Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

A lesson to be learned from al-Assad’s flimsy tent | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Whether you are a supporter of the Arab revolutions or not, most people agree that security stability was a prominent accomplishment of the former despotic and tyrannical regimes. This is in comparison to the fragile security situation now evident in the “Arab Spring” states (Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Yemen and Syria), albeit to varying levels.

Certainly, I do not want to come to the conclusion that despotism, with all its implications, atrocities and calamities, is the lesser of two evils. In my previous articles, I have stressed that it is natural for a country in a post-revolutionary period to experience a state of disability, tension and insecurity, and this may be long or short, as was the case with the French and the Bolshevik revolutions, and elsewhere. Yet besides this, there is also the reality that some revolutions may slide into a civil war that can wreak havoc upon the country. It is for this reason that a great debate has emerged amongst the Arab elite to the extent that, on the one extreme, some people are lamenting the eras of Gaddafi, Ben Ali and Mubarak – and perhaps they are sincerely concerned about the imminent collapse of the al-Assad regime – whereas at the other end of the spectrum, there are people who welcome revolutions and the regime changes, regardless of the subsequent impact.

Certainly, the debate surrounding the validity of the revolutions and whether or not they will be of any avail to the countries in which they erupted – with Syria being likely to experience the same situation soon – is effectively pointless, for it is too late for analysis, the die has been cast. The Arab states that are yet to catch the spark of the Arab revolutions are what’s important now, at this decisive stage, because no one can be sure that any of them will be safe from the impact and consequences of such events. It is striking that some countries are yet to deal with the storm of the Arab revolutions, having failed to foresee the dangers, and are not prepared for them with a package of reforms. China, for instance, is thousands of kilometers from the Arab world and is detached from its customs, traditions, and historical heritage, and is ruled by a firm political, economic and military regime, but nevertheless the Arab Spring’s spark caused it to take note.

The remaining Arab states must not gamble on their stability and rely on their grip on security, for the security option, no matter how strong it seems, can suddenly collapse in light of financial and administrative corruption. It is enough here to point out that the regimes that ruled their countries using the most despotic means such as Tunisia, Libya and Syria, have all collapsed in the same manner that a huge iceberg breaks down. The Bashar al-Assad regime, which imposed its security tyranny even upon representatives of the Arab media, is unable these days to control journalists or prevent them from broadcasting live scenes to the world from central Damascus and from areas adjacent to the Republican Palace in al-Manzah district. It is true that any tyrant can gamble on the security option for a limited period of time, yet it is impossible for him to rely on this option throughout his reign.

A number of Arab states – where unrest has erupted recently – have failed to protect their tents against the Arab revolutionary storm that subsequently washed out Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and Yemen, destroying the regimes within. The same is about to happen with the tent of Bashar al-Assad’s regime, the strongest Arab regime in terms of security control. As for the countries that have so far been spared from the revolutions, they must clean out the large patches of corruption inside their own tents, and then prop up the structure with genuine reforms as quick as possible, for storms are well known for their sudden and destructive effect.