Saturday, November 12, 2011

To al Assad: Step Down!

The security solution deployed by the Syrian government, for eight consecutive months, crippled any political outlet proposed by the internal opposition, the external opposition, Arab delgations, and the UN. 3,500 deaths and tens of thousands of arrests marred the possibility of acceptable reform from the current establishment. It is hard to emagine how the current regime would be capable of negotiating the transfer of power and the shape of the transitional government. The only venue the current regime should be concerned about negotiating now is its exit plan.

The mantra of a "global conspiracy" against Syria, a consistant story-line in the official Syrian news channels, is loosing its steam rapidly within Syria. Even if Damascus and Aleppo maintain their position of neutrality towards the demonstrations, that is not considered a qualifier to maintain the statues quo. The demonstrations elsewhere in Syria are increasingly becoming more political rather than ethnicly or religiously oriented. The slogans range from " one, one, one,the Syrian people are one" and " prefering death to humiliation" , to "Get Out".

The Syrian uprising, fuled by an archaic authoritarian response over eight months, has united Syrians and is approaching a critical juncture. The spokespersons for the Syrian opposition groups need to keep up with the developments on the ground in Syria. If Syrian efforts on the ground are converging towards specific demands, the so called representatives need to prioratize specific political objectives and leave ideological differences, liberalism vs. conservatism, for the ballot box.

A message to president al Assad: Step down! Your plan of containment has failed.

سوريا حبيبتي ..الحرية و الكرامة

Sunday, October 9, 2011

ما بعد البعث: بلورة مفهوم الكرامة الوطنية

الدول و أنظمة الحكم على إختلافها ترتكز على مبادئ أساسية لإرساء دعائم الحكم. عندما يكون النظام السياسي في بلد ما على أعتاب مرحلة إنتقالية, تبدأ إعادة النظر و التقييم للمبادئ السياسية التي ارتكز عليها النظام منتهي الصلاحية,

حزب البعث العربي الإشتراكي , و بحكم تفرده عمليا بصياغة القرار السياسي في سوريا منذ عام 1963 أثربشكل فاعل على تشكيل المعالم الاساسية للثقافة السياسية في سوريا . بغض النظر إن كان حزب البعث في العقود السابقة ملتزما بمبادئه أم ملتحفا بها , فإن القاعدة الأيديولوجية للدولة السورية على أعتاب منعطف تاريخي الآن.

مجموعة الاسئلة التي تطرح نفسها فيما يخص التوجه السياسي في المرحلة الإنتقالية: ما هو مصير مبدأ التصدي للهيمنة الغربية على مقدرات الشعوب؟ ما هو مصيرالعمل على استقلالية القرار السياسي و الإقتصادي؟ بعبارة أخرى, ما هو مصيرمبدأ الكرامة الوطنية في خضم التحول السياسي المتأثر بعوامل إقليمية و خارجية؟

لعل إعادة صياغة الكرامة الوطنية بحيث تكون مبدءا وطنيا غير محتكر من حزب أو توجه سياسي, هو من أولويات

المرحلة للأسباب التالية

أولا: إعادة هيكلة خطاب الكرامة الوطنية, الجامع لكل السوريين, على مبدأ وطني هوجهد يعزز الوحدة الوطنية

ثانيا: مرحلة "فك الإرتباط" بالنهج السياسي للنظام السابق تجد لها مخرجا أخلاقيا, بدل أن يكون مدخل للإتهام بالعمالة و الخيانة الوطنية

ثالثا: تبرئة الكرامة الوطنية من الإحتكار الحزبي يمهد الطريق للتنافس السياسي على أسس منهجية من خلال التعددية


سوريا حبيبتي.. الحرية و الكرامة

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Meeting in Damascus: Guideline of The Three "No"s

Today marked a qualitative leap forward for the Syrian opposition. The opposition, around two hundred individuals, some flew from overseas, met in a private estate on the outskirts of Damascus today. The government denied them a permit to meet in a public space, in return the organizers denied the crew of the official Syrian tv channel to be present at the meeting. What made this meeting qualitatively distinct from the dozens of opposition meetings and conferences held in Paris, Istanbul, Doha, etc. is that for the first time an actual demand sheet was read in the conference representing the demands of the protesters.

This meeting, in other words, was held to provide a forum to support the actual protesters and their demands, instead of being a platform to leap onto the shoulders of those protesters to advance other agendas. Furthermore, this meeting included a diverse representation of the opposition, which reflects the true fabric of Syrian society.

