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The Last Survivor of the Arab Spring Nations Has Fallen
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“Do you remember the tomorrow that never came?” asked a sad piece of street graffiti in Cairo, referring to the fate of the Arab Spring that once promised to overthrow the brutal autocracies that rule the Middle East.

That tomorrow moved even further into the future this week when a coup displaced the last surviving democracy to emerge from the Arab uprising of 2011. Appropriately, it took place in Tunisia, where the Arab Spring began a decade ago after a vegetable seller burned himself to death in a protest against the actions of the corrupt and dictatorial regime.

On 25 July, Kais Saied, the Trump-like populist president of Tunisia, sacked the prime minister, suspended parliament and declared himself prosecutor general. As with Donald Trump, he had spent the years since he was elected in 2019 blaming members of parliament, critical media and government institutions for the dire state of the country. Polls show that many Tunisians believe him.

The takeover of power has been called “a constitutional coup” because Saied, a law professor by profession, was already president, but decisive steps towards autocracy are being taken. By now this road to dictatorship is well-travelled in many countries and the Tunisian coup is only the concluding episode in the tragic saga of the Arab Spring. Almost every state in the Middle East and North Africa has now returned to – or never left – the political dark ages from which, not so long ago, they thought they might be emerging.

There was nothing phoney about the Arab Spring in its first phases, though western media coverage was over-optimistic about the chances of success. Spontaneous uprisings spread from Tunisia to Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen, Libya and Syria. People poured onto the streets chanting slogans like: “Bread! Freedom! Social Justice! The people demand the fall of the regime!”

And regimes did fall or falter as television screens worldwide were filled with pictures of protesters battling police in Tahrir Square in Cairo and Libyan militiamen fighting Muammar Gaddafi’s soldiers on the road to Benghazi. The scenes looked like something out of Les Misérables, with the revolutionary populace struggling against the forces of oppression.

In many ways this was true enough, but the chances of victory were always less than they appeared. At first, the demonstrators had the advantage of surprise because the sclerotic regimes that they were seeking to overthrow had never before faced mass protests on such a scale. The powers-that-be used enough violence to enrage, but not enough to intimidate. There was much wishful thinking about how social media had outflanked and marginalised official propaganda.

The greatest triumph of the Arab Spring was in Egypt with its 90m population, where President Hosni Mubarak was removed after 29 years in power. Astonished by their achievement, the revolutionaries did not grasp its limitations. They never took over state institutions, notably the Egyptian army, which in July 2013 staged a military coup with popular support and established an even more oppressive regime than that of Mubarak.

One by one, the countries that briefly dreamed of a bright future in 2011 saw their hopes extinguished. In Bahrain, the Sunni monarchy ferociously stamped out demonstrations by the Shia majority, torturing doctors who had treated the injured and claiming, without any evidence, that the protests were orchestrated by Iran.

The outcome of the Arab Spring was uniformly disastrous in that in the six countries where it took hold the situation is worse than before. In three of them – Libya, Syria and Yemen – civil wars, all fuelled and manipulated by outside powers, are raging and show no sign of ending. Governments in Egypt and Bahrain, which is effectively a proxy of Saudi Arabia, ruthlessly crush any signs of dissent. Predictably, Egypt and Saudi Arabia have both welcomed the presidential coup in Tunisia.

I reported and wrote about all these uprisings at the time and in subsequent years. I was never optimistic that all would turn out well, but sitting in Cairo after the fall of Mubarak 10 years ago and trying to decide if I should cover the revolution in Benghazi or the one in Bahrain, it was impossible not to be caught up in the heady atmosphere of a new day dawning.

Even then I suspected that the old regimes were not going to disappear tamely. My minor skirmishes with the Egyptian bureaucracy convinced me that they were still waiting for a clear winner in the power struggle. In Libya, after Gaddafi had been killed, it was telling that one of the first proposals of the transitional government was to end the ban on polygamy.

I have asked myself ever since if the millions who demonstrated during the Arab Spring could have won or was the balance of power always too skewed against them. The answer to this question is vital if there is ever to be a second revolutionary wave more successful than the first.

