Thursday, 4 August 2011

Is the Arab Spring to be a false dawn?

The Arab Spring is now 6 months old. Since then Egypt, Libya, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Yemen have all followed Tunisia's lead. But have their protests come to fruition?

The best place to start to this argument, is to consider whether the protesters have achieved what they wanted. They had two very clear goals when these revolutions started: get rid of the dictators and implement a more democratic system. It should  be noted that it is hard to judge the Arab Spring's success as a whole, because each country has its own revolution which will have different goals, different sizes and different speeds of change.

It is true that in some places the first objective has definitely been achieved. Egypt has ousted Mubarak, Tunisia no longer have their former leader in charge and it looks as though it's only a matter of time for Qaddafi. Syria is not quite in the same situation, but they too will succeed eventually. It seems that many of the cruel, sometimes inhumane dictators have wilted under immense pressure and are no longer in power. But for the second objective, have they been replaced with anything better; a more democratic system?

From where I am sitting, it looks as though there are a lack of new democratic systems in the Middle East, caused by several important factors. Firstly in the countries with new leaders, the elections haven't been held yet. Part of me isn't surprised though, military generals do not have a particularly good reputation for handing over power legally and quickly. Another issue is what happens when they do hand over power. The Muslim brotherhood is likely to become a potent force in any Arab country's elections. As the people feel disillusioned and harshly treated by their former leaders, and as mostly Muslims populations, they may look to this party to support their views. There is a very strong possibility that if the Muslim brotherhood won the election, they would not implement a democratic system. Iran for example, a mostly Muslim country, has a system doesn't appear to be democratic, based on the protests about unfair elections. Similarly the Saudi Arabia system doesn't appear to be all that democratic. Lastly (I know this may be far fetched and we live in the 21st century) but in the past there have been occasions where worse leaders have risen to power in desperate situations. After WW1 for example Hitler rose to power, saying that he would get Germany out of crisis and back on its feet. Given the atrocities he committed and wars he caused, Germany may now regret allowing him to come to power. My point is that the Arab countries should think about its next leader or it may end up with a leader it later regrets.

This may appear to a very negative take on the situation, but so far there doesn't appear to be much progress on the democracy part of the revolution. Hopefully it's just be a longer process than we thought and in the next year or so, we will see democratic systems in many Arab countries; it will turn out I just spoke too soon.


  1. You make a good point, decades after revolution; Musharraf (Pakistan) Mugabe (Zimbabwe) Ayatollah Khomeini (Iran), have not bequeathed democracy. Life in Saudi is very comfortable, they may not be a revolution very soon. as for the Muslim brotherhood? Iran is not religious, only the rulers are. The USA is WAY more religious than Iran and has a substantial fear based hatred of others. More religious nutters there than anywhere else. If only they could see themselves.

  2. if only they realised how much trouble they cause in the American system and how much of a bad e.g it is