Why Arab Spring Failed To Deliver Freedom And Democracy?

By Mourad Beni-ich

Morocco World News

Washington DC, August 15, 2013

Two years ago, I had a lengthy conversation with an Egyptian figure who happens to be one of the most intellectual Egyptians in the United States, and a very good friend of mine. We discussed the eruption of what is called “Arab Spring” in the Arab world and what led to it. We discussed at length the “Bouazizi Affair” that sparked revolutions and drove waves of angry citizens to the streets in almost every Arab capital demanding, at first, institutional reforms, and then shortly after shifting their demands into asking for a bigger prize for their revolts against the regimes: the leaders’ heads.

One by one, Arab leaders began being ousted; starting with Ben Ali of Tunisia, Mubarak of Egypt, Gaddafi of Libya, and Saleh of Yemen. Assad of Syria took a different approach to solve the uprising throughout the country, so the Alaouite minority remains in power. He began fighting back against the people, causing tens of thousands of people to lose their lives.

I informed my Egyptian friend that those revolutions occurring at that time, and still in certain Arab countries, showed a great deal of political immaturity and a tremendous lack of planning. These two factors can ensure dragging any society to long-term uncertainty and political chaos that will eventually erupt as a sectarian or tribalism conflict or worse, civil war.

As a result of the Arab Spring, those who have been oppressed under the previous regimes sought their lifetime opportunity to win over people’s minds and hearts; they campaigned under a variety of slogans, the least of them that they fear God and they will implement the Divine law on earth. They had a Utopian dream, and some are still enjoying it until now, but their cards have started to be revealed, and the Divine plan they promised was not from the Deity, but rather from the “Supreme Spiritual Leader”, who acts like a ghost and only operates behind the scenes, but nothing can be done contrary to his agenda and his vision to run the nation. That itself decided the fate of those revolutions and led to a counter-revolution against the new leaders, who were no different from the previous autocrats who rules by fiat for decades, the only difference was the new ones used the name of the Deity to rule, the original tyrants had that way of ruling in their DNA.

The question that many ask these days is whether the Arab Spring succeeded to bring forth what millions of Arabs were seeking and dreaming of? Are those who were “elected” constitutionally experienced enough to bring a positive change to their nations, or are they just another set of opportunists who were waiting in the pipeline for their fifteen minutes of fame? Is an average Arab person so naïve that he could not sense that things did not seem right from the start and that they might have considered what previous leaders have promised to do for them? Was it really worth the blood of many innocent humans who perished in unjustified confrontations between followers of all those “opportunists”?

What is clear right now is that the Arab Spring was anything but a success to the people. It brought instability and chaos, and one has to ask this question: why did it fail to deliver what those millions of demonstrators sought? Why does it seem that freedom and prosperity will always be a dream that an average Arab man can have while asleep, while reality has proved that it is somewhat close to impossible that it will occur in this life, so his best bet is to get himself a one way ticket to another life to seek that ultimate dream.

Freedoms gained during the Arab Spring uprisings are being whittled away and fledgling democracies are now under threat. Every report indicates that levels of democratic governance declined throughout the world over the past two years or so, and so are freedoms.

In Egypt for example, the chaos at the second anniversary of the Tahrir Square uprising and the intervention of the military to expel President Morsi are only the latest and most vivid illustration that Egypt’s revolution of January 25th, 2011 has gone off the rails. It has revived talk about the failure of the Arab Spring and even some nostalgia for the old order. But Arab dictators such as Hosni Mubarak could not have held onto power without even greater troubles; look at Syria. Events in the Middle East the past two years underscore that constitutions are as vital as elections and that good leadership is crucial in these transitions.

Egypt chose democratization before liberalization. Elections became the most important element of the new order, used to legitimize the new government, electing a president and ratifying the new constitution. As a result, the most organized force in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood, swept into power, and was able to dominate the drafting of the Constitution. The document had many defects; it banned blasphemy and insult and allowed media censorship in the name of national security. These are all ways to give the government unlimited powers, which the Muslim Brotherhood has used. More journalists have been persecuted for insulting Morsi in his six-month presidency than during the nearly 30-year reign of Mubarak. Morsi eventually declared that his presidential decrees were above judicial review!

Moreover, the hierarchy within the Muslim Brotherhood and the total and blind submission of the president to the supreme spiritual leader of the Brotherhood weakened the presidential institution and made it unable to fulfill its Constitutional duties. The Muslim Brotherhood always waited for instructions from above, which angered those who once supported them and voted for them just over a year ago. The Muslim Brotherhood terminated itself from within.

In Morocco, the Monarch has taken some immediate drastic measures to absorb the uprisings that erupted in the streets of the capital and other major cities. He enacted constitutional reforms in 2011. In the elections that followed, Morocco’s Islamist Party won 107 of the 395 seats in parliament and formed a government. The new Constitution and reforms sustained the powers the Monarch previously had, although it gave the impression that major powers will be placed between the hands of the elected government, yet the Palace used another “Constitutional” advantage and formed a shadow government that consisted of previous major key players in Moroccan politics and who had vast “experience” in running both domestic and foreign affairs. Therefore, the political scene in Morocco is similar to playing hide and seek between an elected government and the opposition and the “shadow” government.

This is more proof that those who were demanding and seeking social, economic and political reforms and change did so without having a preset agenda and demands. They blindly imitated Tunisian and Libyan uprisings without pragmatic planning and a set strategy for the future. Most of those who went to public squares and major streets did not possess even the basic knowledge of politics and social understanding. It seems like people were given – by their own governments or opportunists – the necessary dose of morphine to calm them down and absorb their anger at the start of the “Spring”, so the new leaders and those who escaped the heat of their people can have another strategy to run the country and serve their agendas under the noses of those who trusted them with their votes and fate.

When people turned against Louis XVI of France and Americans revolted against King George III of England, they invested years in planning; many intellectuals were involved, thinkers and men of literature and diplomacy provided the “road map” for the revolutions, and that is what ensured not only successful revolution, but establishing two of the best political systems in the world. This was missing ingredient in the “Arab Spring,” good planning, and honest and patriotic individuals who stand firm for the good of their countries and people rather using those revolting to gain personal or sectarian advantages.

There is no doubt that the “Arab Spring” failed to deliver what was expected from it, and by the look at the current events, there is an “Arab Autumn” gleaming in the future, and once this “autumn” arrives, it will be years before Arabs can enjoy social, economic and political stability, and prior to that, people should first identify who are the genuine politicians from the imposters, who are those who are from the people and will serve the people, and more importantly identify the most dangerous factor that will lead to another failure: Thyself.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial policy

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