Outside the Middle East, the vision of the forces at play 10 years ago was always naive, pitting “evil doers” against the good-and-the-true. Almost from the beginning, the Arab Spring was a peculiar mix of revolution and counter-revolution. Genuine popular uprisings took place in Libya and Syria, for instance, but it was absurd to imagine that Saudi Arabia, UAE and Qatar, the Sunni absolute monarchies of the Gulf, were giving vast sums of money to the parties and militias they supported in order to spread secularism, democracy and freedom of expression.

Anti-regime movements in their dealing with the West would sensibly downplay their religious and ethnic allegiances and adopt the vocabulary of liberal democracy. Usually they were taken uncritically at their word. Iraqi opposition to Saddam Hussein before the US-led invasion in 2003 blamed all sectarian hatreds on him, and the opponents of Bashar al-Assad did much the same after 2011. But in both countries, the military frontlines commonly mirror the religious and ethnic loyalties of local communities.

ORDER IT NOW

Western politicians who led the military interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq likewise pretend that one of their prime motives was to spread parliamentary democracy and personal freedom. But my experience of reporting these interventions was that they were not much different from 19th-century imperial ventures, and served to exacerbate divisions and spread chaos.

The first uprising in Tunisia provoked vast international interest, but the presidential coup in the same country last Sunday scarcely registered on the news agenda. This is a mistake even from the most nationally egocentric point of view because a great band of human misery now stretches more than 3,000 miles from Kabul to Tunis and 2,000 miles from Damascus to Mogadishu.

This vast zone of deprivation, dictatorship and violence may regenerate Isis or lead to rise of new al-Qaeda-type organisations. It will certainly produce great surges of refugees once again heading for Europe because they see no future for themselves in their own countries.

(Republished from The Independent by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Arab Spring, Tunisia 
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  1. “Genuine popular uprisings took place in Libya and Syria, for instance,…”

    LOL.

  2. What

    In three of them – Libya, Syria and Yemen – civil wars, all fuelled and manipulated by outside powers, are raging and show no sign of ending.

    are you talking about?

    • Replies: @Old Brown Fool
  3. Ace says:

    If there’s one characteristic of Pres. Saied that comes to my mind it’s that he’s “Trump-like.” That insight really helps to put things in perspective.

    • LOL: Alfa158
    • Replies: @Alfa158
  4. The Arab spring was heavily promoted by David Cameron, who declared that his party were the Torah party, has utterly destroyed viable countries following in the footsteps of Blair and Bush. Libya had free health care, free higher education (often in the universities of the West), free energy, grants for every baby, but the West has totally destroyed Libya and other ME countries at the behest of their master whom Jesus declared was the devil. In one sense I believe in open borders i.e. if a person in their heart loves the values of certain culture then so be it. What we have now is people who believe in their own utterly corrupt tribal values using and abusing their hosts.

  5. Alfa158 says:
    @Ace

    It must be cozy living in your own personal version of the universe the way that Cockburn does.

  6. Notsofast says:
    @The Anti-Gnostic

    agree, still trying to figure out if cockburn is clueless or a total shill.

  7. Stan says:

    The political ideal of the Arab world since Islam has been Prophet Mohammed. The so called Arab Spring was a marketing gimmick by Western journalists to sell newspapers and increase television ratings in Western countries. Western journalists spoke to the tiny minority of Westernized Arab protesters to back their claim that the majority of Arabs yearned for freedoms available in Western countries.

    • Agree: anonymouseperson
  8. @Notsofast

    I would say total shill. A “journalist” should be able to figure out what’s going on, if I can. Especially having been to some of these places. Vanessa Beeley and Eva Bartlett went there and figured it out, as did Aaron Mate and various others. They report on it regularly, only to be insulted, silenced, and ignored.

    Shit, Pres. Assad drives his own car around a city bursting with weaponry and all the oppressed haven’t POPPED his ass yet? Same with Ghaddafi (dunno if he drove his own car, but there’s video of him driving around, standing up in an open-top vehicle through throngs of people and nobody popped his ass). Last leader we had do anything similar was Carter on his inauguration day, but he probably had enough security for at least a battalion. Before that, Kennedy, and we all saw what happened there.

    As for Egypt, Mubarrak was ousted by, my guess, the Muslim Brotherhood, who were in turn ousted by the entrenched deep-state military, probably for good reason.

