The “Arab Spring” Has Lost, But The West Promises Not To Stop

The entire next year, from January to December inclusive, will be marked by 10-year anniversaries associated with the events of the “Arab spring”. In fact, the beginning of this process has already been laid out: last week in Tunisia, the 10th anniversary of the tragic death of a young street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi, who set himself on fire in protest against the arbitrariness of a local official who confiscated his goods for violating trade rules, was officially celebrated. Since then, protests began in Tunisia, which in January 2011 led to the resignation of President Ben Ali, who ruled the country for a quarter of a century. And after Tunisia, there were demonstrations, uprisings or even wars in almost all countries of the Arab world. The entire region of North Africa and the Middle East was on fire. In some places, these fires continue to this day. The “Arab spring” quickly gave way to the Arab winter.

In January 2011, large-scale riots began in Egypt, which ended with the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak, who had ruled the country for three decades. The first democratic election brought the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood to power there. This was soon followed by a military coup, which ended with the mass execution of “brothers”.

Then, in January, the protests spread to Yemen. The consequence was a “civil war” that has not stopped until now, the bombing of peaceful cities by foreign aircraft, complete devastation, famine, and a humanitarian crisis of unprecedented proportions.

In February, demonstrations began in Bahrain. To save the local government, foreign troops were brought into the country. The revolution has been severely suppressed.

At the same time, Libya broke out, which led to war, the bombing of western aircraft and the overthrow of the Muammar Gaddafi. After that, the state (one of the richest in the region before these events) actually broke up into separate enclaves that were not controlled by the central government. Fighting continues to this day. No one can count the number of victims and refugees.

In March of the same year, the first major protests against the legitimate government of Syria broke out, leading to a large-scale war that claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. Refugee flows from the devastated country have led to a migrant crisis in Europe.

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And this is not a complete list of the consequences of the “Arab spring”, which was greeted with such enthusiasm by the western world at that time. Now the same west is actively discussing “what went wrong”. For example, the Economist magazine, which a decade ago was almost the most active protagonist of revolutions in the Arab world, now has to admit: “The region is now less free than it was in 2010”.

The liberal media considers the only success story of the entire series of riots, coups and wars to be the same Tunisia that this series began with. “Only Tunisia emerged from the revolution with a fragile but real republic, which its citizens are justly proud of,” says the Economist.

This success is measured solely by the number of democratic institutions supposedly created in the country. For example, the Financial Times admires the increased number of non-governmental organisations and the strengthening of women’s equality. The author clearly forgot that Bouazizi burned himself, unable to stand the shame, because he received a slap in the face from a female official. Apparently, now she would have more rights, and he, apparently, less.

And in modern Tunisia, after the victory of the revolution, Bouazizi’s “feat” was repeated by dozens (if not hundreds) of desperate people. In just ten months of this year, 62 cases of self-immolation among Tunisian citizens were recorded. But now no one erects monuments to honour them, no one names streets in their honour, as was done for Bouazizi, and even no one pays much attention to such events or their causes. In a country of “victorious democracy”, this is not so interesting.

And if we pay attention to the opinion of the Tunisians themselves, who are tired of the economic crisis and poor living conditions, they are already mostly cursing yesterday’s “hero-martyr” and his family members who made a fortune from his death and safely moved to Canada, from where they now call for “continuing the struggle”. “I curse him… He is the one who ruined us,” ordinary Tunisians are increasingly talking about Bouazizi.

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Well, what about the “success story” and the increased number of “democratic institutions”? According to opinion polls, 50% of the Tunisian population believes that the quality of life has deteriorated since the Arab spring, while only 27% have felt an improvement. 63% of respondents believe that their children’s lives will be even worse. I.e., Tunisians, unlike the western media, did not notice any particular success. I am sure that many of them would have been very surprised if they had been told in 2011 that they were taking to the squares not for the sake of improving the quality of life, but for the sake of increasing the number of NGOs — the main indicator of successful democratic transformations.

What can we say about other countries that as a result of the “Arab spring” were destroyed by “civil wars” and foreign bombing. 75% of Syrians, 72% of Yemenis, 59% of Libyans point to the deterioration of life. In no country that has experienced the events of the “Arab spring” does the number of those who noticed an improvement in life exceed the share of social pessimists. The smallest gap in opinion is recorded in Egypt, where 38% of citizens believe that their life has worsened, and 23% – that it has improved. And even then, such a low indicator of pessimism for the Arab world is explained rather by the fact that the revolution was eventually suppressed (and quite harshly).

The most striking thing is that western journalists, who played a significant role in inciting protest moods ten years ago, try to analyse their mistakes exclusively in one direction: what did we do wrong, since we allowed the “democratic transformations” to choke? They try to avoid the idea that much of the responsibility for the blood, destruction of entire states, wars, bombings, personal tragedies of millions of people lies with them — with those who incited the Arabs to revolt, who called on their governments to bomb peaceful cities in Libya or turned a blind eye to the bombing of Yemen carried out by Saudi Arabia. All of this is as if in the name of democracy.

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Western analysts do not want to admit that almost always the violent overthrow of the legitimate government does not lead to an improvement in the quality of life of people (for which they go to revolts), but, on the contrary, leads to chaos and devastation. The rejection of this obvious truth, which was also proved by the “Arab spring”, gives rise to numerous conclusions of the liberal media about the need to continue the “democratic” experiment in the region.

The Guardian, for example, while agreeing with the conclusion that the “Arab spring” is a complete failure, already ominously promises: Next time will be different. “The seeds of modern democracy have yet to be properly sown in the Arab world,” the Economist reports. “Arab uprisings never ended,” writes Foreign Affairs, promising continued riots and revolutions. This is a common refrain of western publications about the events of a decade ago.

And at least someone should ask the question: maybe it is not necessary to impose on Arab countries the model of government that is generally accepted in the west? Just admit that it does not take root there and entails terrible catastrophes and victims for the population. Attempts to organise regular “colour revolutions” there from the outside and establish “democratic regimes” again and again lead to even tougher dictatorships and new self-immolations of the next Mohamed Bouazizi, whose tragedies cease to worry the west immediately after the regime necessary for this west is established in this or that state.

Vladimir Kornilov

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