Friday, February 18, 2011

The Oman omen

In my last post, I said that Mubarak and I were both going to be traveling soon.  As it turned out, we were actually destined to travel on the same exact day!  I didn't even realize how accidentally prophetic I was being until my mother (surprise, surprise) commented on my post.  Anyway, developments in the Middle East over the past week have been incredibly exciting.  It has been so satisfying to watch all of these oppressive, geriatric leaders tremble before the power of the people.

Egypt erupted into celebrations, which I watched on Aljazeera in the Dubai airport, following Mubarak's forced resignation.  And many other Arab countries have been following suit with strong demonstrations against their tyrannical leaders.  However, Egypt isn't out of the water yet.  I am very hopeful for its future, but the army is still in power, and all three of the previous dictators have come from the army.

Coverage in Egypt has brought to light some disturbing sexism and racism in the western world, best manifested in this article.  It should be noted, however, that Nir Rosen does do a solid job at defending at least his own comments and provides additional commentary on the topic here.  The way women are treated in Egypt has been a large problem for a long time, one I witnessed on more than one occasion, and with a new government I believe this has the potential to change, but the blanket blaming of Egypt and Islam is just another example of the west's tolerance for some forms racism, but not others.  A hypocrisy that is not so different from the U.S.'s tolerance for some tyrants (i.e. those that support its policies in the Middle East) but not for others, irrespective of democratic aspirations and human rights records.

Now, the protest bug has spread to Yemen, Libya, Algeria, Morocco, Iran and Bahrain.  Libya is the newest and most optimistic, and if Gaddafi is ousted the only thing about him I will miss will be his antics.  Aljazeera did an excellent job covering Egypt in both English and Arabic, essentially becoming the primary source of information and developments in the country and is now extensively covering Libya and Yemen.  However, once unrest spread to the Gulf, namely Bahrain, the Qatari news channel's Arabic version has become disturbingly silent.  It seems that Qatar will support regime change anywhere but in other Gulf countries.  It's just unfortunate that Aljazeera is subject to the same governmental pressures as so many other media sources.

I returned to Syria from Oman today.  While it was an absolutely incredible trip, my internet, being slower than a snail going through maple syrup, precludes me from uploading pictures.  So, I will post again in a few days with exciting details of my week devoid of boring political goings-on.

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