The Unseen Dangers of the Arab Spring

On 17 December 2010 Mohamed Bouazizi, a 26 year old Tunisian street vendor set himself alight in protest at the confiscation of his wares, and the harassment and humiliation that he reported was inflicted on him by a municipal official and her aides. There was no way he could foresee the wave of unrest that followed his action across the arab world.

Mohamed Bouazizi - The Catalyst

It led to the downfall of the Tunisian President, El Abadine Ben Ali, followed later by Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, Muhamar Gaddafi of Libya and President Ali Abdulla Saleh of Yemen. It had far reaching effects on the political scene in many more arab countries where governmental changes were hastened after protests. Protests in Jordan led King Abdullah to sack two governments in an effort to stave off major disruptions in the country.

Syrian Tanks Fire on Homs

Now everyone is concentrating on Syria, where despite condemnation by the Arab League and a lot of talk at the UN, President Assad is trying desperately to put down what amounts to a fully fledged rebellion in the country. Accusations fly thick and fast from the government, saying the problems are being caused by ‘outside elements’, while the protesters shout to the world the daily death toll at the hands of their armed forces.

Today a Syrian general was assassinated outside his home by armed gunmen. The government say these men were an “armed terrorist group”, and it is possible. Not surprisingly, no group has claimed responsibility for the attack. Naturally this does not detract from the fact that around 7000 civilians have been killed by government forces over the past months.

Assad

What the outcome will be in Syria is anyone’s guess, but it seems the regime’s days are numbered. The question that should now be asked is: Will Assad and his entourage ever be brought before the International Court for crimes against humanity, seeing as his armed forces are killing unarmed civilians with tanks and artillery? His days must surely be numbered, for he even has neighbouring arab states against him now. Once he has been subdued, will that be the end of the arab spring I wonder?

There has been death on the streets of many arab countries outside those already mentioned, like Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Mauritania and Lebanon. In many cases it has been sectarian in nature. There seems to be no love between Sunni and Shi’ite muslims in the arab world and they seem to be increasingly ‘having a go’ at the opposition.

Saudi Protests

In many nations, like Bahrain, which is ruled by the Sunni al Khalifa family, 70-75% of the people are Shia. In Syria we see an Alewite (an offshoot of Sunni) presiding over a population that is 74% Shia. Often in recent times this has led to friction. In Qatif, the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, which is home to a Shia majority, they complained of marginalisation at the hands of the Sunni ruling family.

The situation in Saudi Arabia is the most troubling for it is staunchly pro-western and is of course the world’s largest supplier of oil. Trouble is brewing in the Qatif region in eastern Saudi where one protester was shot by police who said they were shot at by gunmen. An identical event took place earlier in the town of Qatif. Not surprisingly it is small actions like this that inflame people into taking part in large scale protests at the deaths, which can lead to a similar action by the police. Once the fire is lit, it can be hard to put out.

It is without doubt that the entire region was stable until one lowly street vendor decided to set himself alight in protest, now what the future holds for the arab world is anyone’s guess. Egypt and Libya are still in turmoil, which to be honest, looks like continuing throughout the rest of this year. There is also unrest in the other countries mentioned, which could take no more than a small spark to ignite. Meanwhile, we stand on the sidelines waiting to see what happens next.

What Is He Up to Now?

An ‘un-named’ US official has let it be known that there could be al Quada fighters from Iraq in Syria busy at work stoking up tensions. It is suggested they were responsible for two bombing, and were likely involved in the attacks that took place in Aleppo. When you look at it from a distance, this is possible. I only say possible, for logic dictates that if al Quada can bring down what was, until recently, a stable government and cause mayhem, they stand to make great gains while the country is in limbo, trying to find its way to a proper government.

The possibility that this is a new tactic of al Quada is not so far fetched, so let’s kick it around for a moment. 

What would happen if this Islamic group managed to get into the government of many of the arab countries? As in other places, it starts with one or two people in high positions who work behind the scenes to pave the way for more members and end up taking over. We have seen exactly this scenario take place within the Tower Hamlets Council of London. Al Quada is now aligned with the rebels in Somalia, and obviously they see the possibility of political gains in the country. Therefore, it is by no means a huge stretch of the imagination to see this happening in Syria and perhaps, at a later date, other arab states.

Who Knows What the Future Holds

This is all conjecture, but what would happen to world peace if such an event were to happen? A very disturbing thought indeed. I dread to think what will happen in the future if such a situation actually occurs. Islamic fundamentalist governments controlling most of the world’s oil? Such an event would be catastrophic, and I am glad I will not be around to say “I told you so”! Governments the world over need to pay more attention to the march of Islam, for if they don’t, we could see catastrophic times ahead, for in the long-term, it is always the people who suffer in these power struggles.

Roy.

14/2/12 Update: With the latest news it seems the ideas set forward in this post may not be so far-fetched after all. Yesterday Ayman al-Zawahri, bin Laden’s deputy and now leader of al Quada came out and urged all Muslims in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey to join the uprising against what he called Mr. Assad’s “pernicious, cancerous regime.” Senior Iraqi officials have commented that a steady flow of men linked to al Quada, as well as arms have been flowing over the border into Syria for four months. Regarding the two car bombs that went off in Aleppo last week, it has been remarked that these attacks bear the trademark of al Quada. So maybe this terrorist group is trying to make political capital out of the Syrian mess.  

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