The Arab Spring has ended, but there is no going back

Jamal Khashoggi
Jamal Khashoggi
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Bashar says with confidence that his army regained control on the ground, his wife is pregnant, and there are increasing signs indicating that the countries of the region are tired of the Syrian turmoil, and the Syrian opposition is now left alone.

Egypt is burning down; opinion leaders are observing the situation while arguing on all the Egyptian and Arab channels, sending a demand after another to President Mohamed Mursi. In an adjacent window on the TV screen, they are broadcasting images of young people, throwing government offices furniture out of the window and burning army vehicles. Nobody dares to tell them: “Go back home guys; we have lost control over the revolution”. The maximum that a person can do is show some responsibility, condemning the violence of “all the parties”, because he believes that victory is looming in the horizon, triumphing over Mursi who will leave and subsequently he will have the opportunity to replace him, and eventually in the following week, he will call for demonstrations, meaning that a few other young people will be randomly killing while giving the opposition an opportunity to put some pressures on the regime. Mursi has also lost control; he imposed a curfew but the protesters ignored it.

Assassinations in Libya, suicide bombings in Yemen, and problems in the formation of the government in Tunisia – it seems that I dragged Tunisia to this context, because - when compared to the other countries - we can see that it is living in peace.

So, did the Arab Spring end? Yes indeed, the Arab Spring’s warmth and romance have turned into a “real world” with all its bitterness, deteriorating economic situation, and dilapidated governments that the new regimes have inherited. It is certain that no one in Egypt believes the Egyptian Minister of Transport saying that 85 percent of the rail network in Egypt is not working, justifying the train accidents that killed recently tens of Egyptians, but the Egyptians consider that the former regime is responsible for its neglect and corruption. The angry Egyptian citizen no longer sees Mubarak and his regime in the picture; the current minister, Mursi and the Muslim Brotherhood are now responsible for what is happening. What adds insult to injury, is the immature political environment that is waiting for any wrong move, and the Government that has stepped into power without experience or project.
Arab Revolutions

The Arab Spring has ended but the “Arab Revolution” is still ongoing with all the anger, revenge and transformations. When the Arab Spring was at its best, when the optimist analyst saw an Egyptian citizen painting the sidewalks in the Tahrir Square, and a Libyan hugging his brother and crying, he said that the Arab people will carry on their new renaissance, especially that they have understood their previous revolutions’ mistakes, claiming that there is a human experience that is cumulating, and that the Arab citizens and politicians observed and understood the experiences of their predecessors.

As for the pessimistic and realistic analyst who kept a low profile at the beginning of the Arab Spring, fearing that he will be described as a “bad omen,” he can now relax and lecture that the revolutions are an organism behaving and changing according to its practices, far from the rebels’ perfect pictures. He now says that Egypt is the great prize of the Arab Spring, and that it will - at least - need another decade to achieve stability. He can then lecture about the history of the French Revolution, and how it took a decade to calm down, and then many decades to achieve its transformations towards an effective democratic regime.

Both the optimist and pessimist analysts will agree that there will be no return to the past. Mursi may fall or be forced to conduct early presidential elections (and that will be a smart move for the Brotherhood), but there will be no return to Mubarak’s regime or any other regime that is similar to it. If the army reached power, it will be a temporary phase while the democratic scene is being rearranged. The Brotherhood will not disappear, and no one will be able to ban them again. In the same way, the liberal forces that will split again, will not disappear after their success in overthrowing the Muslim Brotherhood that was the cause of their rally in the Salvation Front.

The Egyptians, with all the Arab Spring players, will search in each and every corner for a ruling formula that will satisfy everyone, especially the liberal elites who did not understand the rise of the marginalized powers. The army might be in charge of the political life for a year or two, but it will inevitably return to the ballot box or else, chaos. A handsome Egyptian officer will not be able to rule the people again according to the “revolution legitimacy,” speeches and promises, because the Egyptian people have experienced all that. He will not be able to ban the parties “that have divided the nation” and form a “national council;” there is no room at this time for a new socialist union, even if the handsome officer raised the trending banner of religion. He may find an old Salafist Sheikh who would support his idea, but he will have to protect him with dozens of tanks, defending him from the youth of the 4th or 5th revolution.

The history force with freedom and democracy; No Syrian will accept a sectarian agreement that will define a certain “Alawite” quota in the security services and then be in power with them, for the reason that the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov believes that the insistence of the opposition to overthrow Bashar al-Assad will cancel the peaceful solution, or because the likely candidate for the presidency in Iran Ali Akbar Velayati said that toppling Bashar is a red line that cannot be crossed, or even because there are some who told them to choose between getting along with the regime or Syria will be divided. The Syrian people will insist on the unity of their country, and will proceed with the revolution till the end; the revolution might last for years after it has now become a militia war. The regime is now a militia that has an air force, long-range missiles and chemical weapons. Bashar al-Assad’s regime will not rule over Syria again, even if the “Friends of the Syrian people” neglected the Syrian revolution: Al-Assad’s regime will eventually fall. The Syrian people might split later on, al-Nusra Front might establish an Islamic emirate in Aleppo, and thus they will split and will resort to the ballot box... or chaos.

The Tunisian people might disagree or argue as they prepare for their upcoming elections this summer. Yemenis are also waiting for their first free elections to choose a new president in February 2014: the Southern Movement’s protest will continue with “al-Qaeda’s” absurdity in their suicidal operations, but the ballot box will issue the final decision and will be the final remedy for the Yemenis, Tunisians and Libyans.

The problem lies in the Major Arab country Egypt that is lovingly called the “Mother of the World” by its citizens. The Egyptian political elites have failed to accept the results of the ballot box, preferring to live and negotiate in the studios of the Egyptian satellite channels rather than in the parliament.


This article was first published on Dar al-Hayat newspaper on Feb. 2, 2013.

Jamal Khashoggi is a Saudi journalist, columnist, author, and general manager of the upcoming Al Arab News Channel. He previously served as a media aide to Prince Turki al Faisal while he was Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States. Khashoggi has written for various daily and weekly Arab newspapers, including Asharq al-Awsat, al-Majalla and al-Hayat, and was editor-in-chief of the Saudi-based al-Watan. He was a foreign correspondent in Afghanistan, Algeria, Kuwait, Sudan, and other Middle Eastern countries. He is also a political commentator for Saudi-based and international news channels.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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