Revolution in Middle East


Feb 28 2011

Revolution in Middle East

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The Arab world is changing right in front of our eyes whether we like it or not. Protests have been held in Libya, Bahrain, Jordan, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia (minor), and even just recently in Beirut. With the recent clashes in the streets of the Middle East, many would argue that it is a middle class revolution. However, I believe it is more of a revolution of the youth. Behind the Sub-Sahara, the Middle East has the second highest population of youths in the world. “Sixty percent of the regions’ people are under 30, twice the rate of North America, found a study from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.”[1] This usually leads to increased unemployment rates. With the destabilization of governments in the Middle East and such high populations of youths, there is a rising concern for increased radicalism. Excellent examples would be Somalia and Afghanistan. It is becoming increasingly evident that a growing amount of citizens in Afghanistan would rather have Sharia or Islamic Law because of its stability, even with its obvious cruelty. It has been long favored in the region and will continue to be even though western states refuse to allow them into any power position.  However, “Just as Washington has acknowledged that it cannot simply disregard popular support in Egypt for the Muslim Brotherhood, the West must also come to terms with the Taliban’s base of support”. [2]

What is also interesting is that the majority of the Arab governments, monarchs, are Sunni while vast amounts of Shiites are not heard or placed in any governmental position. In Bahrain, Shiite protesters were shot by Sunni government troops, sparking even more outrage and upheaval from underprivileged Shiites. “In Bahrain the Shia have been relegated to the political and economic periphery, thus creating an underclass that has no stake in the longevity of the current system and is not afraid of engaging in confrontational politics.”[3] As evidenced by previous protests in the Arab world, Bahraini protesters were, for the most part, youths (20’s). It is important to look for stability in the Arab world, seeing as the majority of the world’s oil supplies reside there. In tandem, there are a multitude of strategic US bases placed around the Arab countries. For example, the US Fifth Fleet is stationed in Bahrain. This can be taken as a sign of weakness, because the umbrella power of the US expands to, possibly, protect the governments from falling. However, no action by US forces have deterred or intervened in any of the protests across the Arab states.


[1] http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2011/01/27/the_arab_world_s_youth_army

[2] http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2011/02/25/the_islamic_republic_of_talibanistan

[3] http://mideast.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2011/02/25/libya_is_important_but_don_t_forget_bahrain

One Response to “Revolution in Middle East”

  1. jweiss5 Says:

    It’s interesting to me that you call this a “revolution of the youth,” because I had not previously seen the conflict as such. But it is undeniable that “Sixty percent of the regions’ people are under 30, twice the rate of North America, found a study from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.” Still, I see it as more of a coming together of people of all ages, religions and social classes for a common goal: be seen as an individual rather than a number. An article I read in the New York Times saying that Egyptians demonstrated that they were people rather than statistics. In Egypt, there are no public spaces where Egyptians from different levels of society can mix, and the social classes are incredibly polarized. The oppression that they all have felt brought them together under a common thread. “They sang “Egypt” instead of “Islam” and raised red, white and black flags instead of Korans,” the New York Times reported. So while the youth were a major source of power behind the demonstrations and the general desire for change, as we saw in the documentary we watched in class, this is a revolution of Egypt as a whole against an oppressive and out-of-touch leader

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