Will Tunisia, who kicked off revolutions in the region, also launch the era of revolution against cabinets which were the fruits of Islamic movements or will it be capable of correcting the path, instead of leading the Middle East into a period of intellectual and bloody terrorism, which must be the price of the great change in the countries of the “Arab Spring?”
Such an era will leave the doors wide open for ruinous civil wars and large scale chaos, which will not only be limited to the region. What is currently taking place in Mali and in countries of the Sahara is the best example of what the fall of Moammar Qaddafi’s regime in Libya led to. What’s happening in Syria and its neighboring countries is a warning of a similar result.
Arab revolutions have not provided security, stability, democracy, multiplicity and affluence until now, like many had wished for. They have not put an end to extremism powers mainly “Al-Qaeda” and its brothers who resort to violence as a tool of expression.
Violence in Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, Yemen, Libya and their neighbors foretells the opposite of these hopes. The Tunisians expressing their anger over the assassination of Chokri Belaid, one of the prominent opposition figures is not insignificant. It is significant that they detest the crime and say the previous regime of Ben Ali and Bourguiba jailed, exiled and tortured opposition figures but it did not kill! Returning to the days of the past regime is enough to spark another revolution.
What is being said today in Egypt about the rule of President Mohamed Mursi is also not irrelevant. It is enough to accuse Mursi of restricting authorities more than Hosni Mubarak did. It is enough to make the accusation that security apparatuses are practicing more horrible acts than those practiced during the days of obsolete regimes and that the “Brotherhood” is dominating administrations and institutions.
The wave of pessimism which ran through the “Arab Spring” was not a sudden result. It accompanied the Egyptian revolution since talks of “deals” the “Brotherhood” made with the military began. It later turned out that the “people of Tahrir Square’s” request on abandoning the special situation of the military institution was not achieved. Instead, the new constitution kept the military institutions’ independence and privileges.
This alone is what made it remain neutral in what happened and in what is happening. It only observes. Its leaders do not want to be dragged into an open confrontation in arenas since political parties are rebelling away from them. It is enough to surround public facilities to provide as much protection as possible. This position is what sped up the toppling of Mubarak’s regime.
During the recent protests against the rule of President Mursi, security forces and police, which the Egyptians demanded multiple times to rehabilitate and “clean,” have portrayed an image similar to the one portrayed during the first days of the revolution. It has even portrayed a worse image than the previous one.
The situation was not different in Tunisia where “Ennahda” Movement found itself between two fires, that of the liberals, leftists, civil society organizations and rooted syndicates and that of the Salafis who expressed a tendency to violence and extremism in more than one occasion.
The movement took into account the fears of a wide segment of the Tunisian society especially that it found itself incapable of ruling alone although it is the biggest bloc in the constituent assembly.
So it resorted to a tripartite alliance that did not provide anything in politics even if the Tunisian experience at the beginning is less severe than the Egyptian one. The Tunisian Islam is less conservative than Egypt’s considering a long period of Bourguiba era which transferred the country into a progressive period of modernism on the social, legal and political levels unlike the Egyptian community which continued to have more of a tendency toward conservatism despite all attempts and experiences made since the days of sending missions to the West during the reign of Mohamed Ali.
Many comparisons have been drawn between the experiences of Egypt and Japan which were in a similar situation in the late 19th century…
The obsolete regimes which practiced all forms of tyranny knew how to cancel politics by harming, obstructing or abolishing the partisan, syndicate, journalism and cultural structures…If some of these structures rose it is because they were directly linked to regimes and dedicated to serving them.
These oppressive regimes adopted the policy of deepening divisions and rifts among entities. They reigned for long periods of time by adopting policies that gave them power either by siding with a powerful party or by claiming to confront another powerful one.
Perhaps a quick look at the political scene of these countries of the Arab Spring, frankly and crudely, shows what these countries are actually going through. Islamic movements which based their strength on counting on religion and its institutions were readier and more organized to fill the vacuum the fall of previous regimes had caused. This is they were propelled into power and seized opportunities to gradually control everything.
This is what Egypt’s “Brotherhood” did. The “Brotherhood” worked since the revolution erupted until today to implement the policy of “empowering” and eliminating their partners from areas such as management, the judiciary and the media. It also sought to eliminate its partners from the cabinet and the Shura Council.
