The great storm of revolt that began in a small town in Tunisia now sweeps from Morroco across thousands of miles of North Africa and the Middle East through to Iran, as this map shows.
Tunisia’s tyrant Ben Ali and Egypt’s dictator Mubarak have gone.Others, such as Gaddafi in Libya, who have ruled for decades over populations suffering poverty and stunted expectations are desperately clinging onto power.
It is no coincidence that the regimes that are facing the force of these great movements for change are some of the staunchest allies of the US, Britain and the West.
For decades obscenely wealthy monarchs and dictators have been more concerned with serving their imperial masters than their own populations. And now they are paying the price.
The revolution in Egypt has shaken the US establishment to its core. Barack Obama only came out in support of protesters when it was clear his great ally Mubarak was finished.
Now Bahrain has erupted and he faces losing yet another supporter.The New York Times described it as a “pillar of the American security architecture in the Middle East”. The state is home to the US 5th Fleet. But Bahrain’s revolt worries the US for another reason—it is only a 15 mile causeway away from Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia is at the heart of the US’s strategic interests. It has 20 percent of the world’s oil reserves—yet one in four of its 26 million population live in poverty and there is 40 percent youth unemployment.
The most powerful nation in the world is watching as mass collective protest of ordinary people is challenging its interests across the region.
Protesters face bullets and brutal repression, yet still they come out on the streets of Manama and Benghazi and demand their rights. The French writer Victor Hugo once wrote that even the mightiest armies cannot hold back an idea whose time has come.
Revolution appears to be the idea whose time has come.