Home Page - Gulf in the Media
HomePoliticsEconomy                               Set Gulfinthemedia.com as home page
Opinions
"Postings of opinions published in the Gulf and international newspapers
 Print  Send This Page
Save Listen to this Article
The Arab Autumn recanters   

Asharq Al-Awsat - 10 May, 2012
Author: Adel Al-Toraifi

When the popular uprisings first erupted in the Arab world, intellectuals and writers were initially engulfed in a state of shock and amazement; they could never have expected or imagined what happened. However, when it seemed that the moment of change had occurred; those intellectuals changed their view and declared their support for the mass revolutions. Some went even further and began theorizing and participating in the demonstrations - although they lacked leadership - and the uprisings, although they did not have any political project other than the overthrow of the regime, and did not provide any values or clear demands for the model that should succeed it.

The Egyptian parliamentary Dr. Amr Hamzawy said in an interview with BBC Arabic, a few days before the Egyptian revolution, that what happened in Tunisia was the result of the anger emanating from the Tunisian secular middle class, in solidarity with the army, and ruled out that the Egyptians would revolt against the regime of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, because Egyptian society is different to its Tunisian counterpart. A year before the revolution, the novelist Alaa al-Aswany published a book entitled “Why Don't Egyptians Revolt?” (2010), arguing that the Egyptian intellectual elite was corrupt and disinclined to take risks, and that it had become settled in this reality for decades, despite the inherent disadvantages and contradictions.

After the revolution all this language changed, and the same individuals began to theorize about the revolution that they had previously believed would never occur. Other writers – Arab and foreign – filled the arena with statements, articles and books claiming to know the realities of the “Arab Spring” countries, presenting a barrage of justifications and interpretations to explain the current changes, and putting forward their visions for the interim period. However, not one of these writers recognized their mistake, or the failure of their vision with regards to the reality on the ground. Of course, there were a few writers in this newspaper who warned of the dangers of what was happening and urged the general public not to get carried away by the street and the slogans of the angry crowds, but these voices were blocked by a surge of Arab and Western voices blessing what they believed to be an awakening or a resurgence of the people of the region.

Interestingly, those intellectuals who welcomed, and in some cases even adopted, these uprisings have now begun to retract their positions, with some choosing to criticize and cast doubt over the future of these revolutions. Yet few of them have acknowledged the failure in their vision, or are deliberately forgetting their role in promoting the sentiments of the rebelling street. Today, some are writing explicitly – or indirectly – about their fears regarding the results of the ongoing transformations. The main reason for this is that the results of the democratic elections that they preached for have paved the way for religious parties and forces that are far from the values of democracy, civility and human rights, thus reflecting the fickle attitude of the intellectual elite.

It is possible to look back on the statements and comments that are now skeptical of the results of the “Arab Spring”, and their impact on the future of freedoms and rights in those countries. The advocates of “civil society” and human rights have become aware that the principles and dreams that they clung to have turned into a nightmare because of the rise of radical Islamists to power.

This scene is not new; advocates of independence in the 1940s preached the dream of the nation state, then soon many of them fled or were held under house arrest, not to mention the assassinations and plots against them. Also, advocates of nationalism and later Baathism in the 1960s and 1970s turned their emerging countries into totalitarian regimes, as yesterday’s “comrades” sacrificed each other by marginalizing institutions and tampering with constitutions. Even the Islamists have battled amongst themselves, denouncing each other as infidels with regards to matters of the emirate, earthly spoils, and the experiences of Iran, Algeria, Sudan and Yemen, which continue to be pertinent today. Today, the advocates of civil society, calling themselves names such as “human rights activists” or “reformists”, are facing the same fate. They offer a revolutionary or coup-like discourse that justifies civil disobedience and inciting violent protests, even jeopardizing the interests of the country and its people; even after the ballot boxes said what they said, some are still trying to change the reality by force, under the pretext of peaceful demonstrations.

Here we must return to a bit of history. Twenty years ago, the “liberal left” (which included a mix of leftists and Islamist converts) in the Arab world adopted the “civil society” discourse in a dogmatic manner, preaching absolute slogans of freedom, democracy and human rights, and in doing so promoting a new side to the equation of opposition and power. Over time, this trend became a prisoner of its idealist vision, separate from reality, and when I say idealist I mean it was not connected to the social and political reality of the countries that it was being promoted in. In fact, it seemed closer to an imported discourse – although there is nothing wrong with that – than an original one. Consider for example the slogans of the Tahrir Square youths and the intellectuals participating in their revolution, and you would find that they are close to the slogans of the “Occupy Wall Street” movement in New York, or the protests in London’s financial district, rather than resonating with Cairo’s neighborhoods of Abbasiya or Imbaba. Perhaps this explains how the Tahrir Square youth lost out with their Western slogans, and how others such as the Salafi al-Noor party won, because the latter was closer to the social and religious reality. Therefore it is not out of the question that these Tahrir Square youth will be subject to marginalization and exclusion in the coming stage, because they lack an awareness or expertise in administering the state and its economy. Those who call for demonstrations every day in order to achieve the demands of the revolution are deluding themselves, and they appear – in the eyes of many of their fellow citizens – as people who are not concerned about the daily economic situation of millions of people.

