By Atilade Atoyebi
These are extremely bad times for the governments of Iraq and Lebanon. And so for their people.
In Iraq, the populace is in unison demanding that the government must resign. So far, close to 300 protesters have been killed in the escalating face off between the people and the gun toting law enforcement agents. The Prime Minister, Adil Abdul-Mahdi al-Muntafiki has promised to resign and at this time he hasn’t done so. Let’s open the diary of the people’s grievances. Corruption is number one. Some are stupendously rich. And a fraction of the population for that matter! Most are wallowing in abject poverty. Number 2. There is inexplicable youth unemployment. The third bleeding problem is run down infrastructure. A woman was heard telling an international television network that there is even no clean water to drink. Inadequate supply of electricity is a bone of contention.
The street demonstrators all over Iraq are intensely angry because their country is a leading oil producing nation. She is second in terms of oil exports among members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC. Her level of crude oil production per day was 4.5 million last August. Iraq takes the fifth position in crude oil reserves in the world. The people are wondering where the oil money is going to. Now they want to know. Also, there is no sign that the protesters will disperse until their demand for a purposeful government is met.
Now, Lebanon. Since the middle of October, the capital of Lebanon and other principal cities have been on the boil. Why? According to protesters that are increasing in number by the day, the country is not working. After years of managing sectarian power sharing between Moslems and Christians, it appears that vocal Lebanese are now willing to trade uneasy peace under sectarian power sharing for a new political arrangement. Corruption in government is a long worrisome issue. Like in Iraq, the rich dominate the toiling masses. Basic amenities are not available. Unemployment is driving more and more Lebanese into poverty.
Saad Ariri, the country’s Prime Minister has resigned. Yet, the street rage is heating up the polity. There is clarion call for a new government that will address the people’s complaints against the current establishment in Lebanon.
Yes. There are notable differences in the political configurations of Iraq and Lebanon. Neighbouring Iraq is exercising political influence on the government of Iraq. The people don’t like this as they are quick to remember that both countries were at war with each other for eight years during the reign of Sadam Hussein. In fact protesters have begun to attack Iranian diplomatic locations in Iraq.
As for Lebanon, the deep involvement of Hezbollar and Hamas, two nongovernmental but religious organizations now appears to be intolerable to the Lebanese.
Regardless of these different nuances, the following issues are the main reasons why weary people of the two countries have taken to the streets. Corruption, bad governance, lack of basic infrastructure and rising unemployment.
On a final note, other countries suffering from those diseases may not be too far from their own implosion. It’s a pattern that has taken shape during the Arab Spring uprising and is now coming back to the fore and spreading. Venezuela, Chile and Bolivia in South America are in it now. Only countries in the flock that can do the needful may escape the judgment and their people.