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West Asia, North Africa face tough transformation

By Li Weijian (People's Daily)

16:34, August 29, 2011

Edited and Translated by People's Daily Online

A decisive change has taken place after Libya's war situation stagnated for more than five months, marking the abrupt arrival of the post-Qaddafi era in Libya. However, because Western countries have turned their attention to Syria, the regional situation in West Asia and North Africa has not stabilized.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad recently said in an interview with a Syrian state-owned TV station that the Syrian people's awareness has defended the country and shattered a conspiracy to overthrow the government during the last several weeks. Currently, people are particularly concerned about whether there will be new storms in West Asia and North Africa.

The countries in West Asia and North Africa that were involved into the unrest face common problems, such as the serious imbalance in their economic and social development as well as the lagging pace of reforms and related institutional development. Many countries still maintain the economic and political structure of a tribal society after their independence, and their political systems involve both traditional and modern factors. The unrest since the start of 2011 shows that the people in these countries have expressed their urgent demand in an extreme manner for the political and social transformation of their countries, which can be regarded as a part of the historical process of their political and social development.

Obviously, this process will continue despite the downfall of dictators and regime changes. Many political and social problems facing the countries in West Asia and North Africa can be traced to their history and traditional culture. Many deep-seated problems involved in the social transformation in these countries cannot be solved simply through overthrowing old regimes.

The people of Tunisia and Egypt, who have just finished regime changes, are increasingly aware that regime changes do not necessarily ensure better lives or rapid economic growth, and it is more important to develop a social reform and economic development pattern that fits the specific conditions of one’s own country. In fact, the downfall of Hosni Mubarak has not stopped Egyptians from protesting. The difference is that protesters have made more specific demands this time, such as accelerating political and economic reforms and improving their living standards.

Rebuilding a stable order in turbulent West Asia and North Africa requires a long period and is full of uncertainty. Can the public wait? Long-held frustration may renew discontent, and interest groups having gathered together to overthrow the old regime may split again in the process of interest redistribution. In the absence of powerful state institutions, there is a huge risk behind the reform in these countries.

The political and social developing process in West Asia and North Africa has reached a new crossroads. The future development is a test for national leaders and people in the region, who are not fully prepared for the current upheaval. The large-scale and organized events in the turmoil were realized by using new technologies, and they are not a demonstration of a newly formed order.

So far, a clear and constructive goal has not come into being, and authoritative leadership has not been formed in these countries, but to be sure, the region needs more patience, tolerance and creativity, new political ideology and wisdom, as well as solidarity to go beyond political, religious and ethnic boundaries.


Leave your comment2 comments

  1. Name

Richard Fang at 2011-08-30116.50.34.*
I agree what you expressed. I hope we Chinese won"t in this way. May God bless us all.
Ahmed M Ibrahim at 2011-08-29117.192.66.*
Dear Sir, Your opinion is highly pragmatic. However many countries in the Arab World differ from one another. Tunisia cannot be compared with Egypt nor Sudan with Yemen. Every country has different problems. Moreover what happened in Egypt is not entirely inspired by local and internal conditions. It was in fact stage managed. Hence no solution for its problem is in sight.

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