Saturday 19 February 2011

The Dictators in North Africa and the Middle East have learnt their lessons....

The success of the people's of Egypt and Tunisia are heart warming, though incomplete. Within both countries there is a long way to go before those with power relinquish it fully. Both the military and the establishment are shaken, but still in control.

The North African and Middle Eastern dictators though are learning their lessons, and know now that change can come sooner than previously believed. So we will begin to see other tactics, notably excessive and brutal force. Britain, France and US may well murmur disapproval, but the dictators will be using the weapons we have sold them.

Libya will not change as suddenly as Egypt. Gaddafi will have no self control when it comes to using bullets on his own people, as the snipers killing nearly 100 people today will testify. His state apparatus is much stronger and more ruthless than others. In one British University it is estimated that more than 1 in 10 of Libyan students who came were sent to spy on other Libyan students. Gaddafi is paranoid and murderous, and perhaps now is not the time for a non-violent revolution.

Bahrain may be different, and recent victories over the control of Pearl Square may hint at things to come. Bahrain is more dependent on tourism and money from the West - it cannot get away with too many bloodbaths. The long term oppression of the Shia majority and certain groups of migrant workers will have to be addressed, and those in power will be realising this.

Algeria will be bloody, but Morocco might be ripe for a change, and that could also mean freedom for the persecuted people of Western Sahara, the victims of one of the worlds most forgotten land occupations.

I hope that throughout the region change is coming, but I fear that the dictators will be more violent, and the struggles will be much more protracted than the initial victories in North Africa. We pray and act in solidarity with all those seeking freedom, bread and human dignity.

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