New Age Islam Edit Bureau
12 February 2016
The Medieval Tactic Shaping The
Syrian Civil War
By Annia Ciezadlo
Afghanistan: Pity the Children
By Helena Malikyar
Hamas, Israel Digging In For another
By Yossi Mekelberg
Establishing A State That Suits Assad
By Abdulrahman Al-Rashed
Next U.S. President Cannot Save the
By Joyce Karam
The Never-Ending Arab Spring
Compiled By New Age Islam Edit Bureau
The Medieval Tactic Shaping the Syrian
Feb 12, 2016
ON Feb. 3, the United Nations suspended
talks between the regime of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad and
representatives of the Syrian opposition. The Geneva talks, which were aimed at
ending the five-year-old civil war, had bogged down in distrust and regional
politics before they even got underway.
The UN mediator, Staffan de Mistura, hinted
that the initial round of discussions collapsed because the Syrian regime
refused to lift the sieges that are slowly starving hundreds of thousands of
people across the country. Assad’s regime has been using starvation as a weapon
– technically a war crime, when used against civilians – for the past four
As the war has progressed, various rebel
factions, like Daesh (the self-proclaimed IS) and Nusra Front, have also
adopted the strategy. But the vast majority of the people under siege in Syria
are being starved by their own government. Today, up to a million people are
being slowly and deliberately starved to death in the heart of the Fertile
Crescent, many of them a stone’s throw away from grain silos full of wheat.
The Syrian opposition demanded, before
participating in talks, that Assad’s regime allow food and medicine into
rebel-held areas. De Mistura proposed that the talks resume by Feb. 25, once
the foreign powers that back the different sides can exert pressure on their
allies to make political concessions.
Assad could lift the government-imposed
sieges with a wave of his hand. But his regime has been loath to give up this
horrific tactic for one main reason: it works. The regime realized early in the
war that instead of waging costly street battles to retake territory, it is
cheaper and easier to surround an opposition-held area and starve its residents
Assad won’t abandon the sieges unless he
comes under sustained international pressure. The external powers that are
helping to fuel and prolong the war in Syria must exert pressure on both sides
to end the sieges.
The sieges and the resulting humanitarian
crisis captured the world’s attention in early January, when Syrian activists
began sharing photographs from Madaya, a mountain village close to the Lebanese
border. The photos showed starving children with hollow eyes and skin stretched
over bulging ribs.
After six months of siege by the Syrian
government and its ally, the Lebanese Shi’ite militia Hezbollah, the people of
Madaya were forced to eat grass and cats to stay alive. According to Médecins
Sans Frontières, at least 46 of the approximately 42,000 people trapped in
Madaya are estimated to have died from starvation since December. Madaya is not
the first place besieged in Syria, nor is it the only part of the country under
Like the indiscriminate use of barrel
bombings in civilian areas, and the use of chemical weapons, the sieges
represent yet another failure by the United Nations and the international
community to protect Syrian civilians. In the matter of sieges, the UN was
particularly craven: a Security Council resolution requires it to maintain a
list of areas it considers “under siege,” as opposed to “hard-to-reach.” But UN
officials left Madaya and other besieged areas off its official list of areas
under siege – even as people there were starving – most likely to placate the
Syrian regime, which allows the world body to maintain its base in Damascus.
Four years ago, the Syrian military began
slowly restricting food and medical access to Mouadhamiyah, a town in the ring
of suburbs around Damascus known as the Ghouta. Because the military imposed
the siege gradually – restricting one food item at a time, until supplies of
each ran out – people did not initially realize the danger. By the time the
siege became total, in November 2012, it was too late to bring in food
supplies. At least 16 people starved to death. Mouadhamiyah remains under
Over the next four years, the Syrian military
used a strikingly similar progression of restrictions in Eastern Ghouta, in the
Yarmouk refugee camp south of Damascus, and in sections of the western city of
Homs. This is no accident: Assad’s military has carefully planned and executed
each siege, refining its playbook with each one.