    Tunisia, I can’t comment about, since I haven’t paid attention to that, but, law of averages says it was all engineered by the fucking CIA, like Syria, Iraq, Yemen (with the Saudis), etc.

    I wish “journalists” could be more like me and admit if they don’t know something, then go find out, like Beeley, Bartlett, Mate, etc., instead of installing themselves with fucking Jihadis (Ward and Bilal spring to mind) to spew CIA talking points.

    Some articles here on Unz piss me off, but NO ONE pisses me off more than this twat Cockburn.

  9. It’s not uncommon for a country to move from dictatorship to democracy and regress, sometimes several times. Just think of Turkey, Pakistan, Egypt, Greece, Italy, Rwanda, France, Spain, the UK, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, the Philippines, Haiti or Germany. The list could be enormous.

    Yet there seems to be a common assumption that, once democracy is established, nothing will change. If Tunisia now becomes a dictatorship, that’s the norm, not an outlier. If it does, it may become a democracy later. [email protected]

    • Replies: @Mulga Mumblebrain
  10. SZ says:

    The geography of endogamy (cousin marriage):

    a great band of human misery now stretches more than 3,000 miles from Kabul to Tunis and 2,000 miles from Damascus to Mogadishu.

    There never was, and never will be, an endogamous society on earth able to create an organised nation state run by an impersonal bureaucracy based on written rules. Only dictatorship can force an endogamous populace to set aside their familial, tribal, and sectarian allegiances. Though these fairly secular dictators are always opposed by the West.
    Globohomo will never try to curb or prohibit cousin marriage, even if it leads to suppression of feminism.
    Endogamous societies, where the average adult person’s emotional intelligence stalls at the level of a 14-year-old teenager, are easy to manipulate, their armies easy to crush on the battlefield, their products, assets, and resources easy to loot.

    • Replies: @Malla
  11. @Notsofast

    …agree, still trying to figure out if cockburn is clueless or a total shill

    (((Shill))), obviously.

    He’s far, far too immersed in his subject to be clueless.

    • Replies: @Pissedoffalese
  12. @Pat Kittle

    Exactly my point. That ass HAS to know, which is what makes him so insufferable to me.

    I WILL add a thank you to Mr. Unz for putting him on his site. Just to get (yet another) example of how these fools think/spew/influence the rubes. Unreal.

  13. Phibbs says:

    The Jew-owned government in Washington D.C. does NOT want democracy in Bahrain. Any election would see an Iran-friendly government come in. That’s why the Israeli-Occupied Government encouraged the Saudis to invade when Bahrainis demanded democracy. Of course, the Jew-owned politicians canceled election results in the Occupied Territories after Hamas won. The Jew-owned government supported the military takeover in Egypt because the elected government was not Israel-friendly. The Jew-owned government in Washington D.C. is only interested in seeing Mideast governments friendly to Israel; not democracy,

  14. Libya was oppressed by not having a (((central bank.)))

    Good thing that’s fixed. Gaddafi was making his own people prosperous and was about to dump the dollar!

    • Replies: @tyrone
  15. The “Arab Spring” was a covert CIA/Mossad op to “conquer seven (uncooperative Muslim) nations in five years”:

  16. tyrone says:
    @Sick of Orcs

    Right, the gold backed dinar ,I wonder where that gold is now ……JUST KIDDING!,I think we can all guess……..want to see the world go pear-shaped just try and replace the dollar as the world’s reserve currency .

  17. It’s a sad state of affairs when a dictator cared more about his people than a phony republic/simp for Israel.

  18. Stogumber says:

    It is good to be reminded that there a lot of dumbasses in the world like Cockburn who believe that there is someone named
    – “the people”, who
    – “rises”, which normally would lead to
    – something named “democracy”, which normally would lead to
    – a stop to “deprivation” and hope for an even better future, if not
    – bad foreigners would take influence and create division within the “people”.
    For the record, this dumbass version of history has not worked in the French Revolution, neither anywhere else. The most absurd idea is the idea that political democracy would lead to prosperity (rather it leads to devaluation of money).
    These people have nothing forgotten since 1789 – and nothing learned after that.

  19. Anonymous[204] • Disclaimer says:
    @Pissedoffalese

    Last leader we had do anything similar was Carter on his inauguration day

    You didn’t see Obama walking? You didn’t see Clinton jogging? Maybe read a newspaper once in a while.

