It is difficult for Us in western society to imagine what is really going on in countries like Tunisia and Egypt. We know there is civilian unrest but it is very hard to determine the catalyst. Most of Our information comes from western sources and often media crews on location are extremely limited in what they are permitted to cover without putting themselves in serious personal jeopardy and sometimes, no local coverage is permitted at all.
We are going to be offered an array of perspectives, opinions and hypothesis – all We really know is that the governments of these countries are failing to reflect the will of the people they represent, and they are doing so to such an extreme that it will no longer be tolerated by the people. The news article this paragraph links to was the catalyst that motivated Me to write this post – I hope You will take the time to read it before continuing.
The article’s title is ‘Analysis: Independence key for autocrats who want to hang on’. I find the title interesting because it suggests that an analysis has been conducted and that the outcome of that analysis is that independence ‘is the key’ to keeping autocratic governments in power. I think it is fair to say that the audience this article was written for does not hold high regard for governments who exercise absolute authority. I would be more interested in the findings of an analysis that discovered how to keep autocrats from coming into power and the most peaceful ways people have managed to remove them from power. Instead, it appears the author of this article felt more people would be interested in reading an article that tells Us how to keep autocrats in power.
The very first paragraph suggests that dictators are more likely to be tolerated by people in countries where there is little or no external influence. Essentially, if a dictator rules with an iron first for country, it is more likely to be tolerated. But if a dictator is perceived to be ruling with an iron fist at the country’s expense, then the citizens may be more likely to protest. But there is another key factor – loyal security forces.
The second paragraph tells Us that the loyalty of security forces are ‘pivotal in what happens to rulers’. The relationship here seems reasonable; the more loyal security forces are to their government, the more oppressive a government can become. Security forces who are prepared to do whatever it takes to protect their government can impose the government’s will by force. Generally, security forces are put in place to do just that, ‘secure’ the government. Increase security, decrease civil unrest… Wait, that’s not right… This isn’t about reducing civil unrest, it is about maintaining autocratic power. Increased security only means there is less chance that attempts by citizens to overthrow their government will succeed.
The next few paragraphs give Us some examples of military influence over civilian dissent, praising militia who ‘crushed protesters’. But it was the next paragraph that really caught My attention which quaintly summarizes everything the article has so far eluded to:
“But analysts say that as important in blunting uprisings as the brute force available is the extent to which a ruler, ruthless authoritarian as he may be, at least appears an authentic champion of his country and not a pawn of others.:”
To be continued 😉