Arab Spring, Islam and the Changing Contours of the Arab Politics

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Introduction-

I will begin by quoting some statements regarding the Arab Spring/ dignity Revolution which

speaks in volume about the existing situation and other’s views about the Arabs.

 Mao-It is too early to say about the French revolution

 One voter said- I voted because I did not know the result (Political corruption)

 French Magazine said – see the revolution can touch even the Arab World (Status Quo)

 Suddenly to be an Arab is a good thing( Rashid Khalidi

 One global bank, HSBC, described for the Arab world an year (2013) of famine and Gulf

Feast and North Africa Famine, the kind of budget deal by KSA and Qatar and lack of

growth and unemployment in North Africa feast.

There is History of Past Revolt and nothing new in Arab Spring

It is not the first revolt in the Arab world has seen as there have been several regional wave of

political mobilization in the past and one should not overly impressed by Arab uprising. There is

long history of protest, demonstration and rebellion against the government. There overdosed

Romanticism of the Arab Spring.I will cite some instances of the revolt in the past before the

arrival much-hyped Arab Spring.

 

 In 1950s large number descended don street demanding Arab unification. Between 1954

and 58, millions of Jordanian, Lebanese, Syrian and Iraqi came on the street for

unification .Broadcast on Nasser’ Voice of Arab helped in the same way as today Al-

jazeerah is doing .

 Popular movement of 50 and 80 brought people on the road

 Algerian civil war of 1990 preceded by civil protest

 Jordanian and Tunisian assertion is well known in 80s and 90s. 1989 riot in Jordan forced

some kind of for political reform

 In Kuwait war, Yemen and Jordan sided with the public opinion by siding with Iraq.

 Intifada of 1987 and 2000

 Lebanon rose up against Syrian occupation and Cedar revolution in Lebanon after

assassination of Hariri in 2005to force Syria to leave the territory

 Kefayah movement in Egypt demanding political reform in 2003

 Qabata movement of 2005 in Jordan which was equal of Kefayah of Egypt

 Bread riot on Yemen, Jordan and Algeria that opened some defensive democracy

 Kuwait war brought million on street.

 Bread riot in Egypt in 1977

 Saudi expressed resentment over deployment of force , a Sahwa group of Islamist

advocated for political changes

 In 1984, Tunisia has riot in different part without the face book

 Green movement in Iran against Ahmad Najad.

 Bread riot and labour moment had been the usual feature of Tunisian politics itself

 

 What made 2001 different was not protest but success in deriving the rulers. The framing

of multiple locals acts of protest into single coherent regional narrative on Al-Jazeerah

and social media.

What distinguished the present Arab Spring is the following.

 Commonality

 Enormity

 Trans-nationality

 Simultaneity

 A creation of Virtual Community and social media and the internet culture

 It has unified the Arab political space .A unified Arab world was never felt more

real before this incident. This made people much more participatory, deferential

to authority, much less patient, much less perceptible to regime propaganda.

 Internet activist created a common Arab public sphere (pan-Arab identity). A

new kind of pan- Arabist Identity was created and the protestors’ developed and

pan-Arab outlook

 Qaddafi said about the internet that any drunken person can write anything and

you believe it. It is like a vacuum cleaner and it can suck anything. Shall we

become the victim of face book?

 Role of bloggers and cyber dissidents

 

What Arab Spring is:

It has been termed the Awakening of under- privileged class, Dignity revolution Arab

Revolution, Arab uprising (intifada) and Arab renaissance). Some has called it autumn of the

Patriarch. Other has called it a post normal world and a tiger-wounded reaction. A movement of

“creative destruction.

This process was broad based non-violent with no specific political affiliations. After a decade of

status quo and resignation, Arab had seen some upheaval. The field of possibility has expanded.

What Arab Spring stands for?

 Shibli Tilhami, an American political scientist, defined Arab Spring as the prism of the

pain through which Arab made the sense of their political condition.

 Flight from culture of authoritarianism and urge for democratic participation.

