Africa’s Fire of Freedom

Graphics Editor
To look at the uprisings ablaze in the Arab World is to acknowledge the power of youth. Behind recent African rebellions is dramatic pressure from younger generations for political change denied under dictatorial regimes. High unemployment, suffering economies and corrupt governments have threatened the lower income classes, specifically composed of students and workers, to the breaking point. Since Tunisia’s Jasmine Revolution this past January, financial unrest has ignited across numerous African-Arab nations and has inflamed citizens to challenge their political leaders. While Egypt redraws its constitution and Libyan conflicts dominate worldwide newsstands, Americans are consequently concerned about oil prices and other countries boiling with potential revolts.
The combination of crooked elite classes and Europe’s economic downturn produced tense conditions across the Northern African nations, deepening the people’s sense of frustration toward their government. Tunisia, with a majority of its populace under 30 years of age and jobless, triggered the region’s revolutionary state through the uprising against their ruler of 23 years, Ben Ali. Under Ali’s reign Tunisia was stifling police state similar to its neighbors, with monetary inequality manipulating its republic system. Already angry over inflated food prices, civilian protests erupted after a young street vendor was deprived of his selling permit by the government and was found dead weeks later. Street demonstrations soon cornered Ali, eventually forcing the President to leave the country and relinquish his administration. Tunisia now must refresh its political system and is currently planning future elections. Most significantly Tunisians set the revolutionary example, planting a powerful seed within the desperate hearts of surrounding countries.
Egyptians captured the flames of Tunisia and gradually ousted their President of 30 years Hosni Mubarak until his final resignation on February 11, 2011. Libyans next followed suit, inspired to overthrow the oppressive leader Qaddafi, who has been in office for majority of their lifetimes. Unlike the mild uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, where the national military navigated the political wants of the people and restored peace, Qaddafi has enlisted Libyan armed forces to violently silence protesters.
The bloody stalemate between Qaddafi and his people has lead to a rebel demand for an American no-fly zone over the country. Although President Obama has openly spoken against the radical Libyan leader and insisted on his resignation, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates still holds reservations toward U.S. military involvement. For now U.S aircraft has been sent simply for humanitarian aid for refugees fleeing Libya. Meanwhile, the oil market has experienced unbalance since the start of Libya’s turmoil. Libya is the ninth largest oil producer in the world and its halted output may give reason for the jump in prices at the pump.
As citizens of the Arab World continue to make political history, crucial ideas have surfaced before the global community. Most notable is the power of social networking. Media coverage, online discussion, and international communication have been escalated by the posts of people within the troubled borders. Tweets, blogs, videos and facebook comments have not only shared personal commentary and shocking updates on protests, but have allowed the oppressed to rally each other and the world. It appears that with the rising age of social networking follows the younger generation of political change.

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