This meeting also concluded with what has become to be known as the "three no s", namely:

No to foreign intervention
No to violence
No to sectarianism

More opposition groups seem to start to converge to this baseline of the three No s. What is also noteworthy is that the business community in both Aleppo and Damascus seem to lean to the moderate opposition line, which was represented by this meeting today in Damascus.

These recent developments reflect the general sensitivity of the Syrian population regarding: 1) the Iraqi experience, and 2) the Lebanese experience. Syrians in general detest the notion of a Syrian expatriate coming to "save" their country in an American armered vehicle. Even worse, they do not want foreign forces to invade and wreck havoc in their country. In addition, Syrians detest the sectarian governing systems in both Lebanon and Iraq, which on the outset is placed to protect the rights of all sects and ethnicities but in reality the system ingrains the frictions between the sects.

The three No s are a start. This ethical stance of the opposition in Damascus today provides an inclusive platform on which all Syrians can participate and be part of.

سوريا حبيبتي.. الحرية و الكرامة

Monday, August 22, 2011

A New Start for Libya

و سقط حاكم ظالم آخر..

This is a new start for Libya and the Libyan people. It goes to prove that words and slogans will never ever replace justice. At some critical point in time, justice and freedom will prevail. It was sad to see the scores of Libyans in Tripoli who held on, till the very end, to the empty populist slogan attered by Gaddafi on his last radio broadcast. Denying the obvious by a minority has been the trademark in all the Middle Eastern uprisings thus far.

Long live Libya in freedom, dignity and prosperity.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Syria: The Limitations of the Security Solution

The Syrian government was able to nurse its embattled image in the international arena last week when the UN declared that all violence must stop in Syria; violence by the regime as well as by the armed groups. Finally, the international community recognized that the Syrian government is confronting an armed rebellion, in addition to sporadic protests in various cities and villages.

The security branch of the Lebanese army declared last week that it was able to stop a shipment from Beirut port headed to Tripoly and then the Syrian city of Banias. There have been at least thirty weapon shipments from that port alone to Syria in the past four months. Turkish officials and Iraqi boarder patrol, as well as Jordanian officials, recognized the same weapon smuggling activities on their ends.

Who are the fighters? Since the Syrian opposition denied vehemently for months that there are armed groups in Syria, one can assume that an upfront association with the armed groups is not in the opposition's best interest. A radical Syrian sheikh by the name of Adnan Arrar, garnered much attention in the last months as being the instigator of the sectarian fueled bloody confrontation between his followers and the security apparatus in various Syrian cities. Arrar feverishly condems non-Sunni Syrian's to death, as all non-Sunnis are, in his opinion, infidels and must be erradicated. In the case of Syria this amounts to around 30% of the population.

While the Syrian government was able to score a point last week with the balanced approach of the UN statement, it can not continue to overuse the security approach. Crushing the armed rebellion can not last for months without a consistant National diologue that will encompass the majority of the opposition demands.

The opposition, on the other hand, is not showing much enthusiasm to negotiate with the regime, given that they perceive time as being on their side. "It is a matter of time before the regime crumbles from the inside" declares one opposition figure in London. "So what if fifty-thousand die.. as long as the regime is defeated" declares another in Australia.

Getting moderate opposition figures to successfully negotiate with the regime must be preceded by a gradual distinction between the types of Syrian opposition. In order to ligitimize the moderates who believe in a democratic government and religious freedom, one must distinguish them from the religious radicals who hold diffirent view points. With the understanding that in a pluralistic government/society, everyone has the right to express and hold differing opinions.

The multilayered pressure experienced by the Syrian government, from the protesters, armed groups, and international community is not a new experience in content but in intensity. The Syrian government, thus far, has prioratized the security solution, meaning the systematic and surgical military and security operations in towns from Dar'a, Banians, Jisr ashughur, Homs, Hama, and now in Dair Azur.
It must be said in this regard, that the recent decrees passed, specially decree 100 and 101, have fundementally changed and improved the political landscape in Syria.

Bringing both sides to the negotiating table is an effort in recognition. The Syrian government must accept the fact that there are mounting social, political and economic grievences against the regime, and that there are very respected opposition figures outside as well as inside Syria who insist on achieving political pluralism, freedom of speech and social/economic justice. On the other hand, the opposition needs to recognize that a dialogue with the Syrian government is not a sellout nor is it percieved as accepting second best. In fact, most modern social movements succeeded in changing the regime structure through elite negotiations.