 It was a cry for transformation of political self- power of the Arab people.

 This rebellion was a refusal of the obedience to the autocratic and foreign-dictated

regime,

 Cry against the oil-fuelled growth of power of Saudi State

 It is about the reconstruction of Arabs’ social and political order.

 A movement against the collusion between the agents of external hegemony.

 It is an Arab march sharing a common struggle.

Demolition of falls cultural assumptions about the Arabs.

It has debunked several culturalist assumptions on the Sociology of the Arab region

 inherent incompatibility between Islam and Democracy

 “Arab Street” is essentially violent, chaotic, and unmanageable and undemocratic

 Arab society is fundamentally patriarchal.

 Arabs’ women are condemned to lead a secluded life.

 

 Arabs’ social structural and are not receptive of new ideas.

 Muslim masses can only be mobilised through religious exhortation,

 They cannot represent but should be represented.

 Culturalist’s assumption of political sociology of the region has been wiped out

Causes of the Arab Spring– (1) Precondition (2) precipitants (3) trigger

One

 Its reasons Reason can be traced in the womb of the autocratic character of the regime in

post colonial Arab world. It was collective expression of the grievances against the

prevailing conditions of people.

 Emergency Law.

 Limited political activities and political freedom.

 Unemployment and poor education and health

 Human deprivation, blockade politics, hopeless economics, rampant corruption,

indifferent abusive state.

 Moral degeneration, cultural fossilization,

 Lost human dignity and loss of sovereignty,

 Imposed” authoritarian political system.

 US Intervention and Occupation. Non-resolution of the Question of Palestine which has

remained an imagined community for most of the Arabs

 Promotion of narrows state-centric patriotism by 1980s when Pan-Arabism had died.

 America’s role in maintain the old status quo

 Regime carefully patrolled the political sphere of dissent

 Family kleptocracy

 Absence of social justice, equality.

 Privatisation and corruption in Public assets

Two

 Mubarak’s inheritance/ Dynastic Republicanism

 Parliamentary election of 2010 where was no opposition and MBH was banned

 Amendment in the constitution in 2005

 Sad Eddin Ibrahim called Gumlukiyah ( combination of monarchy and republic )

 Kifayah Movement for political reform.

 1900 demonstrations between 2004-8

 2623 factory strikes between 1998-2008 which were crushed by the state.

 Privatization and unemployment.

 April 06 in 2008 large textile strike

 National Movement for Change by El-Baradei

 Regime out of touch, arrogant, Islamic movement continued to transform the public

culture

 Regime had faced down several creative and fearless protest and acting cookies and

taunting the opposition with state-mange election

 Regional politics was stalled on Palestine and in 2010; no summit took place on

Palestine.

 The government had become the government of Jamal Mubarak

 

 Horrific image of Iraqi civil war and refuge crisis provoked the masses

Three

 In form of self-immolation by Bouazizi in southern Tunisia.

Three major deficits:

 Economic deficit Arab Spring is the voice of the liberation of the orphans of the

globalization and the corrupt laden economic policy of kleptocracy.

 Political deficit authoritarian-despotic political and governance systems where

all forms of political opposition and mobilisation known to modern societies –

political parties, trades unions, the independent press, and liberal liberties of

various sorts were thoroughly suppressed

 Dignity deficit it is about the alienation of the demographically dominant age

groups from the political and economic order and from the mainstream society.

Common people are suffering from a deep syndrome of powerlessness,

hopelessness and lack of social security.

Analogy of Arab Spring: Analogy of hope on the line of Central and East European

revolution of 1989 when liberal democratic ideals emerged. There is analogy of fear

based on the comparison of the Arab Spring with Iran’s Islamic revolution in 1979.There

is analogy of wisdom based on the comparison of the Arab Spring with Europe’s 1848.

Where is Political Islam in this entire process?

 All praise is to Allah, today I can see those faces in Parliament about whom in past even

an utterance was a legal crime”: Egyptian Prime Minister, Kamal Ganzouri in his address

to the National Assembly.

