It’s been three years after the beginning of the “Arab spring” that initially started in Tunisia and was immediately followed by a number of “colour revolutions”. Those “revolutionary” processes, that were fueled by the Wahhabite monarchies and financed by Saudi Arabia and Qatar, has become a “promised land” for mercenaries from different radical terrorist groups from all around the globe. Today the “revolutionary spirit” seem to have evaporated somehow and the countries that were touched upon by the “ colour revolution” movement are lying in ruins or have found themselves on the brink of collapse. The Middle East as we knew it before December 2011 no longer exists. So what are the outcomes of the “Arab spring” and what is the future of the region?
The immediate outcomes are rather clear. Syria was the country that, despite going through a painful civil war, has put an end to a wave of revolutions. They were shattered by the Assad regime resilience, by the reluctance of the Syrian people to live according to the norms of the Wahhabite Sharia law, by Russia’s firm position that managed to block three UN Security Council anti-Syrian resolutions since every single one of them allowed foreign military intervention in Syria. Joint plan to overthrow the legitimate government Syrian government by the joint effort of the West and the CCASG under the disguise of implementing a peaceful solution to the conflict has ultimately failed. As for the militants fighting on the Saudi, Qatari , Kuwaiti and Emirati money, including the Al-Qaeda troops, found themselves unable to overcome the regular army units loyal to Assad. Then the U.S. President Barack Obama under pressure from Moscow and, fearing that radical Islamists could come to power in Damascus, renounced in the month of September the unilateral air strikes on Syria, instead he preferred to grasp at the Russian plan of the Syria’s WMD peaceful destruction.
There was no scenario under which the Syrian civil war wouldn’t affect the situation in neighboring Lebanon, with the growing confrontation along ethnic and religious lines. And many Lebanese groups, especially Hezbollah, took part in the Syrian conflict.
The Arab spring should have choked earlier – in Libya, which was a possible should have the resolution against Libya been blocked blocked in the UN Security Council. But there’s no changing the past. As a result, Libya has not only become a failed state, but is on the verge of collapse as a unity, since Cyrenaica declared autonomy, and the real power of the central government extends as far as the Tripolitania area goes. And what’s worse — it’s the “Somalization” that awaits Libya, when there will be no real authority except for certain spheres of influence of different armed groups created on a tribal basis. Here is the result of NATO’s intervention “inspired” by the Wahhabi monarchies!
Another outcome of the Arab “Spring” – is an endless succession of regime changes in Egypt, which has always been considered a leading country in the Arab world. Egypt has always been a “fastening state” on which the stability of the entire Middle East region depended. Egypt has found itself today on the same verge of being a failed country that could face a full-scale civil war. It’s been a month of daily demonstrations in Egypt now conducted by the supporters of the “Muslim Brotherhood” that demand to release the former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi, so army and police were compelled to resort to force yet again. For how long the military elite in Cairo will be able to cling to power no one can not predict. Yet it’s quite obvious now that should the presidential elections be held in Egypt, the power will, with a high degree of certainty , come back to “Muslim Brotherhood” through legal means. And here we are, back to this roller coaster again, despite the fact that a half of Egyptians refuse to live under Sharia law. And all this – the result of the political games of Saudi Arabia and Qatar shown against the background of the U.S. diplomacy impotence. At the end of the day we may witness a complete degradation of Egypt and its total economic exhaustion, bringing it to the back streets of the regional political map, say nothing about the world’s.
A similar scenario is developing in Tunisia, where it all started. There’s signs of the difficult political process being transformed in an armed struggle to be seen everywhere . Another victim of the Arab Spring movement – Bahrain. The revolution there was suppressed by the Saudi occupation. If they withdraw today, tomorrow the Shia majority will take it back to the streets, rioting against the Sunni dynasty. And Sunni represent no more than a third of the island’s population.
It’s none better in Yemen. President Saleh left eventually but it has not brought peace and tranquility. Al-Qaeda is increasing the number of terrorist attacks, the rebels in the north continue their struggle, the conflict within the ruling elite remains, and with each passing day there’s more and more problems with southern separatism. The rapid growth of the Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula influence can lead Yemen to disintegration, leaving several quasi- states or enclaves behind. And all this – the result of the Saudi Arabia and Qatar intervention in Yemeni affairs.