The prioratization of the security solution is pushing the Syrian regime away from moderate opposition figures, and it is alienating Syria's neighbors who are supporting a political solution to the Syrian crises.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Monday: A Chance to start National Healing

A meeting this Monday between Syrian opposition figures in Damascus is sure to start the trend of open political discussion outside of the official government controlled realm. It is a start.

More than a hundred and twenty intellectuals will gather to discuss and introduce ideas on how to end the violent upheaval and address the demands of the protesters. How to transition to a democratic pluralistic state is the major headline of this meeting. This meeting includes Syrian opposition figures from all walks of life, religions and ethnicities. This group is a better representation of current Syrian communities; their concerns and aspirations.

The head of the Civil Society Revival organization in Damascus expressed today his opinion that a National dialogue is the only hope for an inclusive approach to introducing the practical measures that would insure the institutionalization of the protesters' demands.

All the best to the people meeting tomorrow in Damascus.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Why a Libyan Scenario is Unlikely in Syria

The much talked about Jisr-Ashughur, on the outskirt of Idlib, which was a focal point of heavy confrontation between armed groups and the military, is under military control now. The same story that unfolded in Dar'a, Banias and Tal Kalakh, of demonstrations and armed groups conftronting security and miliraty forces, ended with the military retaking control of the city.

What is remarkable about the unrest in Syria is that the unrest erupts heavily in boarder towns: Dar'a is in the south of Syria on the Jordanian boarder, Banias is a shore line city in the west, Tal Kalakh is a village on the Lebanese boarder, and Jis-Ashughur is on the Turkish north western boarder. Some analysts have voiced the correlation between the armed unrest erupting in these cities, and the ability of groups to smuggle weapons across the boarder and prolong the bloody confrontation.

Syrian opposition outside of Syria (there are no organized or institutionalized opposition in Syria other than indiviuals who are counted as opposition) is comprised of mainly the Syrian Muslim brotherhood, which was brutely oppressed in 1982, Syrian Kurds, as well as Syrian communists which were also imprisoned and exiled in the 1960s. This Syrian opposition has mounting grievences against the regime stretching back to the 1960s. Although the opposition is not strongly organized, it does enjoy a heavy international governmental and media support.

Two Syrian opposition conferences have been held in Turkey, the second was held in Anatolya with 300 in attendance and a predominantly Muslim Brotherhood overtone. Considering that Turkey was Syria's strategic ally, hosting the Syrian opposition by Turkey is a glimps into where officials in Turkey, Qatar, and the United States are willing to let the confrontation against Bashar al -Asad go. Now that Erdogan seems to have won re-election, it would be possible that he would return to reassert his support for drastic poltical reform led by the Syrian regime. Erdogan has been talking in concert with the French, English and American's against the regime in Syria during his re-election campaign. Turkey, however, does not desire an overspill of turbulence on its southern boarders.

Creating a replica of Banghazi in Syria is unlikely. The outcome of every violent confrontation with the security and military forces by armed groups has been won by the regime. Furthermore, the towns like Dar'a, Banias and Tal Kalakh have returned to relative calm. The Syrian army despite some media interviews with alleged deserters, seems to be intact. The major cities, Damsacus and Aleppo are remarkably uneffected by either the protests or by the armed groups.

If the international community condemned the brutalty by which the regime is cracking down on protesters and armed opposition, what, if any, is the ethical responsibility of the Syrian opposition?

Is what one Syrian opposition MB leader residing in Australia said true? " 50,000 Syrians dying is a small price to pay to get rid of the regime in Syria"

Syrians who have left Syria in pain in the seventies and eighties are carrying this pain to their country men and women of today. Some Syrians in exile do not want to admit that their communities back home have changed over the period of fourty years. Syria has changed, and that change is painful to accept if your life's purpose is to avenge a past tragic loss and voice a longing to a homeland that does not resemble your memory of it anymore.

Two principles remain:The Syrian opposition has the right to demand reform. The Syrian regime is responsible for the management of the crisis, considering that the window to accept reform by the current government establishment is nerrowing.

All Syrians agree on the following however:
Stop the violence and free the political prisoners.

In addition to:

Political pluralism, independent judiciary, free press, a new Syrian constitution that establishes a new social contract between citizens and government.

"In Syria.. all are one"
"One party system is not for Syrians"

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

حبيبي حمزة

كم من أم رأت فيك ابنها ..يا نور عين أمك و كينونة وجودها

حزنت عليك بصمت مخجل.. حزنت لكل لحظات ألمك.. حزنت للحظات الوحشة التي أحسستها..حزنت لبرودة المكان و قساوة وجدان من لمسك.. حزنت لأنك لم تجد من يجير طفولتك.

