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.
 
Could current oil prices be the new normal?
Source : Al Arabiya TV  
Date : 2016-02-04
Author : John C. Hulsman
True to form, no sooner have sanctions been lifted then Tehran has moved to decisively ramp up energy production, the lifeblood of its struggling economy. While it will take some months...
Arab Shiites must reclaim religious authority from Iran
Source : Al Arabiya TV  
Date : 2016-02-04
Author : Mohammad al-Sulami
It's well-known that Iraq is the origin and base of Shiite authority in the Middle East. It was first Baghdad then Najaf, and this lasted for centuries. Iran's Qom however...
Talk of a Saudi-Iranian Settlement
Source : Asharq Al-Awsat  
Date : 2016-02-04
Author : Ali Ibrahim
The Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon was not the first to call for a settlement between Saudi Arabia and Iran to resolve their differences in order to...
The Only Solution …
Source : Kuwait Times  
Date : 2016-02-04
Author : Badrya Darwish
As I cannot lately write freely about many things in Kuwait like faux budget deficits, rising prices and inflation, subsidy removals and the effects on the nation, school tuition fees,...
Education vital for Syrian children
Source : Kuwait Times  
Date : 2016-02-04
Author : Labeed Abdal
UNICEF's call to raise $2.8 billion to help 43 million children suffering because of human crises worldwide and allocating the largest portion of this aid for education is a must...
The golden cheque
Source : Kuwait Times  
Date : 2016-02-04
Author : Qais Al-Usta
Kuwait Airways has a special importance for every Kuwaiti citizen, even expatriates living on this good land, as it is the one that sees us off if we decide to...
'Zika' marshals countries of the world except Kuwait
Source : Arab Times  
Date : 2016-02-04
Author : Ali Ahmad Al-Baghli
The World Health Organization (WHO) announced Monday that Zika virus is a global health emergency, as it is almost certain that the virus is the main reason behind the rise...
David Cameron working with Qatar to solve the Syrian crisis
Source : The Peninsula  
Date : 2016-02-04
Author : Ajay Sharma
Today, the British Prime Minister David Cameron will co-host a conference, "Supporting Syria and the region 2016," with leaders from Germany, Kuwait, Norway and the United Nations....
Shoura Council and the ministers
Source : Saudi Gazette  
Date : 2016-02-04
Author : Ibrahim Badawood
Following a stormy session of the Shoura Council attended by the labor minister, some members of the consultative body had called for the minister's resignation....
No light at the end of the tunnel?
Source : Arab News  
Date : 2016-02-04
Author : Abdulateef Al-Mulhim
Just a few years ago, the Syrian people wanted democracy, social equality and a better quality of life. They revolted against their government, which is ironically led by a president...
The Pakistan-Kuwait relations
Source : Kuwait Times  
Date : 2016-02-03
Author : Javaid Ahmad
The Pakistan-Kuwait relations are brotherly, based on shared history, traditions and common culture. Both countries have always enjoyed their bilateral, friendly, trade and cultural ties with enormous respect of their...
Hamas, dual shop owner
Source : Arab Times  
Date : 2016-02-03
Author : Ahmed Al-Jarallah
Undoubtedly, the Palestinian cause is the most just in human history that has been savagely exploited by Palestinian political forces. If it was said in the past that some...
Prolific child bearer
Source : Arab Times  
Date : 2016-02-03
Author : Ahmed Al-Jarallah
Kuwait was not built on the sand of the Gulf beach that is prone to destruction due to waves of personality clashes or tribal and sectarian politics. It is a...
The Arab Spring: Five years on
Source : The Peninsula  
Date : 2016-02-03
Author : Dr Mohamed Kirat
Five years ago, the Arab revolutions, with the massive participation of social network- savvy youth, ousted dictatorial rulers, in what some people called 'the Facebook revolution'....
Time for collective strategy
Source : Gulf Today  
Date : 2016-02-03
Author : Guy Verhofstadt
The picture of Aylan Kurdi's lifeless body being removed from a beach in Turkey shocked the world. But in the months that followed this tragedy, one might be forgiven for...
Total 200 Results in 14 Pages
  2 
For more news, views and reports about this topic, please subscribe
to GRC website: www.grc.net
Mon Feb 8, 2016| 28-ربيع ثاني-1437هـ
Asiri: Kingdom ready to participate in any ground operations in Syria
Assad, Russia blamed for Syria peace talks collapse
Zarif stresses redefining regional interest to reach security
UAE economy to stay resilient
Top al Qaeda commander killed in Yemen drone strikes: Residents
Tehran, Moscow ink $40bn projects
Slammed: Doubters of Saudi war on terror
Qatar banks discuss lower repo rate with central bank
Kuwait FM stresses int'l efforts importance to restore Syria stability
Iran to strengthen missile programme - Army chief
US troop numbers have increased in Iraq, says Pentagon
UAE pledges Dhs503m for Syrians
GCC joint naval operations center achieves military coordination - Kuwaiti official
Venezuela oil minister calls Qatar meeting 'productive'
Iran pilgrims welcome, crisis won't affect them: Riyadh
'Over $10bn raised at Syria conference'
Meba plans Bahrain's first solar panel plant
Saudi currency devaluation would carry major political risk
  Op-Ed
Aggressive posture
Reshuffle unlikely to help Hollande regain popularity
Discussing solutions
Dedicate a day for Saudi soldier
More>>  
    Reports
GCC Markets Performance - January 2016
Saudi Budget 1437/1438 (2016)
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
Using the Iran Nuclear Accord to Advance Regional Security
Reduce your Footprint in Ramadan
A Gulf Perspective on the 'Obama Doctrine'
    GRC Press Release
Gulf Research Center press releases to the media
    GRC Publications
Africa and the Gulf Region: Blurred Boundaries and Shifting Ties
Sustainable Development Challenges in the Arab States of the Gulf
The Green Economy in the Gulf
    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  |   32-- 32 Middle Page :0  --   | Right : 32 - 32--en--sess-enreq-en-coming