How the Arab Spring Exploded Into a Wave of Violence

September 21, 2012 12:17 pm 0 comments

Islam's black flag. Photo: Screenshot.

Last week’s latest wave of anti-American Muslim protests from the Middle East to Sydney, Australia was followed by dozens of articles in the international press which has been trying to explain its sources. Ostensibly, the rage emanated from an offensive anti-Islamic film clip that was produced in the U.S. and uploaded to YouTube last June. After the 9/11 attacks, there was a similar effort by commentators to understand what exactly motivated those who hijacked civilian aircraft to fly them into buildings in New York and Washington. It was repeatedly asked what was behind their rage. This time, was the reason for the outbreak of violence the film clip alone, as the Obama administration argued, or were there deeper causes?

This is an important question. One of the leading Arab commentators, Urayb Rantawi, speculated in the Jordanian daily ad-Dustur last week, that the need to come up with an explanation comes from the fact that official Washington “rode the steed of the Arab Spring” and made it into “an American horse.” Yet the very countries that benefited from the Arab Spring, he notes, are those where a new anti-American wave has been unleashed. Rantawi discerns a certain degree of shock in the U.S., that the states of the Arab Spring, have turned violently anti-American. He overexaggerates the reaction within the U.S. to these events in the Arab world, even calling them “another 9/11.” Yet it is reasonable to ask whether some of the features of the Arab Spring have contributed to the intensity of the violent outbursts in recent weeks. Several key factors have been influencing events on the ground:

1. The spread of al-Qaida affiliates in the Arab world: The attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and the murder of the U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stephens, was the most violent of the events that occurred in the last week. But it is not connected to some general rage rising in the Arab world, but rather was a pre-planned operation sponsored by al-Qaida. What has happened in the last year is that al-Qaida affiliates have moved more freely than before and established training camps in areas, like Cyrenaica (eastern Libya), where the central government in Libya has only limited control. An identical situation has also been developing in Egyptian Sinai and parts of North Yemen. This is a likely scenario for post-Assad Syria as well. In June, in a rare public appearance, the head of Britain’s MI-5, Jonathan Evans, disclosed that British jihadis were now heading for Libya, Egypt, Yemen, and Syria — the countries of the Arab Spring. He concluded that the Arab world has “once more become a permissive environment for al-Qaida.”

2. The limited ability of the regimes to stop violent protests: A key development that has shaped the way the protests have evolved — and will develop in the future — is the reluctance of the new regimes to firmly put them down. It has been said already that with the Arab Spring, the mobs in Arab capitals have lost their fear of the Arab security services. This allows even the smallest incident to escalate quickly to a major protest that can even threaten the stability of the new regimes.

3. The shared goal of the protestors and the regime to diminish U.S. influence in the Middle East: In Tunisia, Egypt, and Yemen, Islamist regimes with ties to the Muslim Brotherhood have taken power. In Libya, many view its new prime minister as a politician with Muslim Brotherhood ties. The shared goal of these Muslim Brotherhood movements is to reduce U.S. influence in the Middle East, leading eventually to the eviction of America from the region. U.S. strategy has been based on the untested idea that the Muslim Brotherhood will serve as a partner in defeating more extremist movements, like the Salafists. It is true that historically, Muslim Brotherhood regimes have had competitive relations with other Islamist movements, but they have also provided sanctuary to al-Qaida as well, as was the case in Sudan in the 1990s.

The Arab Spring has undoubtedly created new conditions in the Arab world that made the new anti-American wave more likely. What is also clear is that the change of regimes in the Arab world has not improved the prospects of economic prosperity in these countries; indeed, the likelihood of Western investment in states dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood is not very great. If the Arab street assumes that the “horse of the Arab Spring” was an “American horse,” then despite it being totally unfair, Washington will end up sharing the blame for the economic malaise that is likely to afflict these states in the years ahead.

