News / Middle East

Arab Spring Jubilation Turns to Despair

Jubilation over Arab Spring Turns to Despairi
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August 23, 2013
After more than two and a half years, the mood surrounding the Arab Spring has drastically shifted from jubilation to despair amid violence and bloodshed in the Middle East. What went wrong and what do current trends mean for the future of the region? VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports from Washington. ((NATS FROM 2011))

Jubilation over Arab Spring Turns to Despair

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Meredith Buel
— After more than two and a half years, the mood surrounding the Arab Spring has drastically shifted from jubilation to despair amid  violence and bloodshed in the Middle East.  What went wrong and what do current trends mean for the future of the region? 

In early 2011, Egyptians were jubilant when a popular uprising ended Hosni Mubarak’s 30 years in power. 

Throughout the Middle East and North Africa dictators were being ousted, and the atmosphere among pro-democracy demonstrators was euphoric.

The movement was quickly labeled the Arab Spring but it created what turned out to be a false hope for the future.

“The Obama administration and other Western governments really subscribed to wishful thinking and hoping that this - just the term Arab Spring kind of suggested a hopeful and inevitable transition to democracy, and I don’t think that was ever the case,” said James Phillips, a senior Middle East analyst at the Heritage Foundation.

Soon much of the Middle East would descend into chaos.

Last month, Egypt's military ousted the country's first elected president and then released Mubarak from prison, putting him under house arrest.

Earlier, Syria descended into civil war.There are even indications that chemical weapons may have been used in a conflict that has killed more than 100,000 people.

Al-Qaida-linked militias roam the country as civilians flee. Nearly two million are refugees, burdening Syria's neighbors.

In Libya hundreds of militias are moving around the country.  Some are linked to al-Qaida.

“One has to remember that the Arab world is not well versed in democracy.  The Arab world really has no experience in democracy.  They hunger for it, they thirst for it, but that doesn’t mean that they know how to achieve it,” said Jonathan Schanzer of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

In Iraq, following elections and the withdrawal of US troops, a surge in terrorism and violence has occurred amid tension between Sunni and Shi’ite Muslims.

The Shi'ite-led government has blamed much of the bloodshed on al-Qaida, and analysts say the group is well positioned to take advantage of the turbulence spreading in the Middle East.

“These are the convulsions that took place after the Arab Spring.  We are not sure how long they are going to last, but at least right now it seems unlikely that this is going to be settled anytime soon,” said Jonathan Schanzer of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

Sunni versus Shi’ite, Islamist versus secular, authoritarian versus democrat, all boiling in the volatile Middle East.

“I hope it doesn’t go from Arab Spring to Islamist winter but, unfortunately, I think in many parts of the Arab world that is what will happen,” said James Phillips of the Heritage Foundation. 

Phillips said it would take at least a generation for what he predicts will be a grueling transition toward democracy.

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by: Parisian from: France
August 26, 2013 11:14 AM
why no one one this site and other international media is not reporting on how in SE Asia Myanmar government and their tugs are raping, and killing kids ,women ,children of Muslim and Christian and other minorities..... radical monk Wirath is using western scial media to incite hatred and violence and no one is talking about this.....Fresh sectarian violence struck northwestern Myanmar early Sunday when a 1,000-strong Buddhist mob burned down dozens of Islamic homes and shops following rumors that a young woman had been sexually assaulted by a Muslim man, police said. There were no reports of injuries.
A crowd surrounded the police station late Saturday and then went on an hours-long rampage after authorities refused to hand over the assault suspect, a police officer from the area told The Associated Press.

About 35 houses and 12 shops — most belonging to Muslims — were destroyed before calm was restored, he said, asking not to be named because he did not have the authority to speak to reporters. The radical monk Wirathu, whose anti-Muslim rhetoric has placed him at the center of rising religious violence in the predominantly Buddhist nation, posted news of the riot in the outskirts of the town of Kantbalu on his Facebook page.


by: GJ from: USA
August 24, 2013 7:08 AM
Why this wasn't apparent to world leaders when it all started is beyond me. Democracy does not happen overnight and it requires compromise. The thought that just removing an existing dictator or monarch will change things is extremely naive, yet our leaders and other leaders in the world bought into the fantasy as well.


by: Igor from: Russia
August 23, 2013 10:42 PM
Instead of creating a more democratic society, the Arab spring has created a state of chaos and disorder in many countries taking the lives of thousands of people. I think the main reason is that there are so many risks of ethnic and sectarian conflicts in those countries. In such countries the top priority is not democracy but how to harmonize people of different religions, ethnics, sects. Sometimes we need an iron fist to put people together so that terrorist thoughts have no chance to develop. Syrian Government did it very well until the West and its allies undermined it with the "democracy" prey. How can those people practice democracy if they cannot understand what democracy is. So they started to do what they would like to do: killing, taking revenge....What a huge mistake!


by: Godwin from: Nigeria
August 23, 2013 3:25 PM
The Arab Spring has been the most interesting thing to come from the Arab world. Before the Arab Spring, the best contribution to the world from that axis was oil - crude oil or liquid gold. But since the advent of the AS, the world has come to know a lot more about the people lurking behind the dreaded, vociferous and cantankerous entity or people called Arabs. By Arab here I mean everyone begotten in islam - afterall they own the religion primordially.

The Arab Spring opened up the people and their hypocrisy both to the religion and their shallow depth of love to themselves, God, life and humanity. Just imagine someone publish a book and name it satanic verses, the whole of the region and everywhere any of them is found will explode in fire with a shout of blasphemy and a call for the head of the writer. Before you know it, a leader will emerge from nowhere and declare a fatwa. The United States of America will spend a long budget looking for solution and how to assuage the frayed nerves.
If someone makes an amateur film and use a name which more than 65% of them in the Arab world bear, they will link it to an abuse to one of their prophets. Before you can spell obama, the whole world is on fire. TV screens are awash with leaders of god’s and goddesses’ army declaring fatwas. Churches are burnt, schools are destroyed, western interests are targeted with terror, travel restrictions are issued for safety of non-muslims in Arab/islamist infested places.
When the US mistakenly hit a mosque in Afghanistan pursuing terrorists, hell is let loose. An abomination has been committed; nothing in the world is as bad as striking a mosque even with the smoke of gunshot. The US will start a bout of diplomatic mission to return the demon that has tasted blood to the land of the spirits.
But ask yourself the truth of these fallacies and you find out that they simply love chaos; they create one with every mistake a westerner makes. They create mounts out of anthills. Now who are the people shooting and bombing the mosques? How many fatwas have been issued? With all the terrorist activities going on everywhere, why has there not been even a single fatwa? Can someone define exactly what an access of evil should mean?

In Response

by: Rob Swift from: Great Britain
August 24, 2013 7:08 AM
Most Moslems live in Indonesia. (See Wikipedia)


by: Hamik C Gregory from: Kings Beach, CA USA
August 23, 2013 12:58 PM
All along we knew the Arab Spring was associated with potent and persistent drought so your article does not discuss anything that is knew. Iranians in Iran are standing at the very age of a precipice, once the cross it, they will inaugurated Islamic Renaissance and the Middle Eastern Age of Enlightenment in the Middle East. It is inevitable! Only those, whose ancestors have contributed the most to the Islamic Civilization, such as the Persians, have the courage and the intellect to bring such a change to the Middle East.

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