The Arab Winter

Posted on July 17, 2011


It has been little more than a few months since what many newspapers call ‘The Arab Spring’ started, with Egyptian president Mubarak fleeing Cairo, and yet we read on international news about unrest in those Arab countries where this sort of revolution took place. ‘Arab Spring’ was the name Western news gave to this wave of unrest but it bares deeper implications. Western countries openly supported the insurgents in Tunisia and Morocco while, under the Nato banner, they even opened fire against Gaddafi’s forces in Lybia while most western observers showed perhaps excessive optimism.

It was excessive because it is clear that the Arab winter is not over just yet. Don’t get me wrong, I do hope those countries can get on their way to democratic elections and fair governments but the ‘Spring’ will start only then. After all, if overthrowing an undemocratic government is all you need to start an Arab Spring then such thing has already happened many decades ago. Take Lybia itself for example: Gaddafi had led a revolution which brought to the installation of a puppet republic which has obviously but not officially been led by the Colonel for more than 40 years now. One of the motives of the revolution was the nationalization of oil and all foreign-owned economic activities that were compared by the revolutionaries to the old-school kind of western colonialism. Gaddafi was inspired by the Egyptian leader Nasser, who earlier nationalized the Suez Canal causing great embarrassment for France and Britain during the 1956 crisis, highlighting the reluctance with which Western Colonial powers gave up their control over Second world countries. Algeria fought a long, bloody war to break free of the French empire in the late 50s and early 60s.

All these countries saw their people stand up to old political orders in the name of freedom and self-determination just to make room -in most cases, for new forms of undemocratic governments. Simply, those decades could not be called ‘Arab Spring’ as those who lost their power where in one way or the other the Western Powers and those who stepped in soon started enjoying their powers a little bit too much. Those Western countries saw today’s unrest as a chance to re-gain a certain degree of economic influence over those nations (especially oil-rich Lybia).

Spring just hasn’t started yet.