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Egypt Tunisia Commentary

The Arab Spring has mostly been a failure

Despite the promise of the Arab Spring, it is mostly business as usual in the Middle East, writes Jerzy Haszczyński

editor: REMIX NEWS
author: Jerzy Haszczyński
via:

It has been ten years since the Arab Spring, and what have we to show for it? Two dictators are dead, chaos reigns in several countries, no monarchy has fallen, and democracy is holding on only in Tunisia.
On Dec. 17 2010, in the provincial Tunisian town of Sidi Bouzid, greengrocer Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire. Thousands of Tunisians, who despite having a decent education could not find employment with an appropriate salary, identified with the humiliated and frustrated young man.
The revolt unexpectedly took over the entire country. Merely a month later, the dictator Ben Ali fled abroad. Revolutionary moods appeared in several other Arab countries and the civil wars initiated back then are still ongoing.
“For 23 years no one threatened the dictator. The rich and influential people and the big city politicians were unable to do so. My brother turned out to be stronger than those great players. He was the one to overthrow Ben Ali,” Samia, Bouazizi’s sister told me after her brother died from his wounds.
She was proud. Streets, not only in Tunisia, were named after him and his fight for dignity was praised by President Barack Obama in his speech to the Arabic world. Bouazizi was hailed as a hero.
However, disappointment with the results of the revolution came swiftly. The hero’s persecuted family first fled to the capital of Tunisia. Now, they live in Canada. This is because as the reporter of the British Guardian reports that people in Sidi Bouzid say: “Bouazizi ruined us.”
The economic situation is worse than it was under a dictatorship. Corruption and nepotism are blooming just as they had in the past. Protests are held in Tunisia almost every day. AP Images A woman picks through garbage in Kasserine, Tunisia, on Friday Dec. 11, 2020. Hundreds of desperate Tunisians have set themselves on fire over the past 10 years to protest police harassment, poverty or the lack of opportunity in the country. “We have everyday life problems, exacerbated further by Covid. We are in a tough period,” former Tunisian Foreign Minister Ahmed Ounaies, who gained his position after Ali’s fall, admits in an interview for Rzeczpospolita.
“This is a sad consequence, but the revolution also had great achievements: it demanded democracy and democracy has become deeply enrooted,” he added.
In this case, Tunisia is an exception among the Arabic countries which survived the revolution. Only here was political pluralism maintained, and there are coalitionary government with representatives from the left all the way to the Islamists. The Islamists in Tunisia are creating new trends, as they promised separation of state and mosque and have cut themselves off from radicalism.
At the same time, Tunisia is the state where the most ISIS Jihadists fighting in the Middle East came from. Islamic terrorism, which is feeding on frustration, is still a ticking bomb.
After Tunisia, the revolution spread across almost all of North Africa and parts of the Middle East in early 2011. In Egypt, the dictator Hosni Mubarak spent the rest of his life in humiliation and mostly behind bars. For a while, democratically elected Islamists ruled Egypt, but a counter-revolution arrived. They were overthrown by the current leader, al-Sisi, who is using even stronger forms of repression than Mubarak.
The Libyan dictator al-Gaddafi was killed and Libya was thrown into chaos till this day. As a result of the events started by the revolution, another supposedly immortal leader — Saleh, Yemen’s dictator — was also killed.
Although the bloodiest war in Syria has not ended, it is clear that Assad has won. He survives on despite the West promising to isolate him as the greatest criminal of the modern time.
No Arabic monarchy fell. The most threatened one, in Bahrain, was saved through the intervention of more powerful neighbors.
The monarchs of the Arabic Peninsula gave out money to their subjects to discourage them from revolting. They also decided to introduce minor reforms such as allowing Saudi women to drive, but which were appreciated by the West.
The West grudgingly accepted the counter revolution, while at the same time patting Tunisia on the back for sticking with democracy. The leaders of new and old regimes are restraining migration which could flood Europe. Just like Europe, they are interested in stopping radicalism and Islamic terrorism, which is why red carpets in the West are still being spread before al-Sisi despite his brutality.