    @SZ:

    Endogamous societies, where the average adult person’s emotional intelligence stalls at the level of a 14-year-old teenager, are easy to manipulate, their armies easy to crush on the battlefield, their products, assets, and resources easy to loot.

    Yeah, we really kicked Afghanistan’s ass.

  20. anon[409] • Disclaimer says:

    does the author get paid in shekels?

  21. @Pissedoffalese

    I wish “journalists” could be more like me and admit if they don’t know something,

    For someone who can admit that, you’re sure giving extremely simplistic explanations about countries you likely haven’t even been to, nor know the first thing about.

    Your predilection for Aaron “a shot of interesting truth, a mixer of geopolitical fan fiction” Mate doesn’t help.

  22. There was NO ‘Arab Spring’. It was an Imperial hit-job to destroy Libya, Syria, where they failed, and achieve regime renewal in Egypt. The failure in Syria probably saved Iran and Lebanon, although Lebanon is tottering.

    • Agree: Sick of Orcs
  23. @Donald A Thomson

    ‘Liberal democracy’ IS dictatorship. Totalitarian rule by the rich owners of society.

    • Agree: Joe Levantine
  24. When the rioting in Tunisia began to get out of hand, I never ever thought for a second that ultimately the Arab countries would become Westminster democracies. Rather, I was assuming that the result would be a Saudi hegemony from Sinai to Senegambia, ruthless and fundamentalist enough to please even IS sympathizers. So actually, things turned out way better than expected.

    • Agree: The Anti-Gnostic
  25. Malla says:
    @SZ

    Dictatorships, Communism, Islamism, Rabbinical or Hindutva like brutal Governments are more suited for the brown black masses and Jews. Whitey needs to leave them alone. What Whitey needs to do is sent the browns/blacks/ Jews living in their lands to these dictatorial/ Islamist/Communist brutal regimes where they will be disciplined. And then levae them alone, no more White Man’s Burden and all that bullshit. It ain’t worth it.
    The only countries best suited for liberal Government systems today are Whitey lands (with Jews, brown, blacks removed) and Japan. That is about it.

  26. Malla says:
    @Pissedoffalese

    Tunisia, I can’t comment about

    The Tunisian revolution started when a poor struggling street vendor, Mohamed Bouazizi tired of constant demands of baksheesh by the Police and later in not being able to pay up, had to face confiscation of his wares and the harassment and humiliation inflicted on him by a arrogant female municipal official and her aides, set himself on fire, Tibetan Monk style and died. That is what triggered the Tunisian revolution.
    Basically they are low trust socities and full of yucchis craze where any piece of shit who gets into a big position thinks his or her shit don’t stink and harrass and bully whoever they can. Sometimes they bully the rich and many a times they bully the poor even though many of them themsleves are from poor backgrounds. Shit like this happens in India all the time. Both the rich and poor are bullied in different ways by the same officials. All this started when honest British officers were replaced with Indian officers and by 1957, 10 years after exiting the British Empire, things started going for the worse. Arrogant corrupt greedy officers became endemic and older generation Indians began complianing how things were better during the British Empire days.
    Basically we are dealing with low trust societies and there is nothing whitey can do about it. They may graduate to Islamic Republics like Iran, to Communism like Cuba to dictators like Saddam, nothing much will most likely change. However the Middle East -North Africa region had/ has some good examples like Qadafi’s Libya or gulf countries like Oman today, a clean beautiful prosperous country.

  27. @The Anti-Gnostic

    If you’re going to lie, tell a Big Lie.

  28. In Islam-majority countries, it is always between secular, progressive dictatorship, or truly popular theocracy with its roots in shariah culture & ending in religious totalitarian nightmare.

    It is, with some nuances, the same in all Muslim-majority countries. One can blame ex-colonial powers or the US for the sorry state of regimes like Bahrain or Saudi Arabia, but overthrow of such regimes will always lead to the rule of some kind of Taliban or Mujahedeen, basically murderous, stone age theocracy.

    Such are these cultures. What is normal, or even optimal for them is absolutely unacceptable for Europe-derived societies.

