The Arab Spring, Stripped of its Promise
A CNN interactive map divides the breadth of upheaval in the Arab Middle East, the Persian Gulf and North Africa into categories.
Post-Revolutionary: Tunisia and Egypt. However, The New York Times reports, “Tens of thousands of Egyptian Islamists poured into Tahrir Square on Friday calling for a state bound by strict religious law and delivering a persuasive show of force. The demonstration had been billed as a show of national unity, but adherents to a spectrum of religious movements vastly outnumbered other voices.” The article reported a further split in Egypt between those who still support the ruling military council – primarily Islamist parties – and those who don’t – primarily the young, secular protesters of last February. In a new poll, 47% of Egyptians said they would vote for the Muslim Brotherhood and an additional 27% would vote for the Salafists. Egypt may not be as “post” revolutionary as CNN thinks.
Civil War: Libya, particularly after the death last week of Gen. Abdel Fatah Younes, former Gaddafi loyalist and one of the most recognizable members of the rebel Transitional National Council (TNC). Just after the British and French governments recognized the TNC as legitimate ruler of Libya, paving the way for a release of frozen funds, Younes and two aides were brutally killed – apparently by other rebel forces who are now embarked on a campaign to “root out” potential Gaddafi “spies” in their midst. Emerging tribal allegiances of the pro- and anti-Gaddafi forces put Libya in the “Civil War” category rather than “Sustained Violence” below.
Sustained Violence: Bahrain, Yemen and Syria. The CIA is conducting drone strikes in Yemen against presumed al Qaeda targets. Bahrain is mainly quiet, though Iran continues to support Shiite rebels against King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa. In Syria, al Jazeera reported at least 150 people killed, including 113 killed in Hama when tanks shelled the city, according to the National Organization for Human Rights in Syria. More than 10,000 people have disappeared, according to a report from the Brookings Institution.
Protests: Mauritania, Morocco, Algeria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Djibouti have all had anti-government protests, some more violent than others.
The sum total of regional protests is known as the “Arab Spring,” a nod, perhaps, to the 1968 Prague Spring. And like the Prague Spring, the summer has been stripped of its earlier promise. The implications are difficult and sad for brave people in Arab countries who rose to demand basic human rights and civil liberties from repressive and corrupt governments.
But this being Washington’s “silly season,” it was left to The Washington Post to run the following about demonstrations in Israel:
The protests over housing, which began with a tent camp in Tel Aviv, have spawned similar encampments in other cities. Saturday night’s demonstrations were the largest since the start of the protest wave, which was inspired partly by anti-government uprisings in neighboring Arab countries. Police estimated that more than 100,000 people demonstrated in 10 cities across Israel. (Emphasis added.)
Israelis, who have a free media, an active (hyperactive?) civil society, multiple political parties from far left to far right, regularly scheduled elections and zero “disappeared” citizens, didn’t need Syrians, Bahrainis and Libyans to inspire them to protest. But by equating the safe protest of Israelis against an elected government with the literally death-defying uprising of tens of thousands of Arabs (and Iranians) across the region who have taken their lives in their hands to stand on the street and take cell phone pictures of carnage and risk it all, The Post indulges in the idiocy of August.