Thursday, February 17, 2011

Open Democracy of a Kind

Watching the wildfire of  popular protest running through the Middle-east and in particular Bahrain today, I worry about the friends I have living there, as I've visited the country on a number of different occasions for conferences over the last ten years or so.

It's particularly ironic, because several times I've given presentations on transactional government and the information society in the Arab world and the events of the last few weeks appear to be following my path, I've been in Tunisia and Egypt too. Of course, Saudi Arabia was one of my more frequent stops, just across the causeway from Manama in Bahrain and I can imagine the Saudis will be watching their small island neighbour with deep concern.

I did write a seventy page report on the 'Magic'  Kingdom's progress in the age of the internet for HM Government back in 2002 and I'm sure it's still kicking around on the web somewhere.

What is for certain is that history shows, only too clearly, that once one builds a small fire in the smouldering Arab imagination, it can burn fiercely  uncontrolled for a very long time. A fact that TE Lawrence knew only too well:

"...I drew these tides of men into my hands and wrote my will across the sky in stars..."

4 comments:

Nick said...

I can't help thinking the Saudis are ultimately responsible for a lot of the problems in the Arab and Muslim oriented countries right now. Put the major terrorist organisations under the microscope and before long, hey presto, there will be a Saudi connection there of some sort.

The country may be invaluable to Britain's exports, particularly British Aerospace, and be home to large British expat community, but we should keep a close eye on Saudi Arabia at all times.

Andrew said...

Just hope that Saudi Arabia and Iran don't decide to get involved

Anonymous said...

anon again!
I too, have spent much time in these presently troubled Lands, and wish for the return of civility as quickly as possible.
I think the Arabs should look to the King Muhammed Vl of Morroco for guidence in these troubled times.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps part of the trouble lies in interference by the West, as in Iraq, where we seek to impose our style of democracy on nations for which it is not suited.

The Arab states have long existed as Kingdoms or Sheikdoms and, when those inherent rulers are deposed, dictators, or chaos, invariably emerge.

Africa was the same with tribal kingdoms and chieftans but, post colonialism, these were all too frequently replaced with Idi Amin or Mugabe style democracy.

Too many in the West forget that our democracy evolved over centuries and it suits most of us. It cannot, and should not, be encouraged or foisted on people overnight and for whom it is not suitable.

There is a real chance that chaos could reign in North Africa and the middle east for some time and with a resultant disruption of world economics, the source of black gold and religious stability.