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...

  • Music Personalities Recycling His Roots

    Recycling His Roots

    JNS.org – Having started his career playing on his family’s pots and pans, Jewish musician Billy Jonas has maintained this homemade performance ethic while spreading his messages of simple living and environmentalism to a shared home throughout the world. After beginning in the kitchen, Jonas soon moved to the music room, where he picked up the piano, guitar, and trombone. These days, the multi-talented multi-instrumentalist plays on with pretty much anything he can find, including cans, bottles buckets, and other recycled-object [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Personalities Jewish Renewal Movement Founder’s Insights Form a New Guide for Senior Living

    Jewish Renewal Movement Founder’s Insights Form a New Guide for Senior Living

    JNS.org – Sara Davidson’s The December Project is a new book that should be read by all senior citizens, and by those who hope to live a long life, for it raises a question that most of us have not been taught how to answer: What should we do in that final stage of our lives? Many of us continue working past the traditional retirement age of 65, not because we need the money and not because we find the [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Jewish History Why the Holocaust Occurred in Germany, and Why So Few Resisted (REVIEW)

    Why the Holocaust Occurred in Germany, and Why So Few Resisted (REVIEW)

    It’s hard to make a new contribution to the field of Holocaust studies,  but German historian Götz Aly accomplishes just that in Why the Germans, Why the Jews? His premise is that the origins of the Holocaust were rooted in the specific anti-Semitism found in Germany in the decades and centuries before World War II. Aly (who is not Jewish) seeks to prove his theory by studying only pre-Holocaust history, and tracing how the German people’s envy and hatred of [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Looking at Anti-Israel Celebrities and Their Brands

    Looking at Anti-Israel Celebrities and Their Brands

    JNS.org – During the current conflict in Gaza a number of celebrities have voiced their opinions in support of either the Israeli or Palestinian positions. But others—be it during Operation Protective Edge or at other times—have gone further than simply supporting the Palestinians by actively supporting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, making false accusations about the Jewish state, ignoring Israel’s position on the conflict, or justifying the actions of the terrorist group Hamas. Many of these [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Sports Israeli UFC Fighter Returns to Jewish State to Rejoin IDF

    Israeli UFC Fighter Returns to Jewish State to Rejoin IDF

    JNS.org – Days after winning his Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) featherweight bout against Steven Siler on July 26, Israeli-born mixed martial arts competitor Noad Lahat boarded a plane for his native country, choosing to temporarily exit UFC’s octagonal cage to rejoin the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) as a paratrooper for its operation against Hamas in Gaza. Except he didn’t actually consider it a choice. “When [our] home is in danger, there is no other way for us [but to serve [...]

    Read more →
  • Education Why We Should Invest in Jewish Children

    Why We Should Invest in Jewish Children

    JNS.org – My wife Suzy and I will never forget our wedding day. It was not just the uplifting ceremony and beautiful party that left an indelible mark. Some life-altering advice that we received from one of our guests informed and shaped our lives from that day forward. My high school teacher, Rabbi Moshe Yagid, pulled us aside just before the chuppah and challenged us to choose one mitzvah that would be the foundation of our marriage and our lives. He explained [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Sports LeBron James’ New Coach Shaped by Summer on Kibbutz and Jewish ‘Life Lessons’

    LeBron James’ New Coach Shaped by Summer on Kibbutz and Jewish ‘Life Lessons’

    JNS.org – Influenced by his Jewish upbringing and a summer on a kibbutz, basketball coach David Blatt is embarking on his highest-profile challenge yet: coaching LeBron James, the four-time National Basketball Association (NBA) Most Valuable Player who has made waves for returning to his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers. After guiding Israel’s storied Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball franchise to its 51st Israeli league championship and 6th Euroleague title this past season, Blatt landed the Cavaliers head-coaching job in June. Just weeks later, [...]

    Read more →
  • Food Jewish Identity Young Syrian Jewish Restauranteur Continues a Family Legacy

    Young Syrian Jewish Restauranteur Continues a Family Legacy

    JNS.org – At the turn of the century, a young Jewish immigrant arrived in New York. So begins the history of many American Jewish families. It is 27-year-old Albert Allaham’s story, too, with a few unusual twists. Albert’s “century” is the 21st—he arrived almost 100 years after the massive waves of European Jewish immigration. Rather than coming from a small town along the Danube river, his shtetl was Damascus. His first American business was not a pushcart on the Lower East [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.