Six full years have passed since the outbreak of the Arab uprisings, which started in Tunisia’s Sidi Bouzid after Mohamed Bouazizi’s self-immolation. With his death, he ignited an Arab world whose ideology had been thwarted socially, economically, religiously and politically. The revolution spread from Tunisia to Egypt, Libya, Yemen and Syria at lightning speed, surpassing the expectations of America’s Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), according to one of its officials.
Many believe that the Arab revolutions have failed, and that the Arab Spring has been transformed into an autumn or even a harsh winter. They see that the situation has worsened and continues to worsen day by day with increasing violence, bloodshed and outrage.
With what is happening in the Arab world today that may well appear to be the situation at face value, but the truth is something entirely different. The Arab Spring succeeded in toppling four heads of state — in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen — who had been stifling the people wholesale. With their fall, ordinary citizens were finally able to breathe easily and dream of a new beginning. They wanted to win back the years that they had lost over two generations.
The Arabs succeeded in breaking the barriers of fear and they proved that they are also just as capable of revolution as others are around the world. The people dealt with what was going on with a “revolutionary innocence”; it was for that reason that deep-states in regional capitals were able to move, with their links to gangsters, generals and counterfeit intellectuals to stifle the will of the people, taking them back to the pre-revolutionary reality.
Tunisia was the exception. It is the only country that did not fall victim to bloodshed, despite the ample amounts of foreign funding made available to direct it otherwise. By contrast, the revolution in Syria was transformed into a “world war” that exposed the intentions of both Arab and international actors. Syria, in fact, has become the world’s new Great Game chessboard. The dreams of Catherine the Great have been realised thanks to Putin, who prevented the Syrians from reclaiming their capital Damascus.
The revolutions are ongoing. The Arab Spring is still changing and is still blooming. What is coming after will not be the same as what has passed, though, no matter how much time passes.
Translated from Al-sharq, 24 January, 2017
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.