 Islamist shifted from social reform to political activism and formed the party.

 Everywhere, appeal to Islam has become a common reference and the dictators call the

movement a radicalized Islamic movement.

 Oliver has called it post-Islamist revolution while other has called it the third age of

Islamism.

 Islamists forces have been spurred into action in search of the role and gains in the fourth

republic.

 Egyptian calling Egypt in advance the Islamic republic of Egypt under Qarzavi

 Arab Spring has created a situation where no longer it is possible to denounce the

Islamists. Islamists have got an independent place and new public space for the first time.

 Two things have proved- compatibly of Islam with democracy (election of the President

and Parliament) and religious diversity.

 Transformation political Islam from preacher to judge as claimed by successor of Banna

about the role of MBH as a preacher only.

 Islamist in power will have greater difficulties as the history has proved. Resistance to the

regimes enhances its credentials like in Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Palestine and where they

are sharing power in Algeria and Morocco. There have been inconsistencies in the

 

principle they espouse and principle they adopt when come to power. Their real strength

lies in opposition.

 Azhar became dominance, MBH became political, and Salafism became surprisingly

poetical when they demonstrated demanding the inclusion of Islam as a main source of

legislation. Sufism became prominent in the society after remaining in isolation for

hundred years. Azhar and Sufi remained silent vis-à- vis revolution. Neo liberal Islam

came in prominence opposing the radicalism among middle class and extremist

organization like Jihad and Jamaat became instinct

 Azhar came prominent and wanted to be free from the political clutches unlike past when

they were according legitimacy to regime. It is evident when the played mediatory role in

agreement between the government and national salvation front.

 First time MBH invited for talk by the representative of the regime.

 First time, division was witnessed in the party and Abu Futuh was suspended. There are

four streams in MBH which became visible like one called fort rejection of traditionalism

and opting for Ijtihad; second represented by Azhar school of thought basing their

thought on four schools; third represented by Qutb school of philosophy and last is

represented by Salafist school of thought.

 So far the Islamist have an ideological contestation with the western elite but now they

have to face an internal criticism from Salafism and other traits. Dr Khattar Abu Dayyab

says that political Islam will be forced to transform its ideology in a given circumstances

 A series of questions to be posed to the Islamist in post-revolutionary phase– what is

Shariah, who is true Muslims, use of violence, whether Islamic activism should be part

of social organization or at like a party , role of women and relation with the people of

other community, the relation between state and region, contestation between modernity

and traditionalism, a comprehensive common minimum political programme and

preference between individual or organization.

 The real concern for believer in political Islam is to highlight the democratic element of

Islamic polity. Even MBH joined the movement later because of three apprehension –(1)

not to give it a Islamic color (2) did not know the exact trajectory (3) sure to yield the

real fruit. There were sharp division inside MBH regarding response to the uprising

 Freedom and Justice Party which include Christian Copts has gone out of its way to say

that it seeks a constitution that respects both Muslims and non-Muslims and committed to

pluralistic and democratic Egypt.

 It gave a new slogan to theocracy loving Islamist and western puppet secularist. It has

triggered a real debate between western and the Islamist.

 What model of Islam will be integrated in the revolution invested country – Saudi where

democratic election is still as contrary to Islamic tradition. Turkey which has taken up the

Islamic project of democracy and where Shariah is taken as strive to lessen the corruption

and promote freedom. Iran which was not hesitant to claim it as an extension the Islamic

revolution. Turkish PM visit to Egypt and Tunisia created an apprehension amongst the

Arab who called this an endeavor for re-ottomanization and some expressed anger when

he suggested to embrace secularism

 Islamist will have to respond to the pragmatic challenges of the day. For instance Mursi

in his lecture at Oxford spoke about the constitution, rule of law and democracy and all

these are contentious issue in reference to Islam but he not uttered about social, economic

 

and political issue – poverty, education and unemployment. At present Islamist are

sounding very defensive.

