Whether the Arab Spring deserves its “revolutionary” label is being tested by a series of political events. These tests will determine whether the Arab Spring was a “revolutionary” event with an independent, self-generated dynamic emanating from the Arab reality and its political and social priorities, or a “limited” event whose features are largely compatible with foreign interests and demands.
The Arab Spring’s “revolutionary” label may be stripped in light of recent political action taken on critical issues, which prompts basic and legitimate questions: What is the “revolutionary” policy of the new order? Does it represent a clear break from the previous regimes' political and economic legacies, or is it a continuation of the previous order with a few minor tweaks? And where is the revolutionary policy with regard to foreign relations and basic Arab causes?
One of the most surprising features of the so-called Arab Spring revolutions is that, instead of being truly “revolutionary” when compared to the former political order, they are rather moderate and operate accordingly. But that political moderation is weak and artificial. It is not based on what the Arab political reality requires; rather, it is a Western notion that shapes Arab politics according to Western conditions and requirements.
The masters of moderation in the Arab Spring’s political realm are the moderate Islamic forces, or so the West calls them. These new policies, created by these forces in their own countries, are congruent with how the West designated them after the Islamists’ recent ideological and methodological transformations. Those ideological transformations were originally intended to form a truce, if not an alliance, with the West, and the “Arab Spring” terminology refers to the emergence of political forces with normal political behavior, deceptively depicted as “revolutionary.”
There is no doubt that the Arab masses voted for Islamists at the ballot box, not because of their “moderation,” which appeals to the West, nor because of their ideological and political transformation, of which the masses were unaware. The Arab masses chose the Islamists because of their radical political and ideological positions on major Arab political, economic and social issues, as well as their positions on matters of civilization, identity and culture.
The Islamists’ slogan has always been: “God is our objective, the Qur’an is our constitution, the Prophet is our leader, jihad is our way, and dying for the sake of God is our highest aspiration.” The majority voted for that slogan because it unambiguously promotes a future based in Islam and all that it entails in terms of dignity, sovereignty, independence and the liberation of holy sites.
After the elections, Islamist forces were expected to establish their presence and present their distinguished policies on the Palestinian issue; first because of that issue’s close connection to the Islamic religious consciousness, and second because Islamists have, for decades, stuck to their basic political position on the Palestinian issue and how it should be resolved. But those expectations were met with silence, ambiguous platforms and leaks about conversations and interviews with the “Israeli” media. Then it became apparent that the Islamist forces in Egypt are following the former regime’s footsteps by upholding the Camp David Accords. Worse, the Gaza Strip, which has been blockaded for seven years, endured its harshest blockade yet when they were deprived of Egyptian electricity during the coldest winter in years. This happened after the Islamists won the Egyptian elections and became a ruling force there. The words “shame” and “scandal” do not even begin to describe the situation. We got another glimpse of the “new” policy, which is no different than the old one, when the Egyptian Rafah crossing into Gaza was closed, just like the “Israeli” one.
Gaza is a nightmare for the Arab conscience. Gaza, the Judaization policy, Jerusalem, and the al-Aqsa Mosque, all represent the bitter sting of Arab impotence. Gaza, especially during the recent Zionist aggression unleashed upon it, was the most serious and dangerous test for the ruling Arab Spring forces. The lack of reaction by these forces, their silence and the silence of their supporters indicate that the Palestinian issue may no longer be as central as it was before the Arab Spring. Their silence also eliminates whatever difference supposedly remained between these forces and their predecessors in regard to this issue. This suspicious silence — and the steps that preceded it, when some parties no longer insisted adding a constitutional clause prohibiting relations with Israel — poses all sorts of questions on the future of Palestinian resistance and its ideological and organizational links with the forces of political Islam. Hamas, which has refrained from responding to repeated Zionist aggression in Gaza, has links to these forces at the ideological and organizational levels.
Arab Spring policies have affected the most sacred positions of the Islamists, whose rhetoric is losing its meaning and revealing a reality that was unimaginable a short while ago.