Beyond the “Arab Spring”


(This post was written in late 2012 and is based, as stated below, on an article in the New York Review from November 2012. Events since have eclipsed the content herein and as such, make for interesting contrasts.)

This update and/or summary of the state of various countries and entities following the events initially called the The Arab Spring is based on an article in the New York Review of Books, This Is Not a Revolution written by Hussein Agha and Robert Malley.

The first paragraph sets the tone,with darkness descending upon the Arab world, outsiders competing for power, the peaceful demonstrations which began the thing are a distant memories, “history does not move forward. It slips sideways.”

Battles against autocratic regimes, games within games, Sunni-Shiite clash and “The changes that are now believed to be essential are liable to be disregarded as mere anecdotes on an extended journey.”

Central actors in the uprising become roadkill in its wake. The Muslim Brotherhood once dismissed by the West as dangerous and extremist are now termed pragmatists and sensible. Once distant from political arenas, Salafis have taken on a political role. Then there are “shadowy armed groups and militias of dubious allegiance and unknown benefactors as well as gangs, criminals, highwaymen and kidnappers”.

Existing power structures have disappeared, leaving many moments of illogic:

“Theocratic regimes back secularists; tyrannies promote democracy; the US forms partnerships with Islamists; Islamists support Western military intervention. Arab nationalists side with regimes they have long combated; liberals side with Islamists with whom they then come to blows. Saudi Arabia backs secularists against the Muslim Brothers and Salafis against secularists. The US is allied with Iraq, which is allied with Iran, which supports the Syrian regime, which the US hopes to help topple. The US is also allied with Qatar, which subsidizes Hamas, and with Saudi Arabia, which funds the Salafis who inspire jihadists who kill Americans wherever they can.

Turkey, who once had no problems in the region, now “… has alienated Iran, angered Iraq, and had a row with Israel. It virtually is at war with Syria. Iraqi Kurds are now Ankara’s allies, even as it wages war against its own Kurds and even as its policies in Iraq and Syria embolden secessionist tendencies in Turkey itself.”

Iran has usually opposed Arab regimes preferring to cultivate ties with Islamists, who when they assume power positions assure Saudi Arabia and the West by turning away from Iran. Iran, in turn, seeks other allies, such as secular Syria who Iran has been allied with and who suppresses Islamists.

The U.S. joins forces with Gulf Arab monarchies in order to topple Gaddafi and to oppose Syria. Nonetheless, these erstwhile allies of the U.S. are not interested in further democracy but to fight for regional domination.

“The new system of alliances hinges on too many false assumptions and masks too many deep incongruities. It is not healthy because it cannot be real. Something is wrong. Something is unnatural. It cannot end well.”

Such sentiments paint the situation in colors and details seldom registered in the mainstream global media.