Unemployment, poor living conditions, inflation and lack of political freedom spurred the protests against the government in Tunisia . We in India have seen similar scenes quite often in India but then it have never been culminated to such a extent that the government collapses and the country is in disarray . The catalyst to this movement in Tunisia was due to a self immolation by one person in December 2010 and in January 2011 within a span of less than a month the president of the country Ben Ali who held on to his power for over 20 years had to flee to Saudi Arabia leading to a regime change there.
Within another 30 days another massive anti government protests in Egypt which started as a peaceful demonstration at Tahrir Square, Cairo and other parts of Egypt took an ugly turn when pro Mubarak supporters clashed with the protesters and in the end jolted the rule of Hosini Mubarak which he held for over 3 decades leading to a regime change.
Libya also witnessed anti government protests from the mid February onwards and is now blown to a fully fledged civil war between the government forces and rebels looking for a change of regime . Libyan episode has till date seen over 7000 deaths and is still going on with armed fights between pro and anti government forces. Migrant labor from most Arab world and third world countries are fleeing the country through the Tunisian border and through sea and air helped by their respective governments.
Meanwhile in other parts of the gulf such as Bahrain, Jordan, Iran, Iraq, Oman, Algeria, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia inspired by the happening in the Tunisia , Egypt and Libya also had protests against the government in various magnitudes and the “ Arab leaders started shaking in their boots “ as stated by the famous Middle East foreign correspondent Robert Fisk . Some of the gulf countries ( Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Kuwait) immediately channeled lots of funds to be distributed among its population to appease the protestors so as to avoid any violent incidents and also have stated that necessary reforms will be in place to address the issues raised by the protesters
In Oman the violent incidents that happened in Sohar (looting and burning down of a super market by the protestors) was orchestrated by outside parties as per the authorities but then even this day there are still over 1000 protestors camped in the square and we as expats are not able to comprehend what is going to happen. Similarly at Salalah, the southern city of Oman people have put up tents and are camping in front of Wali’s office from last Friday awaiting for their demands to be met by tomorrow as informed by some local Omanis, in spite of the benefits been announced by the Sultan immediately after the Sohar incident. Army has been deployed along the border to UAE and in Sohar too. The latest news from Salalah is that people have noticed movement of Army to the region too. . An uneasy calm is prevailing in the region and it is wait and watch time before it turns to a full blown confrontation.
A sea of change is happening in the Middle East and the whole world is watching with bated breath the future of the region and its impact to the global economy. The media which has played a major role during the protests termed the protests as Jasmine Revolution… may be an analogy to waft of smell from the Jasmine flower spreading around similar to the protests that is spreading country to country in the region !!!
Last year was termed as the Year of Calamities , I only hope that 2011 is not termed as the Year of the Protests as similar incidents are happening in China as well and in other regions of the world. Looking forward to a peaceful end to all these protests since it is the ordinary people like you and me who have to suffer and put up with hardship in the event the protests turns violent.