Friday, January 25, 2013

Ramzi Baroud: Discourse of the Arab Spring

Abused and misused, the “Arab Spring” has now become a concept around which international powers vie as imperial politics unfolds
Ramzi Baroud for Al-Ahram

A reductionist discourse is one that selectively tailors its reading of subject matters in such a way as to only yield desired outcomes, leaving little or no room for other inquiries, no matter how appropriate or relevant. The so-called “Arab Spring”, although now far removed from its initial meanings and aspirations, has become just that: a breeding ground for choosy narratives solely aimed at advancing political agendas that are deeply entrenched with regional and international involvement.
When a despairing Tunisian street vendor, Mohamed Bouazizi, lit himself on fire on 17 December 2010, he ignited more than a mere revolution in his country. His excruciating death gave birth to a notion that the psychological expanses between despair and hope, death and rebirth and between submissiveness and revolution are ultimately connected. His act, regardless of what adjective one may use to describe it, was the key that Tunisians used to unlock their ample reserve of collective power. President Zein Al-Abidine bin Ali’s decision to step down on 14 January 2011, was in a sense a rational assessment on his part if one is to consider the impossibility of confronting a nation that had in its grasp a true popular revolution.
Egypt also revolted less than two weeks later. And it was then that Tunisia’s near-ideal revolutionary model became prey for numerous, often selective readings and ultimately for utter exploitation. The Egyptian January 25 Revolution was the first Arab link between Tunisia and the upheavals that travelled throughout Arab nations. Some were quick to ascribe the phenomenon with all sorts of historical, ideological and even religious factors thereby making links whenever convenient and overlooking others, however apt. The Al-Jazeera Arabic website still has a map of all Arab countries, with ones experiencing revolutionary influx marked in red.

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