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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Meet the new year, hopefully not like the old year

Good riddance to 2013. I could say my discontent with this fast fading year, and for that matter 2012, is all about the poor Middle East, but it isn’t. For the most part genuine popular grievances were expressed in 2011 and, quelle surprise, they met the fearsome resistance of authoritarian states ruled by unaccountable narrow cliques. In Egypt the state’s ruling backbone reasserted itself after the Muslim Brotherhood interregnum. In Syria the ruling clique and their allies are, quite literally, fighting for their lives. Frankly, what else was expected? Oh and Libya was an apparently “necessary” western intervention to prevent a massacre in one city that helped to destroy an already weak state and replace it with the anarchy of multifarious militias. Good decision, western and Gulf leaders. 

No, none of that makes me “hope for a better year” in 2014. If “all politics is local” then all of my preoccupations are personal. I don’t have a runner in the Mid-East race, but I do have some family left in England. Some of it has, tragically, gone belly up over the last 15 months, but a lot of it remains, and some of it is even renewed, revisited and meaningful. So here’s to them (they know who they are), and here’s also to that small, diminishing, but valued, group of friends I have actually seen this year. 


Jonathan Brind said...

In 1972 Zhou Enlai said it was too early to express an opinion about the French Revolution. He was, of course, talking about 1968 not 1789. And he was right: a few years is not sufficient time to judge a revolution. The main point that has emerged from the Arab Spring is that no part of the world can cut itself off from the internet. Right now the people do not have power but they are learning how to get it.

Neil Partrick said...

Surprised to read your interpretation of what event your Chinese communist namesake's was referring to, Jo. In 1968 France saw a social revolt by students that was belatedly and opportunistically backed by the pro-Soviet union federation the CGT. Arab revolution? Not yet, with perhaps the partial and depressing example of Tunisia. Many of the 80 million "people" in Egypt do not look to the internet to judge their political interests either, even if the middle class activists who talk to the BBC in English do.