In Jordan, the situation is somewhat better, but the risk remains due to the confrontation between supporters of the current monarchical regime and the Islamists influenced by the Syrian conflict.
Even the sponsors of the Arab “revolutions” have found themselves in a difficult position. The most active of “financier” and “motor” – Qatar was to suffer a painful lesson. Saudi Arabia and the USA have had enough of the excessive interventions of the old emir Hamad, that was supported by terrorists and extremists. So they removed him from power along with his corrupted prime minister Hamad bin Jassim. The old emir was replaced by the young and inexperienced prince Tamim, who is trying his best to “stay out of trouble” . Other smaller countries of the CCASG are in a better position, but even there the rise of discontent influenced by the local Islamists is apparent and the immigrant workers who are in the position of the people “of the third grade” there are none the happier.
But the most important conflict matures in Saudi Arabia – the Arab spring mastermind, its main driving force. The generational change is coming since King Abdullah and Crown Prince Salman are not just old, but seriously ill. The tension in Al Saud ruling family is growing and contradictions are spreading, the younger Saudi generation no longer wants to live according the Wahhabite norms of the 18th century. The discontent of the Shiite minority that is living in the areas of oil extraction is mounting, the short sighted policy of prince Bandar, is drawing Saudi Arabia in new conflicts in Syria, Yemen, Egypt and Iraq, he’s also responsible for the artificial build up of hostility towards Iran, which returns quickly from the isolation brought upon it by the West. The Kingdom is simply risking to disintegrate into 4 or 5 pieces, some of which may be quickly absorbed by the neighboring countries. If Saudi Arabia falls apart, the entire Middle East will shake to its foundations.
Even Algeria that is relatively far from the Middle East, have faced a growing risk of destabilization, given that soon there will be a presidential election, and the question of inheritance of power has not been resolved. Generation of the “revolutionary guerrillas” that has managed to achieve independence from France is really old now So now the Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb is stepping up its activity in this country.
Iraq remains the scene of an armed terrorist Shiite and Sunni opposition on the background of the Kurdish separatism. Growing contradictions within the ruling Shiite elite. Terrorist activity of the Ba’athist underground resistance isn’t going anywhere . And Saudi Arabia continues to push the Sunni population of Iraq to the separation or autonomy.
During the Arab “revolutions” Palestinian problem almost into oblivion, and she once recently rallied all Arabs. But the fire is smoldering conflict in Palestine for as continued settlement policy of Israel, and the negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis do not come out of the impasse.
Turkey, which decided to actively participate in the Syrian conflict, was the one to suffer too. This summer’s powerful wave of protests has significantly undermined the authority of Prime Minister Erdogan and reduced the role Ankara is playing on the world stage. And yes, its stability is now in question too.
The only successful regional country amid all these events is Iran. The newly elected president Hassan Rouhani that replaced Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has managed to negotiate with the West the terms of its nuclear program within a short time frame and begins the process of rapid normalization of relations with the U.S. and a number of EU countries. This means open prospects for the withdrawal of all financial, economic and military sanctions which will allow Iran to quickly transform into the most powerful regional power against the backdrop of the decline of the leading Arab states. And that means a whole new balance of power in the Middle East, and most importantly – in the Persian Gulf, which produces 2/3 of the world’s oil. Which is a lot, should one take into consideration that the U.S. is going reduce its presence in the region, leaving for the APR in order to be able to restrain the growth of China’s influence.
So the conservative Arab monarchies – the revolutionary instigators, have ultimately harmed themselves, undermining the role of the Arab world in general by bringing themselves to the brink of collapse. And there’s a new lead on the stage, a new powerful player – Iran, which is betting on the Shiites in the Arab countries, the fact should redraw even further the political map of the Middle East. It is possible that a nightmare of the Saudi kings is coming true – the creation of the Shiite arc from Tehran to Beirut. The wait is not a long one here now.
Pyotr Lvov, Doctor of Political Sciences, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.