Almost a year has passed since the fall of two established regimes in the Middle East: those of Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali and Hosni Mubarak. The opponents of the Arab Spring, some of whom were sincere in what they said, believed that security stability would be the main casualty of such intense social mobility, and that the revolutions were a form of emergency surgery that would cause states to lose their entire strength, or in the best of cases, remain weak for the rest of their lives and suffer numerous ills, as is the case with the examples of Somalia and Iraq.
According to the facts on the ground and judging by the numbers, we can say that the prediction that chaos would prevail in the twelve months following the two revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia has proven false, and that the security situation will not change dramatically in the future. This is because a critical period always follows revolutions, as is the case with medical surgery. It is true that the security situation following the eruption of these two revolutions remains fragile and that the security grip, especially in Egypt, is somewhat loose with several incidents being reported, yet it is also true that the two countries have not slid into compete chaos. The security scene there can be characterized as cohesive – the lowest degree of stability – but certainly this is much higher than the degree of chaos.
In order to demonstrate my point, let us compare the situation in Egypt and Tunisia to that of Iraq and Somalia. In the former cases of Egypt and Tunisia, the two governments are completely in control of their respective territories, unlike the situation in the latter examples of Iraq and Somalia, where the governments can barely control their capital cities and a number of key state institutions. Perhaps, the al-Maliki government’s failure to arrest al-Hashimi and its subsequent pleas to the Kurdistan Interior Ministry to extradite him, which it declined to do, is a clear example [of chaos], something which one cannot imagine in Tunisia or Egypt.
Evidence of the “coherent” security status of Egypt and Tunisia can be found in the remarkably successful elections there, where the elections in Egypt were subject to the admiration of the entire world. This is because some serious incidents happened before the elections (perhaps caused by outside actors) with the aim of undermining the electoral process, as we saw with the Tahrir Square demonstrations that lacked an identity or slogan, and later on with the besiegement of the Interior Ministry headquarters via a sit-in protest, and nevertheless, the Egyptian people decided to deliver a crushing blow those who do not want Egypt to be liberated from tyrannical rule.
When the situations in Egypt and Tunisia developed peacefully – albeit in a fragile state – following the overthrow of the respective regimes, those who predicted that chaos would prevail as a result of the Arab revolutions then proclaimed that chaos would spread in Libya, claiming that the situation there was different. They said that the regimes in Egypt and Tunisia did not fall, and that it was only the president who was overthrown, whilst in Libya the rebels ousted the regime, the president and all his institutions, eradicating the roots of the entire regime. Hence, they argued that there was no army, no security apparatus and no order anymore, apart from the tribal element of the Libyan equation, a factor that was not present in the Egyptian or Tunisian case. Therefore, it would not be easy for anyone to control Libya following the end of a dictatorship where the regime, security apparatus and all state institutions collapsed. As a result, a civil war was expected in the country as soon as the Gaddafi regime was overthrown. Yet what happened was that after the Gaddafi regime was ousted, the prediction did not come true, and stability has continued to prevail to a reasonable extent considering the aforementioned factors. Afterwards, a program to integrate the rebels into the national army was undertaken. Regarding the reported incidents and clashes which we sometimes hear of, these are hardly a phenomenon and are being significantly cordoned off and controlled.
A revolution is a form of major surgery, and we can by no means imagine that a country will rise and regain stability within months or even a few years, in the same manner that we do not expect a patient to jump from his bed following a successful heart operation.