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Opinion: How Will History Consider the “Arab Spring”? | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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It has become a habit to associate large social movements with the seasons of the year or specific colours. What happened in the Arab region in 2011 became known as the “Arab Spring”, what has taken place in Ukraine during the last two years is known as the “Orange Revolution” and the Iranian protests of 2009 are called the “Green Revolution”.

The colours were chosen by revolutionaries or protesters whereas the “spring” was named after the “Prague Spring” in 1968 which continued for a number of months and was then repressed by the intervention of the Warsaw Pact countries. This intervention came in the form of two thousand tanks invading the former Czechoslovakia and bloodshed in the streets. It was our luck that the term “spring” was used in the region, and the protests and revolutions witnessed by many countries in 2011 became known as the “Arab Spring”. This became the official name which history will assess the generation of the “Arab Spring” with.

The Arab Spring started in Tunisia and moved to Egypt and consisted of peaceful demonstrations mixed with violence or repression from the police. It then moved to Libya, Syria and Yemen where the protests turned into armed acts and civil war which foreign and regional powers intervened in according to their interests. The losses in the region amounted to hundreds of billions of dollars.

Five years have passed since the beginning of the “Arab Spring” and the protests that were caused by economic and liberty related reasons that were not understood by the ruling regimes. Causes of the French Revolution or the Russian Bolshevik Revolution were similar. The biggest problem however, was that the protesters themselves did not imagine or have a vision of a suitable alternative to the old regime and the Muslim Brotherhood jumped to power in Egypt and Tunisia before they were banished. Syria, Libya and Yemen are the scenes of armed conflict that threaten the survival of the countries themselves. The issue seems as though it is a semi-revolution supported by the army to rock the regime.

No one knows or is able to predict how these major social movements will end and the French revolutionaries in the eighteenth century did not imagine that they would enter a reign of terror so that the empire would fall into the hands of Napoleon who launched regional wars in Europe. The French still love him despite his military adventures and the Russians did not predict that they would live under brutal totalitarian rule for seven decades.

The Egyptian experience, and to some extent the Tunisian one, indicates that people are bored of chaos and want to restore stability in one way or another, but not in the old style. The fate of the rest of the “Arab Spring” countries is in the hands of cartographers and international interests and the catastrophe is that the revolution has turned into an issue of refugees fleeing by boat.

How will history judge generation Arab Spring? This is a question that many wish to read the future in order to answer. However, this will not happen until after a hundred years. Change has occurred and there is no going back. However, it is hoped that the matter will not be like the “Great Arab Revolt” that is to this day read by each person according to his political affiliation to the point that some want to go back in time. One of the manifestations of success is considering the past history that should be benefited from and looking to the future. As for ISIS and people with similar views, they are mere parasites trying to exploit the circumstances but are not able to live in clean surroundings.