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.
 
Bright kids but poor grades
Source : Arab News  
Date : 2014-10-30
Author : Sabria S. Jawhar
It is clear that as 2015 approaches the Saudi education system remains ill-equipped to respond to the needs of a modern Saudi family. What worked a generation ago does not...
A portrait of an ISIS foreign fighter
Source : The Daily Star  
Date : 2014-10-29
Author : Kjell Anderson
Acts of great evil such as terrorism and genocide are so horrifying as to seem entirely incomprehensible. What kinds of people commit such acts? The answer to this question is...
Why Iraq's Sunni community is surrendering to ISIS
Source : The Daily Star  
Date : 2014-10-29
Author : David Ignatius
Jalal al-Gaood, one of the tribal leaders the U.S. has been cultivating in hopes of rolling back extremists in Iraq, grimly describes how his hometown in Anbar province was forced...
Resolving Key Nuclear Issue Turns on Iran-Russia Deal
Source : The Antiwar.com  
Date : 2014-10-29
Author : Gareth Porter
U.S. and Iranian negotiators are working on a compromise approach to the issue of Iran's uranium enrichment capabilities, which the Barack Obama administration has said in the past Iran was...
Are We Ready for the Fall of Baghdad?
Source : The Antiwar.com  
Date : 2014-10-29
Author : Ron Holland
I recently was in Vietnam and spent some time in prosperous, capitalist Saigon, now called Ho Chi Minh City, and toured the American War Museum. I believe there are a...
Still sectarian, not inclusive...
Source : Gulf Daily News  
Date : 2014-10-29
Author : Yenus S
Finally, after a long debate, Iraqi legislators have approved posts of the interior and defence ministers. However, the approval falls short of popular expectations and is unlikely to end the...
'We want to feel proud'
Source : Arab Times  
Date : 2014-10-29
Author : Intisaar Al-Ma'tooq
When a local investor failed to continue pulling the economic rope in his country, it became necessary to look for other investors with adequate capability to hold and pull the...
Only in Kuwait – Part 4
Source : Kuwait Times  
Date : 2014-10-29
Author : Talal Al-Ghannam
Only in Kuwait poor taxi drivers are chased by the police no matter where they stop for the ride, even at legal stop points. I wonder why there are taxis...
It's time to get to work
Source : Kuwait Times  
Date : 2014-10-29
Author : Abd Al-Rahman Alyan
His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah opened the 14th session of Kuwait's National Assembly yesterday, urging lawmakers and the government to control spending and diversify Kuwait's economy...
Granting citizenship to the children of Saudi mothers will enrich our culture
Source : Saudi Gazette  
Date : 2014-10-29
Author : Tariq A. Al-Maeena
About a year ago, a popular Emirati writer suggested in a widely read Gulf newspaper that expatriates living in the UAE should be given citizenship if they so desired. ...
Nothing Islamic about IS
Source : Arab News  
Date : 2014-10-29
Author : Abdulateef Al-Mulhim
A few days ago, a video released by the self-ascribed Islamic State (IS) showed an Australian teenage boy threatening western leaders. He was later identified as 17-year-old runaway boy who...
ISIS could prompt what millions of refugees didn’t
Source : Al Arabiya TV  
Date : 2014-10-28
Author : Manuel Almeida
"We have to get [the Kurds] better land under U.N. control and to put those people in the Iraqi territory and take care of them", said President of Turkey Turgut...
The Middle East needs growth and jobs now more than ever
Source : Asharq Al-Awsat  
Date : 2014-10-28
Author : Masood Ahmed
This fall has brought yet another negative shift in sentiment about the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. As the world’s policymakers left Washington after the IMF/World Bank Annual...
The Beautiful Face of an Ugly Regime
Source : Asharq Al-Awsat  
Date : 2014-10-28
Author : Diana Mukkaled
In this day and age, with its proliferation of images and videos online, it is easy to become bewitched by a beautiful face and a sweet-sounding voice....
Well done Custodian
Source : Arab Times  
Date : 2014-10-28
Author : Ahmed Al-Jarallah
Possession of state-owned land by putting one’s hands on it is common in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. This happens when a supposed beneficiary goes to the court, claiming he...
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 Nov 1, 2014| 08-محرم-1436هـ
Yemen's Houthi rebels give president ultimatum
Oil impact feared in Saudi market fall
Kerry and Zarif to hold nuclear talks in Oman
Opec in 'price war' as Iraq says members fight for market share
UN cites militants from 80 countries in Iraq and Syria
UAE leads GCC in e-payment adoption; demand growing
Riyadh governor orders anti-MERS push
Iran gas exports to Europe would take at least 5 years: experts
Bahrain firms acquire PRO Unlimited for $ 300 million
Bus market in Qatar records substantial growth
Qatar committed to protecting human rights: Envoy tells UN
UAE-Singapore trade up at $ 4.5b in 2013
Gargash welcomes Sweden's recognition of Palestinian state
S. Korea seeks role in possible Saudi nuclear reactor project
Iranian official explains hanging of woman
Saudi Arabia to send first ambassador to Peru
    Newspaper Editorials
Israel reopens Muslim holy site
Back to Cold War as Russia probes Nato defences
More>>  
    Opinions
The solution is banning Islamist parties
Iran's human rights record is spiraling downwards
More>>  
    GCC Press Agencies
Day's main stories from the GCC Press Agencies
    Reports
Justice in Transition in Yemen
The United Arab Emirates (UAE): Issues for US Policy
More>>  
    Bank Reports
GCC Markets Performance – May 2014
Saudi Arabia: Baseline Macroeconomic Forecast 2014-16
More>>  
    GRC Analysis
Saudi Arabia and the ASEAN Periphery: Cambodia, Myanmar, and Brunei
NATO and the Future of Gulf Security.
Saudi-Vietnam Relations
    GRC Commentary
Price of not heeding Kingdom's advice
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
GCC-Asia Ties and Collective Security
Perpetuating the Rentier State: Patrimonialism in a Globalized World
Labor Market Integration in the GCC Countries
    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  |   38-- 38 Middle Page :0  --   | Right : 38 - 38--en--sess-enreq-en-coming