America does not come to the rescue of even pro-American leaders when people rise against them. This is the rule of thumb these days, in the Middle East especially, where we have seen America’s confusion and inability to take a persistent stand.
The last few weeks have manifested a new trend in Arab politics. The new generation, those that have little to do with ideological and political opposition, proves to be fearless of state repression and willing to take the law into its hands.
These young people are impatient with the state failure to provide them with jobs and address the most critical problem in the Middle East, i.e., poverty.
Events that have unfolded over the last few weeks indicate that the tool of survival of authoritarian regimes have long been ineffective. Leaders need to cease listening to the corrupt political elite that has no interest in changing lest this should chip away at its gains. It is not an exaggeration to say that the political elites - who mislead leaders about the level of political, social and economic frustration of the public - are not patriotic. Nor do they have a good appreciation of the power of the street.
The situation can no longer be contained. The Arabs have become a unified virtual society, thanks to social media and online newspapers, and this virtual society is impacted by any social unrest that takes place in this part of the world. Disgruntled people that take to the street ask for one thing: change of regime. Some even demand that regimes be put on trial.
Sadly, some in this part of the world are still in self-denial. Some newspapers censor, as never before, any news that might directly touch on the potential ripple effect of the awakening Arab street, as we clearly witnessed in Tunisia and Egypt.
Media people need to understand that social media are pulling the rug from under the feet of conventional, more conservative media. In an era when the timeline between the occurrence of an incident and its appearance online is extremely short, some still pathetically think that patriotism entails censorship.
The street revolution - that proves to be stronger than any illusion about state power - should lead to another revolution, in the media.
The official media are no longer credible. For a regime to function peacefully and with stability, there is need to read the street properly. Unfortunately, the official media in the Arab world have done nothing but mislead the regimes.
The official media, by design or by default, have not lived up to their national and patriotic tasks by being professional. It is quite often that we hear that media should be responsible.
The media should be professional and reveal the facts of any given situation. For this to materialise in this part of the world, the concept of official media itself needs to be reformed.
*Published in the JORDAN TIMES on Feb. 1, 2011.