حبيبي حمزة..كيف نداري خجلنا منك

ألوف من الرجال خرجوا من تجربة غياهب السجون و المخابرات بعد أيام, شهور, سنوات ليلتقوا بأحبتهم و لينحنوا على أيدي أمهاتهم مثقلين بطعون لكرامتهم.

طعنت كرامتك و طفولتك و آدميتك.. ولم تخرج لتمسح أمك على رأسك و تعيد بريق عينيك

حبيبي حمزة..مثقلين نحن بهم ما يحمل المستقبل لبلدنا الحبيب.

قبل كل ما يمكن أن يقال عن آلية الإصلاح و أولويات المرحلة.. قبل القوانين , قبل إعادة هيكلة المؤسسات.. هل يوجد سبيل إلى مصالحة وطنية؟ هل يمكن في يوم أن يلحظ السجان آدمية من سجن و أن يكف عن إذلال ما كرمه الله؟ هل يمكن أن يشيد السوري بكونه سوري, وأن يكون هذا كافيا لمعاملته بإنسانية في وطنه؟

حبيبي حمزة..لعل الملائكة تحفك الآن..

حبيبتي سوريا.. لعل الإصلاح و المصالحة ينير درب الياسمين إليك لتجمعي لديك كل من يحبك.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Syria: The Start of a Historic Phase

The events in Syria these past weeks, from demonstrations, acts of violence, weapon smuggling, and the aggressive tactics of the Syrian military and security forces, have proven that one can not provide a simple explanation about Syria's domestic dilema.

Browsing through Arab and western newspapers covering the Syrian events these past weeks, one trend seems to be still in vogue and that is the focus on a sectarian explanation of why the Ba'ath party succeeded in ruling Syria for 40 plus years, and why the Syrian people seem not to be willing to uprise in masses, as the Egyptians and Tunisians did.

It is the old Sunni vs. Alawi explanation. An Imam in the Gulf region made a fatwa concerning the situation in Syria a week ago, stating that "... so what if two thirds of the country eradicated the third..." stating that it is the duty of the Sunnies (70 %) to exterminate other religious sects in Syria (of which there is eighteen and they constitute 30%). His fatwa is also based on the sectarian explanation.

Basing one's analysis and explanation on that an Alawi sect is dominating state and financial institution without the approval and blessings of merchants, professionals and clergy from the majority group, is an out of touch perspective. It is a view point that gets lost in its ignorent simplicity by failing to explain a complex social and political structure.

The whole sectarian explanation falters and collapses if one spends few weeks in Syria, and realizes the dependancy of every sect and ethinicity on the cooporation of the other within the system. Spending few weeks in Syria would be enough to get an idea of how Sunni conservatives have made a come back, not to the liking of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, but are more in tune with the Syrian government, and one of its fierce defenders.

Again, this does not undermine the dire need for political reform and the need to socially and politically integrate the "other view point" in Syria.

The internal situation seemed to have calmed down which allows for a, long promissed, National Dialogue. Syria is expiriencing a social and political transformation, unlike the ones in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, etc. A transformation that has just hit a critical juncture. One of the essential elements for a successful transition is national unity الوحدة الوطنية; an element that seems to be intact.

Syrians asking for reforms within this national unity paradigm are only adding to Syria's strength. Syrians have died for dignity and freedom, and it seems that the executive cabinet is ready to implement a political reform plan and move on with its general reform agenda.

A Syrian made plan.. by all Syrians.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Syria is Bleeding!

The events of the last few days, especially the clashes between demonstrators and security forces after Friday prayers in a number of Syrian cities, have taken the situation in Syria to a familiar place. The quintessential signs of an uprising have put the Syrian regime in a tight spot.

The death of more than a hundered Syrians yesterday, heart renching scenes of live amunition and men helping the fallen, is a loud and clear call for the dismantelling of the security institutions . The gap between the executive cabinet intentions of reform and the inability of the multiple security apparatuses to adjust to a transitional period is starting to wreck havoc.

Syria is bleeding

What kind of a legacy will the Syrian Ba'athist and the National Progressive Front leave in the minds of Syrians??

The rhetoric of "one mind , one voice" is over. On NBN, a Lebanese news channel friendly to Syria, an interviewer asked a Syrian Political Science professor: "Have you ever met an opposition figure in Syria ?". Her answer was after talking about the wonderful personal freedoms in Syria, she said: "No, of course not!! We all think the same in Syria!! We all love our president and see dissenters as traitors!!" ..... and here, frankly, lies the big problem, this is in other words the huge elephant in the room dear professor!!.