    • Agree: anonymouseperson
  29. @Greta Handel

    Ain’t no civil war in Syria; they wanted Assad’s head, and sent merceneries, but he was not ready to part with it.

  30. “Genuine popular rebellions….in Libya and Syria” is the point where I realised that I should stop reading this as though it was a serious article.

  31. Hegar says:

    Let me go through this country by country, because there is much neocon propaganda distorting the picture, coupled with religionuts who bristle at the word “Muslim” in the Muslim Brotherhood. (They never realized that the side they supported, as ordered by the media, was also Muslim.)

    Tunisia: This was a good uprising against a tyranny, a member of the Socialist International, loyal to Israel to curry favor with Washington.

    Algeria: Protests against a coup regime, a member of the Socialist International, loyal to Israel to curry favor with Washington. The protests were quickly crushed and people were imprisoned while U.S. media ignored them.

    Morocco: Protests against the king, whose top adviser is a U.S.-educated Jew. The protests led to concessions by the king, so they were successful.

    Libya: Another good uprising against a tyranny, a member of the Socialist International, which had opposed Israel in the past but now curried favor with Washington. Qaddafi bought some nuclear junk on the black market and made a big show of surrendering it, so the neocons would get to say “Look, the regimes abandon WMDs because we invaded Iraq!” He also worked with Washington against the rebels in eastern Libya, who were Islamists, as you need something historical and larger to identify with.

    No, Obama did not “support the Islamists because he was Muslim!” This was neocon misdirection. The protests took everyone by surprise and Washington needed to get in on it. And the regime was extremely tyrannical. Qaddafi’s female bodyguards kidnapped little girls he selected during his travels. They were kept in his palace basement to be raped over and over, and never see the light of day. He crushed civil discourse, put anyone who complained in prison, and killed thousands. “But it got worse after, ha ha!” As planned by Washington, which could have helped shape a new stable government in Tripoli but didn’t.

    Bahrain: The majority are Shia, and the “king” is simply a dictator with no real support. He rules by filling the police and military with Pakistanis. It is effectively an occupied country. The protests also included Sunnis, so it wasn’t only sectarian. For instance, a Sunni millionaire who was then thrown in prison, and had his businesses taken from him. The protesters camped by the beautiful Pearl Monument, in the Pearl Roundabout. At night, the Pakistani military moved in, with Saudi tanks rolling in across the bridge, to crush the camp and imprison the protesters. The Pearl Monument was in all the Bahrain postcards. It was demolished so it wouldn’t be a symbol for freedom. This is like destroying the Eiffel Tower because of protests by its foot. The U.S. supported the tyrant with money as usual, as he is pro-Israeli and anti-Iranian.

    Yemen: Protests against a tyrant who divided the country’s assets among his family members. The protests were fired at by the military, while one general supported the protests. So it turned into a rebellion. Now the Houthi movement, majority Shia but also Sunni – it is not a religious movement – controls the capital and most of the country. It is the government. And still U.S. media calls it “a rebel movement supported by Iran”. All Iran has done is approve of them, as well they should. Any support they’ve given is minor, and the Houthi Movement does not answer to them. They aren’t even the same kind of Shia.

    Saudi Arabia’s tyrant bombs Yemen, especially targeting food depots and water. This is done only thanks to U.S. satellite intelligence and U.S. refueling of planes in the air. The U.S. supports state terrorism.

    Qatar: Protests that led to some concessions. Also a successful movement.

    Syria: This was not “Arab Spring”, it was the opposite. The Arab Spring was against pro-Israeli, Washington-funded Sunniy dictators that suck the countries dry. Syria’s Alawite president is pro-Palestinian, and the country was sanctioned by Bush and then Obama to destroy the oil exports so Kurds and Sunni immigrants could start an uprising, funded by Washington, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Syria’s Alawite minority has made itself practically identical to the Sunni majority as far as religion and culture goes, and is supported by the majority – the military fighting the Iraqi immigrant Sunni “rebels” is mostly Sunni. That goes for most of the officers too.

