ruling cliques do not trust their own people, they are ready not only to accept the stationing of foreign forces in their respective countries but also pay the salary of the soldiers. They even bring mercenary soldiers from abroad to guard themselves and their palaces. 

At this juncture, it is worth mentioning the remarks former US Secretary of State Madeline Albright made in a meeting with a certain Arab official saying: “You have nothing to worry of invasion by a neighboring country; we will protect you with our own soldiers.” But all this was to no avail. The price which family-based ruling cliques pay to foreign troops to ensure their narrow interest at the expense of national resources is quite huge.

Family-based politics is one of the main causes for the popular uprising in North Africa and the Middle East. However, such state of affairs cannot continue forever in view of the fact that public awareness around the globe today is gaining momentum more than ever before.

Hence, the mass uprising being witnessed in various parts of the world symbolizes the end of the era of family-based politics, domination and dictatorship, as well as one that heralds the transition into a new world order. But it cannot be taken for granted that popular uprising always leads to the desired goal. It should be underlined that the forces that lost their privileges would not desist from trying to sabotage the gains of the uprising. Thus, still greater struggle and vigilance is called for in order to realize social justice.
Victory to oppressed peoples!

 

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