Commodore, Royal Saudi Navy (Retired)
The term “spring” is used to describe a popular uprising against a political system. It is mainly used in Europe. In the recent history of mankind, the term was used to mark a period of a few months in 1968 when political protests in then Czechoslovakia erupted. It was called the Prague Spring. However, the Soviet Union crushed the protests with its invasion of the country and all intended reforms were rolled back. We all know the rest of the story. We all are aware of the fact that like any other political uprising, the Prague Spring lasted a few months but it is beyond comprehension that the so-called Arab Spring appears to be never ending. It seems as if somebody has pushed the Arab world into a bottomless pit of violence and unrest. These so-called revolutions started jolting the region around five years ago and its aftershocks continue to shake the Arab world until today — using the term aftershock maybe an understatement because truth of the matter is that the unrest is increasing in its intensity and morphing into a global threat. This so-called Arab Spring began on Dec. 18, 2010. It all began in Tunisia in a very dramatic manner and subsequently took Libya, Egypt, Yemen and Syria almost by surprise. The winds of that so-called change not only swept across the Arab world but also threatened the entire world. During these five years, the world has witnessed the emergence of the biggest threat to the regional and global security and stability. Since the start of the Arab Spring many countries across the Arab world have seen riots, violent and peaceful demonstrations and full-scale civil wars. Arab Spring was supposed to bring about political and social change in a country. It was meant to usher in a new era of democracy, social equality, prosperity and an end to endemic corruption. But, as it turned out, the countries that were plagued with the Arab Spring saw more corruption, more social inequality and much more violence. So, who is really to blame? Ironically, many Arab men of letters blame others for the beginning of the Arab Spring or for its perceived failures. The usual suspects are the Americans, Europeans, Israelis and practically everyone other than the inhabitants of those countries that were hit by those revolutions calling for a change. As the Arab Spring gathered momentum, it turned out that instead of working for the establishment of a democratic political order, the forces or players calling for a change in the system got involved in a game of revenge and counter-revenge. It turned out that the masses in many Arab countries didn’t only have negative feelings toward their leaders; they had no feelings for each other. People in most of the Arab countries are not homogenized and they had never been. Many of them were just waiting for the right moment to burst and the general situation in these Arab countries didn’t help. Wealth was not distributed justly. The divide between the haves and the have nots was getting deeper. Arab Spring was a movement in waiting but few expected it to be that violence with no end in sight. In the past few years, the region saw the rise of the most atrocious terrorist organizations and saw open interventions by foreign powers. The destruction of this magnitude and atrocities of this nature are never seen before anywhere in the world. Atrocities committed by and among people who used to be friends and neighbors. The more killings and atrocities, there will be bigger scars that may take decades to heal. Now, it is time for all the warring sides to set their personal interests aside and to give priority to the wellbeing of their respective countries and their people. We are seeing countries that are swept by the Arab Spring sinking into chaos that will eventually end but after many more casualties. What is more, the world saw the most extensive destruction of places of worship, archeological sites and destruction of the environment. Lands in Syria will need years to be cleared from left over ammunition and people in Iraq are holding their breath regarding the possible collapse of the Mosul Dam that could kill many people and destroy fertile lands in addition to the wastage of huge amount of water that many countries in the Arab world are struggling to get and even paying billions of dollars to produce through desalination plants. In other words, the Arab Spring is not only pushing many of the Arab countries backward but it is also depriving the area from essential assets and commodities. Arab world has many riches and wealth and we didn’t need an Arab Spring to utilize these assets. Arab Spring was not about democracy and social equality it was all about revenge. People in the region are growing tired of the ongoing chaos, atrocities and killings. And countries in the area have become unsafe due to foreign interventions. We must seek ways to end this cycle of violence. Written by Abdulateef Al-Mulhim. The Never-Ending Arab Spring reprinted with permission of Arab News and Abdulateef Al-Mulhim.