 Arab Spring for Islamist has brought departure from ideological debate to political

debate, from confrontation to conformation, from exclusion to inclusion.

 Ennahda won majority of the votes and has formed the coalition with liberal and

secularists

 A scope of new interpretation of Islam has emerged.

 An ideological division within Islam like Salafist and moderate voices has emerged.

Changing Contour of the Arab Politics:

The Arab Spring is not of monolithic character and the response of the masses in the region has

been at variance with each other..

There are three major scenarios in the aftermath of the Arab Spring

Optimism-Tunisia is a rise in hardline, Salafist groups, which Ennahda seem to find politically –

and perhaps ideologically – difficult to quell. Secular Tunisians are horrified by the emergence of

extremist brands of Salafism, and by the debate about Islamist-shaded clauses in a new

constitution. Still, while the transition has been messy and the country is divided, the problems of

violence and poverty in Tunisia are less acute than in its post-uprising sisters, Libya and Egypt.

Egypt- Egypt is a polarised nation still coming to grips with the challenges of democratic

government. The divisions now besetting Egypt are partly rooted in a poorly conceived roadmap.

Islamist forces, who spent decades planning for a chance to run Egypt, dominated that balloting

and the process of drafting a new national charter that followed. Liberals, secularists and

moderate Islamists now have little say in governing the country. People are no longer afraid to

shout their beliefs in the streets of the cities and villages. Can Egypt create the modicum of a

functioning democracy? Can its economy be lifted out of the doldrums? No one is certain. But

say this for Egyptians: they are no longer apathetic.

Uncertainty- Yemen is geographically most distantly located. A region is culturally, tribally,

socially and geographically fragmented making the situation very complicated a complicated

story, Al-Qaeda, Nasser socialism. Not the army like Syria who fought the protestors first but it

was tribal chiefs who at the behest of their leaders were fighting and trying to defeat the opposite

factions. There are leaders who are imposing their tribal agenda and forcing the masses to join

their respective tribal camp. The culture of nepotism and opportunistic tribal and political

alliance has inhibited the emergence of unity against the regime. Yemen was given to GCC. Its

intervention in Bahrain and NATO in Libya defined the third temporality late of Arab Spring.

Libya- Libya has moved move from eccentric, often brutal, one-man rule to post-conflict

democracy has been cushioned by its small population and vast oil wealth.It has no tradition of

structured government and a profusion of proliferation of heavy weapons became painfully

apparent this year. Militias rallying outside the government building and firing anti-aircraft guns

have influenced policies and slowed the establishment of a central government. Tribal and

regional rivalries colour political debate and decision-making. Security problems – car bombs,

tribal fighting, urban shootouts, and attacks on foreigners – have increased as wartime militias

operate freely, out of the control of the ministries that pay them. But 2013 will be a crucial,

tough test for the new Libya

Syria- The face of Syria today is unrecognisable from two years ago, when the Arab uprisings

began. Stability, calm and the all-powerful, incontestable grip of the government's security

 

apparatus have vanished. Those demonstrations now seem to have taken place in another

universe, where hopes of political reform had not been washed away in a sea of blood, fear and

anger. The one obvious constant in this period of tumult has been the regime's world view, an

outlook featuring Syrians who unquestionably love their leaders and proudly pay for their

defiance of Zionist-orchestrated international conspiracies. Damascus, its suburbs is now war

zones and less has changed with the coming of the Arab Spring, Syria now wears its troubled

heart on its sleeve.

