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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

From Wall Street to Ballot Box in Middle East AND Back !

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The innocent looking, mathematics and business wizards, who were slogged in for 12 hours a day 5 days a week and partied for 24 hours on the weekends, who stood on their feet high, self made, a bit greedy at times for all the right reasons mostly never would have imagined how their shorting of all the traded asset classes, will affect the life of people sitting 5000 miles away in the middle of a desert.

At macro level when I think I am surprised to discover that by first half of 20th century imperialistic powers were thrown out and democracy was established in several third world countries, but many second world countries were and are still controlled by their own home grown imperialistic regimes who have allowed a selective or should I say restrictive freedom !

Interestingly the recent upsurges which swindled the thrones of hitherto venerated and often celebrated flamboyant, reasonably autocratic rulers such as Qaddafi, Mubarak and Ben Ali, have not impacted the GCC countries, despite their close political, cultural and religious ties. Instead the GCC countries have maintained the precious golden silence about all these surges, movements and have neither supported nor opposed any of the sides vehemently. Even more interestingly elections at various levels were organized within 3-4 months across these GCC countries.

The power in GCC countries is concentrated with very very few members of the royal family and almost anybody who has spent reasonable time in GCC knows this. The Kings and the Queens of these countries have used all their power and money to wield even more power and earn more money for themselves and for their people. All the royal families of GCC nations are popular amongst local nationals, are western educated and reasonably liberal too. So despite their old friendship with the likes of Gaddafi, they were wise enough to judge the changing times. Before their peace loving national could find spare time from shopping in the newly built swanky malls and artificially created islands, elections were declared, candidates were nominated, electoral lists were prepared and elections were organized peacefully and efficiently. While people were busy watching Al Jazeera and CNN to find the truth of what actually happened in Middle East, showcase reforms were conducted in a sweeping manner at the speed of light in this mighty oil rich part of Middle East now called as GCC. The local media and newspapers went all Gung-ho about these lip-service elections, but despite all the attempts to create buzz, voter turn out remained low (20%-40%). The voter list was prepared a bit arbitrarily though and not all the members of the family were allowed to vote. To impress the west and the rest, some women candidates were made to contest elections, but not many women were allowed to vote. The low voter turnout indicates the interest, perhaps necessity and efficacy of such elections.

In the increasingly connected world, the information is already being democratized at a much rapid rate and the consequences have been beyond what anybody could have ever imagined. The otherwise orderly GCC nations witnessed for the first time the chaos which was accompanied by movements/uprisings/struggle for freedom and democracy. At present the GCC nationals does not seems to be too much bothered about the idea of democracy. The generous government spending will ensure a high disposable income in the smaller of the GCC nations. However the not so oil rich and not so small nations are already facing the heat of dissent and public anger. The seemingly never ending supply of the Black Gold and its near all time high prices will ensure a constant source of revenue and hence prosperity for these nations. But for how long and how far, is the question which nobody wants to face right now. When all the developed socio-economic-cultural powerhouses of the world are busy in saving their today, these GCC nations can very easily afford to forget the distant future, which is very very difficult to predict in any case.

Tunisia and microscopically speaking the recession which was born and bred in the Wall Streets of the first world has catalyzed the process of democratic transformation in the second world but surprisingly most of the third world seems to be reasonably insulated. GCC nations have white washed their countries, the other Middle Eastern nations are celebrating their success, are busy pondering about their respective futures. Because of the autocratic regimes which lasted for decades, a political and leadership vacuum got created without anybody noticing it. So the new generation revolutionaries who knows how to Tweet on Facebook and fire AK 47 are digging mud to bury their past and fill up the vacuum.

The bizarre world we live in is getting more wired and weird every day. We are back to where we started this post, Full Circle as they call it. The snapshots are the same but the faces on both sides of the table are bit different this time. The flashy, egocentric, tyrants are being replaced by the suave, educated, liberal, capitalists, who are interested only in minding their own business. Infact they too would have never imagined, that such a day would come within their lifetime. As of now, they seems to be committing the same mistake which their counterparts from the Middle East committed, denial! Before they will realize things can become more ugly and violent.Will it end the same way?


  1. It is true that our views about middle east are greatly limited by lack of knowledge and then are influenced by what western media decide to tell us.

    You have not mentioned the issue of religion on the regimes but somehow the closeness between more conservative views of religion and the state could be another reason why these countries adopt certain measures?

  2. Thanks for comments Deepak. Religion has definitely been a great influence be it Middle East, India or Roman empire at different points in time. In this post, I tried to identify the correlation between two seemingly unrelated events such as Recession in one part of the world and election in another...


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