The Tale of a Dictatorship
To prove to totalitarian regimes that no autocratic systems will last long, on itself, is a victory for the millions of people who have been marching the streets for the past few months. The protests, however, have led to greatly successful outcomes, could promote the idea that no undemocratic force can resist against public determination forever. The totalitarian regimes will inevitably fall down if people get enough political awareness, possess adequate determination to practice their citizenship rights and adopt appropriate mechanisms to fight authoritarianism.
Taking a glimpse at the historic annals, one can clearly see how significant the public participation is to develop and expand democratic values and egalitarian approaches. The governing systems that try to deny the citizens their basic civil and political rights do usually rely on violent means to strictly monitor every single aspect of public life.
The year 2011 began with a series of highly significant changes in international system. Democracy-driven public moves led to change in regimes in some countries and democratic reforms in some others. Pro-democracy movements spread across Arab countries and is still progressively threatening certain longtime ruling figures and dynasties. In addition to Libya and Syria, Yemen is going through its most unstable days in the recent decades.
Yemeni angry citizens launched nationwide demonstrations in late January to unseat Saleh, in power for the past three decades. Public protests, along with Al Qaeda operations, have extremely exhausted Saleh government, the decades-running totalitarian regime. Denying handing over power to his successor or opposition earlier than the country's forthcoming elections, Saleh government is fiercely attacking protestors.
Pressure mounted on Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh to stand down following Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) members sought to mediate a deal with the opposition.
Amidst burning questions on increasing violence and instability in Yemen, the GCC foreign ministers decided to suspend their initiative to address the political conflict in the country because of the lack of suitable circumstances to sign it by all parties. Armed with guns, knives and swords, supporters of Yemen's leader, Ali Abdullah Saleh, trapped U.S., European and Arab ambassadors at a diplomatic mission in new turmoil that swept across the capital Sunday as the president refused to sign an agreement calling for him to step down in 30 days.
Saleh refused twice before to sign the agreement. But last weekend it had appeared he was finally relenting, under intense pressure from his allies, the United States and Gulf Arab countries that mediated the accord. The opposition parties signed the accord on Saturday, and the Yemeni president grudgingly promised he would sign the following day. Instead, the mercurial leader showed his determination to cling to the power he has held for 32 years, despite increasing isolation. The GCC ministers, in a statement after their one-day extraordinary meeting, said they were keen on helping the Yemeni people to overcome their differences and to reach a compromise that would safeguard the security, stability and unity of Yemen.
Reports said that a gun battle broke out between police and tribesmen loyal to an opposition chieftain in the Yemeni capital on Monday, witnesses said, following President Ali Abdullah Saleh's refusal to stand down. Yemen's opposition vowed earlier on Monday to step up street protests, while insisting on efforts to avoid violence. "Our only option is to intensify the peaceful revolt and continue to choke the regime, and then finish it," said Mohammed al-Qahtan, a spokesman for the Common Forum coalition of parliamentary opposition parties.
"The regime is trying to push the situation toward violence, but it will not push the country into war," he said. Saleh on Sunday explicitly warned of civil war as he refused to sign the transition plan. "If they remain stubborn, we will confront them everywhere with all possible means," Saleh said. "If they don't bow, and want to take the country into a civil war, let them be responsible for it and for the blood that was shed and that will be shed if they insist on their stupidity." But youth leader Wassim al-Qershi vowed the anti-Saleh protest movement would remain peaceful.
The GCC has said it was suspending its mediation efforts, while US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton accused Saleh of "turning his back on his commitments and disregarding the legitimate aspirations of the Yemeni people." The European Union said it would review its policies towards Yemen and the French foreign ministry branded Saleh "irresponsible" for refusing to sign the GCC deal and warned of "consequences." The Obama administration and its Arab and European allies are also reassessing their military and economic support for Yemen in a desperate search for ways to force President Ali Abdullah Saleh's resignation before civil war erupts. According to a Washington Post report, Saleh's refusal to ink a third successive peace deal negotiated by Persian Gulf states, could force the US and its allies to consider other steps. White House counter-terrorism chief John O. Brennan said: "If he doesn't sign, we're going to have to consider possible other steps."
Uprisings that only months ago would have been unthinkable have engulfed a region desperate to replicate the toppling of leaders in Tunisia and Egypt. Like other demonstration-hit regimes, the government in Yemen is relying on police and military, pro-government propaganda and intimidation to beat back protesters. But the death toll and the frustrations are growing. To restrain the likely horrible consequences of the spreading demonstrations and regime changes, the US, EU and some regional countries, at first, approached them circumspectly but gradually increased pressures to help Yemeni citizens to unseat the dictator.
The international community has, to a great extent, announced their support for democratic demands in Yemen. The European Union have urged Saleh to begin a political transition "without delay", warning that Al-Qaeda stood ready to benefit from a power vacuum. In addition, Washington, which has considered Saleh a key ally in its "war on terror" but who expressed fears of Al-Qaeda taking advantage of a prolonged political crisis, is now pressing him to negotiate a transition of power. The US had said "We are obviously concerned that in this period of political unrest that Al-Qaeda and other groups will attempt to take advantage of that power vacuum. That is one of the reasons why we urge political dialogue to take place and a timetable for this transition that President Saleh has talked about to be begun".
At any rate, the recently mounting public protests in a wide array of M.E. countries imply the universal fact that freedom is the most substantial component in everyone's individual and social life. They seek freedom by any possible means they get. This bottom-up pressure can sometimes bring about public triumphs and topple down the dictatorial bodies. Even though the expanding democratic movements, in countries such as Libya, Syria, Yemen and Bahrain, have encountered fierce resistance by government forces, one thing is clear that determined people can overcome challenges against their civil and political rights.
Public participation, possibly with nonviolent approaches, can ultimately overwhelm the autocratic restrictions by tyrannical regimes. There are certain indications that the resisting regimes have been totally exhausted by the long running public protests. The people will, and should, struggle for building upon the current achievements to get access to all their rights that were denied for years. That would mark the brilliant moment when democracy gets triumphant over autocracy.