Saturday, February 19, 2011

Why the Arab roof caved in

I have been asked again and again, “What do you think is the root cause of the wave of bloodstained protests that have swept Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Libya and Bahrain?”

My straightforward answer was that the heads of state of the five Arab countries have – between them – held office for a total of 100 years.

Tunisia’s Zine El Abidine Ben Ali from 1987 to 2011, Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak from 1981, Yemen’s Ali Abdullah Saleh since 1978, Bahrain’s Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa since 1999 and Moammar Qadhafi from as far back as 1969!

Between them, the five dinosaurs saw a total of seven U.S. presidents, six Soviet and Russian leaders and three popes come and go.

The seven U.S. presidents: Richard M. Nixon, Gerald R. Ford, James Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, William J. Clinton and George W. Bush.

The six Soviet and Russian leaders: Leonid Brezhnev, Yuri Andropov, Konstantin Chernenko, Mikhail Gorbachev, Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin.

And the three popes: Paul VI, John Paul I and John Paul II.

“I tell the American people solemnly that the United States will never survive as a happy and fertile oasis of liberty surrounded by a cruel desert of dictatorship,” Franklin D. Roosevelt declared in his 1941 Independence Day Broadcast.