News / Middle East

Analysts: In Syria, Few Arab Spring Lessons Apply

Analyst: Few Lessons in Arab Spring Apply to Syriai
|| 0:00:00
X
Elizabeth Arrott
June 05, 2012 11:48 PM
The sentencing of Egypt's former president Hosni Mubarak to life in prison marks an important, if imperfect, step in the transition to a post-autocratic rule. Elizabeth Arrott and Japhet Weeks look at whether the lesson of Mubarak, or other deposed leaders in the region, could apply to Syria.

Analyst: Few Lessons in Arab Spring Apply to Syria

Elizabeth Arrott
CAIRO - In the past year and a half, uprisings across the Arab world have toppled four men whose rule had lasted decades.

Tunisia's Zine el Abidine Ben Ali fled into exile in Saudi Arabia.

Libya's Moammar Gadhafi held on longer, but with NATO intervention was forced underground and eventually killed by his own people.

In Yemen, a diplomatic solution ended the standoff; a regional deal pushed a reluctant Ali Abdullah Saleh to hand power to his deputy.

The life sentence handed down on Saturday to Egypt's Hosni Mubarak, who resigned last year amid mass protest, offers the latest case study of Arab autocrats versus the people.

What does this all mean in terms of resolving the violence in Syria after its Arab Spring uprising? Likely not much, analysts say.

Situations differ

Nadim Shehadi of London-based Chatham House says the history of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, like Libya's Gadhafi, is different from the leaders ousted in Tunisia and Egypt.

"It's too late for President Bashar al-Assad to follow the footsteps of either Ben Ali or of Mubarak because he doesn't even acknowledge the existence of an opposition and he is still fighting it all the way," he says. "So, his choice is either an end like Gadhafi, or have an Ali Abdullah Saleh kind of deal."

Arab leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council were able, after several false promises from the Yemeni president, to ensure a handover of power to his deputy.

In recent weeks, the Yemen model has gained traction in the international community, as other diplomatic efforts founder.

Shehadi says it is probably not realistic.

“I find that it is going to be very difficult to do a deal with President Assad because I think the international community has lost faith in anything he says," he says. "So, there isn't enough trust to make a deal with him. Even President Ali Abdullah Saleh kept playing games after he made the deal. And he is still playing games.”

Assad exile unlikely

Cairo-based political analyst Hisham Kassem agrees that the Yemen model holds little hope for Syria. He argues that the idea of exile, like Ben Ali, could once have been a possibility, with President Assad finding refuge in ally Iran.

But Kassem thinks that moment has passed.

“Maybe Bashar now is wondering whether he should have followed Ben Ali's model some time ago, you see, because Bashar can only stay in power through blood," he says. "So, maybe it is too late and he could be thinking if he did not make a mistake by following the Ben Ali's model.”

Like many analysts, Kassem has little hope for a diplomatic solution.

“I don't think at this point Bashar is observing or trying to learn more," he says. "He is becoming one-track minded and he knows that nothing can save him unless he continues with this massacre and wins.”

If President Assad's rule does come to a forced end, Kassem says the Syrian leader is likely to face a situation similar to Gadhafi's.

And that, he says, is something Assad knows.

VOA's Japhet Weeks contributed to this story from Cairo.

You May Like

IS Militants Release 49 Turkish Hostages

Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reports that no ransom was paid and no conditions accepted for the hostages' release; few details of the release are known More

Photogallery IS Attacks Send Thousands of Syrian Kurds Fleeing to Turkey

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 300 Kurdish fighters crossed into Syria from Turkey to defend a Kurdish area from attack by the Islamic militants More

Video Sierra Leone's Ebola Lockdown Continues

Thousands of health workers are going door to door in the West African country of 6 million, informing people of how to avoid Ebola, handing out soap More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’i
X
Jeff Seldin
September 20, 2014 10:28 PM
Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid