The Return of the Arab Spring?
Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.
Why did the first anniversary of the beginning of the demonstration in Tahrir Square in Egypt leave one feeling so sad? With close to 100,000 people out to commemorate the uprising of the people and the beginning of the last days of President Mubarak, it should have been a day of euphoria, instead it seemed as all these liberal democrats sadly had suffered a fools illusion.
Then came the media with the pictures of the return of the demonstrators to mark the great victory, while what was really happening was the Muslim Brotherhood solidifying its apparent hold on power in the newly elected Parliament. This may be a democratic election, but producing what kind of democracy?
The press dreamed about a glorious revolution throughout the Arab world while the U.N. announced that at this point approximately 6,000 people have been killed in the Syrian regime’s repression of its own demonstrators. The press wants a successful conclusion to last year’s events, but no matter how hard they tried to spin it; at its very best the revolution was still a work in progress.
The continuing dreams in the West are not being met by the realities in the Levant. The movement for change may exist, but modernity and liberal democracy are still far away. The best one can hope for at the moment is fewer Assads. The anti-West movement in Turkey and the continuing violence and lack of stability in the newly independent Iraq, suggest that change may increasingly be going in the wrong direction.