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DID the revolutions in the Arab world develop any society or state? Did they replace one kingdom with another, or with kings who are so-called members of the Revolutionary Command Council and who transformed their state into emirates that they contest for as per their interests?
This question leads us to another that is deduced from the current reality, ten years after the so-called Arab Spring polluted many countries, and led them into the club of failed states in the first third of the 21st century.
After World War II, the victorious countries began distributing international influence in the Third World countries. As a result of the charm of communist and socialist ideology that swept the world after the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, the zeal led some Arab military leaders to pledge allegiance to a certain axis, and brought about the tendency to import the socialist model to our countries.
Subsequently, the coup against King Farouk of Egypt represented the beginning of a long road to a series of bloody coups. The new revolutionists adopted the position of antagonizing what they described as the reactionary regimes that they considered as agents of British Intelligence, and later of the American.
At that time, the Arabs were divided into two camps as usual – between the so-called revolutionary regimes in Egypt, Iraq, Algeria, Libya, Yemen and Syria, and the traditional stable regimes in the Gulf states, Morocco and Jordan.
Their mission was to generalize their models of regime which were copied from societies with cultures and ideologies that are different from the Arab culture throughout the region.
They believed that civil wars were the shortest way to achieving their goals, because of which they began to fan the flames of war in Lebanon in 1958, which was ignited by the victors’ enthusiasm in the Iraqi coup. In Yemen, which Egypt’s Abdul-Nasser considered as his gateway to overthrowing the monarchy in Saudi Arabia and seizing all the Gulf countries, the war served as another example of what awaits the Arabs in every corner.
At home, the revolutionists raised the slogan of “distribution of wealth and socialism”. This led to the killing of the spirit of initiative. Intellectual and cultural desertification began to creep into those countries. The inspirational leader took all the authorities and no one could question him.
As a result, production declined and corruption spread. The society got divided into two – the wealthy class, which consists of the members of the Revolutionary Command Council and those in their orbit, and the poor class, which are the common people.
We all remember the pictures of people queuing in front of the bakeries in Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Libya and Algeria just to buy a loaf of bread. The same scenery prevailed in all of the socialist countries. These countries began to associate with the Soviet Union to the extent of losing their identity. They imported weapons from it and implemented its political agenda, which was completely contrary to its political reality.
On the other hand, the excuse of the affiliated countries was that everything happening in them was a conspiracy carried out by the American intelligence against them. Even divorce was attributed to that conspiracy. This indicates a hideous way of thinking and highlights the extent of the backwardness and short-sightedness of those regimes.
When you look at many details of today, you find the situation is similar to that of the past, especially in terms of some leaders resorting to trying to deceive their people, like attributing corruption to conspiracy and an American blockage on it. This is the case in Lebanon where the flimsy statements of its leaders do not differ from the mindset of one of the Yemeni ministers.
In the 1970s, this Yemeni minister proposed in a Cabinet meeting to invade the US as a way of tackling the economic crisis left behind by Egypt’s Abdul-Nasser’s war in Yemen.
The minister compared the situation in his country with the American Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe after World War II, and the financial support provided by Washington to Tokyo after its defeat in the war, and to South Korea. He said, “Let us declare war on the United States, which is stronger than us and will undoubtedly defeat us. But after the war, the US will give us money to rebuild the country, as it did with those countries and with Vietnam”.
Then another minister said, “Suppose we defeat the United States, from where will we get the money to rebuild what we destroyed in America?”
There is another example of the shortsightedness and the spirit of personal vendetta that ruled those countries. This is what happened in the Iraq-Iran war that Saddam Hussein had launched in response to the Iranian terrorist operations, and the Khomeini regime’s attempt to export its sectarian revolution to overthrow the Iraqi regime in retaliation for his expulsion from Iraq.
Instead of Tehran addressing its difficult internal situation after the revolution, and trying to rebuild the destroyed economy, it chose to try transferring its internal crises abroad … and thus war broke out.
At the beginning of the war, the US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld visited Baghdad. After a lengthy meeting with Saddam, he pledged to provide him with American support. However, the real goal was to destroy the American weapons that Washington had supplied to the Shah, as well as destroy the Soviet Union’s weapons that were in the possession of Iraq. This was only possible through a war that continued eight years. It is the same war that also paved the way for Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait, as he considered himself to be an invincible Arab leader after the war.
Today, some Arabs are glorifying the American withdrawal from Afghanistan, just as various Islamist groups did when the Arab Spring erupted, and they returned to brandishing a new “spring”, forgetting that they had turned themselves into fuel for regional powers. On the other hand, some governments are working to fuel popular anger by not listening to the cries of its people due to the crisis that has worsened in recent years.
Many Arabs may be optimistic about not returning to that destructive furnace. However, this does not mean that the governments should bet on people’s silence. They must learn from the experiences of others with an intelligence that seems to be lacking in the Arab world.
By Ahmed Al-Jarallah
Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times