    Drought and U.S. sanctions ruined the country, not kleptocracy. Drought, U.S. sanctions, and Kurds and Iraqis moving to the cities in the west, where they started protests. The president, who was practically forced by the Ba’ath party to take over his father’s job, must have remembered how uprisings in the past turned violent, in his father’s time. It was no doubt a mistake to fire at protesters. But violent groups were already among the protesters. Note that al-Assad tried to appease them. He allowed female teachers to wear the hijab, he released Muslim Brotherhood prisoners (not the same as the slum-helping Brotherhood in Egypt), he banned casinos. All he got for that was U.S. media going, “look, he released Islamists so the protests will look like Islamists only!”

    We all know how Turkey bought oil from ISIS, how the U.S. bombed areas to help the ethnic-cleansing Kurds take over and impoverish or demolish Arab villages, how the Kurds disarmed the Yazidis and left in the middle of the night hours before ISIS came to capture the Yazidis so the Kurds could then take their land, how Israel functioned as al-Qaeda’s air force in the south and gave them shelter and medical aid on the Israeli side of the border and finally arranged for their helicopter transport to Jordan. It has been a foreign operation from the start.

    Egypt: What a smear job we have seen from neocons and religionuts regarding Egypt. “Obama supported the protesters! Because he is a MUSLIM!” No, while Obama and State Secretary Hillary Clinton (also a Muslim?) pretended to support democracy, they were shipping riot gear and tear gas to the dictator Mubarak – also pro-Israeli, Washington loyal and a member of the Socialist International, that group of thieving parties.

    After elections were held and a democratic president installed, the socialists got few seats in parliament. So they kept meeting in Tahrir Square, a small group. They had taken part in the pro-democracy protests, and it was clear they were the ones who molested women in the crowd – as they now did the same in their own Tahrir meetings. These were then used for the “popular uprising” against democracy.

    It went like this: The generals control AT LEAST one third of the economy. Suddenly fuel and electricity were cut off at the same time. People couldn’t go to work, and the workplace had stopped anyhow. So many joined the socialist party in Tahrir Square. Military helicopters dropped Egyptian flags over the crowd to hold up before the foreign cameras. Like in Ukraine, the crowd only cheered when the cameras were turned on, as like in Ukraine it was all about fooling the dumb American audience that can’t even place these countries on the map. (As was shown in a test after four months of Ukraine protests, the first time.) Then the military took over. Installing civilian dupes in an “interim government”, again to dupe the foreigners. Probably planned in Washington.

    Hundreds of pro-democracy protesters were machine gunned in one day. You have never seen this on TV. Most have never heard of it. It was the biggest massacre of our lifetime. Yet it’s completely buried.

    Washington kept sending money to the military junta even though U.S. law forbids financing a coup regime. Simply by Obama denying that there was a coup, even though there was one. (“But Obama is a Muslim who supports the Muslim Brotherhood!”)

    Washington’s demand is that Egypt keeps the border to the Gaza Strip closed, to starve the Palestinians. The democratic government had opened the border. Now it was closed again.

    For this, Egypt receives more money than any other government in the world, except for Israel itself of course.

    As for the Muslim Brotherhoods, religionuts could try to get past the “Muslim” in the name. They are the only ones who care about the poor in the vast Cairo slum. The police are simply another gang, looking for bribes, so the Brotherhood volunteers set up court to settle disputes, and organized welfare for the poor. That is why they are so immensely popular – many people owe them a lot.

    Maybe Americans should learn these things before they mouth off about a foreign country. But as usual simply believe what the Jewish media owners feed them.

    • Replies: @Malla
  32. Bianca says:

    I do not know any example from history where unorganized, angry masses managed to come to power
    after a regime falls. All that happens is — power struggle. In French revolution, plutocracy already shared power with French aristocracy, and revolution served plutocrats well. They seized power, and the romanticism of the revolutionaries ended by them losing their heads once plutocracy had enough of children playing. Russian revolution was imported, first color revolution, where masses quickly learned that the leaders had something else in mind — to insure that Russian culture, tradition and religion were crushed, and masses without anyone to protect them. Foreign money was plentiful,

    What did we expect from Arab revolutions? Monarchies survived — partially brutal force, partially bribe. Old regimes, all supported by the West fir decades fell — and West proceeded to find a way to corral them back into obedience. Nothing new there.

