[Administrator's Note: Octavia is now writing articles for An-Nahar Newspaper each week and we will provide them here after they are printed.]
Taking time for reflection is always a good practice, and a midyear reflection on this historic Arab year gives us a rear view of what was accomplished so far and a glimpse into where the region could be headed in the next few months.
From the spontaneous uprising in Tunisia which toppled Zin El-Abedine Ben Ali followed by the momentous Egyptian revolution which led to the fall of Hosni Mubarak, Arabs were able to capture the world’s attention and usher in a wave of fresh voices unafraid to demand reform and change.
From the unsuccessful NATO-led attempts to remove Moammar Gaddafi from power despite all the funding and support the west has provided to almost similar attempts that had Yemen’s Ali Abdallah Saleh out of country and out of power, the role of western involvement and its effectiveness in these Arab revolutions have come into question in many quarters.
Passing by an explosively dangerous situation in Bahrain that had the potential and ingredients of a revolution but to which the strong Gulf countries put a lid and the West turned a blind eye, have raised concerns of double standards and have dashed hopes for real change for all.
Some surprises followed such as attempts at reform in Syria which turned into an uprising when the Assad regime went after the demonstrators in full force and shunned the view from the eye of the press. In Jordan, an outburst for reform was quickly contained by the government. Women in Saudi Arabia just wanting to drive showed courage by challenging authorities and going to jail in support of their basic right; and a few brave bloggers expressed discontent in the UAE to the tune of being quickly shut down in the Arab world’s best tradition of jail hospitality.
All this leads us to these truths about the 2011 Arab Spring:
Arab citizens want change and are willing to pay the high price to achieve it.
Arab leaders don’t want change and they’re willing to stop Arab progress at any cost.
Western nations follow their own interests and will stop at nothing to protect them. From defending corrupt Arab leaders when they serve their agenda to turning against them when they fall from power.
When it comes to the old threat of a Shiite spread across the region, Sunni Arab leaders are now more afraid of it than ever before and the west is right by their side. As the case is in Bahrain, a Shiite uprising will be forcefully resisted, everyone will look the other way and hope that no one will notice or care.
Syria and the recently unified Palestinian Authority remain two key moving parts and could possibly offer real news in the next months. Egypt and Tunisia still have the burden of proving that they have a plan for the future and serve as models for democracy in the region. Yemen should follow suit and by the looks of it Libya is on its way as well.
And so, we can see where we are going from here: If dictators last long enough, they get the revolting hardworking citizens tired and the not so watchful world community bored looking for the next exciting news story. Of course real revolutions will carry on and will inch closer towards the goal at every chance. Some might take years; others might just need an opportune moment. But one thing is sure: At the rate things are going right now, it looks like the dictators are regaining their old powers and the people have gone back to asking for their rights instead of demanding them.
What’s worse, they appear needy and seeking in many instances western assistance to rid themselves of the dictatorships that plague them. And, that might prove to be a recipe for disaster.
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