The sieges serve a dual purpose: by using
civilian deaths as leverage, they gain back rebel-held territory as cheaply as
possible. And by making civilians fight for basic survival, the hunger often
forces them to abandon any larger hopes or political goals. “They start to
question their belief in the revolution, and even if it was worth all this
suffering,” said Qusai Zakarya, the nom de guerre of an opposition activist
from Mouadhamiyah, when I interviewed him two years ago. “All that they care
about is to eat, no matter what the cost will be.”
In each case, the government allows guns
and gunmen to infiltrate besieged areas – but not food. The dizzying patchwork
of armed groups ends up indirectly helping the regime, because they make the
living situation worse. The sieges allow armed groups to profit by hoarding
food and selling it at inflated prices. Many anti-government militias are
guilty of such profiteering, but this warlordism would not be possible without
the artificial scarcity imposed by the government’s sieges in the first place.
In early January, a political deal allowed
the UN to send convoys of aid to Madaya and two other areas besieged by rebel
militias. They delivered 7,800 food parcels to Madaya – enough for 39,000
people, by their numbers, which consider each, parcel enough for a family of
five to cover basic food needs for a month. But unless the regime permits more
deliveries, those supplies will run out soon. When that happens, Madaya – just
like all the other besieged parts of Syria – will go back to starvation and
The Syrian regime, which is extremely
skilled at managing public perceptions, is counting on that. Sadly, it is right
to do so: Assad’s strategy of waiting for the world’s attention to wane has
succeeded for years. Two years ago, a picture of thousands of starving
civilians waiting for food went viral, and briefly galvanized international
attention. The result was a flurry of aid convoys and UN Security Council
resolutions; but as soon as the world’s attention stopped, the aid deliveries
The UN and foreign powers can restart the
Geneva talks by forcing the Assad regime to end its sieges and allow
humanitarian aid without restrictions to all parts of Syria. This won’t happen without
sustained international pressure – not just from world leaders, but also the
public. Otherwise, we’ll be looking at new photographs of starving children two
years from now. The world cannot justify forgetting the starving people of
Syria once again.
Ciezadlo is a Beirut-based journalist who writes about food and war.
11 Feb 2016
On February 2, the Taliban proudly assumed
responsibility for the assassination of Wasil Ahmad. The boy they had murdered,
with two bullets to the head, was only 10 years old.
Wasil, a native of the south-central
Uruzgan province of Afghanistan, had stopped at the bazaar on his way home from
school to buy apples when he was shot.
While nothing justifies such a barbaric
act, a host of elements contributed to rendering the fourth grader a target.
Six months earlier, he had become a child soldier in the Afghan Local Police
unit that was led by his uncle.
His father and a dozen of his clan members
had been killed by the Taliban. When his uncle was severely injured, rage,
vengeance or perhaps mere survival instinct had prompted little Wasil to join
the ranks of the fighters.
Push For Afghanistan Peace Talks amid
After the militia group successfully
repelled the Taliban offensive, the district police chief lionised Wasil and
celebrated his bravery. His photos were circulated in the social media.
In the absence of exact figures, reports on
Afghan child combatants rely on anecdotes and witness accounts. On the
government side, it is believed that the problem is especially pronounced in
the government-sanctioned and US-funded ALP militia forces.
The phenomenon appears to be more widely
present among terrorist organisations. Teenage students of religious madrasas,
mostly in Pakistan, comprise the bulk of Taliban and Haqqani Network’s foot
soldiers. Children are also used as suicide bombers.
A greater number of children are used by
both sides as cooks, servants and errand boys, positions that all international
legal instruments against the use of children in combat include in their
definition of "child soldier".
It was during the Soviet occupation in the
1980s that children began to fall victim to war and its multidimensional
Conflict, poverty, flawed policies and the
dismal application of the rule of law kill Afghan children in droves on a daily
basis. Each year, hundreds of children die in armed hostilities, air strikes,
suicide attacks, car bombs, or land mines.