Pessimism-GCC- Arab Spring, so far is more success in republics and its appeal is less and less

in the Arab Gulf monarchies. Arab Spring has not penetrated the petro monarchies that hold the

conservative and literalist vision of Islam. The difference is the absence of deception in the Saudi

unlike Egypt which has all the democratic institution in the name sake. There is no chance for

greater change.When Bahrainis of all political persuasions look across the causeway to Saudi

Arabia, they often remember March 14, 2011, the day Saudi troops operating under a Gulf

Cooperation Council (GCC) mandate helped put down protests in the kingdom. To the country's

ruling family and pro-government political blocs, the intervention pulled the country back from

chaos. Opponents and critics of the government say, however, it was an excessive response to the

reasonable political demands of most demonstrators. Whether or not the GCC saved Bahrain

from anarchy, it has played a key role during the Arab Spring. Money from GCC members has

helped stabilize some governments in the region and aided the opponents of others. Of the

US$17.5 billion donated to the Middle East and North Africa between January 2011 and June

2012, $7 billion came from the GCC, the International Monetary Fund says.Saudi Arabia alone

has so far dispersed $3.66 billion to countries in the region, including Egypt and Yemen, and

pledged $14.26 billion more. Kuwait is funding massive housing projects in Bahrain. After

supplying aid to the rebels who overthrew Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi, Qatar is doing the

same for the opponents of Syria's Bashar Al Assad. The foreign aid, as well as increased social

spending at home, is a recognition that economic grievances have helped breed instability across

the region.

Unaffected by Arab Spring – UAE Iraq, Palestine, Kuwait Lebanon, Sudan, and Palestine –had

nowhere to go and so was indifferent

Iran

Iran is poised to be one of the Arab Spring's big losers as it braces for the likely collapse of the

flailing Syrian regime, its only government ally in the Arab world. That would threaten Iran's

supply lines to Hizbollah, which gives Tehran a proxy presence on Israel's northern border. A

new Syrian government could also tilt the balance of power in the Gulf in favour of Saudi

Arabia, Iran's main Arab rival which has funded Syrian revolutionaries. Hamas has distanced

itself from Tehran because of Syria. For partly the same reason, the new Islamist government in

Egypt is politely keeping its distance from Tehran, which has ardently courted Cairo to help ease

its international isolation.

Turkey

Turkey, backed efforts to unseat Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, Muammar Qaddafi in Libya and

Bashar Al Assad in Syria. The policy shift in Syria was the most radical of all, because it came

after years of close cooperation between Turkey and the Syrian government that included joint

cabinet meetings. At the same time, the government has been trying to capitalise on the wave of

changes by presenting Turkey's Muslim majority and secular republic as a model for the region.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the prime minister, can point to some successes, such as blossoming ties

with the Morsi government in Egypt. But Turkey's approach has not been welcomed everywhere,

 

with regional rival Iran expressing anger at Ankara's efforts to become a dominant regional

player and relations with Iraq deteriorating rapidly.Critics at home say Mr Erdogan has pushed

Turkey to the brink of war with Syria and into an alliance of Sunni states confronting Shiite

powers in the region. As ties with Tehran, Baghdad and Damascus become more strained

 

Overall Regional Scenarios

 There was unanimity in the freedom from but sharp division when it came to freedom to

after the spring.

 Sectarian question in Lebanon, Iraq, Saudi, and Bahrain is likely to emerge in the back

drop of the situations in Syria.

 Revolutionary versus evolutionary and Rise of sectarianism

 Import of political Islam in different parts of the region

 Redefining of the Arab identity in term of Shiite and Sunni and Kurdish

 An ideological battle between Saudi and Iran for hegemony over the Arab world.

 Iraq-Syria differences over the control of infiltrators. Earlier Assad regime send fighters

to fight against US and now the same force are creating problems for Assad.

 Rise of hegemonic ambition.

 Turkey-Syria difference and problem of refugees.

 A new dimension to Arab-Israeli crisis.

 Rise of Kurdish issues in the region.

 The entry of global power once again in the region in form of China and Russia.

 Regional intervention like Qatar support to MBH, Saudi to Salafist and UAE to Liberal

forces.

 A huge investment in public sector by Saudi and Qatar to quell the uprising.

 Turkey has emerged as a new regional player what some call a new Ottomanism.

 It is being disused as a model because of its democracy and economic performance and

foreign policy.

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