The Arab revolutions known as the “Arab Spring” have all had different impacts, responses, and have come at varying costs.
In short, we in the region are not facing one, repeated scene, but we are actually dealing with a popular movement rising up against different models of regimes, and therefore results come at varying costs and at different times.
In my personal judgment, since the beginning of the Arab Spring we have faced several different types of revolution against different forms of regime, which can be divided as follows:
First: What are known as “soft dictatorships”, where an individual plays the ruling role and the powers of governance over the country and the people are concentrated in the hands of a very small circle for a long period of time. In such models there is no chance of the transfer of power, leading to increased corruption and a lack of hope for reform.
I think that the “soft dictatorship” model applies to the cases of Egypt and Tunisia. In these cases the regimes fell within three weeks, with minimal use of military force to try and enforce their survival.
Second: The “savage dictatorship”, where the regime governs on tribal or sectarian foundations, upholding the rule of a minority with excessive armed force. The army and the security services are used as a direct repressive means. In this model, the regime does not hesitate to use any level of armed violence against its opponents, even to the extent of launching a civil war against unarmed citizens. The “savage dictatorship” model applies directly to the Libyan and Syrian cases; the tribal-centric Gaddafi regime in Libya and the Alawite al-Assad regime in Syria. One of the key lessons learned from modern history is that when a minority ruling system, be it sectarian or tribal, resists its opponents, the human and material costs are always expensive, and the timescale to overthrow such a regime may take months or even years.
The third wave: the poor monarchies: These regimes are hindered by their geographical circumstances, history, and a lack of resources. They have a weak economy and a high ceiling of demands, with growing calls for more freedom and economic salvation. In these cases, the regime can become threatened firstly by its inability to increase freedom, because if it did so it could face an alarming coup, or secondly by its inability to manage new economic resources to revive the country, reduce unemployment, and improve wages and services. The regime is caught between a rock and a hard place; not being able to provide greater freedom and not being able to improve economic conditions at the same time. These pressures put the cohesion of the entire regime structure at risk. In my opinion, this model applies to the cases of Morocco and Jordan. In this regard, pressure has begun to build on Abdelilah Benkirane’s government in Rabat and Fayez al-Tarawneh’s government in Amman, in a manner that is now impossible to bear. The likeliest outcome is that these men will be sacrificed for the survival of the regime, and to prolong its stay in power.
Therefore, we are in the middle of the second and approaching the third wave of the Arab Spring, which will be even greater and more dangerous!