Is Unrest in the Middle East and North Africa Similar to our Own?


Protesters in Oman

The coastal country of Oman has rarely experienced protests as seen in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Algeria, Yemen, Sudan and other places. For three consecutive days, protesters have taken to the streets in Oman with the same demands as those other countries: jobs, better wages and an equal voice in the government. Protesters, who are mainly young men, have also called for the resignation of certain government ministers who the see as corrupt.

Yesterday, protesters torched a supermarket. At least two deaths were reported due to protesters clash with police.  The police have used tear gas and rubber bullets to stave off violence and stop rallies from growing into huge, unmanageable crowds.

Oman's Ruler, Sultan Qaboos bin Said | Al Jazeera

Unlike the horrific actions by Muammar al-Gaddafi in Libya of killing his own people, pitting supporters against anti-government protesters and pushing his country into a civil war, Oman’s ruler has been quick to respond to protesters’ demands, seeking peace and negotiations.

Oman’s ruler, Sultan Qaboos bin Said, is moving quickly to try to offer reforms to quell the demands that include more jobs and a greater public voice in the country’s affairs. … On Sunday, he ordered 50,000 new state positions and a monthly stipend of 150 rials ($390) for job seekers. A day earlier, the sultan replaced six Cabinet members. … A high-level delegation planned to travel to Sohar to meet with protesters, who on Sunday set fire to cars, a police station and the governor’s residence. [....]

Oil has made the region wealthy and the ruling leaders and their families in the area have amassed great fortunes. What is unsustainable is the chasm between the rich and the poor, resulting in widespread unrest as one country after another finds itself faced with ordinary citizens taking to the streets in great numbers demanding a chance to live out of poverty and have their voices heard.

The conservative push to the far right in our country that is cultivating a growing gap between the rich and the poor is equally unsustainable. While I often write about that push using phrases such as “the GOP” or “conservatives” or “Republicans,” the line between parties and ideological issues is beginning to blur as people from all across the political spectrum lose their ability to maintain a stable, middle class life style. We saw this at mass pro-workers’ rights rallies this past weekend.

Despite the Tea Party’s scattering of anti-union protesters, support for unions and preserving the American dream is growing among the Tea Party, Republicans and the rising Christian “left,” whose jobs and rights are on the line, putting them at risk of loosing it all. This is being heightened by the growing cavalier remarks from Republican leaders in response to the plight of the middle class.

CBS News reported that: “New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said on Sunday that while he supported “fair and reasonable” collective bargaining rights for public service employees in New Jersey, those rights “didn’t come down from tablets at the top of a mountain” – and that individual states needed to make their own determinations on the issue.” [....] [Video] The message here is that our rights are not a given and we don’t necessarily have a choice in the matter. Passing the buck to the states is no different from the federal government treading on our rights.

Republicans’ brand of conservative values have morphed from less government equals greater liberty to total conservative government rule at the state and federal levels. Their quest to win back the White House and loosen up regulations on too-big-to-fail industries, Wall Street, banks and insurance, is fueled by a push to increase wealthy gains for the smallest minority in our country leaving the rest of us to fight over the remaining scraps. Their willingness to shut down the government and to distort and/or ignore facts at the risk of our country’s economic ruin, shows us they will stop at nothing to get what they want.

This is what drives me to watch, listen and blog everyday; even if it means repeating myself. Each of us must be vigilant and take nothing for granted.

References

Protesters in Oman set supermarket ablaze

Protesters shot as violence spreads to Oman

Deaths in Oman protests | at least two people killed in industrial town of Sohar as police clash with anti-government demonstrators.

Christie: Collective bargaining rights not a given | N.J. Gov says collective bargaining rights are granted to workers by lawmakers, and differ from state to state

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