One year after the “Arab Spring” it is time to assess the results of an upheaval that captured the attention of all the world.
Egypt. One year later ex-president Mubarack is still being tried in court. A new government has taken office with the country’s new parliament having a strongly fundamentalist Muslim cast. There are indications that the new regime will abort then President Jimmy Carter’s shining accomplishment, the peace accord between Egypt and Israel. Even more ominious, the regime is holding 16 American peace workers hostage and threatening to try them for instigating, you guessed it, the “Arab Spring.”
Libya. There is no clear path for Libya. There is even the possibility that the country could split along the historic divide between Tripolitania and Cyrenaica that goes back 2000 years. The striking thing for Americans is that President Obama attacked a country and leader who had voluntarily given up his nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction in a vain attempt to improve relations with the USA. Not a good omen for others with whom we demand giving up efforts to develop or acquire nuclear weapons. Another instructive lesson here is that Obama took the same cowboy approach Bush was roundly criticized for using, bomb them first, then talk to them.
Syria. This conflict gives the lie to the rationale used for our attacks on Libya. If human rights concerns and protection of civilians, whoever they may be in a civil war, were the rationales to attack Libya where dozens of civilians were killed, why are we not attacking the Syrian regime that has killed thousands of its “civilians?” Or do we only protect civilians when it is easy and convenient? Syria is giving the lie to the intervention by the USA and other outside forces in Libya. It was not to prevent massive casualties among “civilians.” Intervention in Libya had other motives with being an “easy target” not outside the realm of possibility.
Iraq. President Obama followed through on the agreement President Bush made to remove all US Forces from Iraq by the end of 2011. Contrary to predictions by many that our leaving would be followed by an explosion in sectarian and ethnic violence, it seems that the new leaders are content to engage in a never-ending cycle of ad hoc alliances to run affairs which are the grist of democracies. Most importantly, Iraq is not bothering its neighbors which it was prone to do under Saddam.
Yemen. Long time President Salah is out but his regime remains in place. It remains to be seen if the protestors and rebels will calm down now.
Outside the Arab World
Iran. Again, if protecting civlians was the motivating force behind US and other outside interests getting involved in a rebellion, why did they not assist the civilians being killed and brutalized when they demonstrated against the reelection of Almadinajad? Was this another lesson to suggest that the US and others only intervene when it is an easy target? President Obama has also presented a contradictory and confusing policy toward Iran. He says that Iran is not pursuing a program to build nuclear weapons but calls for not letting the country enrich uranium. If they are not developing weapons, why deny them the right to enrich uranium for non-weapon uses such as electric power generation and research? Calling for Iran to give up enrichment implies that the administration believes they will use this ability to develop weapons.
Afghanistan. Taking a page from President Bush’s game plan President Obama launched a “surge” in US Forces to end the war in Afghanistan. Instead of bringing the troops in Iraq back home, he shifted them to Afganistan. Unfortunately it is clear that the Afghans are as tired as are Americans of our troops being there. We may have to leave before the president’s target date of the end of 2014. And it is clear that the Taliban will return to power. So that’s it, 12 years down the drain.
Not a happy panorama of a post “Arab Spring” world. But what did you expect, miracles?