Not much attention was paid in the international media to the demands of the Iraqi protesters circulated on many Iraqi websites and Facebook pages inviting people to join demonstrations on February 25th in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square. The lack of any media interest can be partly attributed to the fact that what they oppose is a scheme forced upon them in the name of democracy.

Arab regimes for centuries have denied freedom and economically abused their “subjects” and the available natural resources. Democracy and revolution are Western secular and modern concepts; however, for the Arab protesters in the streets, claims of freedom and democracy are neither Western nor Islamic. They are rooted in their social and political conditions.

Nevertheless, imposed concepts combined with a level of economic exploitation that reaches the point of colonization can result only in desperation and disillusionment - even if it is called “democracy”. That is why the Libyan opposition - even while struggling for mere survival - felt initially resistant and was obliged to declare its rejection of any foreign military involvement.

The catalogue of Iraqi discontent opens with rhetorical questions  - “Don’t you know that we carry on our backs about (100) billion U.S. dollars annually from oil imports, trade and tourism and we still eat only onion, when it is available?” - and followed by a number of cries, some of which are listed below:

·         Death to a democracy that turns things from bad to worse!

·         Death to democracy that turn people into strangers and aliens in their own homeland!

·         Death to a democracy that turns a blind eye to the government that steals billions!

·         Death to a democracy that promises transparency for eight years in a muddled, filthy atmosphere!

·         Death to a democracy that appears to worship the throne (ie. political authority)!

·         Death to a democracy that arrests the killers then discharges them and announces their escape!

·         Death to a democracy of ignorance, poverty, underdevelopment and murder!

·         Death to a democracy that eliminates the pen of opposition and the word that expresses the truth!

·         Death to a democracy of allotments and sectarianism!

·         Death to a democracy of walls that have divided Baghdad!

From this proclamation one knows what “democracy” means in today’s Iraq: vacant discourse, poverty, corruption, nepotism, sectarianism, assassinations, murder, separation walls and dictatorship. We can also get to know what is missing: the establishment of a genuine democratic system and the foundations political and civil freedom, citizenship and human rights – all that make up the essence of the western liberal democracy. Iraqis want change, like Tunisians, Egyptians, Libyans and Yemenis (to mention only a few).

The efforts of experts and journalists to look for parallels in the hope of better predicting the future is misleading, for any evaluation based on the Western tradition and history is obviously inadequate. What is going on now is the revolution of the Arab peoples and not simply a delayed repetition of “our” revolutions.

Any system based on equality and justice in Muslim countries cannot be separated from the related Islamic principles and very probably it will embrace some form and degree of Islamism in these states. Recent events are not inspired by traditional Muslim ideas on rule, justice and change, and the primary impetus of the protests is desperation and deprivation. Nevertheless, in the atmosphere of oppression and economic exploitation, Islam has become a synonym for solidarity, justice and social care. Islamists and Islamic parties - legitimized or banned - emerged as the leading opposition forces. Their character is far from homogeneous and even in one single movement anti-Western, radical revolutionary factions and compromise-seekers can be found as can be seen in Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood.

When evaluating the possible outcomes of the current developments in the Arab world, dangers of an Islamic revival are often (over)emphasised. However, it serves only as a mere pretext that aims to hide that the real menace has always been independence. “The US and its allies have regularly supported radical Islamists, sometimes to prevent the threat of secular nationalism” – as Noam Chomsky has stated. Nothing can guarantee the dodging of an independent secular nationalism better than the promotion of sectarianism - as has happened in Iraq.

The overwhelming desire of Western policymakers to keep the region under control eliminates any chance for real cooperation. The favoured approach of “backing moderate trends” however, is possible only by respecting the Arab, Muslim public. This implies – among others - accepting the results of genuinely free elections, irrespectively of their results.   Waging wars and operating within an institutionalized paranoia serves to secure Western economic and strategic interests and is much less profitable than taking the risk of setting “the rules of the game” together.