Faced with this scene, we can record two basic observations about this phenomenon of recanting [support for the Arab Spring]: the first observation is that these intellectuals and writers have gone through what some socio-political scientists call “revolutionary romanticism”, a state of emotional glorification of a radical transformation, and then when signs of failure and disarray appear, these same people move into a state of denial, accusing remnants of the former regime of trying to sabotage the revolution. However, when other revolutionary forces are able to make gains or monopolize power, the same people began to justify or repudiate the failure of the revolution, under the pretext that it had been hijacked by radical forces and currents, whether leftist or Islamic.

The second observation about this phenomenon is that the political and cultural elite at the beginning of the revolution opted to downplay the value of the human and material losses resulting from the chaos of change, saying that a revolution necessitates sacrifice, and it will be successful in the end no matter how long the period of change, or chaos. However, after a short period of time, this same elite found itself lamenting these losses, or even washing its hands of them, whenever it felt that the results were not in its favor, and then justified its recanting of support of the revolution under the pretext that the revolution had begun to affect innocent people, or that it had turned towards violence and revenge, even amongst its original participants. This is perhaps most evident in the stance of the revolutionaries towards the emergency laws, or the use of excessive force against protests or instances of civil disobedience by those individuals or parties that have reached power.

The purpose here is not to criticize the revolution or to rebuke the revolutionaries, but rather it is a call to correct its path. The regimes of Ben Ali and Mubarak were corrupt and full of negative aspects, but there were also positive aspects, good projects, and functioning institutions, albeit weak ones. Because of this it was necessary following the departure of the president for the country to move gradually towards a democratic transition without disrupting the economic wheel or damaging state institutions and their prestige. Trying to perform a radical change in societies that are not yet capable of this will lead to disaster. The Egyptian case is clear, the suspension of work on the constitution has led the revolutionary forces to conflict, and this comes at the expense of the economic and security stability of the citizens.

What could a Swiss or Scandinavian constitution do in a failed state like Somalia or Afghanistan? What would change if the US legal system was imposed upon a poor and destitute country such as Yemen or Sudan?

Nothing! The citizen is the one who gives laws and regulations their value, not vice versa. It may be possible to overthrow the president and his men and call this a revolution, it may be possible to change the constitution and the regulations, but you cannot change people’s lives for the better if it is at the expense of their security and livelihoods.

Such words were written at the beginning of the uprisings, but few paid any attention to this.
 
