February 11, 2011. Crowds in Tahrir Square erupt in celebration. “Egypt is free, Egypt is free,” they exclaim.
In Tunisia, it takes one man to douse himself in gasoline to strike the powerful match of revolution. In Egypt, it takes the will power of millions and the brutal dictatorship of one man to ripple in the great floods of freedom.
Civil disobedience. People power. Peaceful protest. What was once a risky undertaking has now become a strategy for reform.
As Bahrain, Jordan, Yemen, Algeria, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Cameroon, and Morocco stand next in line, the future of the Middle East remains fairly questionable. Nearly every media outlet is closely following developments in the region. With every new day comes a new headline, a new cover story. Each pocket of unrest is marked by a unique set of individuals speaking out against a distinctive government.
While we may perceive this “unrest” as a brewery of belligerence, we must realize that for the Middle Eastern people, this is a major turning point; for them this is a revolution, a renunciation of tyranny, a re-establishment of basic human rights, and a restoration of honor.
What began as a peaceful picket in most of these countries has now become a violent vendetta waged by baffled regimes to stifle the voices of truth
So what does this mean for the United States? Why do we continue to follow these “pockets” of unrest? On July 4, 1776, fifty-six delegates, representing thirteen colonies, demanded freedom from their British monarch, sowing the seeds for a powerful nation.
Today, millions of people in the Middle East have a similar vision, one embodying change and justice. It is important to note that “change” in the Middle East, be it positive or negative, will rest primarily on the shoulders of the new leadership; if old regimes are successfully ousted, there may be changes in our foreign policy.
Trade will be another key area of concern, especially considering that Kuwait, Iran, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Libya are members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). New alliances will dictate where American tax dollars go as part of foreign aid.
While no one knows exactly what will become of the Middle East, what we do know is that these changes will greatly impact the foreign affairs of the United States, both militarily and diplomatically.
This unraveling situation gives me hope. I may not be Egyptian, Tunisian, Libyan or even Jordanian, but I have hope that one day, other countries facing the same problems will follow suit. I have hope that pandemonium will ring loudly in the ears of oppressive governments, forcing them to put down their guns and armor, their quills and quorum, and let the people decide what is best for their land.
It is said that history is written by the winners, not the losers. I see a new chapter in the making, and only time will tell who will adorn this new page.