It was during the Soviet occupation in the
1980s that children began to fall victim to war and its multidimensional
miseries. The indiscriminate bombing of villages, disappearance of children
from high schools for suspicion of ties with the resistance movement and forced
conscriptions on both sides of the war were common.
It is generally believed that about 50,000
children, mostly orphans, were sent to the Soviet Union in the 1980s to be
indoctrinated in Marxism.
The ordeals that Afghan children endured in
refugee camps in Pakistan and Iran during the Afghan-Soviet war are well
documented in various human rights and humanitarian assistance organisations'
The mujahidin victory and their subsequent
infighting from 1992 to 1996 lowered the bar further. Children had to join
militias of various fighting factions, either forcefully or simply to earn a
loaf of bread for their families.
The advent of the Taliban in the mid-1990s
brought a host of new deprivations. Playing sports became prohibited. Girls
could no longer attend school. Music was declared sinful.
The US intervention at the end of 2001
revived hope for a better future. The initial US promise of nation-building and
a Marshall Plan-style of reconstruction meant that if an entire generation of
Afghans had lost their childhood, the millennial generation would grow up in a
To be fair, there has been some improvement
in the predicament of Afghan children. But 14 years of international presence
and billions of dollars in aid should have yielded much better results.
Conflict in the past decade has caused
about 28,000 civilian deaths and more than 100,000 injuries. Considering that
nearly 70 percent of the Afghan population is under the age of 25, this
demographic has been affected significantly.
Prospects for those who don't die in
conflict are not too promising, either.
About 100,000 are begging in the streets of
Kabul alone, mostly forced to deliver their day's earnings to petty urban
Six million school-age children are engaged
in labour. About 100,000 are begging in the streets of Kabul alone, mostly
forced to deliver their day's earnings to petty urban gangs. Abject poverty compels
many parents to consent.
The government and international donors
boast about eight million children being registered in schools. In fact, due to
poverty and deteriorating security conditions, about 40 percent of primary
school-aged children are not attending school.
Girls are forced into marriages, at times
in their pre-teen years, in exchange for a bride price or to settle debts that
the father is unable to pay otherwise. The recent phenomenon of “opium brides”
involves farmers coerced to give their daughters to local drug barons.
There has been a surge of abductions and
child trafficking since 2014. Afghans are convinced that the impunity enjoyed
by kidnappers and traffickers is due to the involvement of influential
individuals and security forces in this lucrative business.
Abducted children are used in forced labour
or domestic servitude, either inside the country or in neighbouring Iran and
Pakistan. Some are recruited in terrorist organisations and others are sold for
commercial sexual use. The practice of "Bacha Bazi" (boy play)
has expanded exponentially with the rise of the new affluent elite.
Three decades of war have left Afghans as a
nation physically and psychologically disabled. It is estimated that children
comprise half of the handicapped population.
One in 10 children dies before reaching
their fifth birthday; undernutrition is at 55 percent, resulting in a high
number of stunted children.
For every 100,000 Afghans there exist 0.01
mental health specialists. Child psychiatric services are non-existent. In the
absence of any psychological evaluation, much less treatment of children, one
can only guess the extent of the damage.
But, against staggering odds, Afghan
children continue to be hopeful. They still revel in an ice cream, wish for a
bicycle and dream about becoming a doctor or a football player. They deserve a
Helena Malikyar is an Afghan political analyst and historian.
Hamas, Israel Digging In For another War
11 February 2016
Since the end of hostilities between Israel
and Hamas in Aug. 2014, there has been a deceptive appearance of calm along the
border between Israel and Gaza. It took the collapse of Hamas-dug tunnels to
redirect attention back to the fragility and volatility of relations between
the militant Islamic movement that rules Gaza, and the Jewish state that
Most observers would agree that neither
side is interested or would benefit from another round of violence. However,
there is genuine fear that internal political dynamics, an unforeseen trigger
or a mere miscalculation might lead to a new flare-up.
