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May-20-2011 21:57printcomments

Are Mideast Despots Doomed?

Variables in the "Arab Spring".

Middle east revolution

(SALEM, Ore.) - In the US, springtime is usually associated with the advent of pretty flower gardens and a time of renewed fragrance. As we take a whiff of life in the Mideast and North Africa, the picture differs greatly. What are the realistic chances for democracy to truly bloom for the so-called "Arab Spring"? Will the parched desert of procrastination prevail or be reversed? There is no simple answer, notable progress notwithstanding. What began as a people's revolution for freedom in Tunisia and soon spread to the masses in ancient Egypt has encountered formidable roadblocks in Yemen, Bahrain, Libya, and Syria. Mayhem and massacre have been the government's response in unliberated Libya and super-stubborn Syria as its incumbent despots have used the full power of mow-them-down to crush the quest for freedom, albeit merely peaceful protest. Because of US military involvement or two war fronts, Iraq and Afghanistan-Pakistan, our capacity to train and arm opponents of these repressive regimes is virtually nil. Add the wild card of our need for renewed vigilance worldwide in view of Al Qaeda threats to retaliate for Bin Laden's death by Navy Seals, and the danger of being "stretched thin" is omnipresent. Whether economic sanctions on these Mideast tyrants shall be effective has not been assured, but it does represent a viable alternative worth considering. President Obama makes sense in veering toward a more even-handed approach in seeking better results over the Israel-Palestine conflict that seems at impasse. Many supporters of the policies of Rabin are disenchanted with those of hardliners like Sharon and Netanyahu. Indeed, there is no national interest in assuming that all Israeli leaders might be created equal. That simply is not reality. Many diplomats from the Mideast and elsewhere are convinced that the unresolved Palestine issue lies at the root of the long-simmering unrest that continues to grip that region. Into this cauldron falls the cries of freedom-seeking Muslims who wish to emulate Egypt and cast off the yoke of archaic dictators. But the path to peaceful progress is often blockaded, both figuratively and literally -- and each nation has individual issues that impede their worthy struggles. Rome was not built in a day, it is said. So too then Damascus and Sanaa cannot be rebuilt politically in a month. The Arab Spring has come and born some fruit. On the horizon looms a long, hot summer, and the embers burn on, consuming many innocents along that uneven terrain. The Cradle of Civilization is striving to reach maturity.

_________________________________ Community Writer Barry Lee Coyne brings to our readers stories from his combined career of journalism and gerontology, and explains that these paths shaped his values. Lee Coyne once worked for The Civil Service Leader in NY State and covered the Legislature. He has also done features on mediation and arbitration, and believes in healthy skepticism. This writer-therapist often views the world as the masks of comedy and tragedy placed upon the scales of justice. For him, optimism inevitably wins. "Lyrical Lee" has traveled to 30 nations aboard and was once a press intern at the UN. His first published article was in The NY Daily News in '59, dealing with the need for integrity in public office.

He also launched the nation's first tele-conference on health education for shut-ins, created the Eldermentors project in VA to pair retirees with immigrant students needing role models, and was the main catalyst behind CCTV's "Public Public" panel show here in Salem. Lee received his BA in International Relations and an MSW in community organization. He currently serves as a member of Salem's Library Advisory Board. To send Lee an email, please write to this address:

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