14 January 2013, 23:11

Start of ‘Arab Spring’: two years on

Start of ‘Arab Spring’: two years on

It is two years since the ouster of Tunisian President Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali set off the domino chain of upheavals known as ‘the Arab Spring’. Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak, Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi and Yemen’s Ali Abdullah Saleh followed Ben Ali in rapid succession, and now Bahrain and Syria are on the wave’s crest. So what next for the Arab world?

Observers agree that the Arab masses revolted because of abject poverty and lack of political freedom. At the same time, they also see a foreign hand behind the Arab Spring revolts. Indeed, NATO openly interfered in the conflict in Libya and continues to covertly interfere in the civil war in Syria. American diplomatic correspondence brought to light by WikiLeaks, too, exposes direct Western involvement in the events of the Arab Spring.

The Russian Middle East and North Africa analyst Dr Viacheslav Matuzov shares his take on the Spring’s results so far:

"I believe the Arab Spring started in Sudan, where it raged long before it reached Tunisia. And everywhere in its path, it left the ideals of democracy and human rights totally discredited. Egypt is a much stricter dictatorship than it was under Mubarak. Yemen remains a scene of bloody mayhem. Sudan has broken up into two parts, and its South and North are at loggerheads. In Libya, the central government cannot exercise control as warring factions continue to fight it out. As for the economic situation, the peoples of the Arab Spring nations are now much, much poorer that they were before 2011".

Of the nations in the upheaval, only Syria can be described as anti-Western. The others, including post-millennium Libya, were staunchly pro-Western before 2011. Then what was behind the American push to change regimes in them?

Dr Matuzov again:

"America’s neoconservatives have the entire Arab world in their sights, including the Arab monarchies of the Persian Gulf. This area is of unparalleled geostrategic importance to the Americans, and it also holds vast reserves of oil and natural gas. Redrawing its map is on Washington’s plans. It’s now evident that the unrest in Saudi Arabia is stirred by Western special services, rather than Iran or any other of the Kingdom’s neighbours. I believe the West is after splitting Saudi Arabia into three parts: one, dominated by Shias, one, dominated by Sunnis, and one, holding Mecca and Medina and functioning as a kind of ‘Islamic Vatican’".

Dr Matuzov also said he believes the future course of the Arab Spring is hinged on the outcome of the conflict in Syria.

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