A Decade of the Arab Spring -Arman Sheikh
The fire that engulfed the Tunisian fruit seller Mohmed Bouazizi on the authoritarian thrones of the entire Arab world has created a chapter in history called the Arab Spring, and December 16 marks a decade. Has it ever been possible for a fruit seller to set fire to his own body in protest of injustice and oppression? Today, a decade later, we need to find the answer to this question. Because the spring that does not spread fragrance in nature, calling the spring a blessing and suffering in self-satisfaction will throw the world humanity into delusion.
The pace of the Arab Spring in Tunisia and the support behind it was so great that it woke up Egypt, Libya, Syria, Bahrain and Yemen simultaneously in just two and a quarter year. The first reason for such a rapid impact on the Arab world this spring was the long-standing dictatorial dictatorship and poverty in the countries. Second, the most powerful forces behind it were the selfish Western and European NATO powers. If we look at the countries that were scorched by the Arab Spring, we will see that the rulers of most of the countries were against the interests of the West and had a strong foundation.
If we look at the hopes and aspirations of the Arab Spring, we see that behind it was the dream of political-economic liberation of the Arabs, the desire to get rid of oppression. But today, in the decade of the Arab Spring, a situation has arisen where the Arabs can breathe a sigh of relief as soon as they are released from this spring. We need to review the events of the last ten years to find out why the dream of independence turned into a state of destruction or war today.
The dream of democracy and poverty alleviation in Tunisia, which toppled the Ben Ali government on January 14, 2011, has not been realized for four or five years. In 2014, four years after the revolution, their national statistics office said the unemployment rate in Tunisia was 18 percent. As a result, young people are joining extremist groups like IS in the pursuit of poverty, financial deprivation and an uncertain future.
In Tunisia, just eleven days after the fall of the government, the movement began under the influence of this revolution, first abroad and in Egypt. The movement was so intense that it ended the rule of Hosni Mubarak, the military ruler who had been in power for 30 years, in just 16 days after January 25. According to Amnesty International, more than 600 people were killed and more than 6,000 were injured in the crackdown on Hosni. Basically, at the end of the movement, the army left Hosni’s side and came to the support of the people. However, within years of the Muslim Brotherhood-led new democratic government, the current dictator, Abdul Fattah el-Sisi, regained power in support of the military. Then the Brotherhood and the opposition began to be suppressed in the country with many times more than before. Thousands of political prisoners were executed, including the first democratically elected president, Mohamed Morsi! The CC has continued its dictatorship with Israel and pro-Western policies so far. Although the CC has ruthlessly suppressed the large-scale movement that began several times in Egypt last year and this year because of its Western allies, the Westerners in the guise of freedom of speech have silently supported it.
At the same time in February 2011, there were massive protests in Yemen against another historically important Arab state, Abdullah Abu Saleh, who had been in power for three decades. The prudent Saleh held quick meetings with the Saudi and Western gangs and remained in power for several years with various promises, but died on December 4, 2016 at the hands of the opposition Houthis. In a hurry after Saleh, the Saudi alliance re-assigned Mansour Hadi, which further fueled Yemen’s civil war. So far, Yemen has been known as a battleground between Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. As a result, Yemen’s decade-long civil war has given rise to the world’s worst war-torn country and the worst famine in eight decades. According to UNICEF, 80 percent of Yemen’s children suffer from malnutrition and various diseases, and more than 60 percent of the population is fed twice a day by donors. Recently, Iran’s military development has given a new impetus to the war in Yemen’s Shiite rebels. The position of Shia Houthis is being strengthened against the Saudi alliance through sophisticated drones and rockets. The emirate, on the other hand, also supports a different rebel group in its quest for supremacy, which has recently come to the fore for the benefit of various international media outlets. In this situation, there is no sign or goodwill of anyone to end this terrible humanitarian crisis in Yemen, which is dragging the whole of Yemen to the brink of destruction day by day.
Another contemporary Yemeni revolution is Libya, where the Arab Spring is in full swing after 42 years of rule. The Americans handed over weapons to the protesters against the military ruler Muammar Gaddafi, which led to a revolution and a civil war. After a long nine-month war, Libya’s Gaddafi died on October 20, 2011. This was followed by the resumption of the fierce battle between General Haftar and the ruling government, which is still ongoing. The only difference is that Turkey’s strong position in the region has been confirmed in favor of the recognized government in power in the new war, which has resulted in Haftar’s dominance being stopped and cornered. At present, everything in the country, including various state institutions and the judiciary, has collapsed. Thousands of people have been displaced and forced to choose refugee life due to the conflict. Amnesty claims that at least 2.5 million people have been affected. But still, no one knows where and how this civil war will end.
Syria is one of the worst fruits of the last Arab Spring. While the pro-military regime of Bashar al-Assad’s government has been adamant about the Western-fueled movement, the Americans, like in other countries, have supplied large quantities of weapons and formed multiple rebel groups. As a result, Syria has become a battleground for international powers. Assad is now in a somewhat stronger position after a decade-long war with the outside support of Russia and Iran. The Americans, on the other hand, have turned Syria into a ruin, with hundreds of Syrian scientific laboratories, traditional state resources and oil mines buried beneath it. The total damage to the country’s economy is estimated at 25.5 billion. According to the SCPR, of the 470,000 people killed, about 400,000 died as a result of direct war violence. The remaining 60,000 died due to lack of medical services and medicines, infectious diseases, lack of food and water. Lack of sanitation and safe havens are also among the leading causes of death. It is sometimes seen that oil thefts are caught by Iranian rocket attacks or by Al-Jazeera cameras. In this way, Syria has become an open ground for looting, where Israel can come and carry out air strikes whenever it wants.
So far, the Arab Spring has led to major revolutions in 10 countries and small movements in seven. None of these countries saw the desired spring of the so-called Arab Spring imposed on Western journalists, but the countries lost 845 billion. But even so, revolutionaries from countries such as Iraq, Iran, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia want to use the Arab Spring in the hope of Western fuel and some peace. The revolutionaries who brought a new government to Iraq after a massive uprising last year, today, a year later, when they see no sign of eradicating unemployment and eradicating poverty, have resumed their efforts. We know that revolution means change, the opening of new horizons, the path to liberation. But while this revolution alone cannot bring peace to any of the so-called countries, it certainly demands research. And to learn from this, we must first identify the causes of failure.
The main reason for the failure of the Arab Spring is the selfish Western power behind it. The real purpose of the power that supplied the weapons to the revolutionaries was never to establish democracy or bring peace; Due to which they did not hesitate to keep the revolution alive even after it turned into a catastrophe. Second, most of these movements were unplanned and unplanned. As a result, the democratic government of Egypt did not last long, but they have to stand silently in front of the gallows at the end of power. Third, the revolutionaries were ideologically divided. The secular youth led by the revolution, after the fall of the government, made with them differences like the believers in various Islamic regimes internally, which weakened their united forces and paved the way for the rise of another dictator.
So, if the Arab world wants true peace and the freedom of the people and the eradication of poverty, the future of the Arabs must be determined by learning from the Arab Spring. Real peace will be possible only if the movement takes the next steps with the highest priority on the development of the country without giving priority to ideology and ensuring selfless cooperation of the supporters with the moral reasons behind each movement. Otherwise, the world powers will have to become a playground and push themselves to the brink of destruction and take their place in the darkness of history.
The author is studying at the University of Chittagong