The demonstrators are not Muslim Brotherhood, Salafies, infeltrators, Zionists, CIA, ... they are Syrians who are, one would guess, upset about many many things in their homeland, my dear professor.

" واحد, واحد, واحد, الشعب السوري واحد"
"سوريا كلها أحرار, سوريا كلها أحرار"

Friday, April 1, 2011

سوريا: ابتكار منهجية الإصلاح السياسي

المقاربة السياسية بين سوريا و كل من مصرو تونس مجدية في إطارذكر أن المواطن في هذه الدول يطالب بالعيش الكريم, حق التوظيف, حرية الصحافة, رفع حالة الطوارئ ,حرية التعبير, وحرية الإنتماء السياسي. ما يجانب الصواب في مثل هذه المقاربات ,في بعض الاحيان, هو شمولية توصيف رد فعل الحكومات بأنها غير مجدية, و أنها غير قادرة على الوفاء بوعودها الإصلاحية

الإصلاح السياسي في سوريا ممكن, بسسبب إدراك النظام بأهمية بدء الإصلاحات وبسسبب خصوصية المجتمع السوري. التنوع العرقي و الديني في سوريا خلق حالة من الوحدة و التلاحم الحتمي,نتيجة الوعي بالتجارب الطائفية لكل من لبنان و العراق, بالإضافة إلى معاينة استحقاقات نجاح ثورة تونس و مصر و الدور المحوري للوحدة الوطنية في ذلك

خصوصية التجربة السياسية و الإجتماعية السورية ليس مدخلا لتبرئة الوضع الداخلي السوري من اي خلل , لكن ربما تكون هذه الخصوصية هي التي ستمهد لنجاح تجربة الإصلاح السياسي التدريجي المطالب حاليا بإثبات حسن النية و المسارعة ببدء الإعلان عن القرارات و الإطار الزمني لتنفيذها

مخاطر الأزمة في سوريا لن تكون في إطار العنف الطائفي, فكما أشرت, الوعي الإجتماعي في سوريا لهذا الإحتمال كبير.. وكما تردد في كثير من التجمعات الصغيرة و الكبيرة في سوريا في الايام الاخيرة: "واحد, واحد, واحد, الشعب السوري واحد". تكمن إمكانية نجاح الإصلاح السياسي في توظيف ضغط الشارع السوري لإقناع بعض المؤسسات الرقابية و الأمنية بأن تبادربتنسيق الجهود مع اللجان المعنية بمراحعة الملفات, و بخطوات حثيثة

سوريا رائدة بمشروعها العروبي النهضوي في المنطقة . سوريا قادرة أن تكون رائدة في إستيعاب المطلب الشعبي بالإصلاح السياسي و أن تؤسس لمنهج إصلاحي سياسي هو بمثابة نموذج ثالث للتغيير في المنطقة العربية, إلى جانب النموذج المصري و الليبي. نموذج وطني سوري بامتياز

Syria: The Art of Branding Political Reform

A link

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Syria: Initiating Reform is Time Sensitive

So the unrest in Dar'a south of Damascus is either according to SANA perpetrated by an armed mob that resorted to violence and burning buildings, or accroding to other media oulets, a spontaneous start of an uprising that is being supressed. In either case however, there remains a fact that both the Syrian people as well as Syrian officials know very well, and that is the need for political reform and the need to curb corruption...etc.

Syrian officials have recently expressed admiration for the Turkish model of democracy. The Turkish model has tremendous support in the Arab world including in Syria. Arriving at the institutional structure supporting such democratic model however is a long and winding road, which will includ bureaucratic overhauls, inacting the tenants of the rule of law,.. all of which need political will, political mobility and a unified political elite. The need to jumpstart the process seems to be stronger than ever.

Syria is particularly situated to inititate a gradual and peaceful road to reform. Its foreign policy seems to be popular, but can not substitute for a critical self examination, where progress made in areas such as education should be acknowledged and other needed reforms should be discussed openly. All this within an understanding of the importance of national unity.

Horan Arabs, Druze, Kurds, Muslims, Christians,.. are all parts of Syria's unique social fabric, if one social element is in pain, that must not sit well socially and politically until it is equitably addressed by the government.

