How to Measure Success of Arab Revolution: Leopards
Thomas Friedman: If Yemen can't save its beasts, it can't save itself
By John Johnson, Newser Staff
Posted May 15, 2013 12:55 PM CDT
Yemen is trying to save its leopards, and the effort is a harbinger of bigger things.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – Need a tangible way to gauge the success of the Arab Revolution in coming years? Thomas Friedman suggests keeping an eye on the Arabian leopard. He's visiting Yemen, where the government is trying to protect the fast-disappearing cat. "If you visit Yemen in five years and hear that the Arabian leopards are extinct, you’ll know the revolution here failed," he writes in the New York Times. But if the leopard is thriving, people in Yemen probably will be, too.

How does he get from A to B? It's all about the environment. The leopard is at the top of the food chain, but it's struggling to survive as the Arabian Peninsula in general gets hotter and dryer, and the animal's food sources disappear. But this is about far more than the fate of one animal: The new generation of leaders in Arab nations must grasp that they "will never sustainably rebuild their countries’ human capital if they don’t also rebuild their natural capital," writes Friedman. Previous leaders did a horrible job protecting the environment, and current ones can't afford to do the same. "Watch the leopards." Click for Friedman's full column.

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Showing 3 of 8 comments
May 16, 2013 10:56 AM CDT
so kill the arabian leopard and get it over with!!!! FUBO!
May 15, 2013 6:34 PM CDT
Leopards are so cool.
May 15, 2013 3:07 PM CDT
Nonsense. While I certainly hope the leopard escapes extinction, it's survival is not a particularly valuable measure of the success or failure of revolution in the Arab world. Environmental concern has always been an outcome of national success, not a precursor to it. If the leopard is gone but self-determination for the citizenry has taken hold, that has to count that as a "win" for the revolution. And if the leopard is thriving but it does so because an autocracy requires its protection while denying basic rights to the people, that has to count as a "loss."