Dark Spring

Dark Spring

The so-called Arab Spring came to an end wherever it assumed to take place. It ended in Egypt with a military coup and drove Libya into a bloody chaos. Tunisia is presented as the only success story, but in fact it is far from having a happy ending but rather had a forced consensus. Last but not least, the debacle of Syria displays the dark side of the so-called “spring.” 

That’s not to say that the above mentioned countries have had agreeable regimes and that they did not have considerable opposition. The point is that the popular movements which have been branded as democratic revolts had nothing to do with democratic struggles - with the exception of the existence of a handful number of democrats who supported them. The Islamist takeover in Egypt was not a surprise, since the pillar of the anti-government movement was the Muslim Brotherhood. It is no surprise that it led to civil war between Islamist militias in Libya, since the regime was displaced by foreign intervention in the absence of a democratic opposition. Even in Tunisia, the strongest opposition has been the so-called “good Islamists” under the leadership of Rached Ghannouchi, who is no more than an advocate of “Islamic democracy.” Finally, even he had to be pressured to compromise in order to avoid social unrest, and his only wisdom had been to surrender to domestic and foreign pressures. 

Despite that the Syrian spring was assumed to have started with peaceful democratic opposition against the regime, it is no surprise that it turned into a civil war, since the tiny democratic opposition objected to the armed struggle from the beginning. Nevertheless, the international community turned a blind eye to those who advocated peaceful transition and instead supported armed groups against the regime. Nobody wanted to inquire the true identity of those armed men who started fierce war against Bashar al-Assad’s regime, since they were assumed “to wage a just war against a brutal dictatorship.” It was not questioned on how they obtained weapons and the financial and logistic support. Finally, it became clear that it indeed is a proxy war between regional and international powers, between those who support the regime and others who are determined to realize a regime change. 

Most recently, the U.S. declared the end of aid to the “Syrian opposition,” as CIA director Mike Pompeo “recommended to President Trump that he shut down a four year effort to arm and train Syrian rebels and the President swiftly ended the program,” as the New York Times has reported. It is also stated that it was “the most expensive efforts to arm and train rebels since the agency’s program to arming the Mujaheddin in Afghanistan during the 1980’s.” Finally, it is the end of a “program” that devastated a country and killed, injured and displaced millions of its people, but did not end the war and suffering. 

The so-called “war on the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant [ISIL]” is no more than a supposed effort to kill the monster that was collectively created by Western powers and their regional allies, who targeted regime change in Syria and did not even promise to end the war but ensures the continuation of proxy wars on different lines. The regional powers to have supported regime change in Syria are now at odds with each other and with the U.S. since they departed their ways in line with their own “national interests.”

Namely Qatar and Turkey, did not comply with the U.S. and their Western allies in general, on matters like the Kurdish issue for Turkey and on rivalry between Saudi Arabia for Qatar.

In short, the Syrian episode is not only another “story of failure in the name of Arab Spring,” but that fact it is the most striking story, so far, which displays the dark side of the so-called Arab Spring, which is more qualified to be called the “Dark Spring.”