This article was originally published by Israel Hayom.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Arts and Culture Middle East Hamas Commander Reportedly Urges Hezbollah to Join Forces Against Israel

    Hamas Commander Reportedly Urges Hezbollah to Join Forces Against Israel

    JNS.org – Five months after Israeli forces tried to assassinate Hamas military commander Mohammed Deif in Gaza, Deif appears to have signed a letter that the terrorist group claims he wrote in hiding. The letter, addressed to Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah, expressed Deif’s condolences for the death of Hezbollah terrorists during Sunday’s reported Israeli airstrike in Syria. Deif is said to have survived multiple assassination attempts, but he has not been seen in public for years. According to the Hezbollah-linked Al-Manar [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Theater Shlomo Carlebach Musical Has the Soul to Heal Frayed Race Relations

    Shlomo Carlebach Musical Has the Soul to Heal Frayed Race Relations

    JNS.org – The cracks that had been simply painted over for so long began to show in Ferguson, Mo., in November 2014, but in truth they had begun to open wide much earlier—on Saturday, July 13, 2013. That is when a jury in Sanford, Fla., acquitted George Zimmerman of culpability for the death of a 17-year-old black man, Trayvon Martin. The cracks receded from view over time, as other news obscured them. Then came the evening of Aug. 9, 2014, [...]

    Read more →
  • Theater US & Canada ‘Homeland’ Season Finale Stirs Controversy After Comparing Menachem Begin to Taliban Leader

    ‘Homeland’ Season Finale Stirs Controversy After Comparing Menachem Begin to Taliban Leader

    A controversial scene in the season finale of Homeland sparked outrage by comparing former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin to a fictional Taliban leader, the UK’s Daily Mail reported. In the season 4 finale episode, which aired on Dec. 21, CIA black ops director Dar Adal, played by F. Murray Abraham, justifies a deal he made with a Taliban leader by referencing Begin. He makes the remarks in a conversation with former CIA director Saul Berenson, a Jewish character played by Mandy [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Spirituality/Tradition Placing Matisyahu Back Within a Life of Observance

    Placing Matisyahu Back Within a Life of Observance

    Shining Light on Fiction During the North Korea-Sony saga, we learned two important lessons. The first is that there are two sides to this story, and neither of them are correct because ultimately we should have neither inappropriate movies nor dictators. The second is that we cannot remain entirely fixed on the religious world, but we also must see beyond the external, secular view of reality. It’s important to ground our Torah-based thoughts into real-life activism. To view our act [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Nine Decades of Moses at the Movies

    Nine Decades of Moses at the Movies

    JNS.org – Hollywood has had its share of big-budget biblical flops, but until now, the Exodus narrative has not been among them. Studios have brought Moses to the big screen sparingly, but in ways that defined the image and character of Moses for each generation of audiences. The first biblical epic In 1923, director Cecil B. DeMille left it to the American public to decide the subject of his next movie for Paramount. DeMille received a letter from a mechanic [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Exodus on Screen (REVIEW)

    Exodus on Screen (REVIEW)

    JNS.org – The story of the Exodus from Egypt is a tale as old as time itself, to borrow a turn of phrase. It’s retold every Passover, both at the seder table and whenever “The Ten Commandments” is aired on television. But the latest adaptation—Ridley Scott’s epic film, “Exodus: Gods and Kings”—fails to meet expectations. Scott’s “Exodus” alters the source material to service the story and ground the tale, but the attempt to reinvent the biblical narrative becomes laughable. Moses [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Lifestyle ‘Jewish Food Movement’ Comes of Age

    ‘Jewish Food Movement’ Comes of Age

    JNS.org - In December 2007, leaders of the Hazon nonprofit drafted seven-year goals for what they coined as the “Jewish Food Movement,” which has since been characterized by the increased prioritization of healthy eating, sustainable agriculture, and food-related activism in the Jewish community. What do the next seven years hold in store? “One thing I would like to see happen in the next seven years is [regarding] the issue of sugar, soda, and obesity, [seeing] what would it be like to rally the [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Education Seeds of ‘Start-Up Nation’ Cultivated by Israel Sci-Tech Schools

    Seeds of ‘Start-Up Nation’ Cultivated by Israel Sci-Tech Schools

    JNS.org – Forget the dioramas. How about working on an Israeli Air Force drone? That’s exactly the kind of beyond-their-years access enjoyed by students at the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) industrial vocational high school run by Israel Sci-Tech Schools, the largest education network in the Jewish state. More than 300 students (250 on the high school level and 68 at a two-year vocational academy) get hands-on training in the disciplines of aviation mechanics, electricity and energy control, and unmanned air [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.