It’s not about dictators overstaying their welcome in the Middle East

its about poverty and hopelessness. I think the world is misreading the situation playing out in the Arab world. Well let’s put it rather that the Western world is getting it wrong.

We think democracy is something to fight for. Well. Not really. The freedom to vote for a bunch of wallies (to put it mildly) isn’t really on people’s hit list of desirable freedoms nowadays. Hence the low turnout at the polls in the developed world.

It’s not even about freedom of speech or association. Not about freedom of religious affiliation and whatever other good stuff gets written into fancy constitutions that are seldom upheld. Or women’s rights.

It’s about being able to earn a living to feed the family and give our children a safe and hopefully better future than we have ourselves. Bottom line.

This is a wish that every adult has. Even families without children wish this for their friends and relatives and in fact for any child on earth. My parents had it, I have it for my kids. Same wish.

That’s why the Arab world was in fact not prepared or ready for a military uprising and were caught off side when suddenly a war started all around them. They didn’t want political power or even to run the government. They just want a better life.

The fact that the anger is directed at the top leaders is understandable. They are the ones in charge. But they don’t necessarily have a substitution for those leaders sitting there for forty odd years.

Because it’s not about political change. This is not a South Africa where the ANC fought and lobbied the West for support and managed to get sanctions imposed against the White government. South Africa was ready for change. There was a well educated and politically astute new government sitting in the wings ready to take over.

This is not the case in the Middle East. The people taking to the streets to protest do not have anything else in mind but the fact that they want a better deal. That’s it.

So how does the sending of a now NATO organised military intervention fit into this scene? Well. Just about as badly as it did in Iraq where the local population hadn’t actually asked for the intervention that since 2003 has plunged their country into a war zone. Sure some people were happy to see Saddam toppled. But a lengthy war that displaced millions? Not really anybody’s first choice.

In the same way a handful of protesters in Libya had asked for a no-fly zone. Loudly via CNN. The same handful shown on a loop. But did anybody ask the general public that this is what they wanted? Did they want an all out war?

They wanted it as little as the people of the West wanted it. Best we go back to the drawing board and sort this mess out. Quickly!