Commodore, Royal Saudi Navy (Retired)
Since the beginning of the so-called Arab Spring, I had an uneasy feeling about it. At that point in time, I could not describe that eerie feeling. Later on, it turned out that I was not the only one who had serious misgivings about the entire “revolution” business and we were not very wrong after all. The abrupt eruption of those “popular” uprisings had raised some legitimate questions about the future of the entire region. The so-called Arab Spring did not take much time in morphing into an Arab Autumn. Those uprisings only created deep divisions among people and power-hungry “reformists” tried to take full advantage of the situation and unfortunately those unscrupulous elements succeeded in exploiting the situation to a great extent. They had been apparently waiting for the toppling of the old dictatorial regimes to impose their dictatorships on their respective countries. The so-called Arab Spring, which was thought to bring about a positive change, resulted in loss of precious lives, displacement of millions of people from their countries, widening of divisions among people of different ethnicities and sects and hike in distrust among brothers. The situation has aggravated to such an extent that people are reminiscing about the regimes of Saddam Hussein and Muammar Qaddafi — as at least they were able to go on with their routine lives. In the case of Iraq, it would be too simplistic to blame the Arab Spring for the current mess. There are various other factors that need to be taken into account. However, the post-Spring events just exposed the underlying sectarian tensions and bitterly divided the Iraqi society. These rebellions that broke out around five years ago had wreaked havoc on the region. Perhaps, a full-blown war could not have caused this much damage to the region. The Arab Spring pitted brothers against brothers. It drove a wedge between communities who had been living in harmony with each other for centuries. The “winds of change” have created a huge power vacuum in most of the Arab countries, which terrorist organizations are relentlessly trying to fill in. Libya, Syria, Iraq and Yemen appear to have been completely destroyed with no immediate signs of any reprieve. Tunisia and Egypt are still reeling from the effects of the Arab Spring. The region is experiencing unprecedented killings and violence. The death toll due to this violence is continuously increasing but apparently nobody is maintaining any record. Almost all of the Arab Spring-hit countries are facing uncertain future. Nobody knows for sure what will happen next. One thing has become clear that the Arab Spring was not about democracy; it was all about gaining power and about extracting revenge. It was not about building a country or ridding it of corruption, it was all about exploiting its resources. Arab Spring was not about introducing social and economic reforms; it was an attempt (which has yet to fully succeed) to drag the region into the Dark Ages. During the Arab Spring, we saw destruction of mosques and other places of worship in the name of religion. We recently witnessed (and are still witnessing) destruction of archeological sites, as if efforts are under way to rewrite the history of the region. After a brief lull in the unrest and emerging signs of normality, Egypt is once again in the eye of the storm. Egypt, the largest and most populous Arab country, is being torched by its own people. Egypt is not only important to the Arab world, its strategic importance to the entire world is beyond imagination. The Arab world has experienced prolonged cycles of violence several times throughout its tumultuous history but the current happenings have no precedence. We are witnessing systematic and synchronized acts of violence from Tunisia to Egypt and from Saudi Arabia to Kuwait and as far away as France. The latest terrorist attacks in Egypt would prove to be a turning point for Egypt and the entire region. Earlier, terrorists were targeting remote areas but now Cairo has become the center of their attention. The latest was the attack that claimed the life of Egypt’s top public prosecutor Hisham Barakat and just two days later, a powerful explosion hit October 6 Square. The Arab Spring has created monsters that threaten the security of the whole world. Daesh has become a nightmare and it will take a long time and joint efforts of the entire world to eliminate this monster. Daesh is wreaking havoc on Syria and Iraq and trying to spread its tentacles across the world. On the other hand, the Muslim Brotherhood is making all-out efforts to destabilize Egypt. Written by Abdulateef Al-Mulhim. Living Our Worst Nightmare reprinted with permission of Arab News and Abdulateef Al-Mulhim.