Saturday, 19 February 2011
A half-dozen revolutions
Observers in Europe and America have been surprised, confused, confounded, and elated by recent events in the Arab world. The eventual result of these simultaneous uprisings in six or more countries across the Arab world from US/UK ally Bahrain to former international outcast and US adversary Libya cannot be forseen and may well be a mixed bag. However, you can't help but be impressed that neither significant economic growth, the liberal dispersion of oil money, nor the dubious "honour" of having your leaders readily rubbing shoulders with the Euro-American elite has been enough to distract people in the Arab world from the basic fact that they have been denied a significant say in their country's governance.
Other people have discussed whether a repeat of these spontaneous uprisings may at some point be seen in China and the other dictatorships of the East-Asian landmass. I think this is unlikely in most cases because the main examples have either arranged a regular turnover in the leadership (China, Vietnam, Laos), have recently shown how willing they are to use violence to suppress an uprising (Burma, China), or have all-encompassing control of the minds of the populace (North Korea). Cambodia, with its long governance by Hun Sen, and its high degree of corruption, appears more vulnerable to the kind of frustration which overthrew Egyptian and Tunisian regimes, but I do not know enough about the political situation there to say more than this.
[Pictured: A graph of recent uprisings in the Arab world taken from Wiki, brown shows countries which have experienced a revolution, red indicates a change in government, orange shows major protests]
[Edit: For a more informed view of Cambodian affairs, check out Steve Dickinson's latest piece on the country.]
Posted by Gilman Grundy at 07:38