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The Arab Spring: A Dream Turned Into a Nightmare PDF Print E-mail
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Tuesday, 04 February 2014 01:49

I have been trying for the last two weeks to find a topic which is interesting enough to talk about on the Hanoudi Letter Blog, but I was undecided, and then the violence which has been engulfing the Middle East for more than three years suddenly turned into an even greater menace with a huge upsurge in death and devastation.  This was very sad, because things  started with a great dream of hope and a better life for the people in the Middle East, which followed the uprising in Tunisia in 2010 and resulted in the toppling of the regime there, and forced the president, Ben Ali who has been in power from 1987 to 2011, to flee Tunisia and seek refuge in Saudi Arabia, this amazing event was followed shortly by  the forcing of Hosni Mubarak who has been in power in Egypt from 1981 to 2011, to step down, as a result of a similarly huge uprising against his rule, this was followed by similar rebellions in many other Middle Eastern Arab countries, which created a great movement to turn the whole Middle East into a better, a more  democratic place, it was called the Arab spring, but unfortunately it was a very short spring, because after a very short time dream turned into a terrible nightmare of death and destruction.

On December 17, 2010, Mohammad Bouazizi, a young Tunisian street peddler, oppressed  by the police in Sidi Bouzaid, a small town, south of the capital, set himself on fire, this act of self-immolation started a series of extraordinary events, which spread all over southern and central Tunisia, before reaching the capital, where a curfew was declared.  On January 12, 2012, two days later the president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who has been in power for twenty three years, fled the country to seek asylum in Saudi Arabia.  These events emboldened freedom activists in the whole Arab world, they were especially incensed at the Egyptian president, the eighty three years old Hosni Mubarak, who after thirty years in power did not exclude running for another six years term.  In September 2011, they proclaimed January 25, a day of rage against the regime, they occupied al-Tahreer, the biggest square in the capital, many more defiant crowds gathered in many cities and small allover the country demanding the stepping down of the president, who in spite of defying the people for a very long time finally capitulated in the face of the mounting pressure against him and resigned on February 10.  These events echoed, very strongly all over the Middle East and were followed by major rebellions in Libya, Yemen, Syria and Iraq, but it was not to be the beginning of a spring of freedom, justice and democracy to the masses, it was to turn in a very short time into a nightmare of terrible violence and death and destruction.

The Arab spring lasted few months, what followed after the toppling of the dictatorships, was a period of great hopes and dreams, but it lasted only a very short time, and it was followed by a great deal of confusion and difficulties, which was the result of the failure by the new leaders in the now liberated countries to establish efficient and well organized political structures to replace the defunct ones and the second factor was the opportunity this confusion has provided the various foreign and regional powers who were actively supporting the recently toppled regimes, a great opportunity to go again interfering and meddling in the affairs of the newly established ones.  Their interests in the Middle East and what they have invested there for so many years, in politics in economics and many other aspects of its life, was simply very huge and vital to them to overlook, so they threw their weight behind the remnants of the old regimes, who were re-organizing in the face of a very stubborn resistance by those who have changed the political kaleidoscope of the area so dramatically very recently.  Which plunged the whole area again in a new a very vicious violence not between the masses who have just altered the situation, but between themselves, and as it has been the case in human history, a war between brothers is always very nasty and extremely destructive which is what is happening nowadays in the Middle East.  But now I would like to make a very sincere and honest apology to my readers and friends because I am unable to talk about all of what is happening everywhere in the Middle East, the me and in all the counties, because this blog dictates the size of the updates which go into it,  now I am going to concentrate on Egypt, because what is happening there demonstrates what is happening in the whole area vividly and very accurately, and because it is the largest Arab state and because you might remember that I have talked about the situation there on several occasions during the last few months on this blog.

The political winds which are blowing in Egypt now are very dangerous because they are forcing it to move in a direction which is against history, with a high chance of dragging the world with it.  The uprising which toppled the 30 years old dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak on the 11th of February 2011 generated an atmosphere of hope for change and a better life and future under a democracy for the millions of Egyptians who have been forced to live under his terrible rule for so long, which brought nothing but misery and very severe hardships to the country and to the majority of the Egyptian people, that was why the revolt which brought him down on February 2011 was received with a great deal of hope and expectation.  The elected authority which succeeded his downfall which was dominated by the Muslim brotherhood was a total  failure and created a great resentment and opposition and violence, so the military leadership claiming a mandate from the people to restore order, jumped into the fray and in a classical military coup d’état on July, 3, 2013, removed the elected president, and established a civilian authority which was in fact nothing but a front for them bringing back the old harsh and the very tough police state practices of the previous regime, that was very actively resisted by the followers of the brotherhood, at a very high cost to them and to their country.

On my last update to this site, on the 10th of August, I concluded the piece by saying that the current situation in Egypt is extremely tense and explosive, the people are edgy and jittery and they are holding their breath for what might happen during the next few days, I said that all the signs are pointing to a very nasty and violent explosion and threatens some very serious consequences, the polarization of the Egyptian society has reached incredible levels, the two adversaries were sticking to their totally stiffened and non-flexible maximum positions.  Some of my friends and visitors to this blog thought that I was exaggerating and a pessimist, but my pessimism was justified few days later when the new Egyptian authority went in full gear against the two major encampments were hundreds of thousands of Muslim brotherhood supporters of ex-president Mursi were lodging in central Cairo, when in the early hours of Wednesday August 14, and in a huge military operation, the army and the police moved against encampments and evicted those who were sitting there, but it was an appalling blood bath during which thousands of protesters were killed and many more injured.

The current situation in Egypt is appalling, it is a civil war, the country is divided into two factions who are at loggerheads, one is behind the army and the civil authority which they have installed, the second faction is the Muslim Brotherhood which is totally opposed to the first one and insist on what they call a return to the legitimacy which stipulates the return of their man, Mohammad Mursi, who was their choice for the presidency but the new authority is refusing to listen to them and is actually trying to marginalize and silence them, but they are fighting back in the face the huge losses they are suffering at the hands of their adversaries who are in the process of installing the army chief.  General al-Sisi as the new president, which would signal a return to the punitive and oppressive rule of Hosni Mubarak and the other military dictatorships which preceded it, turning the recent SPRING into nothing but memories of vanished hopes and shattered dreams.

Najeeb Hanoudi

Southfield, Michigan

Sunday Feb. 4, 2014