Inflicting daily misery on Gazans is a
combination of Israeli punishment for electing Hamas, and an unfounded belief
that it will lead to a popular uprising against the current government
The collapse of the tunnels, claiming the
lives of at least nine Palestinians, unleashed predictable and provocative
rhetoric from both sides. Senior Hamas official Mahmoud al-Zahar said the
organization had rebuilt its tunnels “deep into the territory occupied in
In contrast to Zahar, who is known for his
uncompromising approach toward Israel, Hamas leader Ismail Haniya emphasized
the defensive nature of the tunnels in a speech during the funeral of two of
the Palestinians. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was explicit in
threatening that any attack via Hamas’s cross-border tunnels would lead to
worse retaliation than in 2014.
Gaza is still reeling from the destruction
inflicted on it by Israel during Operation Protective Edge. From the three
available crossings into the enclave, goods are only passing through Israel’s
Kerem Shalom crossing. Erez, the other Israeli crossing, and Rafah, the passage
to Egypt, are restricted to movement of people, but in both cases in a very
This, in addition to air and sea blockades,
considerably limit the Hamas government’s ability to provide for its citizens.
This has resulted in a growing malaise among ordinary Gazans. In a society in
which more than 40 percent of its population is unemployed, there is only a few
hours a day of electricity, and drinking water is in short supply, agitation
and radicalization are almost inevitable. This situation weakens the hands of
those within the Hamas leadership who want to avoid a direct clash with Israel.
Moreover, following the overthrow of the Muslim
Brotherhood government in Egypt, the encirclement of Gaza and the political
isolation of Hamas have been exacerbated. In the past, taxing commodities
coming from Egypt via the Rafah tunnels was one of the main sources of income
for the Gazan government, but this has decreased significantly.
Egypt has been flooding these tunnels,
increasing the shortage of basic commodities and depriving Hamas of income.
Adding insult to injury, an Israeli minister and close political ally of
Netanyahu, Yuval Steinitz, publicly said the flooding of the tunnels was at
Additional pressure to break the deadlock
by resuming armed confrontation with Israel is encouraged by Hamas’s military
wing, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades. Beyond what might be an instinctive
tendency toward the use of military force, it is also a reaction to
deteriorating conditions on the ground, and not wanting to be left out when
there are attacks on Israelis by Palestinians in the West Bank.
Hamas’s military leadership might be
tempted to defy its political one, while ignoring the tragic outcome of past
experiences of armed clashes with very little political gain. Without at least
some improvement in living conditions in Gaza, those who push for armed struggle
are gaining the upper hand.
On the Israeli side, the government and
security establishment have been toying with two contradictory approaches. One
approach maintains that as long as Hamas is in power in Gaza, sustaining tight
control is imperative for Israeli security. Inflicting daily misery on Gazans
is a combination of Israeli punishment for electing Hamas, and an unfounded
belief that it will lead to a popular uprising against the current government.
The other approach argues that only by
relieving part of the strangulation of Gaza, and allowing economic activity and
some normality, will the motivation to support extremism and conflict be
reduced sufficiently. In Israel’s divided government - which includes strong,
extreme right-wing elements - the security paradigm of exerting pressure on
More commodities are entering Gaza these
days than for a long time, but there is a long list of products that are
regarded as having dual military and civilian use, and are prohibited.
Commodities classified as dual use do not necessarily have an obvious military
application. The list of prohibited items seems arbitrary, and is deeply
damaging for the Gazan economy.
Tunnels and militancy in Gaza are
symptomatic of the situation there, one that is the result of a lack of
diplomatic solution, and is aggravated by Israeli and Egyptian policies. One
should not belittle the adverse contribution of Hamas and other militant groups
in the deterioration of Gaza to its present state. However, policies that only
punish the Gazan people strengthen hardliners within the organization, and the
more extreme elements outside it.
