Saturday, April 16, 2011

Iraqi Youth Protests: Revolution or Repression in the Middle East?

A Reflection on "Iraq Crushing Youths' Efforst to Be Heard" New York Times, April 14, 2011.

With every Arab country that sinks into chaos giving birth to a new order, the median age slides with it.

In Tunisia, the average age is 30.

In Egypt, 24.

In Iraq, with a media age of 21, 40% of the people are 14 and under. The Arab Spring is springing forth from the young, the most numerous, connected, and vocal constituency.

Youthful enthusiasm is not afraid to question the old, repressive ways of sclerotic, tyrannical regimes. The young have no qualms about changing the present order, an order which for them is basically new since they have endured it for very little time. Coupled with their openness to innovation and their the near-delusional exubernace of juvenile invincibility, there is little wonder that the newer generation in Arab states throughout the Middle East are rising up, demanding change.

According to Tim Arongo, the older generation of Iraqis are still dominated by the bitterness of sectarian schism between Sunni and Shi'a, because Saddam Hussein's repressive rule, and the lingering fears of challenging state control which have taken captive the hearts of many Iraqis.

In addition to the slow reluctance of the aged to let go of the past, there is the shaky grasp which the younger generation has on the present, and the unknown which is the future.

Yet appreciating the past is crucial to any subsequent lasting reform in the Middle East.

The photograph capturing the convocation of youthful protestors on page A9 features Hussein al-Najar donning a black beret with a red star wearing a shirt bearing the celebrated photo of Ernesto "Che" Guevara. It is disturbing to ponder that the youth of Iraq would emulate the bloody Communist coups of a hack-medical student turned sadistic killer, who helped plunged an island nation into impoverished tyranny. His wicked example, if the harbinger of regime change to come, will only spell doom for the long-sought hopes of freedom and

In this jarring ignorance lies the fundamental problem with youthful élan transformed into revolutionary rage. The energy to effect overthrow of the established order cannot establish a stable society that respects the rights of all. Administrative wisdom requires time, dedication, experience. It is not enough to hate the present oppressor. Revolutionaries must exercise dedicated diligence in the shaping of their nation's successor.

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