Cairo, Benghazi Attacks Show Other Side of the Arab Spring
By: Sariya abu Rajab Translated from Al-Ayyam (P.A.).
The murder of the US ambassador to Libya at the hands of Islamist protesters that came as a reaction to an anti-Muslim video demeaning the Prophet Mohammad, made by "Egyptians" and Americans, represented the culmination of violent protests that have been sweeping across a number of Arab countries, most prominently in Benghazi, Cairo and Gaza.
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The attacks on US embassies in the Mideast, culminating in the murders of officials in Benghazi, suggest that it is premature to believe the US won the allegiance of new governments there by backing the uprisings of the Arab Spring. The Palestinian protests are another sign of renewed discontent in the region.Publisher: Al-Ayyam (P.A.)
Did the charm of the Arab Spring finally reverse?
Author: Sariya abu Rajab
First Published: September 14, 2012
Posted on: September 14 2012
Translated by: Sahar Ghoussoub and Joelle El-Khoury
Although the death of the US ambassador was not intentional, the attack on the American embassy in Cairo and the burning of the American flag confirms that the Arab people still harbor anger towards the Americans. The Americans believed that they had the region in the palm of their hand after they helped Arabs depose tyrant leaders and pave the way for new ruling elites that would forge bonds of alliance with them.
The popular protests coincided with the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks in New York and Washington. Perhaps this coincidence indicates that the Arab Spring is taking a corrective path, especially given that the Arab protests have erupted days after Palestinian demonstrations. The Palestinians launched their protests against the Palestinian Authority due to the high cost of living. Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu anticipated that the tables would turn, only to find out that the protests had turned into a revolution against the occupation, especially after protesters chanted slogans calling for the cancelation of the Paris Convention and Oslo Accords.
The US reacted to the attack on the American embassy and the death of the US ambassador in Benghazi by mobilizing warships along the Libyan coasts. This suggests that Americans do not learn their lessons, at least not fast enough. They have failed to realize that the revolutions are still ongoing, and that they cannot overcome the will of the people.
However, it is clear that things will not end as a result of America’s desire to reorganize the internal situation in Arab countries. People have already savored the taste of freedom and will no longer be intimidated by warships along the coast. They will not fear the occupation and will not cease to demand absolute freedom.
The US has always considered Egypt to be the pillar of the current Arab movements, which is indeed true. The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt is now aware that the fastest way to ensure its demise is to place all its eggs in the American basket. The Brotherhood refuses to be a weaker version of a previous rule that sought shelter under the American cloak, as it feared its own people. However, the Brotherhood does not fear the people who were the reason behind their rise to power. Although Arab countries have witnessed dire economic conditions due to the revolutions that have swept across the region, the Brotherhood is well aware that in order to survive it must detach itself from Washington.
This may explain the reason behind Morsi’s visit to China, as he is relying on historical Egyptian-Chinese relations and is aware of China’s political and economic importance. It could also explain his visit to Tehran, since everybody knows the nature of Iran’s ties with the west.
Egypt did not remain the same after the Arab spring, nor did it show any signs of automatic loyalty to Washington. On his way to the White House, Morsi decided to gather his winning cards to rebuild ties with the most powerful country in the world, yet based on a sort of balance that would preserve Egypt’s interests and dignity. It was a significant act when Morsi announced from Tehran that Egypt is siding with the revolution of the Syrian people and that the solution does not lie in reforms, but rather in change. Morsi also rejected the illusion that Egypt must be affiliated to this group or that. He specified that Egypt was both a Sunni and civil state, and defended the companions of the prophet. Moreover, he offered Iran natural ties with Egypt — and thus with the wider Sunni Arab world — on the condition that it stops supporting the Syrian regime.
There are signs indicating that the initial objectives of the Arab spring will be taken into consideration. We certainly have to say that it is true that the Arab world seems to be suffering, but that doesn’t mean that it is ready to automatically surrender to the West, particularly to the US.
I still have to say that the Arab Spring — whose spirit and effects must remain strong for the coming years and must extend to the entirety of the Arab region — is just a method of mobility for entering the modern era. It provides access to a new world in which, despite all of the developments, US hegemony is withdrawing from the political and economic spheres. It will not take long for the Arab spring to correct itself and complete its mission. This will happen through defining a different relationship with Washington, which should be based at least on respect, as is the case with almost all other countries in the world. The positive change brought forth by the Arab spring must be reflected on the Palestinian issue. It must lead to an end to the siege on Gaza and mark the beginning of comprehensive economic development, especially in Egypt. Egypt has all the prerequisites to become a powerful state through economic growth, like China, East Asia, Brazil and Turkey. Moreover, there is a real chance for this to happen. The Arab spring has brought hope that the Arab people will have dignity among the world’s countries in the modern era.
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