Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Oil-rich vs. Poor Countries in Middle East

Corruption and inequality are shaking the relatively poor (read not oil-rich) countries of the region. Unlike many, I do not see the uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt and who knows next as revolts against oppression directly. Rather, they are the result of oppression being used as a tool for exploitation by the few who got richer while the masses stuck in poverty and unemployment. The driving force for the revolutions (I do not favor that term either) is hatred towards those people occupying governmental positions and businesses aligned with them.

As far as pure liberties are concerned, like freedom of expression, women's rights and suffrage, criminal and justice system, the oil-rich countries are as bad as the poor ones. The press is under control, communication is troublesome and often censored (plus monitored), individuals are severely restricted from what they eat and drink to what they wear. In most, one-man rule has been and still is the common denominator.

Taking into account their common cultural heritage, the acid test for me is if there will be any demand for enhancing liberties in the richer states. Any sign of disturbance there, though not necesarily similar in size and progress, will imply that a consensus for a more liberal and free society is growing.

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