By Berhane Kahsay
Tigrai Onlne - September 4, 2014
The uprisings in the Arab world that started in December 2010 triggered the demise of autocratic regimes who ruled their respective countries for generations. Mubarak of Egypt remained in control for 30 years, Ben Ali of Tunisia for 23 years, Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen for 33 years and Gaddafi of Libya for 42 years. A determined and pricey struggle had to be waged to dismantle the ruthless and murderous institutions that made it feasible for these repressive dictators to remain in firm control of their fiefdoms.
So what is the present reality in the aforementioned countries that incurred huge human and material losses to dislodge merciless despots? Tunisia was the genesis of the upheaval and since the ouster of Ben Ali, the country has been immersed in an endless turmoil. The provisional government which is composed of technocrats has not been successful in dealing with Islamist militants involved in terrorist activities throughout the nation. A while back, the country’s Prime Minister was kidnapped and lately a number of attacks in tourist and industrial areas have been reported. As a result of the heightened tension and instability, the UK government has advised its citizens no to travel to that part of the world which appears to be cruising from one crisis to another.
Libya is in a far worse predicament than its Arab neighbor. Fighting between rival militias for the control of Tripoli is in full swing and the impotent government has failed to prevent the jihadists from dividing the capital into cantons. The second largest city, Benghazi, is under the command of a rogue general desperately battling a different sort of Islamists for the control of the oil rich northern tip of the country. Gaddafi wanted to leave Libya in a total mess and it was for this reason that he armed his loyal civilian supporters before his final days. His wishes have materialized and the tyrant must be beaming from his grave. Esayass has also equipped his nationals with Kalashnikovs and it is pretty clear what the despot wants for his country once he is removed from the scene.
At present there are no safe places in Libya and this week the United Arab Emirates & Egypt conducted air strikes on positions held by Islamist militias, and it is highly probable the current turbulent and volatile situation could ultimately lead to the fragmentation of the country. France and UK have remained silent although the two European countries were heavily involved in the overthrow of Gaddafi. Have they unwittingly created a carbon copy of Iraq in the Maghreb nation?
Another country which is going through a similar experience is Ukraine. So far, it has lost Crimea after the people unanimously voted to be incorporated into the Russia Federation. More are likely to split including Luhansk and Donetsk leaving Ukraine with no access to the Black Sea coastline. The current leadership in Ukraine is solely to blame for the present stubborn crisis unraveling in the former member of the USSR. Instead of competing in free and fair elections, they chose to grab power by removing the democratically elected government of Victor Yanukovych; and it is this unfortunate deed which is the root cause of the crippling discord. An uprising orchestrated by George Soros and et.al to ensure American strategic and economic interests in the region was clearly the wrong course of action to undertake. There seems to be no end to the fighting and it is inevitable Ukraine will eventually lose its entire eastern segment to the pro- Russian forces that have received large quantities of armaments from President Putin.
Europe and the US are observing developments from a distance and it is pretty obvious that there is very little they could do to prevent pro-Russian rebels from controlling a portion of Ukraine’s territory. Clearly the pro-Europe section that were heavily bank-rolled to execute foreigners ‘project’ must be bitterly disappointed with the turn of events. Their lust for power was so intense, they naively anticipated Russia to sit ideally and watch the creation of an American satellite state in its back yard. For now let us leave the Caspian Region and move on to North Africa where it all began.
The second rebellion in Egypt has also resulted in the removal of Mohamed Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood government that assumed power through democratic elections. Most leaders of the 86- year old Islamist party have now been placed behind bars and their organization which has a huge following was outlawed by Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the former army chief who became president recently. It would be grave error to conclude Egypt has seen the back of the octogenarian political movement that survived Mubarak’s three decades long onslaught. Thanks to Prime Minister David Cameron and ex-President Nicolas Sarkozy, an ideal opportunity has now been created for fellow Brotherhood fighters to attack Egypt from Libya. And it was precisely for this reason that al-Sisi authorized air strikes in areas occupied by the lethal and deadly militants.