Despite the boycott of a vast amount of social segments and parties, the “Brotherhood” adopted a constitution based on the concept that the majority rules. It did not deal with the constitution as a social contract that there is consensus by all components. It considered it a political or ideological agenda that suits it alone even though the constitution should be above all parties and agendas.
This is what Ennahda Movement tried to do and is still trying to do. Yesterday it rejected Prime Minister Hamadi Jabali, one of its most prominent leaders’, suggestion to establish a technocratic cabinet that neither represents a category nor a party. The movement announced it holds on to a partisan cabinet that provides it with the majority.
This difference between the “salafis” of the movement and the first minister who holds the post of the movement’s secretary general started the dispute between the wings of “doves” and “falcons.” Ennahda tried during its conference last summer to conceal this dispute just like, according to its opponents, used to do in its previous phase of its “secret organization.”
During the last days of President Al-Habib Bourguiba (1986-1987), the authorities revealed what it considered a secret organization for the so-called “the Islamic direction” (Ennahada was born from it in 1989) in the police and army. Ben Ali’s regime in the beginning of the 90’s also revealed what it called a similar organization. This is what led to chasing out of Islamists and the movement’s supporters and leaders.
Today, the movement’s rivals accuse it of establishing “ties to protect the revolution.” The rivals consider these ties to be nothing more than the movement’s reservist “army” in case the official army does not take orders from anyone like the defense minister announced. His announcement is a historical approach in keeping the military institutions, for many reasons, away from coups and politics in general.
Ennahda’s responsibility for the assassination of Chokri Belaid is a matter to be decided upon by the judiciary. However, it does bear moral and political responsibility. The current cabinet is accused of acting upon a treaty with Salafis and extremists. The atmosphere provided the chaos and the use of power against rivals. Jabali’s call for a new technocratic cabinet is a frank and clear confession of the failure of the “Ennahda’s” partisan government knowing that the Tunisians gave it the chance to implement some of their demands and some of what it had promised.
But what worried the people of the revolution is the extremist parties which security apparatuses did not act to suppress and violently deter although these groups’ policies are dominated with terrorism and violence. This is what educational and media institutions were subjected to. “Ennahda’s” leadership chose to cope with these groups out of fear of being blackmailed on the “Islamists’ arenas.”
Has Tunisia, which launched the “Arab Spring,” missed the chance to launch an experience that may be contagious to other countries? Can Jebali take the path toward a technocratic cabinet defying “authoritarianism” which the sheikhs of his movement seek to attain? Can he protect the new present structures and strengthen the concept of consensus between democracy and Islamic parties like Turkey? Last summer, Jebali’s cabinet officially committed not to list principles of Islamic sharia as a basis for the new constitution, which a draft hasn’t seen the light. Will he make the move to present a Tunisian experience that will be contagious?
Improvisation, obsession with authority and the absence of political, cultural and democratic experience along with the extremists’ tendency to cancel others who are different from them are real and serious threats for the path of the “Arab Spring.” Instead of resorting to the streets to confirm its popularity and increase divisions like the “Brotherhood” in Egypt did, “Ennahda” still has a chance to correct the track and organize intellectual and political differences through peaceful and transparent means.
Tunisia still has a chance to refute the saying that previous tyrannical regimes provided security and stability, a minimum level of economic growth and social unity even if it was haunted with fear.
Does the path of Arab revolutions end with the Islamist extremists only seizing power? The first step toward democracy is not only organizing free and transparent elections but also agreeing on a new social contract that includes all the country’s components and parties so they are all reassured about their future. The first step toward democracy also lies in agreeing on a constitution not dictated by the majority no matter what its identity is.
Complete chaos threatens to target the entire Arab region, and Egypt and Tunisia are being counted on to correct the path. In Libya, tribal and Islamist extremist powers prevent the establishment of institutions that unite the country and its people. Yemen is preparing for a dialogue uniting conference amid the increase of calls to separate the South and North threatening of civil wars. Iraq moves backwards steadily: either the return to the scheme of civil war that erupted in the mid 90’s or the seizure of a dictatorial regime like that of Saddam Hussein.
The best diplomatic expression on this struggle is what Azhar Sheikh Ahmad al-Tayb informed Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinjed few days ago! Talking on Syria is another affair. The fate of change in the African North had negative effects on the Syrian acts and on the calculations of those concerned in the struggle over the entire Sham countries. This fate is not underestimated.