Do Protests In Brazil And Turkey Signal A Global Trend?
The Brazilian government finds itself in a similar situation as the ruling party in Turkey – flummoxed by its own citizenry who have taken to the streets to voice their disillusionment with the current state of affairs.
It is ironic that the ruling Workers Party rose to power on a wave of protests. As with most of the recent protests throughout the Middle East, these also began in opposition to a single issue – rising bus fares. But the protests have evolved and has drawn in middle-class citizens as well.
“But while the fare increases might have been the spark that incited the protests, they unleashed a much broader wave of frustration against politicians from an array of parties that the government has openly acknowledged it did not see coming,” reports The New York Times.
Efforts To Restore Calm Appear Limited
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff sought to restore calm by making a speech in which he pledged to fight corruption, but it seems to have had little impact.
“The entire political class, including the most progressive elements, is dumbfounded as this is a movement which breaks from the traditional mold,” socialist lawmaker Chico Alencar told Agence France Press.
Signs Of A Global Movement?
David Rohde of Reuters says that the protests may appear at first glance to be comparable, it would be a mistake to link citizen movements in Turkey, Brazil, and Iran.
“Comparing political movements in different countries carries risks. Societies vary enormously. But observers see parallels between Brazil’s protests, India’s anti-corruption movement, austerity protests in Europe, the U.S. Occupy Movement and similar demonstrations in Israel.
“My focus on Turkey, Brazil and Iran is driven by recent events and optimism. Positive dynamics are at work in all three nations,” he writes.
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Loyalty To Assad Is Anything But Simple
Robert Worth visits Syria to learn more about the Alawites, a small but fiercely group loyal to President Bashar al-Assad.
“After two years of bloody insurrection, Syria’s small Alawite community remains the war’s opaque protagonist, a core of loyalists whose fate is now irrevocably tied to Assad’s. Alawite officers commanded the regime’s shock troops when the first protests broke out in March 2011 — jailing, torturing and killing demonstrators and setting Syria on a different path from all the other Arab uprisings. Assad’s intelligence apparatus did everything it could to stoke sectarian fears and blunt the protesters’ message of peaceful change,” he writes.
But that loyalty, Worth notes, is not as simple as black and white. One woman with whom Worth spoke says the Alawites believed “the regime’s rhetoric, that they would be massacred if Assad falls,” insisting that “they are very afraid, and very confused.”
That might have been the case at the start of the war, Worth adds, but he contends after years of war “it does not matter whether the Alawites were duped or not, because their sectarian fears have been realized.”