Opponents of the Islamists lost the first election and were not prepared to accept another defeat and opted to co-operate with the army and outside backers to oust a government that had popular mandate for the first time in the history of the country. Not long after the illegal move, a farcical election was held and the former army chief claimed victory. Supporters of the Brotherhood may be waiting for an opportune moment to retaliate but in the mean time they are being hounded and subjected to arbitrary detentions and torture. The army violated the constitution to unseat an administration that lacked the consent of the US which assists the military to the tune of $1.5bn annually. Great injustice has been committed against the Islamists and Egypt will rue this unlawful act for many years to come.
President Bashar al Assad of Syria is the only tyrant who has not been toppled by the so called Arab Spring but at a heavy price. The wind of change that swept through the Arab world came to an abrupt end in this part of the Middle East. Syria is now literally destroyed and turned into a breeding ground for extreme and nasty version of militants that thoroughly enjoy decapitating innocent people. Islamic State (Isis) which is currently entrenched in Syria has also made its presence felt in Iraq by controlling a large swath of territory. This brand of Islam is so extreme even the terror outfit al-Qaeda has censured its proponents.
The Syrian uprising which began in March 2011 has metamorphosed into an intractable and bloody civil war, and to date, it has consumed over 200,000 lives. More than 2.5 million refugees are currently living outside their country and 6.5 million have been internally displaced. It may easily take 50 to 60 years to return Syria to what it was before the conflict started provided the Arab nation receives a massive financial and material support from the international community. A mini American Marshall Plan that was used to help rebuild European countries after the end of the Second World War would be required to once again make Syria a viable state.
Eradicating dictators from power through an uprising or armed struggle is legitimate. But in the immediate aftermath a transitional government that encompasses all interested groups irrespective of their political or religious believes must be formed until a new constitution is approved followed by a general election. Ethiopia managed to do this after the fall of the junta and the predicted conflict between the various heavily armed liberation movements was avoided. Four years after the elimination of the Derg, a government chosen by the electorates was installed for the first time in the history of the country. Since then, the once destitute and war torn nation has been transformed into the 5th largest economy in Sub-Sahara Africa.
Fortunately, Ethiopia had wise and farsighted leaders who steered her away from a potentially destructive civil war. EPRDF single handily destroyed the Derg but in the interest of the county the party invited all concerned to a conference to map out the way forward and to discuss the formation of an all inclusive provisional administration. On the other hand, the revolution in Libya and Syria failed and changed into a civil war because the various factions were primarily concerned in furthering their own parochial interests rather than their nation and its people.
Chaos and disorder in these two countries have been exacerbated further by outsiders that want to ensure their surrogate blocs succeed and form a government that serves their need. Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shia Iran are heavily involved in a proxy war for supremacy in Syria. Saudi Arabia’s guardian, the US, does not want to disturb the status quo in the autocratic and corrupt petro-dollar countries as it did elsewhere through it’s ‘’pro-democracy institutions’’ for fear of losing its economic hegemony in the oil reach region. An uprising in Bahrain was quelled by Saudi Arabia with the tacit endorsement of the US.
Tunisia has not yet fully collapsed as elsewhere but the signs are not very promising. It is difficult to imagine how parliamentary and presidential elections scheduled for October and November 2014 respectively can take place under the current turbulent circumstances. Islamist militants seem to be determined to persevere with their deplorable activities until they form an Islamic government, and whoever is elected in the forth coming general election is destined to encounter monumental impediments in maintaining peace and order.
The West’s involvement in removing dictators like Esayass is to be welcomed but this has to be carried out in a planned and organized manner so that what is currently being observed in some parts of the Arab world could be avoided. To simply initiate and watch destructive civil wars in order to benefit from the re-construction of the destroyed nations after the declaration of peace is greed of the highest magnitude. Dislodging renowned despots is perfectly acceptable but what is not tolerable is the developed nations blatant interference and destabilization of emerging democracies that are performing economic miracles with the support of China, India and Turkey.