Yossi Mekelberg is an Associate Fellow at the Middle East and North
Africa Program at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, Chatham House,
where he is involved with projects and advisory work on conflict resolution,
including Track II negotiations. He is also the Director of the International
Relations and Social Sciences Program at Regent’s University in London, where
he has taught since 1996. Previously, he was teaching at King’s College London
and Tel Aviv University. Mekelberg’s fields of interest are international
relations theory, international politics of the Middle East, human rights, and
international relations and revolutions. He is a member of the London Committee
of Human Rights Watch, serving on the Advocacy and Outreach committee.
Mekelberg is a regular contributor to the international media on a wide range
of international issues .
Establishing a State That Suits Assad
U.N. special envoy Staffan de Mistura’s
recent statement blaming the Syrian regime (I can't find any such statement)
for obstructing negotiations was not as strong as it should have been,
considering the murder and displacement of hundreds of thousands of civilians.
His statements will also not ease shock
over attempts to keep President Bashar al-Assad in power until his term ends in
the spring of 2018. Keeping Assad in power negates the need for negotiations.
He should be tried for war crimes, not rewarded by keeping him in power under a
In 2013, the Syrian people were told to
wait a year until Assad finished his presidential term, in order to achieve
change constitutionally and for him to save face. When the time came, he forged
elections to become president again, and resumed his policy of murder and
displacement. Now, the plan is to keep him in power until the spring of 2018.
Russia and Iran are trying to establish a
state whose ethnic components suit the capabilities of Assad, who belongs to a
sect that only constitutes 10 percent of the population.
The Syrian opposition was asked to accept
maintaining the regime in order to avoid state collapse and not repeat the
American mistake in Iraq. The opposition said it was willing to participate in
a unity government but without Assad. Then it was told to communicate and
negotiate with the Russians to end the crisis. The opposition went to Moscow
but heard only threats. One of the participants commented: “What is left in
Syria for us to fear?”
When Washington announced its plan to fight
the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), it set the opposition’s help as a condition
for political and military support. The opposition accepted, but Washington did
not oppose Russian or Iranian military intervention against moderate rebels.
The two alliances’ only concern is how to organize military operations in order
to prevent accidents between them.
The only thing Syrians gained from military
operations against ISIS were Russian attacks on civilian areas, and an increase
in Western aid in the form of blankets and food supplies to refugees. This
series of false promises will worsen the humanitarian tragedy and facilitate
the spread of terrorism.
Roots of Conflict
The Syrian crisis stands on its own, and is
not part of the Arab-Iranian, Sunni-Shiite or Russian-American struggles. This
is not to deny that Syria has become an arena for multiple conflicts, but the
roots of the crisis are local.
The Assad regime is a product of the Cold
War, and was affiliated with the Soviets. After the collapse of the Soviet
Union, it could neither change nor develop. Its situation became more difficult
after the regime’s founder Hafez al-Assad died in 2000.
His son Bashar took over, failed to manage
the state, and in 2011 confronted a popular uprising. The Arab-Iranian and
sectarian struggles are direct repercussions of the regime’s collapse, not the
reason for revolting against it.
In order to keep Assad in power, Russia and
Iran have killed more than 300,000 people, displaced 12 million and destroyed
dozens of cities. They are now trying to establish a state whose ethnic
components suit the capabilities of Assad, who belongs to a sect that only
constitutes 10 percent of the population. What madness is that? How can the
region’s governments accept to remain silent over this farce and dangerous
Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the former General Manager of Al Arabiya News
Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former
editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where
he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of
Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed
has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide
recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded,
thriving and influential position it is in today.
Next U.S. President Cannot Save The
It is rather tempting to consider the 2016
U.S. elections as a pivotal turning point for the Middle East and its many
problems. Truth is, the scope of these crisis, and the platform of the
different U.S. candidates suggest that while more leadership and engagement
could alleviate the suffering, resolving the conflicts is not contingent on the
If the last decade and a half offers any
clue on the Middle East, it is that no one actor has full command over any one
situation. Even when the U.S. starts the fire as in the case of the Iraq war in
2003, it quickly lost control over the post-war dynamic. However, finding the
right balance between the very assertive approach of George W. Bush and the
very reluctant Presidency of Barack Obama will be the biggest challenge of the
next U.S. President as he or she tries to restore American influence and clout
in the Middle East.
