Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

The remedy for revolutions | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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As long as our media, or at least parts of it, insist on asking the question who’s next after Tunisia and Egypt? Let us offer advice to our republics who are concerned with the crisis more than others. Whatever some of our media outlets say, which I will discuss in a forthcoming article under the title “the bullying media”, there is a magic remedy to the crisis, rather than demonstrations and destruction. This remedy is especially significant considering what we see happening in Algeria and Yemen.

My advice is not along the lines of what Colonel Muammar Gaddafi intends to do, by joining the anti-government demonstrations in person, in other words demonstrating against himself, but rather it is far simpler, and more credible. In the event of an outbreak of severe protests in our republics, the best solution is to call for immediate presidential elections under international observation. Whoever wins that election stays in power, and whoever loses leaves with dignity, rather than being defamed. This would circumvent the maneuvers of some of our Arab media, which in turn would appease the professionals in the business, who have endured a difficult past two months. This is not a ridiculous proposal; rather it is a rational and prudent call, with a sense of responsibility.

Instead of the violence which we witnessed in Egypt and Tunisia, in particular the Battle of the Camel, instead of Iran’s manipulation, whereby President Ahmadinejad, who is accused of electoral fraud by nearly half his populace, said that what happened in Egypt and Tunisia was the “blessing of the Mahdi”, instead of the economic losses, instead of repeatedly confusing America within the space of one day, let the entire process be “peaceful”, as advocated by Egypt’s youth. Subsequently, the region and our republics would be spared many losses and casualties.

Thus, what is needed is a call for elections immediately after the outbreak of protests, immediately after the people come out onto the streets. A call for presidential elections shows that the regime has confidence in itself, provided that the elections are observed by neutral international bodies, and genuine electoral competition is permitted. As long as our republics accept the fact that they are republics, rather than monarchies or “republarchies”, and their constitutions state that the people are the principal source of authority, the best solution is to conduct elections when the people have challenged the authority of the President. This is far better than trading insults, or coming out with posters and banners, in a manner similar to what we saw in Tahrir Square.

Why deceive ourselves? The crisis facing our region today, as I have repeatedly stated since the outbreak of the Egyptian uprising, until the end of the revolution there, is a crisis of Arab republics that want to be monarchies or emirates. Thus the best way to confront these uprisings, or revolutions, is to call for direct presidential elections. The Yemeni President, for example, has declared that he will not seek to renew or extend his term in office, and will not reset the clock or get rid of it altogether, yet it would be better, instead of the acts of rioting and violence, to call for presidential elections within three months, and under impartial international observation. Whoever wins can govern the country, and whoever loses can go home with all respect intact. The same applies to Libya, instead of Colonel Gaddafi coming out onto the street to protest against himself!

Is that not a more favorable solution? I think any rational mind would approve of that idea. As I said above, there is no need for another Battle of the Camel, there is no need to [organize protests] via “Facebook”, or even to begin unblocking websites as Syria has done…Elections are the shortest route to safety!