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.
 
A Mosul without Christians
Source : Asharq Al-Awsat  
Date : 2014-07-29
Author : Suleiman Gouda
It is hard to find the words to describe the recent events in Mosul, in northern Iraq, and I can only turn to the words of Nabil Elaraby, the secretary-general...
A prayer for peace
Source : Kuwait Times  
Date : 2014-07-28
Author : Abd Al-Rahman Alyan
Ramadan is a time of worship and a time to feel the pain of those who are unfortunate; those who cannot eat or drink when their body needs it; those...
Iran knows better than to jeopardize the nuke talks
Source : Al Arabiya TV  
Date : 2014-07-28
Author : Camelia Entekhabi-Fard
Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran's foreign minister, holds one of the heaviest duties in the Islamic Republic – the leading of negotiations over its nuclear program. In the past year, since he...
Learning the Lessons of the Past
Source : Asharq Al-Awsat  
Date : 2014-07-28
Author : Fayez Sara
The General Secretariat of the Syrian National Coalition decided to dismiss the interim government of the Syrian opposition led by Ahmad Tu’mah by a two-thirds majority in its last meeting....
Maybe…!
Source : Saudi Gazette  
Date : 2014-07-28
Author : Hussein Shobokshi
Again we write about Israel attacking and killing innocent civilians, again we write how Israel continues destroying homes using its enormous military might against innocent women and children....
Thank Allah for every blessing
Source : Gulf Today  
Date : 2014-07-28
Author : Harun Yahya
Every person is in need of Allah at every instant of life. From the air one breathes to the food he eats, from the ability to use one’s hands to...
A democratic imam
Source : Saudi Gazette  
Date : 2014-07-28
Author : Raja Al-Otaibi
It may be the first such incident in our country. A mosque imam in east Riyadh asked worshippers to decide the time of the Tahajjud (predawn voluntary prayers) by voting...
Humanitarian breakthrough in Syria?
Source : The Peninsula  
Date : 2014-07-27
Author : Madeleine Albright & David Miliband
The Middle East suffers a new trauma every week. Iraq is disintegrating, as the Syrian conflict crashes across its borders. Gaza is in flames, as long-term neglect takes its toll....
Kerry's political dilemma
Source : Asharq Al-Awsat  
Date : 2014-07-27
Author : Samir Atallah
There can be no doubts about the intentions of US Secretary of State John Kerry. From his actions as head of the US State Department, it is clear that he...
ISIS and the world
Source : Kuwait Times  
Date : 2014-07-27
Author : Muna Al-Fuzai
ISIS militants have formally declared an "Islamic State" with a new caliphate in Syria and Iraq demanding that all Muslims "pledge allegiance" its leader. Few weeks ago, I wrote about...
The Arab world has lost its soul
Source : Saudi Gazette  
Date : 2014-07-27
Author : Khaled Al Maeena
For those Arabs born in the early fifties no decade in their history passed off without any major event. The 1956 invasion of Suez by Israel, Britain and France referred...
Israel should accept Hamas’ demands
Source : Arab News  
Date : 2014-07-27
Author : Rasheed Abou-Alsamh
It is amazing that more than three weeks after the start of this Israeli aggression on Gaza, no one is discussing the proposal of the Palestinian group to put an...
Total 200 Results in 14 Pages
  2 
For more news, views and reports about this topic, please subscribe
to GRC website: www.grc.net
Sat Aug 2, 2014| 05-شوال-1435هـ
Iraq Shia militias make Sunni hit lists
Mideast fund managers bullish on Saudi equities
US bomber in Syria came home before attack: NYT
Dubai Financial Market returns strong from the holidays
Yemen repatriates 8 Saudi Al-Qaeda suspects
GCC lighting market to grow 10% a year through 2018
Arab summit into bloodbath urged
Limited risk to health of well-capitalised Qatar banks, says EIU
Makkah governor orders confiscation of fake Qur'an copies 
Study: Yemen's support for oil derivatives exceeds health, education spending
Islamic State orders total cover-up for women
Qatar's 'water security project' deal signed
PROs in the UAE clueless on new visa rules
Delhi confirms Saudi ban on import of Indian pepper 
IS militants clash with Arabs, Kurds
KSE witnessed 3 slow major waves in Q1 in 2014
    Newspaper Editorials
Brutality in Gaza
Opportunities galore in Indo-US relations
More>>  
    Opinions
It is time to fight extremism
Middle East's cycle of violence
More>>  
    GCC Press Agencies
Day's main stories from the GCC Press Agencies
    Reports
Iraq Crisis and U.S. Policy
Iraq's Jihadi Jack-in-the-Box
More>>  
    Bank Reports
GCC Markets Performance – May 2014
Saudi Arabia: Baseline Macroeconomic Forecast 2014-16
More>>  
    GRC Analysis
Saudi-Vietnam Relations
Saudi-Philippines Relations
Enhancing Saudi-Japan Relations
    GRC Commentary
On Relations between Rulers and Citizens: The Need for a New Social/Political Contract in the GCC States
Key Issue Facing the Saudi Ruling House.
    GRC Book Review
Beyond Regionalism? Regional Cooperation, Regionalism and Regionalization in the Middle East
India, GCC and the Global Energy Regime: Exploring Interdependence and Outlook for Collaboration.
    GRC Press Release
Gulf Research Center press releases to the media
    GRC Publications
The Middle East and North Africa: Change and Upheaval 2014
The Legal Framework of the Sponsorship Systems of Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait: A Comparative Examination
In Search of Stability: Saudi Arabia and the Arab Spring
    GRC Newsletters/Bulletins

Enter your email to get the Newsletter
Go
      
Privacy Policy | Contact Us | Terms & Conditions | About Us |
Weather | Qibla Directions | Hijri Date Conversion Tool
Full Page :total time:0  |   21-- 21 Middle Page :0  --   | Right : 21 - 21--en--sess-enreq-en-coming