Posted by on December 23, 2011 in Blog

This morning, we heard the tragic news of twin suicide bombings in Damascus that killed at least 40 people and injured over a hundred, amid ever more valid fears that Syria is probably sliding towards civil war. Meanwhile in Egypt, footage emergedof the brutal beating and shooting of protesters, and one woman suffered a very serious head injury from repeated clubbing by the army’s anti-riot force. In Iraq, a dozen coordinated bombings killed at least 60 people and injured over 200. Could anyone have imagined this climate was less than a year away from the euphoria following Mubarak’s ouster?

By one reading, one can say that these developments are an ominous sign that the relatively non-violent nature that characterized the early days of the “Arab Spring” has given way to protracted violence, sectarian tensions, and general instability. But could things have unfolded in any different way? Is change really ever as easy as a peaceful uprising immediately giving way to freedom and democracy in a region that has been plagued by autocracy as long as the Middle East has? This culture of unaccountability has predictably produced the same reaction to the violence from the authorities: it’s all the fault of “foreign elements,” “instigators,” and often “terrorists.” Apparently, the governments’ refusal to treat their peoples decently never has anything to do with it.

However things unfold in the Middle East, it’s important to remember that our primary role, as American Americans, is how our country relates and reacts to these developments. For too long we’ve been (and continue to be) on the wrong side of things, and our job is to bring this critical change to US foreign policy that will ensure that our contribution is a constructive one. This is part of the reason why a collective of Arab American organizations came together to launch Yalla Change.

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