The liberal spirit captivating the Mideast’s revolutions


Abdulrahman Al-Rashed
November 24, 2019


Anti-government protesters draped in Iraqi national flags walk into clouds of smoke from burning tires during a demonstration in the southern city of Basra on November 17, 2019, as protesters cut-off roads and activists call for a general strike. – Iraqis flooded the streets of the capital and southern cities in a general strike that bolstered the weeks-long movement demanding a government overhaul. Protesters cut roads in the oil-rich port city of Basra by burning tyres and in Hillah, south of Baghdad, students and other activists massed in front of the provincial headquarters. (Photo by Hussein FALEH / AFP)

Reflecting on the three major events in the Middle East — Iran, Iraq and Lebanon — we realize that they are more than trying to break free from failed regimes and miserable economic conditions. They also share homogeneity in intellectual identity, the profile of the individual and the society represented by the angry street protesters in Tehran, Basra and Beirut. They are young people who have risen against the formula of the political system, with its old features and practices, even in Iraq, which is led by relatively new institutions and regimes, but those in charge resemble their counterparts in Tehran and Beirut.
In addition to standing up against failure and corruption, this is a revolution with calls for greater social change than bread and employment. It is against religious extremism and in favor of social openness. It has a liberal spirit in keeping with the region’s modern variables. In Iran, about 60 million people under the age of 35 are unrelated to those in Qom and Tehran’s palaces. The same proportion and crisis can be found in Iraq and Lebanon.

There are overt hostile manifestations against the dominance of conservatives and clerics, even in two cities that depend spiritually and economically on religious benefits such as Karbala and Najaf. The demonstrations raised blunt slogans in their hostility to religious leaders. The images, voices and banners in all three countries attack the existing conservative situation because it is a boat for politicians and the rule of state entities. The result is that all these regimes have succeeded in religious domination but have failed to provide economic solutions for the country.

In addition to standing up against failure and corruption, this is a revolution with calls for greater social change than bread and employment.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed
The regimes have deprived young people of their liberties, normal lives and the right to shape their future. Do those who demonstrate in Beirut know the size of the forces on the ground? Do those carrying pots fear those who hold guns? Perhaps not, or perhaps they do not care because they want to declare their desire for change. We also note that they have been too clever to fall for the foxes of the dominant forces, such as the presidency, Hezbollah and the beneficiaries of the status quo, who are trying to drag the angry to the pitfalls of treason, such as the weapons of the resistance, the legitimacy of the resistance or relationship with Israel. They avoided such pitfalls in order to prevent the regime’s guards from accusing them of treason and considering them the enemies of the nation who should be eliminated.


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