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The Domino Effect in Reverse - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Before war on Iraq, much chatter went around about the domino effect in the Arab region. The claim was that once “freedom” finds its way to Iraq, Arab regimes will automatically crumble down one after the other under the sheer pressure of public demand for similar freedom and democracy, or with an American military push in that direction.

Three years of occupation and bloodshed later, the American-exported democracy in Iraq was not much more than ethnic and sectarian division and hostility to neighboring Arab states. The democratic leader turned out to be no one other than the American Ambassador, and the interests of the people proved only subservient to American national interests. A similar democracy is now being sought in Lebanon, inaugurated with political assassinations.

This does not necessarily contradict with the domino theory. The effect, however, went in the reverse direction. In another part of the world, home of Che Guevara, Allende, the small island of Cuba, and Hugo Chavez have proven that even small weak countries can stand up to the hegemony of powerful ones.

The domino effect in Latin America has put back Venezuela’s natural resources under its national control. It made Evo Morales, an indigenous citizen, win the elections in Bolivia. It brought Michele Bachelet to presidency in Chile. The domino effect has ended decades of military dictatorship and foreign hegemony, and reinstituted real democracy and freedom. Hundreds of lives were sacrificed for that cause, and they were not wasted.

Electing Bachelet, who suffered in the prisons of Pinochet, and the success of Evo Morales, the indigenous citizen who fought hard for the rights of his people, to join the list of Castro, Chavez and Lodai Silva, reveal a new kind of democracy. It is the kind of democracy that is not exported by American military might in order to subjugate countries, their people and natural resources to serve the American interest. This Latin American democracy is one that represents the true will of the people and preserves their political, cultural and economic independence.

Forty years have passed since Guevara was executed, Allende deposed and thousands of Bolivians and Chileans murdered, thanks to American interference and CIA operations. Forty years of struggle and persistence have proven that nations do not surrender to oppression and injustice. This is the domino effect that should inspire the Arab and Muslim worlds. This is where Iraqis and Palestinians should look for inspiration.

Today, the international Christian Alliance is bypassing the most basic principles of international legitimacy whenever it has to do with Arabs or Muslims. Subservient media further exaggerate our weakness, deform our image, and undermine our resistance. If Arabs and Muslims are feeling too weak in the face of this campaign, they should at least have faith in their rights and the inevitability of victory because right is on their side.

Arabs and Muslims need to gather force in the face of the American-European colonial alliance against their freedom, independence and dignity. They need to hold on to their rights in freedom, land and independence. The domino effect in reverse in Latin America should be an inspiring lesson for their resistance movements. Sacrifice is a duty to preserve their rights, protect their culture and religion and build their future.

Dr. Bouthaina Shaaban

Dr. Bouthaina Shaaban

Prof. Bouthaina Shaaban is political and media advisor to the Syrian presidency, and the former minister of Expatriates. She is also a writer, and has been a professor at Damascus University since 1985. She received her PhD in English Literature from Warwick University, London. She was the spokesperson for Syria. She was nominated for Nobel Peace Prize in 2005.

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