Tuesday 24 April 2018

Tyrants right to fear contagion of Arab revolution

Shashank Joshi

Experts used to say that Arab politics mirrored Arab society: in the home as in the palace, an authoritarian father figure ruled over the flock. If so, we have just witnessed the third act of patricide in seven months. These are discomfiting times for those, like Bashar al-Assad of Syria, who have grown accustomed to obedience.

For all the fatuous talk of Twitter revolutions, it was an older and more familiar conduit that transmitted the electrifying scenes of Tripoli's liberation to Arabs. Satellite television has been pivotal in the creation of a new pan-Arab political consciousness. The process, beginning with Al Jazeera's coverage of Iraq in the late 1990s, has resulted in powerful connections being forged between Arab publics.

The emergence of a stalemate in Libya, Bahrain's squalid occupation by Saudi forces and the ruthless efficiency of Assad's crackdown in Syria had all combined to extinguish the initial optimism of the Arab Spring. But when rebel convoys finally drove into Tripoli's Green Square that same Arab political space was shocked back to life.

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