Will Saudi be the next to rise up?

Jody McIntyre

109761242 300x200 Will Saudi be the next to rise up?It is strange to read in the news that the Saudi monarchy has “banned” demonstrations; as if such demonstrations were allowed in the first place.  Nevertheless, small protests in the east of Saudi Arabia do signal a change.  With March 11th being ear-marked as a ‘day of rage’, thousands of security forces are being sent to the region to suppress any potential uprising.

The focus has shifted away from Egypt since the fall of ex-President Hosni Mubarak, but, from yesterday’s events, it is clear that his toppling was only the beginning of an Egyptian revolution.  On Saturday, Egyptian activists stormed state security buildings in Cairo and Alexandria, including the secret police’s main headquarters in northern Cairo’s Nasr City neighbourhood, in a bid to recover documents detailing torture, interrogation and human rights abuses of all manners under thirty years of the Mubarak regime.

The people in Egypt have lost their fear.  The army tried to get them to leave the buildings, but did not use force; they know that a change has happened in their country, and they cannot suppress the people’s will any longer.

But the protests also show how much work is still to be done.  The overthrowing of Mubarak was a huge victory, not only for Egyptians, but for people across the Arab world; but what comes next?

We should take inspiration from the determination and directness of the Egyptian demonstrators.  They protested for hours outside the headquarters for hours, before taking matters into their own hands and storming the building.  They found huge bags full of shredded documents; evidence of an attempted cover-up by the remnants of the regime.

Mubarak’s fall must set a precedent, not count as an exception.  All sections of the regime guilty of committing crimes must be brought to justice.  And the Egyptian activists must send a message to regimes across the region; you will not get away with oppressing us, the people, forever.

It will be extremely interesting to see how events develop in Saudi Arabia later in the week.  It will also be interesting to see if the US and Britain take the Mubarak-Gaddafi-Ben Ali line in the case of Saudi; disposing of friendly dictators once they pass their sell-by date, or if they make a little more effort in supporting their number one ally.

It is difficult to be optimistic, especially when the Saudi monarchy can fall back on handing out $37 billion in “benefits” to citizens in an attempt to appease unrest, but then again, I would not have imagined seeing a day when the headquarters of the secret police in Cairo were taken over by ordinary people.  Stranger things have happened.

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  • pfbulmer

    Certainly the Egyptian economy is vital but this all takes time economic
    progress does not happen over night, the tourism industry is vital but tourists
    are not going to be going to the middle east for some time and economic growth
    tends not come out of chaos. Ironically the army also is heavily involved in
    the business and commercial sector and is one of the largest employers which is
    very unusual to say the least.

    If the army was prepared to float these assets off and privatised it could
    create a lot of cash if handled correctly but without stability nothing can

    Da: Disqus
    Inviato: Mar 8 marzo 2011, 11:13:20
    Oggetto: [independentblogs] Re: Will Saudi be the next to rise up?

    oracleone wrote, in response to pfbulmer:

    Egypt should spend some of the money given by Uncle Sam and co on some new
    projects that will help feed people and kickstart the economy. Instead of buying
    weapons and Defence capabilities. Food or war ? decide for yourselves.

    Link to comment:

  • greggf

    “But the protests also show how much work is still to be done.”

    What sort of pretentious claptrap is that?
    Have you been to Saudia Arabia, or any other Arab nation other that for a journo’s jolly?

    They oppress themselves with a theocracy that requires total submission. And they believe their Oil wealth is a reward for their piety.

    What the Egyptians and others may have done is to overthrow socialist and/or reactionary administrations. Islam and sharia remain firmly in place where you seem to expect democracy to prevail. And until Islam goes through some kind of reformation secular governance there is as remote as snow in Mecca!

  • Fayez Lababedi

    pfbulmer the article is far from simple, if you think it is simple then you also probably think yourself as Einstein. Democracy does not come out of chaos on this vast scale so I’m assuming that you don’t consider India a democracy? I think you will find over a billion Indians that would disagree with you. I never knew that there was a predetermined population above which democracy cannot exceed.

    You point out that today Egypt doesn’t even have a parliament it had a parliament but that parliament had nothing to do with the Egyptian people, its aspirations for the future. It didn’t reflect the desires of its people and was answerable only to President Mubarak and his goons. I doubt that many people in the free west would accept that as a parliament, simply a rubber stamp.

