The West Should Encourage the New Order of Mideast

The surprise or horror at the takeover of the daily political agenda by civil movements is not enough.

The Middle East is undergoing a revolution, and it's not just evident in the removal of the Tunisian regime or the shaking up of Hosni Mubarak. It's a civil revolution in which the people, not the military, decide that they have had enough with the system, with its violations, corruption and poverty. The people are taking to the street not only to protest but to achieve the well-being they deserve.

This isn't the first time the people in the Middle East have crushed the system. Iran demonstrated its own model of a civil revolution in 1979, public pressure in Lebanon forced out the Syrian military in 2005, and big demonstrations in many Arab states changed economic policies there. Still, every time, there is enormous surprise at the people's enormous strength. There is surprise not only in Egypt and Tunisia, but also in the West and no less in Israel. This is because the people in Arab countries are still perceived as lacking in power and influence, and subject to manipulation by the authorities.

But the rules of the game are changing dramatically. In these countries, the weakening of government censorship, the effective use of the Internet, state bodies that lack authority, and especially the enormity of the suffering transform the people's direct action into an act of great influence.

But the surprise or horror at the takeover of the daily political agenda by civil movements is not enough. The matter requires quick and matter-of-fact conclusions. The first is that the people in Egypt or Jordan, in Lebanon or the Palestinian Authority, are no longer willing to give endless leeway to their leaders in politics, economics or foreign policy. This is a public that considers itself equal to the people in the West, even if it is not as powerful.

Hopefully the turmoil in Egypt, which is affecting all its allies in the Middle East and West, will encourage leaders there and in Arab states to quickly change the contract between the regime and the citizens. This is a new order that hopefully the whole region will move toward. It deserves to be encouraged by the West.