At the present time nobody knows where Muammar Qaddafi is hiding. It is very clear however, that his tyrannical reign over the Libyan people is now over. This is a great victory for freedom and democracy. Surely, many observers will simply state that this will cause a power vacuum and Islamic fundamentalists are most likely to take over. This however, will not be the case in the long term.
If the “Arab Spring” has shown the world anything, it is that the people of North Africa and the Middle East no longer wish to live under dictatorships. When riots broke out in Tunisia, many people thought it wasn’t a big deal. The government would clamp down on the people with its iron fist and it would soon be over. When President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali had to flee to Saudi Arabia, many others thought that this type of political upheaval would not cross Tunisia’s borders. They were wrong.
Soon the riots and political protests appeared all over the region. Hosni Mubarak, strongman of Egypt for decades is now on trial and in a cage. Ali Abdullah Saleh, leader of Yemen had to flee his country after protests broke out and a failed assassination attempt that left him severely wounded. Going back to Qaddafi, no one knows where he is after rebels stormed Tripoli with the help of NATO airstrikes. Four dictators have fallen in one of the most repressive regions of the world in a little over six months. These countries had a lot in common. Their citizens had no political rights, there was no real balance of power and widespread corruption was rampant among government officials. While factions of hard line extremists exist is these countries, does anyone really think that these dictators were overthrown because the people felt they weren’t oppressed enough?! Of course not.
After watching this trend closely, one may wonder who is next. The answer is Bashar al-Assad of Syria. For months his government has been slaughtering Syrians who take to the streets the same way others did in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and Libya. He can cling to power but only for a finite amount of time. The Syrians are uprising for the same exact reasons Arabs did in the other countries. They are showing the world that they have the will and determination to be successful because every time that they are met with force, they are back out in the streets the next day. While the Obama administration was very late to do so, they have finally called for Assad to step down. The president and his team should continue issuing these kinds of statements while working to get the Europeans to cut off any business dealings with the Assad government and demand that he step down.
Many thought this “Arab Spring” was impossible. The people in the countries mentioned have proven otherwise. The United States and her allies should continue to push for democratic reforms all over the world. Those who are in the streets every day, trying to topple brutal despots will remember which countries stood by their side. There is little sand left in the hourglass for Assad. He should step down before things get worse and finally allow Syrians to have their own voice.