Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don’t stand in the doorway
Don’t block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There’s a battle outside and it is ragin’
It’ll soon shake your windows and rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin’ – Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan’s The Times They are a-Changin’ serves as an appropriate anthem to capture the spirit of revolution and the wave of change that is spreading across North Africa and the rest of the Arab world. This sentiment is unusual in nations which had seemingly gotten used to being ruled by dictators for decades. One can only guess what sparked it all; perhaps it’s simply an outburst of deep rooted resentment which was bottled up in the hearts of men for years. The protesters have sent a clear message across the world; they’ve had enough and they can’t take it any more.

On the surface, these uprising can be traced to the massive protests in Tunisia which led to the successful ousting of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali who had been in power for over 20 years. News of the success of the Tunisian people spread like wildfire across the Arab world. This resulted in similar protests sparking up in Egypt, Yemen and Jordan, amongst other places. All the demonstrations made the same demands; they were sparked over issues of unemployment, food inflation, corruption, freedom of speech and poor living conditions.

The protests in Egypt have now intensified greatly. The army was called for crowd control and curfews were declared in Cairo and other cities. Hosni Mubarak, Egypt’s ruler for thirty years, responded by reshuffling the government. While this is not what the protestors wanted, it is indicative of how seriously they are being taken. The uprisings continue despite this announcement and have gained fuel as Mohamed ElBaradei, the Nobel Laureate, who is seen by many as the next president, openly joined the protesters.

On another positive note, the referendum in Sudan was successfully executed and there is now hope that the decades long civil war between North and South Sudan will finally be over. Some 99% of South Sudanese voted to secede from the North which indicates that they have secured the mandate to soon become the world’s newest nation.

What will happen next is anyone’s guess, but I hope that it will be something positive and the civil unrest will eventually lead to good. The success of the Tunisians serves as a model as to how unwanted and unjust rulers can be removed in the Arab world. It’s a stark contrast to the methodology employed during the unjust invasion of Iraq which led to astronomical bloodshed. True social reforms happen in a society when its own people lead the change, not when foreign powers force values down people’s throats.

Originally written for The Mirror