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The Middle East has traditionally been important for the world economy. The Middle East situation today has an impact on all aspects of life in America and much of the world.

Only by understanding the motivations of the various factions in the Middle East can we hope to understand how to promote peace and national security for Middle Eastern nations, Europe, and the United States.

May 17, 2011

The Consequences of Arab Revolutions

The Spring Revolution in the Arab world has led to the development of four models of uprising.

1 – The less violent and successful type were the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions, which led to the removal of authoritarian and corrupt regimes in both countries. It took only a few weeks of continuous mass protests that generated enough pressure to the collapse both governments, which were replaced with transitional ones until democratic elections take place.

In both Tunisia and Egypt, the army was supportive of the protestors and this led to the success of the protests. Also, the uprising was supported by large masses of people.

2 – The second type of uprising reflects the opposite result, as is the case in Bahrain. During the first couple weeks of the protestors’’ uprising, the Bahraini security forces were unable to control the uprising. They called on the Saudi government for help. They sent 2,000 Saudi soldiers and crushed the revolt. The rationale used was that the Bahraini protestors were connected to the Iranian regime, which posed a threat to the security of the Gulf region. This was not true, and the protestors in Bahrain were demanding an end to the discrimination of the Sunni ruling minority against the Shiaa majority. Many of the leadership of the Shiaa segment of Bahrain were jailed. This brought an end to the uprising, at least for the time being.

3 – The third type of rebellion is totally the opposite of the first one, as is reflected in Yemen, Libya and recently in Syria. In the three states, the army turned its guns against the protestors in total support of the regimes in Libya and Syria. In Yemen, the army is almost split. The Republican Guards are headed by President Ali Saleh’s son and are not only protecting the regime, but have turned their guns on the protestors. The other part of the Yemeni army has been neutral. For that reason and others, such as a tribal affiliation, which provided support for the regime, civil uprising has been prolonged for three months. The uprising will continue and it is supported by millions of Yemeni people. At the end, Ali Saleh’s regime will come to an end.

The Libyan situation reflects a civil war and it will only stop when Mr. Gadhafi dies. In the meantime, his mercenary soldiers will continue to fight as long as they are well paid. The Syrian situation shares a common element with the other two regimes. As long as the army continues to support Bashar Assad’s government, he will continue to control the country. It is important to mention that the head of the Republican Guard is the president’s own brother who command the most powerful army division.

4 – The fourth type of uprising is reflected in the states where monarchs are the absolute power holders, such as in Morocco and Jordan. Both monarchs have promised political reforms, which have pacified the protestors in some ways. How far the political reforms will go is to be seen. In my judgment, the final authority will continue to be in the hands of the kings. A constitutional monarchy is not going to be attained in the near future.

The case for Saudi Arabia is totally different from Jordan and Morocco. The Saudi Royal family is deeply entrenched in all governmental high positions, including the army. In addition, the Wahhabi religious order is strongly supportive of the royal regime. They have already issued a fatwa prohibiting the protestors’ movement and called it an act against Islam. A few attempts of protestors gathering were prevented and a few of those who called for it were arrested. How long this situation in Saudi Arabia will last is hard to predict.

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