Yegparian: No Guarantees

By: Garen Yegparian

Tue, May 24 2011

Much is being said about, and made of, the “Arab Spring,” and rightly
so. It was, and is, quite breathtaking what happened in a matter
of weeks earlier this year, though the bloodshed in Libya and Syria
(not to mention the regimes’ harshness in Bahrain and Yemen) speak
to how long and arduous a process has begun.

These events have been mislabeled as “revolutions.” Typically, what
we’ve called “revolution” has been more organized, prepared for longer,
associated with some ideological/intellectual perspective, and not
so unforeseeable. The Arabs’ and North Africans’ actions are perhaps
better described as rebellions, uprisings, or more cumbersomely,
“enough is enough reactions” to unacceptable conditions.

This makes them even more susceptible to cooption than is usually
the case in revolutions.

There are no guarantees, even in much better prepared and implemented
cases of all sorts. Tides of positive change ebb and flow. Things
don’t move uni-directionally for the better, though over time they do
improve. Whichever example of revolution you choose-American, French,
Russian, anti-colonial (post-World War II), Iranian, etc.-things
always looked really good initially, then became far less so. Counting
slaves as 3/5 human? Installing a reign of the guillotine followed
by a return of despotic rule? Replacing one man’s tyranny with that
of a party? Shedding imperial rule only to have petty despots grab
the reins of power? Toppling a king and getting a theocracy as a
replacement? None of these examples inspire much hope. Yet each
of these revolutions brought some amelioration to the life of the
average person.

Returning to the current set of uprisings, perhaps most instructive
would be Lebanon. Though not currently living through mass street
actions, it was the first in the Arab world to have them, after Prime
Minister Rafik Hariri was assassinated with a massive car bomb. Things
improved with Syria’s consequent pullout, but the opposing side has
yet to deliver with major improvements. This same kind of multi-year,
multi-generation process awaits other countries undergoing internal
turmoil. If any further proof is needed, just look at what’s going
on in Armenia and the rest of the former Soviet Union.

In all this, one big concern for Armenians is the fate of our
communities in the countries undergoing the current turbulence. These
communities, as minority groups, have had to develop a modus vivendi
with whatever authorities were in power. Hopefully, this will not be
held against them by any new leadership with whom we will undoubtedly
cooperate. Remember, these are not immigration-based countries such as
the U.S. and most of the rest of the Americas. There is something of
a host-guest relationship despite four generations of post-genocide
citizenship because we are recognized as Armenians, which enables
and eases the maintenance of our identity in these countries.

We can only hope that the lives of all people living the Arab Spring
will be improved when things settle down.

From: A. Papazian

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