    The attempt failed to replace Mubarak with his newly minted Vice President -/ Hillary ‘s plan. Did not work out — then we manipulated newly elected Morsi. Military put him to power, and he chose to trust US snd reject military offer to take emergency powers back again after Saudi inspired Salafi movement threatened civil war. Morsi was naive and he paid the price. Military back in power — ended looming civil war by destroying Moslem Brotherhood, and threatening to do the same to Salafi parties if they fail to cease and desist. Saudis pulled back their henchmen, and gave military loan to stabilize Egypt.

    The lesson? Relying in West will result in chaos, and hundreds of foreign NGO vying for power without winning at ballot box. Egypt took a new path, balancing between East and West. Today, took decisive step east by joining SCO.
    Syria was from day one creation of one man —Saudi interior minister and later Crown Prince Mihammed Bin Nayef. He started war against Yemen, led boycot of Qatar. Our man through and through. Syria was never the case if civil or sectarian strife, but from day one — fight between Armed forces and numerous paid militant infiltrators, later consolidated into a better run ISIS. US knew from day one who funded snd managed all Islamic militants. In Syria, majority soldiers are Sunni — yet they fight for the government and did not change loyalties. No need crying over Syria — as soon as Damascus regained control over most of the country, sanctions were introduced to prevent reconstruction and development. US still hangs around Syria-Iraqi border to prevent infrastructure repair and return of trade. Libya? From day one — foreign paid militias draped in Islamic garb — got full support from the West, and no-fly zone was an excuse to bomb government positions. Since, we supported Tripoli government, Russia and Egypt — Tobruk.
    But it was a trap for Trump, the moment he dumped UN recognized government in Tripoli and tried to charm victorious General Hefter, Turkey jumped in to support it. It quickly became clear that Russia, Egypt and Turkey coordinated their moves — bringing
    two sides together and in agreement.
    Tunisia was ruled by elected president, and undermined in every turn by pro-Western NGOs and “civil society”. Government paralyzed by design.

    It is no wonder Egypt is supportive. And no wonder people are supportive. They all had their fill of chaod,

    And Saudi Arabia? Ever since ISIS father, and financier, Crown Prince MBN was deposed in June 2017 in a palace coup by MBS and his father, the Kung — Saudi Arabia pulled the plug on being money bag for militants in service of geopolitics. This ended the militancy — few acts of sabotage notwithstanding.

    Of the existing ME countries — only one is under US influence. All others have diversified their economy and defense. The outcome is disappointing from US geopolitical perspective, and the hardships of ordinary people continues, But they favor by a large margin a stronger, centralized government to a chaotic Western style bickering and economic backsliding. There is a hole — remains to see results, that economic development China-style is successful.

    Would we undermine their efforts because they have a different economuc development lan in mind? Remains to be seen. Egypt is showing already results. Saudis are moving to diversify. Both Egypt and Saudi Arabia just joined Russia-China led SCO to better integrate themselves into Eurasian economies.

  33. Malla says:
    @Hegar

    It is effectively an occupied country. The protests also included Sunnis, so it wasn’t only sectarian. For instance, a Sunni millionaire who was then thrown in prison, and had his businesses taken from him. The protesters camped by the beautiful Pearl Monument, in the Pearl Roundabout. At night, the Pakistani military moved in, with Saudi tanks rolling in across the bridge, to crush the camp and imprison the protesters. The Pearl Monument was in all the Bahrain postcards. It was demolished so it wouldn’t be a symbol for freedom.

    Wow I did not know this. Bahrain is a prosperous country but the people have to live under such tyranny. What shit.
    Thanks for all the info.

  34. People appear to struggle with a dichotomy of authentic domestic uprising vs inauthentic foreign uprising.
    Cockburn acknowledges the sincere domestic component in the arab spring. Commenters object by pointing at the foreign component. These are not mutually exclusive and it is offensive when your convictions and aspirations are dismissed as mere vehicles for foreign machinations.

    In Syria in february 2011 there was a plausible foreign component and probably more of that than compared to a year earlier but we need to tolerate a certain amount of that without dismissing the whole event. There was no large inflow of weapons yet. The bulk of the military and propaganda activity started afterwards.

    One did not need to dismiss the sincerity of the domestic demands at the time to insist that
    foreign actors had every intent to escalate tensions and destroy the country if possible.

