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There is nothing wrong with the revolutions but in the conspiracies against them

June 23, 2015 at 12:45 pm

In light of all that has taken place in the wake of the Arab revolutions, many people are asking: will the patterns of the Arab revolutions of 1916 be repeated in all their disastrous intricacies? It is as if history is repeating itself but with new players and victims. Before we can compare the Arab Spring with the “Great Arab Revolt of 1916” which the British and the French mobilised against the Ottomans, it is imperative that we know what took place in 1916. At that time the Arabs were languishing under the grip of the Ottoman Empire and they had many hopes and dreams that they wanted to live out. Many Arabs wanted to gain independence from the Ottoman Empire and from modern nation-states.

The new occupiers became the British and French empires although these two parties knew very well the extent of Arab suffering and their desire to liberate themselves from the Ottoman Empire. Although the factors that encouraged the Arabs to revolt against the Ottomans were countless, the new French and British occupiers mobilised the Arabs against the Ottomans and took advantage of their desire to live in freedom in their own new independent states. We all remember quite well how they incited Sharif Hussein against the Ottomans under the leadership of the Lawrence of Arabia.

Of course there was nothing shameful at all about the Arabs revolting against the Ottomans at this time because any nation that has achieved liberation has undergone a revolution and that is even true for countries like America, which revolted against the British occupation. Therefore, the Arabs did not do anything wrong when they revolted against the Ottomans for their liberation; however, the problem rests with the occupying European powers that took advantage of the Arab’s aspirations. Western imperial powers urged the Arabs to revolt while secretly working to place all of them under new colonial mandate systems and, in doing so, actually succeeded in implementing more tyrannical and oppressive imperial regimes.

European powers were planning to divide the former Ottoman territories into smaller states. At the time when Sykes and Picot were encouraging Sharif Hussein to revolt against the Ottomans, they were also negotiating among themselves to create a new map of the Arab region. As a result of this, rather than gaining their liberation from the Ottoman Empire, the Arabs found themselves living in a new imperial era that was just as oppressive as the one they were in before, if not worse.

Are we now witnessing a modified version of the Great Arab Revolt under the banner of the Arab Spring? Maybe. Yet, even if this was to be the case, it would not be the fault of the Arab people at all. There are a million reasons, as I have already said, that would push the Arab people towards revolution. There are many Arab and Western powers that have stood in opposition to and pose a threat to the Arab revolutions and have therefore done everything in their power to derail the fight for liberation rather than work to the advantage of the rebellious peoples. It is also worth noting that forces found an opportunity in the revolutions to amend the Sykes-Picot Agreement and this led to the divisions and fragmentations we now see in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Libya. The question that remains is: what fault do the revolting populations have?

Who are the parties responsible for creating the status quos that led to the revolutions in the first place? Why are we blaming the populations that revolted for the sake of a little oxygen and freedom rather than blaming the tyrannical regimes that oppressed these people for decades in the first place? There are many forces lurking in the region waiting to take advantage of the power of the revolutions, as was the case in 1916. The events that are taking place have proven that tyrants such as Bashar Al-Assad and Ali Abdullah Saleh have paved the way for predators in their countries and that they would rather burn Syria and Yemen to the ground rather than allow the people to achieve their liberation. We have heard Ali Abdullah Saleh tell his supporters to “burn everything beautiful in Yemen” and we have also heard Al-Assad’s supporters telling the people to “support Al-Assad or they will burn the country”.

Stop skinning revolutionaries alive. A human being has the right to revolt against tyranny and oppressive regimes or any individual who seeks to take advantage of him or her. What fault did the Arabs have in 1916 when they wanted to liberate themselves and establish independent and modern nation-states? What fault did the people of the Arab Spring have when they wanted to rid themselves of fascist governments and military intelligence agencies? How can we blame a person who desires a warm meal if a dog came and devoured his before he had the chance to enjoy it? Moreover, who is to say that the people will continue to allow dogs to steal their bread?

Translated from Al-Sharq on 21 June 2015.

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