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Arab Spring: Turbulence or Revolution?

By An Huihou (Beijing Daily)

16:44, October 24, 2011

Edited and translated by People's Daily Online

The social and political turbulence of the Arabic world has lasted for 10 months since its outburst in December 2010, and has caught the attention of various parties since it began. The United States are worried that the turbulence would agitate the Arabic people’s existing anti-American and anti-Israel sentiment, so it made the initial move, with the mass media under its control, to broadly hype “Arabic Spring” and “Arabic Revolution” in order to determine the nature of the turbulence in the Arabic world as such.

Its purpose is to guide the turbulence to a democratic movement that opposes autocracy and strives for democracy in hopes that the pro-Western democratic liberals will grow and mature in the turbulence and seize opportunity to build new pro-Western governments, overthrowing the old ones it has long been unpleased with.

The turbulence was interpreted and characterized by different countries and forces according to each of their own standpoints, interests and policy orientations. China’s media, after going through some short-term confusion on the cognition of this matter, called it Arabic social and political turbulence. But as the situation develops, some have accepted the concepts of “Arabic Spring,” and “Arabic Revolution.”

There are five reasons why it is better to describe the current wave of changes in the Arab world as social and political upheavals. First, it is a wave of social and political upheavals with various causes and multiple aims. They were initially sudden grassroots movements without any clear guidelines, and it was after the upheavals occurred that the Islamic forces, diplomatic forces, tribal forces, elites, political parties, and Western powers, particularly the United States, have stepped in and actively exerted influence over the upheavals in their favor.

Second, the discontent people of Tunis and Egypt toppled the old regimes through protests, which do share some characteristics with revolutions. However, the upheavals in Bahrain and Libya were caused by religious conflicts and tribal conflicts, respectively. The upheaval in Yemen was caused by tribal conflicts, the conflicts between southern separatist groups and the central government, and the intervention of Al-Qaeda. Furthermore, Syria is plagued by social, political, religious and ethnic conflicts. The situation in the Arab world varies from country to country.

Third, there are 22 Arab countries in the world, of which two did not undergo any upheavals, and the majority quickly put down the upheavals. Only five countries — Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen and Syria — were severely affected by the upheavals, accounting for less than one-fourth of the total number of Arab countries.

Fourth, major Western countries have successively been involved in and even manipulated the serious unrests in the countries.

Fifth, the unrest has fully exposed a variety of contradictions facing Arab countries, and Arab elites will inevitably explore ways to solve the contradictions in order to achieve an actual revival of Arab people.

Great unrests and transformations will likely become the main themes of the Arab world for a long period of time. Real revolutions are likely to take place in some countries during the course of history. People expect that a new Arab world of prosperity, strength, civilization, progress, independence and dynamics will emerge in the world in the aftermath of such unrests and transformations. The goal cannot be fulfilled in the near future.

It is still early to assert the emergence of the “Arab War” or the “Arab Revolution.” It remains to be seen that whether newly established regimes in the countries have democratic, Islamic or nationalistic characteristics, as well as what policy directions they will take. The signs of revolutionary institutional transformations have yet to emerge in the regimes.


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Canada at 2011-10-2570.36.49.*
It besmirches genuine revolutionaries and revolutions to call what happened in Libya a revolution. More like a counter revolution with the NATO war machine in the driver"s seat. Libya’s NTC spokesman said Libya society will be based on Shariah law, polygamy rights will be restored and men can have up to 4 wives.

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