The potential of Syria is limitless.. the upward mobility in all areas, education, economics, health, tourism, green industry, ... is noteworthy. The Syrian government has a well intentioned and well educated cadre that is capable of formating a plan.. A plan forward.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Syria: Vision of a Future that is Rooted in History

Notwithstanding the ongoing populas litmus test of regime ligitimacy in the Arab world, there are some early winners and loosers. Syria, among others, has successfully managed and weathered the storm. Why and how are questions to be marveled at by political scientists and Middle East experts for many years to come.

Syria, with its institutional and demographic complexities, does differ although not fundamentally from other Arab countries. Syria, however, was successful in taking gradual steps towards economic, education and health reforms. Gradual political reform is anticipated. A framework of such reform has not been declared yet. Access to social media has been granted and the media and press are exercising social-cohesion conscientious form of free speech.

One element stands out that differentiates Syria; an elemant that echoed in the streets of Cairo and in Tunisa; which is the core populas demand for the state to uphold Arab dignity.

Syria with its principled pragmatism in foreign policy conduct gave a voice to that need, gaining in this sense a popular edge over so called American allies in the region. Syria successeded in being preceived domestically and regionaly as the carrier of Arab aspirations to a just solution to the Arab Israeli conflict, regional proseperity and regional sovereignty. Collaboration with regional powers such as Turkey and Iran are key in Syria's outlook.

Syria has a clear and dignified vision. A firm understanding that does not disconnect notions of progress and peace from the historical context and the realities of displaced people. Even if that meant standing up to hegemonic agendas. This position had cost Syria dearly in the past, from political to economic isolation, yet the worst days of international pressure in 2005 have only streangthened Syria's resolve.

Maybe a reconfiguration of American foreing policy and a redefinition of who America's friends are, is due.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Long Live the Egyptian People

Long live the Egyptian people.

The ownership of this revolution belongs to each and every one of them. A true leaderless peaceful people's revolution that will take it's place in history.

The whole regime tumbled because Egyptians refused to part with their proud past that used to invigorate the region with pride and hope. They refused to engage in a passive role while the economy of Egypt is taken hostage by a few.

Egypt is free and the Egyptian people gave meaning to the concept of peaceful revolution and to democracy in the Arab world. This is a glaring defeat to al Qaeda, who advocated violence and theocratic rule. Democracy demanded by Egyptians is against al Qaeda's vision for Egypt, and it is also different from the hollow, procedural, and meaningless "democracy" practiced elsewhere in the region.

A dignified indigenous strife for freedom has been victorious in Egypt.

I am sure that everyone is hoping that the army will keep its word and facilitate a peaceful transition once elections are held.

I'm watching with tears and a heart filled with hope as I am sure many people around the world are.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Egypt and Tunis proved George W. Bush to be Wrong

Elliot Abrams wrote an article yesterday in the Washington Post arguing that the recent uprising in Egypt and Tunis have proved George W. Bush to be right. His main points express that Arabs, surprise, do value freedom, that Bush's overthrow of Sadam was the right thing to do in 2003, and that both regimes in Tunis and Egypt were dictatorships. Well this is a misrepresentation of what the western position was from those two regimes:

First Husni Mubarak and Zain al Abidin bin Ali were two important western allies in the Middle Eastern region. Their prized credentials are massive suppression of opposition, tight control of media, liberal economic policies, and good relations with Israel. Those two countries would have never ever been on George Bush's radar for "regime change".

Second Husni Mubarak and bin Ali, both presidents for over 20 years, have promised change and never delivered. In fact 9/11 gave their regimes a boost to crack down on opposition in the name of "the war on terror". They garnered even more support from the west for their rule when they championed the motto of : Either us and stability or the Islamists and chaos, as "Stability at all costs" was the name of the game.

Third, Tunis and Egypt have been part of what is called the "Moderate Arab Camp", these two coutries were the economic modernization and deplomatic example for the rest of the Middle East. George Bush's "New Middle East" agenda was supported by Mubarak and bin Ali, among others.

The barrier of fear has been broken in some Middle Eastern countries. Some observers are just now jumping on the truth wagon, and trying to distort the implications of what happened in Tunis and Egypt. Demands for political pluralism, freedom of expression, comprehensive policies for employemnt have always been brewing in the Middle East, where unemployment can reach 35% in some countries and political imprisonment are a normal occurence.

The hope is that U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East (agreeing in this part with Abrams) advances from having it both ways: support for regimes and expressing dismay at human rights violations. And instead adopt a clear stance supporting the public's aspiration for indigenous solutions for regional problems, economic reform and political pluralism; a stance that is congruent with American ideals.