It all started on the 17th December 2010, the Arab spring. Now, five years later, we can name the situation a tangle of two-faced relations, many interests and more conflicts. The Middle East became a chess game and it seems like every move could lead to checkmate. Five years were needed to unleash multiple civil wars, to let a terroristic movement take charge in several areas and keep the world busy, to destroy lives and children’s futures. Basically, the conclusion is that all of this looks more like an Arab winter. Wrong conclusion.
The road to democracy and freedom is vague. When can we speak about democracy and freedom? A factor that can’t be underestimated is that this same road is very long. A good political system can’t be built in five years. It takes time. And count in some extra time because of the unexpected problem: Daesh.
History isn’t an agent to explain today’s state of affairs or to compare situations. But from time to time we need to be reminded of it because it helps us to place things that are happening nowadays in their context and to nuance them. History learns you to relative because you have to dig damn deep to find a period of world peace, it doesn’t exist. What many people also forget is that Europa wasn’t always like what they woke up in it today.
Before the French Revolution there wasn’t such a thing as Liberte, Egalite et Fraternite. If we count in the social and economic misery that made the Revolution a fact, the three phases of the Revolution with Robespierre who killed 40000 people who were in his eyes enemies of the state and the regime of Napoleon, a soft dictatorship with the beautiful face of a democracy, we get circa a hundred years. A century was needed to obtain democracy and political freedom.
Cuius regio, eius religio. This arrangement was accepted at the Peace of Augsburg in several areas of Europe. A perfect way to give a leader of a territory more power because of his political and religious ambit and to give the people an illusion of freedom. In the 17th century with the Peace of Westphalia there was more, but still limited, space to make religious decisions. Most countries in Europe decided to give their people the freedom to believe in what they want in the 18th – 19th century.
The battle for political and religious freedom ended at the same time.
History has proven us that it’s possible to fight a political and religious battle at the same time and survive it in the long term. What gives us then the right to qualify the Arab Spring as a failure after five years? It’s disgusting how the term Arab Winter is introduced to let us believe that the good people, the nation, has already lost. An easier way for our global politicians to shake hands with men who have blood on theirs and to send drones to kill the enemy and to make some collateral damage. One of the biggest problems here is that this whole affair is dehumanized. Sometimes it’s forgotten that we’re talking about real people besides the politics, money and power. We don’t hear the voices of the people who are going trough this, instead our papers are filled with people who know how to solve the problems. People who want to settle a democracy making use of an undemocratic discourse and want to bring peace with war.
I’m not going to deny that there is a lot of work, that’s proven a week ago with the elections in Syria. To let people vote who are afraid, and who don’t have a future perspective and have nowhere to go is anything but the definition of a democracy. But I believe that one day there will be peace in the Middle East. Naïve? Maybe. Do we need more of the good vibes? Definitely!
This article is written by Sabra Ibnouthen.