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Why don't Arabs make peace with their despots and stop the bloodshed?

No one expected, not even in their worst of nightmares, that the Arab revolution and change movement would end the way it has ended. In all the countries of the Arab revolutions, the promises of freedom, democracy and human dignity have turned into extremely costly civil wars.

The Tunisian exception, which seems to have delivered the country at a minimum cost, is in fact a dubious exception. Even in the most optimistic outlooks, it is rather difficult to imagine that it provides "an ideal model" that can be looked up to in the other Arab sister countries.

Why then don't the Arabs of Syria, Iraq, Libya, Tunisia and Egypt appreciate the grave consequences of their quest for the state of justice and freedom and their challenge for the despotic regimes that have for so long been in total control of politics and resources? Why don't they see reality for what it is: that these are invincible regimes and that they are simply destined to coexist with them? Why don't they put an end to the losses in human lives and in homeland territories and opt for the restoration of peace, security and stability even under the hegemony of the minorities of ruling classes?

The winds of the Arab revolution have stirred enormous anxieties and powerful reactions in the countries of the Arab revolutions and in the Arab world as a whole. These anxieties and reactions were no less size able or powerful than the huge popular movement witnessed by the Arab cities in 2011.

The masses took to the streets in their tens of millions aspiring for a new world, a world that would rebuild the relationship between the state and its people and that would place the Arabs once more on the stage of history. However, the ruling regimes and the state borne by the revolution's promises posed an existential threat to extremely powerful and influential Arab sectors. These were minorities of businessmen who, for decades, controlled, in coalition with the ruling classes and international firms and interests, the countries' capabilities and wealth resources. In addition to military institutions that have long forfeited their fundamental role in protecting the country and the people and turned into a main partner in governance and wealth. As well as size able social sectors, which cannot be underestimated, that have been content with and used to a relationship of servitude; and Arab authorities that feared they would be brought down by the winds of revolution and change and hence decided to confront the dangers emanating from the archaic Arab capitals.

The truth then is that the old regimes were not without supporters who were prepared to defend them. Nor were they without population segments that truly sympathised with them and Arab allies who possessed wealth and political leverage enabling them to provide the support needed to restore conditions to what they had been.

Revolutions are usually initiated by segments within society that are more conscientious, more willing to make sacrifices and more sensitive to the course of history. They are then rallied around by large segments of the people, but not necessarily by all the people. Not a single revolution in modern history spoke for the overwhelming majority of the people. In other words, while bearing within them a state of division that may at times exhibit a class-like feature, revolutions also beget an ideological feature and at other times a purely political feature.

Yet, the division within Arab societies, which goes back in its roots to the collapse of consensus within the Arab Islamic sphere during the second half of the nineteenth century, was much more profound and much more costly than any division experienced by any other popular democratic revolution the world has seen during the past half century.

Dr Mohamed Morsi won by only 51 per cent of the vote in the presidential elections as he competed against a contender who did not only represent the old regime but was also one of its prominent leaders. Later, the army toppled the elected president and restored conditions to what they were under the Mubarak regime.

Following a critical success by the Ennahda movement and its two allies in the Tunisian primary elections, the Tunisians returned to the ballot boxes in elections shadowed by anxiety and loss of patience to give the majority of their votes to parties that were closer to the vision of the old regime than to the vision of the revolution and its aspirations.

Although the Libyan revolutionaries did completely get rid of the head of the previous regime, they soon found themselves in confrontation with a group of people who were no less megalomaniacal and no less ragingly desirous to seize control of the country's capabilities and resources.

The Assad regime has not been able, despite resorting to a most brutal force, to finish off the revolution of the Syrian people. However, the regime has had enough sectarian loyalty and foreign aid to enable it to deny victory to the revolution.

The role of sectarian elements in Iraq is no less significant. Uprisings in five provinces only succeeded in replacing the Maliki government with another that is no less sectarian.

As for Yemen, the Salih regime has not taken long to bounce back benefiting from a sectarian coalition involving the armed forces.

In one of the most profound manifestations of the Arab division, the conflict over the state and over governance has turned into a battle of existence or extinction. One after another, the states of the Arab revolution slid into the abyss of civil war. Whether the sound of cannons have been thunderous as in the cases of Libya, Syria, Iraq and Yemen or not so thunderous as in the case of Egypt, all the Arab revolution states are today in a state of civil war. A war in which the capabilities of these countries are being systematically destroyed, their financial reserves are being depleted, their people are being murdered in the tens or hundreds of thousands whether on the streets or inside detention and torture centres, and millions of their citizens are being displaced internally or forced into exile.

In one way or another, there is nothing new in this cyclone of death and destruction. The cyclones of death and destruction have not, since the First World War, ceased visiting the countries of the Orient, at times in the name of major world wars, at times in the name of national liberation wars and at other times in the name of domestic battles.

But the truth is that the Arab Orient has not, for a hundred years, known such rates of death, systematic destruction and internal warfare. This is what bestows plausibility on the calls for reconciliation, calls for saving what can be saved of the state's capability and resources, for saving the blood of the people and for putting an end to the financial and humanitarian haemorrhage which seems to be endless.

Libya for example is a country with vast oil wealth and expansive geography. The Libyans can, by accepting the leadership of another maniac like Haftar, regain their security and safety and start all over again even if Haftar were to behave as if he was the sole inspired charismatic leader and even if he were to establish a regime in which his own sons and relatives control key institutions and control the wealth.

The Syrians too could settle for a compromise with the Assad regime even if governance were to continue to be run by a group of Alawite officers and aides, even if the country's economy were to be monopolised by a small group of families, and even if parliamentary elections were to produce a cheering crowd for the president who happens to be the son of a former president.

Would it not be better for the Iraqis, and Iraq is no less wealthy and in possession of no less oil resources than Saudi Arabia itself, to settle for a sectarian regime that would establish an exclusively sectarian state and that would be led by a bunch of individuals who are ignorant about Iraq's history and its power balances than remaining in a situation where they are divided, where they suffer from militia wars and where large sways of the country are seized by the State of the Caliphate? After all, hegemony by Iran and the Shia militia gangs would not be worse that the hegemony of ISIS.

And why shouldn't the Yemenis concede to the leadership of Ahmad Abdullah Salih and the hegemony of the Houthi militias? Is it not the case that this is how the situation in Yemen has been all along: a small group of people ruling and stealing while the majority are compelled to fend for their living one way or another? Wouldn't that be better than a war with no end in sight? Wouldn't the Yemenis at least secure their safety and the safety of their properties?

In other words, the Arabs may see in Egypt, with their own eyes, a living example of what their future will look like, if they were to opt for averting civil war and accepting reconciliation with the forces of the counter revolution and of the old regime. The outcome would include: the return of the class of the army officers to state control and to playing the role of the principal power in both economic and commercial spheres; the rendering wide open of the gates of prisons and detention centres and the return of security agencies to their leading role in political life; silencing the voice of the opposition in one way or another; the return of the mass media to the embrace of the authority and the security agencies; falsifying election results as befits an Arab republic; and cooperating with Israel for the sake of regional peace.

This is what reconciliation will lead to, without illusions and without self-deceptions. It is now up to the rising peoples: either return to the old regime or proceed forward in this tough struggle no matter how burdening it is.

Translated from araby21.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

AfricaArticleIraqLibyaMiddle EastOpinionSyriaTunisia
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