How much spring is the Arab spring?

how much spring  How much spring is the Arab spring?

During the last months, many politicians and journalists have started to discuss the depth of Arab spring; is it a spring at all? They are cynical because they did not see the Arab world change at once. Hope grows a bit now that Khaddafi is in his final moments, but scepticism is still there.

In an earlier blog I already adressed the one-sided knowledge and expectations politicians and journalists have about the Middle East. Their attitude concerning freedom and democracy in the Middle East is confusing.

Everybody knows that freedom does not come at once and is never for free. The same thing goes for democracy. Why on earth do people expect Arab countries that have suffered from lousy dictators during many years to be free and democratic just in the time of a blink of the eye, as by divine commandment? Once the dictators are gone, Arab citizens will still have to fight for freedom and democracy, maybe not with arms but the benefits will not just drop from the sky without human efforts and even sacrifices.

Another thing is that this is an Arab and not a western development. The outcome of Arab ‘spring’ might be a different ‘summer’ than western observers expect. This is what happens when people start to create their own destiny. I am very curious to know what the Arab world will look like in two years!

Another interesting blog: Egypt Arab spring or winter?

Freedom Day Northern Cyprus

Freedom Day Northern Cyprus

freedom day    freedom day    freedom day

Today I met with an old Cypriot friend. He sees his identity in the first place as Cypriot, then also as Turkish Cypriot. We saw each other in the center of Girne (Kyrenia) in the very North of Cyprus where the celebrations for the freedom of Northern Cyprus, the Turkish side of Cyprus were fully happening. 20th July 1974 the Turkish army started their action to take over charge of this part of the island, a peace operation in the eyes of some, an illegal invasion in the eyes of others. This date is now called Freedom Day.

Many people came today to the harbour of Girne for Freedom Day to see the military flight show that was indeed impressive. I tried to take some photographs but the jets should have slowed down a bit for more successful pictures – you see some poor results above this blog, couldn’t do any better sorry.

Discussion was heard whether showing freedom by military force was:
1. a male expression of freedom – women would show it otherwise
2. a middle eastern way of expressing – western europe would show it otherwise
3. a way to impress and frigthen the Greeks – in this version, the jets first made a tour around the green line to make the Greeks nervous before arriving in Girne for the show
4. just fun – it was indeed a perfect and exciting show
5. a way to make the Turkish Cypriots feel safe: look how much power we have, and we protect you

My friend as well as many other Cypriots was desillusioned when there was the UN-referendum for the unification of Cyprus in 2004 and the Turkish Cypriots said yes while the Greek Cypriots said no. Strange enough the Greek Cypriots were consequently rewarded by EU membership and the Turkish Cypriots were left out. Time will show whether this was the last (spoiled) opportunity for the Greek Cypriots to restore a common Cypriot identity, above national ‘homeland’ feelings and group identities. The North of Cyprus is now developing as a more independant Turkish identity, mainlanders start to live there and bring an ‘all Turkish’ culture in – the Turkish Cypriot identity is hardly surviving in these circumstances.

When I met my friend earlier today he asked me ‘did you really come over to see this event?’. I said in a joking tune, I wouldn’t miss any opportunity to celebrate Freedom Day on Northern Cyprus. ‘Oh, I feel so free’ he said. He didn’t travel for many years because the Turkish Cypriot passport would not be recognized by any country but Turkey. The Greek Cypriot passport does not apply. And he refuses to ask for a Turkish one that indeed he can obtain and that will be recognized. His identity does not formally exist.

The Turkish army, I do believe that, has guaranteed safety for the Turkish Cypriot community here. But after 37 years they are still on this island because the necessary followup – the political and economical support for Turkish Cypriots – was never realized.  So the question is not: why are there military flight shows on a Freedom Day? But the question is: which politicians and entrepreneurs will bring better alternatives for Cyprus – when?!

Other blogs you may like to read:
Gaziantep castle: panorama and nationalism
Gaziantep war museum
Alaniçi: moving memories of 1955 – 1974 (5)