    I really don’t know how you reach your conclusions and I doubt very much that the closest you have been to Egypt is in your armchair watching the TV. The population of Cairo is 15 million so the Egyptian military are averse to taking them on and so are going softly, softly what absolute rubbish. It may just occur to you that the reason that the Egyptian military are not arranging a military coup d’état is that they cannot see themselves killing their families and refuse to obey orders to do so.

    And how did religion enter the subject religion even Islamic religion can coincide with secular side they need not be mutually exclusive and a government with Islamic parties involved is no more impossible as the division in Northern Ireland where the Roman Catholics and the Protestant share power or the myriad Israeli Orthodox Jewish parties in the Knesset

    The USA has a big problem on its hands and coincidently so do Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait et al. They would all like nothing better than to see Colonel Qaddafi toppled it would appear simplicity itself. There are US weapons and bases in Saudi Arabia, Saudi Arabia needn’t do the fighting it has neither the forces nor the ability to use such sophisticated weaponry so they would fly under the Saudi flag, destroy the Libyan air defence systems and leave it to the Libyans to finish off Gadhafi.

    The problem here lies is that the Shiites in Saudi Arabia have called for a day of rage. The Saudi King and Princes are detested in their own country what if the Americans or the Saudi royal family be seen as attacking Shiite Muslims that would only anger the revolutionaries and if Saudi Arabia is seen to stumble it will take Kuwait and the UAE with them.

    This is the result when one has two world leaders that made the biggest blunder in the Middle East diplomacy; President George W Bush and Prime Minister Tony “The Poodle” Blair. They forgot that the there was a balance of power in the Middle East. Iraq was there to balance Iran. Now look at the situation in the revolts that are occurring in the Middle East. It started with Tunisia that was predominately Shiite citizens ruled by Sunni leaders. A revolt and the Prime Minister decided to take a holiday but retain everything else in the status quo. Not good enough, the Tunisians bought down the entire government.

    Egypt demanded their freedom and Mubarak suddenly became expendable to the West. The USA decided to back the people and Mubarak was no more. The same problem is now facing Egypt as was facing Tunisia. The people want to dispose of the entire Mubarak apparatus and I believe that they will eventually get what they want. There is not a whisper of an Islamic state there is talk of a freely elected parliament with the participation of Islamic parties, there is talk of freedom of speech but I don’t think the Egyptians are prepared to swap a dictator in a suit with a dictator in a turban.

    Now we turn to Libya. Gadhafi has the USA and Saudi Arabia over the provable barrel. If Saudi encourage or interfere with Gadhafi as a cruel murdering dictator the Saudis people will be thinking why should they settle for $38 billion gift when all of the country’s wealth belongs to its people? They could vote in a parliament who would decide how best to invest the country’s wealth and I doubt that will be in the pockets of thousands upon thousands of bastards that the Saudi royal family have squired from wives and concubines and are given huge sums of money and don’t work for it. And on the other hand if the Americans are encouraging democracy throughout the Middle East why are they making an exception for Saudi Arabia? Wouldn’t that be hypocrisy writ large?

    No, this isn’t a simple article at all and strangely enough it has little to do with Islam and a lot more to do with democracy, freedom of speech and freedom of though. And yes democracy is messy and is often chaotic. These brave people are trying to regain control over their lives and their futures and build a more decent and honest country that they can feel proud of. I know your opinion of whether they will succeed or fail I think is exactly that, your opinion with no encouragement.

  • EricDerick

    Excellent post. Hit the ‘like’ button but it isn’t responding. Power to the people!

  • lovetruncheon

    thats the way.

    blame everyone else instead of taking a good hard look at yourselves.

    you’re getting more and more western with each passing day!
    :o )

  • rhijab

    I do not think that greggf has spent much time in the Arab World either. Oppressive rulers use religion as a proxy, as do some of their opponents. The “average” Arab citizen -to the extent one can simplify- is much smarter than given credit for. The younger generation in particular is better educated and more sensitive to issues of justice and equality. They are more open to questioning authority. They understand basic freedoms -social, political and economic- and are not swayed by deceptive arguments from totalitarian rulers, whether they wrap themselves in religious, capitalist or socialist flags. Change is not necessarily around the corner, but it is inevitable.

  • greggf

    “I do not think that greggf has spent much time in the Arab World either.”

    How about 2 years in Alex and Damanhour, Egypt; 1year in Riyadh, Saudia; misc months in Dubai and Kuwait; perhaps 2years in Khartoum, Sudan does’nt count although I was there when and after Sharia was declared in 1983.
    Mind you I was working during these periods so I did’nt have much time to pontificate about politics but observed much.
    How about your experience, rhibab?

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