The great game in Mideast
Source : Arab News  
Date : 2016-05-25
Author : Osama Al Sharif
At least three major offensives are taking place, almost simultaneously, in both Iraq and Syria, and somehow there are all connected. On Monday Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar Al-Abadi announced the...
Have we reached desired level of transparency?
Source : Oman Daily Observer  
Date : 2016-05-24
Author : Lo'ai Batainah
As it is the case with many social networking followers, I was asking myself about the method used in disclosure and the level of transparency in the reports published by...
Tapping into tourism
Source : Saudi Gazette  
Date : 2016-05-24
Author : Khaled M. Batarfi
People living outside the Kingdom know very little about this country. They are under the wrong impression that Saudi Arabia is a desert country heavily dependent on oil. They don’t...
Environment protection
Source : Saudi Gazette  
Date : 2016-05-24
Author : Dr. Fowziya Al-Bakr
Years ago I was standing at the cashier at a large New York supermarket. The cashier asked me politely whether I wanted to buy plastic bags to carry the things...
US Congress' unwise move
Source : Arab News  
Date : 2016-05-24
Author : Linda S. Heard
As if the anti-Muslim, anti-Arab rants of the presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump weren't damaging enough to the friendly relationship between the US and the Arab world, the Senate...
Mideast going solar
Source : Arab News  
Date : 2016-05-24
Author : Saket S.
As the Gulf states take steps to expand their use of clean energy, a bold plan by the United Arab Emirates to boost its use of renewable electricity from less...
Final days of peacock regime
Source : Arab Times  
Date : 2016-05-23
Author : Ahmed Al-Jarallah
The Mullah regime is currently going through something unprecedented. The trick of 'sanctuary defense' on the revolutionary scheme in neighboring countries has fallen, as it continuous to draw the blood...
The Islamic community is in urgent need of alliance
Source : Gulf Times  
Date : 2016-05-23
Author : Harun Yahya
Since the Gulf War of 1991, Muslims have been drawn into separation, conflict, dissent and civil war. International news agencies publish a new map of the Middle East or showcase...
It is not our Salafism!
Source : The Peninsula  
Date : 2016-05-23
Author : Jamal Khashoggi
I was supposed to be in Berlin to attend a discussion of a book written by my colleagues, Mohammad Abu Rumman and Hassan Abu Hanieh....
Dubai will wow the world in 2020
Source : Khaleej Times  
Date : 2016-05-23
Author : Talal Yassine
It has been almost two and a half years since the announcement that Dubai had won the right to hold the World Expo in 2020. Back in November of 2013,...
Are Saudi women being deprived of their rights?
Source : Saudi Gazette  
Date : 2016-05-23
Author : Fatima Al-Bakili
The number of people demanding that Saudi women should be allowed to drive has increased lately and the demands have become more aggressive. People all over the world want Saudi...
Workers in the Kingdom deserve respect
Source : Saudi Gazette  
Date : 2016-05-23
Author : Abdullah Al-Jamili
I have read about two acts of humanitarian kindness in two sisterly countries: the United Arab Emirates and Egypt. We should learn from these two incidents and try to do...
The big charade of graduation
Source : Saudi Gazette  
Date : 2016-05-23
Author : Abdul Ghani Al-Qash
The universities show off graduation processions to the media; male and female students don graduation regalia and walk before the chief guest to give the impression that they have graduated....
We need a vibrant and critical media
Source : Saudi Gazette  
Date : 2016-05-23
Author : Khaled Al Maeena
They say eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. And that cannot hold more true in this day and age where states and institutions are confronting natural manmade challenges. How...
Preserving our architectural heritage
Source : Saudi Gazette  
Date : 2016-05-23
Author : Hala Al-Qahtani
While most European cities try to preserve their historical identity of which they are very proud, we see many Arab cities embracing modern architectural styles, totally ignoring their heritage....
Total 200 Results in 14 Pages
  2 
For more news, views and reports about this topic, please subscribe
to GRC website: www.grc.net
Sun May 29, 2016| 21-شعبان-1437هـ
GCC and Russia favor quick end to Syria war
Russia can play role in fighting terror: Al-Jubeir
Deputy FM optimistic about reaching comprehensive agreement for Yemeni crisis
KSA aid to Iraq held up in Baghdad
Khamenei calls for vigilance against West's 'soft war'
Bahrain jails 19 Shias for attacks on police
Arab coalition in Yemen: We respect humanitarian rights
Qatar stuns Mideast debt market with record $9 billion bond
Kuwait's top opposition group ends polls boycott
Iran, Australia to boost co-op in water sector
US-backed forces battle IS in Syria and key Iraqi city
UAE to be most innovative country by 2021
Saudi offers more oil to Asian clients ahead of Opec meeting
Turkish foreign minister calls for 'new Syria'
Kuwait to ink $1 bln contract with Salini, Limak for Mutlaa
Syrians risk 'starving'
  Op-Ed
Germany and France hold back Nato, EU ambitions in Libya
Refusing to relent
Iran behaves the way it does because the US allows it to
Will the next US president witness a third Gulf war?
More>>  
    Reports
GCC Markets Performance - April 2016
Saudi Vision 2030
More>>  
    GCC Press Agencies
Day's main stories from the GCC Press Agencies
    GRC Analysis
Renewable Energy in GCC
Paris Climate Deal and Oil-rich Countries
Combating Climate Change and Terrorism
    GRC Commentary
Earth Day 2016: The Promised Day
An Evolving Saudi-US Relationship
Water and Jobs: Hitting Two Birds with One Stone!
    GRC Press Release
Gulf Research Center press releases to the media
    GRC Publications
Qatar’s Legal Framework of Migration No.2/2016
The Strategic Environment in the Middle East: A Shattered Regional Order
Taxing Remittances: Consequences for Migrant Labour Populations in the GCC Countries
    GRC Newsletters/Bulletins

Enter your email to get the Newsletter
Go
A Note on Syrian Refugees in the Gulf: Attempting to Assess Data and Policies
      
Privacy Policy | Contact Us | Terms & Conditions | About Us |
Weather | Qibla Directions | Hijri Date Conversion Tool
Full Page :total time:0  |   14-- 14 Middle Page :0  --   | Right : 14 - 14--en--sess-enreq-en-coming