Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Comparing tyrannies

Big Pharaoh has brough an interesting point to the surface that illustrates one of the most important differences between Saddam's regime and the rest of the dictatorships in the region.

When people outside Egypt see such demonstrations, they think that the entire Egyptian population is asking Mubarak to step down. This is not true. While millions of Egyptians are dismayed at the state of the country, they are living in political stagnation because they're busy striving to put food on the table. They simply don't want troubles.

While Egyptians for example are busy finding a way to put food on the table, for Iraqis, the situation was like no matter what you do you won't be sure you can do that.
In other words; regimes such as the Egyptian one have given their people a tiny window to breathe through while Saddam and the Ba'athists strangled the people with all the power they could find.
For example, in these countries, you have the freedom to travel, to use the internet and communicate with the out world, to start a political party and to even declare your opposition to the government publicly. Doing such things in Saddam's time would in most cases lead to death punishment.

I recalled a short conversation I had a year ago with an Egyptian dentist who lived in Iraq (don't know whether he's still here till now).
I met the man in a dental conference in Baghdad and we had a short discussion on the situation here and the close similarities between the two regimes; the one that was defeated in Iraq two years ago and the one that is still in power in the man's homeland.

I was literally shocked when he told me how he witnessed the eruption of the extremist Ayman Al-Zawahiri, the no 2 man in Al-Qaeda. They were both studying in the same university (in Alexandria I guess) back in the seventies. I was trying to hear the full story, something that he apparently didn't like to do so he suddenly interrupted me and ignored my ton of question saying:

No, the regime you had here was more brutal, that's true but the regime in Egypt is worse
I was a little confused here and he saw the questioning look on my face and went on explaining

In Iraq, the moment you oppose the regime, you're dead or if you were lucky you would get locked in a one square meter cell for the rest of your life while in my country they would let you talk as long as you're just talking and when you switch to the active ways of opposition, they would arrest you and put you in prison for a couple of years. After you're out they would keep watching you and if they found that you didn't learn the lesson then you'd get another sentence in prison, only this time you would spend more years than in the 1st time. And the game can last forever until you lose all hope inside and you're completely depleted and you decide to give up or take the risk of facing worse consequences.

I think I agree with this man's perspective, not only because he's a fellow dentist! but because what he said makes a lot of sense and there are facts that support his opinion.

The people in Iraq as a result of the extreme brutality of the past regime had put the regime out of their lives and they chose to live on their own and not depending on the charity Saddam offered every other decade while in Egypt or even Syria the simple people still feel somewhat connected to the regimes and depend on them in many aspects of their lives.

We saw in 1991 how the people in Iraq stood against the regime and carried their arms to get their freedom after seeing the 1st signals of Saddam losing control. At that time there were no coalition troops on Iraqi soil to help them and the people seized what they considered a good chance and they looked for troubles! Again, in March 2003 Iraqis in general didn't resist the change and they took a passive stand not because they don't want the change but because they were afraid of being left alone again.

What I want to say here is that a high percentage of the people in countries like Egypt have lost the motivations or more accurately, they are afraid of what might happen if their countries undergo a premature change.

I say, take a look at my country and learn from my people and have faith in yourselves because if you keep thinking with such negativity you will never get the change you want. If the people really want something they can achieve it and they will find many hands reaching out for them with support and advice.
We in Iraq weren't fully prepared for the change here as well but we took advantage of the moment and we believed that this is what we want. Many spectators were expecting a civil war in Iraq and it didn't happen and won't happen and many are still warning of a possible theocracy in Iraq and I believe that this is impossible too.

Bottom line is: the world has changed, we're not living in the fifties anymore and when a tyrant is kicked out, no other tyrant can claim his place. Why? Because nothing can be done behind closed doors anymore, the whole world can watch and have a say in almost everything everywhere and the era when thugs could reach power against a nation's choice is over. The world has simply changed and the change cannot be reversed.

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