Campaign Promises Vs. Reality
The 2016 campaign has already broken the
record of promises to voters on the domestic and foreign policy turfs.
Republican frontrunner Donald Trump is promising wins and victories all-overs
the Middle East, against ISIS, Iran, Al-Qaeda and in blocking refugees. Other
rivals are pledging to “rip the Iranian deal to shreds” or create fantasy
coalitions against ISIS with Iran and Arab countries on the same team.
The next resident of the White House,
whether he or she is a Republican or Democrat or Independent, will be
confronted with tighter limitations on U.S. influence and a more defiant Middle
It is not uncommon, however, for U.S.
candidates to make popular promises on the campaign trail and then execute a
different set of policies while in the oval office. After all, it was Bush in
2000 who ran on anti-nation building platform, and ended up taking on the most
expensive nation-building project for the U.S. in the Middle East. Obama for
his part has promised to end U.S. combat mission in Afghanistan, but was forced
to change course, and extend U.S. presence to counter the Taliban. When it
comes to breaking free from the Iran deal, it is worth noting that the next
President will be bound with UN resolutions and international commitments of
In the context of Middle East conflicts,
there are no magic wand, or at the very least clear roadmaps from the
candidates how to move forward. While every candidate has called for more
strikes against ISIS, only the Republican rivals Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio and the
Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, are supporting establishing safe zones in
Syria. But even if those ideas are implemented when they come to office, they
don’t promise an end to the conflict.
14 years since the war in Iraq, and five of
heavy bombardment in Syria, have shattered those states to a point of no return
before the conflict. The central government in Baghdad has little to no control
over what happens in Basra, or Mosul or Kurdistan. This reality is also copied
in Syria and Libya, where militias and outside actors are dictating the rules
of the game.
A Changed Regional Landscape
The regional destabilization was abetted by
lack of U.S. leadership, and its intensification has very much constrained U.S.
policy and forced a decline in Washington’s role and ability to affect the
Middle East landscape.
From the wars in Yemen, and Syria, the
aftermath of intervention in Libya, the U.S. is increasingly finding itself
reacting to events rather than having the ability to change them. This is also due
in part to mistakes that the U.S. has inflicted upon itself in Iraq, a trust
gap with the governments in the region, and a changed dynamic in these
countries and regionally that Washington has little control over.
Today, regional countries from Iran to
Turkey to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have grown more confident
in their ability to project power regionally and fill the void left by the
American withdrawal in Iraq in 2011, and the decline of traditional strong
state actors such as Syria and Egypt. This environment has triggered GCC action
in Yemen, and airstrikes conducted by UAE and Egypt in Libya. It has also
prompted direct entry for Turkey in Northern Iraq, and more chatter about a
ground operation in Syria. As important, is that these events have happened
despite U.S. objection at times, and without direct military involvement or
consultation with Washington.
In that lens, the future U.S. President
will inherit a more defiant and stubborn regional dynamic, where allies and
foes alike are showing readiness to act independently without referring to
Washington. Russia’s intervention in Syria, and China’s increasing economic
clout in the region are also part of this crowded landscape that overlooks the
The next resident of the White House,
whether he or she is a Republican or Democrat or Independent, will be
confronted with tighter limitations on U.S. influence and a more defiant Middle
East. While saving the region is not in the U.S. reach at the moment, restoring
leadership and mitigating the suffering should be pursued if Washington were to
restore any of its lost credibility in the region.
Joyce Karam is the Washington Correspondent for Al-Hayat Newspaper, an
International Arabic Daily based in London. She has covered American politics
extensively since 2004 with focus on U.S. policy towards the Middle East. Prior
to that, she worked as a Journalist in Lebanon, covering the Post-war
situation. Joyce holds a B.A. in Journalism and an M.A. in International Peace
and Conflict Resolution.
By Abdulateef Al-Mulhim
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 neighbours. 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, archaeological sites and destruction of the
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.