  35. The Arab world is rotten and dysfunctional to the core. It is in the very grain of their culture-religion Islam. No freedom has ever existed there. It will be the last place on earth to modernize and democratize. If it ever does.

  36. arami says:

    The President of Tunisia, Kais Saied, sacked the defense minister, a day after ousting the prime minister Hichem Mechichi, and suspending the parliament, plunging Tunisia into a constitutional crisis.

    Despite pressure from the country’s powerful labor union, as well as from both the United States and France, Saied has not named a new prime minister yet. The zionist Biden is trying to deceive the public and pretend that hes is neutral and only supports the interest of the people of Tunisia, but in fact he is supporting the action of the President who is trying to push Ennahda party, and other smaller conservative party in the parliament, out or bring under control to be able to bring changes required in TODAY political environment to improve the economy.
    .
    Rached Ghannouchi, head of Ennahda, the biggest party in Tunisia’s parliament and most vocal opponent of Saied’s moves, has accused the UAE of being behind the “constitutional coup,”. Ennahda came first in last election in 2019.

    Tunisia, like many other countries in the Arab world, does not recognize Israel, primarily out of solidarity with Palestinian and demands for a state of their own.
    The Tunisian Parliament is once again considering legislation to make normalization with Israel illegal.
    In a May 18 general session, most parliamentary blocs demanded such legislation in the wake of the Israel-Gaza fighting and the recent developments in the Palestinian territories.

    Regarding the recent normalization of few Arab countries, Tunisian President Kais Saied said that “regimes choose whatever they want,” when asked for Tunisia’s take on some Arab states’ establishment of official and diplomatic ties with Israel.

    Echaab (The People’s) Movement head Zuheir al-Maghzawi told Al-Monitor that the bill to criminalize normalization is needed in the current wave of normalization in the region. It is a popular demand and a form of support for the Palestinian people to defend their rights, he said, adding that the international forces supporting Israel are pressuring Tunisia not to enact the law. He accused Ennahda, which has the largest parliamentary bloc, of preventing Tunisia from passing the bill.

    In February 2020, Tunisia fired its ambassador to the United Nations, Moncef Baati, five months after he took the helm of the diplomatic mission in New York. The Tunisian presidency accused him of supporting Palestinians at the expense of Tunisia’s relations with the United States. The move came in the middle of the disputes between Baati and the president over the US peace plan. This decision was made despite the fact that Tunisian president have supported Palestinian during his campaign for presidency and has promised to continue supporting the Palestinian cause, but now due to economic and political pressure from the zionists and reactionary Arab states, Saudi Arabia and UAE, he feels he needs to change course and provides an environment to normalize relations with Israel.

    Therefore, the hidden role of the Zionist regime in the coup d’etat of Tunisian President Qais Saeed against the constitutional institutions of his country should be considered, because Many Tunisians believe that Israel and Saudi Arabia have played a key role in the development of crisis in Tunisia.

    According to Arab News 21, Saudi Arabia has used the Pegasus spy software to target the ousted speaker of the Tunisian parliament, Rashid al-Ghannouchi, and the leader of the Islamist Ennahda party. Al-Ghannouchi is one of 50,000 numbers on a list obtained by Amnesty International’s investigative NGOs, which is thought to include telephone numbers that have been targeted by Israeli spy agency since 2016. Thus, Al-Ghannouchi was under Saudis and Israelis surveillance since 2016

    The political analysts further added that the Tunisian ambassador to the United Nations who intended to reject the draft resolution of the anti-Palestinian plan called the ‘Deal of the Century’ was dismissed by the President. He also refused to condemn the agreements reached by the compromising countries with the Zionist regime, calling it an “internal affair.”

    It is noteworthy that the President of Tunisia, in an unexpected move and with the support of the army, dismissed the Prime Minister and the Speaker of the Parliament of the country and suspended the activity of the Parliament. Rashid al-Ghannouchi, head of Tunisia’s largest political party, also called Qais Saeed’s actions baseless and said that parliament was elected by the people and would continue to function.

  37. joe2.5 says:

    Why would an official propaganda parrot like Cockburn need space in the Unz Review?
    He is getting more and more idiotic. To the point of producing an entire article on the so-called Arab spring with nary a word of the determining role of the US, the Zionists and their puppets.
    A feat.

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