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 Theater US & Canada New Play Explores the ‘Arrogance’ of American Jews Critical of Israel, Playwright Says

    New Play Explores the ‘Arrogance’ of American Jews Critical of Israel, Playwright Says

    In his new play Mr. Goldberg Goes to Tel Aviv, playwright Oren Safdie tackles an issue that he has a major concern with: the relationship between Israelis and left-leaning Diaspora Jews with their “I know better” critical views. At the heart of the one-act play is Tony, a Jewish and gay Palestinian sympathizer who expresses strong anti-Israel sentiments when the play begins and at one point even sides with a Palestinian terrorist who holds his captive. Tony, who is also an [...]

    Read more →
  • Music US & Canada Hassidic Parody of Taylor Swift Song Apes Long Jewish Holidays (VIDEO)

    Hassidic Parody of Taylor Swift Song Apes Long Jewish Holidays (VIDEO)

    A Jewish comedy troupe released a parody video on Wednesday of Taylor Swift’s hit song Shake It Off in which they joke about taking extensive time off from work for Jewish holidays. “And the goyim gonna stay, stay, stay, stay, stay. And the Jews are gonna pray, pray pray, pray, pray. I’m just gonna take, take, take, take, take. I’m taking off,” goes the chorus for I’m Taking Off. Menachem Weinstein, the video’s lead singer, is the creative director at [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish Literature On 75th Anniversary, Looking at the Jewish Influence on Gone With the Wind

    On 75th Anniversary, Looking at the Jewish Influence on Gone With the Wind

    JNS.org – The 75th anniversary of the premiere of “Gone with the Wind” on Dec. 15 presents an opportunity to examine the Jewish influence on one of the most popular films of all time. That influence starts with the American Civil War epic’s famed producer, David O. Selznick. Adjusted for inflation, “Gone with the Wind” remains the highest-grossing movie ever made. It earned the 1939 Academy Award for Best Picture, the same honor another Selznick film, “Rebecca,” garnered in 1940. Selznick [...]

    Read more →
  • Featured Music US & Canada EXCLUSIVE: Matisyahu Provides Most Extensive Analysis Yet of His Religious, Musical Evolution (INTERVIEW)

    EXCLUSIVE: Matisyahu Provides Most Extensive Analysis Yet of His Religious, Musical Evolution (INTERVIEW)

    Matisyahu got candid in an exclusive interview with The Algemeiner on Monday about his religious and musical journey – after shedding his Chassidic skin, yarmulke, long beard and all – from the start of his career in 2005 when he became a reggae superstar with hits King Without a Crown and Jerusalem. The singer-songwriter embarks on his Festival of Light tour this month, an annual Hanukkah event that stops in Montreal, New York, and other cities before ending in San Juan, [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Personalities ‘Sheriff of Mars’ Unveils Endearing Life of Jewish Music Star Hidden in the Fields of France

    ‘Sheriff of Mars’ Unveils Endearing Life of Jewish Music Star Hidden in the Fields of France

    JNS.org – It was an era of steel strings, guitar heroes, and storytellers—high on heroin, rebellious. Outlaw country music, the hallmark of Nashville’s powerful and angry music scene of the 1970s, was the brew of greats such as Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, and Townes Van Zandt. But there is another, little-known music hero of that era: Daniel Antopolsky. A Jewish lad from Augusta, Ga.—the son of immigrants who settled in the south and ran a hardware store on Main Street—the [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada Iranian Actress Replaces Israel’s Gal Gadot for ‘Ben-Hur’ Remake

    Iranian Actress Replaces Israel’s Gal Gadot for ‘Ben-Hur’ Remake

    Iranian actress Nazanin Boniadi replaced Israeli star Gal Gadot as the female lead in the new Ben-Hur remake, Hollywood.com reported on Tuesday. The Homeland actress will play Esther, a slave that Ben-Hur sets free and falls in love with. Gadot quit the movie when it became clear that filming conflicted with her schedule for the Man of Steel sequel. The Israeli actress plays Wonder Woman in the superhero film Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Actor Jack Huston takes on the [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Personalities Biography Sheds New Light on David Ben-Gurion’s Place in Jewish History

    Biography Sheds New Light on David Ben-Gurion’s Place in Jewish History

    JNS.org – There is one sentence in “Ben-Gurion: Father of Modern Israel” that made me sit up in surprise. I thought that I knew the basic facts about how Israel came into being, but while describing what it was like in the days and hours before the state was declared, author Anita Shapira provides one important anecdote I was not aware of. On the 12th of May, the Zionist Executive met to decide what to do. Moshe Sharrett had just returned [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada ‘Death of Klinghoffer’ Actress Compares Met Opera to ‘Schindler’s List’

    ‘Death of Klinghoffer’ Actress Compares Met Opera to ‘Schindler’s List’

    An actress starring in the controversial Met Opera The Death of Klinghoffer defended the show on Tuesday by comparing it to the 1993 Holocaust film Schindler’s List, New York Post reported. “To me, this was like [the movie] Schindler’s List. We make art so people won’t forget,’’ said the actress, who plays a captured passenger in the show and asked not to be identified. The Met Opera focuses on the infamous murder of Lower East Side Jewish resident Leon Klinghoffer, 69. The wheelchair-bound father of [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.