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394. Analyzing the Arab Spring

Analyzing the “Arab Spring”
IT’S WORTH CONSIDERING
Now that the so-called “Arab Spring” is nearly two years old, it’s worth looking back to see what was really accomplished. The British Guardian newspaper did this several months ago, at the time of the first round of voting in the Egyptian presidential election. It gave various countries in the Arab world a grade from one to 10 in a “democracy scorecard.” The largest number it awarded was a “seven,” given to Tunisia. A “five” was given to Jordan and Libya, a “four” to Bahrain, a “two” to Yemen and a “one” to Syria. Strangely, it gave Egypt no grade, but a “five” would have been more than generous.

Another scorecard emerged recently from Foreign Policy magazine’s annual index of “failed states” and an accompanying article headlined “Was the Arab Spring Worth It?” The grim conclusion: “For average Egyptians, growing political tensions and the cratering economy probably outweigh the violence between protesters and security forces. Yemen was well on its way to failed statehood and economic collapse before the Arab Spring, and virtually all indicators are distinctly, and in some cases alarmingly, negative, while the benefits of the protest movement have yet to manifest themselves in any concrete way. In Syria, there is only cost – including thousands of deaths, hundreds of thousands of displacements, and an incipient economic meltdown.”

As I have said often, a true Jeffersonian democracy will never emerge as long as Islam exists. The two are diametrically opposed to each other. The only real test is whether the uprisings actually made things better for the average “man on the street.” A survey of Arab youth in 12 countries conducted by public relations firm Burston-Marstellar finds: “Earning a fair wage and owning a home are now the two highest priorities for young people in the Middle East – displacing living in a democracy as the greatest aspiration of regional youth.” Today, the young demonstrators want jobs more than anything else.

AS I SEE IT
Conditions in the Middle East are largely a result of the policies of national leaders, and many of the policies are steeped in corruption and nepotism. Creating a better life for the people is nowhere on the leaders’ TO DO list. A lot of things need to happen before any real economic progress can be expected. Regulations need to be lightened, education must be reformed, and a justice system that encourages entrepreneurship must be instituted. Syria is a prime example. All Assad has to offer is unification under the banner of hatred for the Jews.

As long as Islam is the predominant religion in the region, prospects for real advancement don’t look good. Islam is interested in the advancement of its ideology. The condition of its followers is irrelevant. The stricter the brand of Islam, the more human rights will suffer. Individualism must give way to the greater cause. In my opinion, the ultimate outcome of the Arab Spring will not be positive. The result of the elections in Egypt will likely show the true face of the movement. What happens in Egypt will likely spread throughout the entire region and you can bet the Muslim brotherhood will be at the center of the action.

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ON THE LIGHTER SIDE
Contrary to general belief, I do not believe that friends are necessarily the people you like best, but merely the people who got there first.


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