Last Year’s Arab Spring is Looking Sadder and Sadder
Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.
Both Egypt and Syria do not pose the potentially cataclysmic threat that Iran does to Israel, but they represent the real picture of the results of last year’s Arab Spring. When stripped of all its wishful thinking as depicted by some, the real image of the Arab world today is one of depression. Sure there are and continue to be signs of liberalization and democratization emerging in various Muslim circles, but the overall picture remains one of entrenched repressive and conservative, autocratic rulers who are not ready for modernity and liberal democracy to shine on their country.
The Saudi’s have now projected change in two years; Bahrain has pushed back against the majority; Iraq is on the verge of civil war; and Yemen’s ruler has decided that maybe he is not in need of such urgent medical treatment that he needs to leave the country. The Egyptian election is not only troubling it is sad and reactionary. The apparent victory of the most extreme elements of Muslim Brotherhood may suggest a demand for change, but it is not the direction desired by most of the Tahrir Square protesters. Mubarak may be gone but the new military is not showing any intent of turning over the reins of power to the radical Muslims or to the liberals, regardless of the votes that they garner in the parliamentary elections.
The worst sign of all is coming from Syria where fighting still rages between the regime and the protesters. Having urged the West to help to remove Libya’s Kaddafi, the Arab League decided–after dragging its feet for months–to avoid having the West and even the U.N. intervene, but rather to address the Syrian fighting itself. Allegedly mediating the fighting in Syria, it now appears that President Bashir Al-Assad has co-opted the Arab League completely—assuming they ever wanted to see his fall. Assad has shown them who he is and he will maintain his power by the sword and let the world live with it; as he said today that he would hit the terrorists with an iron fist. The Arab League is left accepting the consequences of its failures which it will no doubt paper over after its leaves with its tail between its legs. Meanwhile, the forces for change in Syria like in Egypt are left holding an empty bag with the U.N. reports as many 5000 bodies already lying in fresh graves, and no constructive solution in sight, except for the status quo ante.
For Israel, however, this represents a new situation with heightened instability and imminent unpredictability.