We did not take the analyses and predictions that mourned the early death of the Arab Spring wave with its successive revolutions and uprisings that broke out in Tunisia eight years ago seriously.
We have always opposed and refuted the slander and defamation directed at this revolutionary, reformist wave, as well as the wrongful blame that came with it for the chaos, desolation and bloodshed that occurred during and after.
We said and continue to say that the Arab Spring has been transformed into successive waves of destruction, devastation and civil division by the counter-revolutions. These revolutions saw the Arab Spring as a threat rather than an opportunity to overcome the stagnation and immobility experienced by the region for more than four decades under corrupt and tyrannical regimes. These regimes did all they could to establish an unholy trinity imposed on our nations and societies: extension, renewal and inheritance.
We have said and continue to say that if the achievements of the Arab Spring were limited only to pushing Arab youth to divorce the culture of fear, this in itself would have signalled a new dawn on this region.
With the rise and spread of the threat of terrorism, which accompanied the rise of Daesh and the Nusra Front over four years ago, it became clear that the region was on the verge of succumbing to another unholy trinity, the trinity of tyrants who attracted invaders from every race and sect, in the form of ‘Mujahideen’. They were masked by religious and sectarian slogans, or came in the form of regional states immersed in their imperial dreams or international focuses, whose old colonial dreams are still alive within them.
Two years ago, we celebrated the start of the civil youth movement in Iraq and Lebanon. We hosted a large number of its leaders, and we heard from them in Beirut arguments in which they presented the causes of their emergence and rebellion against the system of sectarian and doctrinal quotas, as well as the black and white turban parties, tribal sheikhs, and political feudalism.
Less than a year later we celebrated the waves of peaceful popular resistance organised by young Palestinian men and women against the occupation, settlement and siege, with rare boldness. This resistance culminated in the heroic Great Return marches.
Meanwhile, between the two, we followed the signs of the popular youth movements, both political and claimant, in Tunisia, Morocco, Egypt, and Sudan.
We also monitored the signs of youth initiatives in Jordan, which would later turn into unprecedented popular movements made up of the youth that combined Jordan’s geography and demography in a civilised peaceful expression of their rejection of the government’s economic, financial, and tax policies. This is an expression of their longing for true political reform that reconsiders the ways to form governments and parliaments and strengthen the front fighting corruption, waste, and unwise spending, as well as establish a self-reliance policy.
We have no doubt that the Arab Spring train, which stopped in its Syrian, Libyan and Yemeni stations, and was derailed in Egypt, will continue its journey towards other Arab capitals until the young generation realise their dreams of freedom, dignity, and an honourable life. The train will continue its journey until this region is characterised by human development and the successive democratic waves that swept the entire world, leaving the region victim to poverty, unemployment, marginalisation, corruption and various forms of authoritarian rule.
While it is true that our first readings of the Arab Spring wave were greatly superficial and simply wishful thinking, it seems that the passing of 8 years since its first wave in Tunisia, and the subsequent developments and transformations that hit both the state and the society equally, has revealed to us the depth of the devastation that struck the social and cultural structures of our societies.
Changing the government or its leader was not reason enough to guarantee a transition to democracy and development. The devastation accumulated throughout the years of stagnation and decades of tyranny was much deeper and more dangerous than we and others had estimated.
Among the theories that we stated cautiously before the Arab Spring and have proven to be true is the theory that regimes and governments produce oppositions similar in shape and form. The violent regimes produced violent oppositions, while the moderate regimes produced moderate oppositions.
The Arab countries cannot all be placed in one category, as there are some countries, governments, and societies that can combine democracy and stability, and we thank God that Jordan is one of them. Its moderate government produced a moderate and civilised opposition.
This is not the case in other countries and societies, and it will not be the same in countries that seem to be distanced from the winds of change. However, the Arab Spring train is chugging along and it is not going to stop before passing through the various Arab and perhaps even regional capitals too.
This article first appeared in Arabic in The New Khaleej on 6 June 2018
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.