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Saturday, 16 June 2012

Chaos and Confusion – The end of the Arab Spring

What was mostly feared by most analysts in the view of the long-term development of the Arab Spring now turns to become an true and overall scale nightmare: Bloodshed in Syria, political chaos in Egypt, post war turmoil in Libya, rise of the Islamic movement. This is just a very brief update of the overall situation in the Middle East, more than one year after the big bang of the Arab Spring in Tunisia. What started as a mass euphoria for a radical political change is turning into a region-wide war and anarchy.

In Libya, the country is at the beginning of a post-war period, but without pacified conditions overall in the country. Proliferation of weapons even after the official end of combat activities, the potential rise of the Islamic movement, and the uncertainty of its neighbour states in Egypt and Algeria prevent a stable post war consolidation in Libya. Furthermore, separatist movements from the Tuareg cause an additional threat to the country’s post war settlement, which will lead to more violence and instability in the immediate neighbourhood and in other neighbouring countries with potential separatist movements.

In Syria, the civil war between the Assad regime and the opposition is out of control, even the former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan failed to implement his plan for a peaceful solution to both adversaries. Now, the UN stopping its observing mission due to the unpredictable security situation even after several of their observers have been attacked. The international community is losing patience, but finds itself lost in a serious lack of consensus about the strategy to implement.

Egypt is marked by a pure power vacuum without government, without constitution, without parliament. The military is currently in charge, and riots are on the daily agenda of public life in Cairo and other Egyptian cities. With the Muslim Brotherhood still going strong, it is most likely that the Islamist will use this massive confusion to seize power in one of the most important states of the Middle East, and also have a spill-over effect on the other countries which have been affected by the turmoil of the descending Arab Spring.

Only Tunisia, the big bang country, can report a relatively stable reform process, but with the same threats by potential Islamic movement. The Islamic party of the Ennahda Movement achieved high results in the first elections after its former rules Ben Ali has been thrown out of the country, and gained 89 out of 217 seats in the national assembly, and is therefore, by far, the strongest political group in the national assembly in Tunis.

In the end, it turns out that the positive waves sent out from Tunisia did not reach the other countries on a full scale, but have in fact thrown more and more countries into the spiral of violence and chaos. Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, Syria; the number of civil conflicts and war is outweighing the cases of successful political reforms by far. An end of violence in the entire region is not visible and will most likely lead to foreign intervention. With a look to Saudi Arabia, where the Saud-Dynasty is facing another succession crisis after the very recent death of Prince Naif Bin Abd al-Asis, another potential candidate to be infected by the post Arab Spring atrocities is on the line, but with the Saud regime determined to crack down any potential revolutionary activity by force.

The losers of this post Arab Spring chaos is the general population who find themselves in an even worse situation than before Arab Spring genesis. Aside of Tunisia, the political confusion in Egypt leaves a dangerous power vacuum for radical (Islamic) movements to move in and to take over power; Libya is caught in its post-war turmoil, and Syria is deteriorating to a full scale war with foreign powers to intervene, and to repeat the same strategic failures as they did in Iraq and in Libya.

It cannot, however, be doubted that some are wishing their former dictatorships to come back, even if this would mean the end of their newly gained “freedom”, which turns out to be a distant dream in today’s view.

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