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...

  • Book Reviews Personalities How a Jewish Leader With 3 Months to Live Created a ‘Seminar’ on Life

    How a Jewish Leader With 3 Months to Live Created a ‘Seminar’ on Life

    JNS.org – What would you do if you found out that you had only three more months to live? Gordon Zacks was a successful businessman, a leader of Jewish life, and a confidante and adviser to President George H.W. Bush. He knew that he had prostate cancer, but doctors advised him that it was very slow-growing and nothing to worry about. Then came the day when the doctors told him his cancer metastasized to his liver, and that he had [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Theater 10 Things I Learned From My Play About Holocaust Denial

    10 Things I Learned From My Play About Holocaust Denial

    Last month, my one-man show Hoaxocaust! Written and performed by Barry Levey with the generous assistance of the Institute for Political and International Studies, Tehran ran in the New York International Fringe Festival, where it won an Overall Excellence Award. The play has now been selected to run in the Fringe Encores Series at Baruch College’s Performing Arts Center, for four performances which started on Thursday, September 11. Getting the play to the stage was not easy, however. Here are [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Israel Israeli Music Producer Racks Up Over 535,000 YouTube Hits – in Two Days

    Israeli Music Producer Racks Up Over 535,000 YouTube Hits – in Two Days

    Phenomenon: Tel Aviv-based musician and “sampler” extraordinaire, Kutiman (aka Ophir Kutiel) has hit another one out of the park with “Give It Up,” a fully-functioning song in its own right, assembled from hundreds of ameteur and instructional music videos. The Jerusalem-born musical prodigy is best know for his diverse online musical projects. In the latest video, uploaded to YouTube on Sept. 12th, Kutiel thanked most of the musicians and individuals he chose to include in the meticulously-edited clip, which opens with [...]

    Read more →
  • Theater US & Canada Behind-the-Scenes Reel of Ridley Scott’s Moses Epic Shows Scenes Using 4000 Extras (VIDEO)

    Behind-the-Scenes Reel of Ridley Scott’s Moses Epic Shows Scenes Using 4000 Extras (VIDEO)

    A recently released behind-the-scenes reel of Ridley Scott’s upcoming film Exodus: Gods and Kings shows just how far the director has gone to portray one of the Bible’s most famous narratives. In the clip, which shows scenes involving up to 4,000 extras, the visionary director discusses what drew him to the biblical tale of Moses. “The Moses story was a massive challenge, which I really love. I wanted to explore the complexity of his character and I was stunned by [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish Identity Turner Classic Movies Showcases ‘Broad Sweep’ of the Jewish Experience on Film

    Turner Classic Movies Showcases ‘Broad Sweep’ of the Jewish Experience on Film

    JNS.org – Since 2006, the Turner Classic Movies (TCM) cable and satellite TV network has hosted “The Projected Image,” a month-long showcase examining how different cultural and ethnic groups have been portrayed on the big screen. At last, after previously covering African Americans, Asians, the LGBT community, Latinos, Native Americans, Arabs, and people with disabilities, the annual series is delving into Jewish film this month. “The Projected Image: The Jewish Experience on Film,” whose first segment aired Sept. 2, runs [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Jewish Identity An Inside Look at the Hasidim (REVIEW)

    An Inside Look at the Hasidim (REVIEW)

    The sight of young girls in pinafores and young boys wearing peyos – sidelocks – dangling over their ears is a sure sign that you have entered the enigmatic precincts of the Hasidim – the pious ones. Veteran New York Times journalist Joseph Berger’s new book, THE PIOUS ONES: The World of Hasidim and their Battles with America, takes the reader on a journey into the enclaves where various sects of Jews live a seemingly outmoded way of life in [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish Identity How Jewish Television Pioneer Milton Berle Inspired Modern Comedy Stars

    How Jewish Television Pioneer Milton Berle Inspired Modern Comedy Stars

    JNS.org – Today’s comedy superstars, especially those whose careers are driven by television, may very well owe their success to pioneering Jewish entertainer Milton Berle. Born Mendel Berlinger in Manhattan in 1908, Berle became America’s first small-screen star. Aptly nicknamed “Mr. Television,” he influenced and helped promote the work of hundreds of younger comics. “Milton Berle was deceptively successful and very Jewish,” says Lawrence Epstein, author of The Haunted Smile: The Story of Jewish Comedians in America, published the year [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Sports Jewish ‘Hoops Whisperer’ a Secret Weapon for NBA Stars

    Jewish ‘Hoops Whisperer’ a Secret Weapon for NBA Stars

    JNS.org – Idan Ravin’s friends chipped in to buy him a humble but life-changing bar mitzvah gift—a basketball hoop his father attached to the roof of his garage. Little did his friends know that years later, he would be the personal trainer of National Basketball Association (NBA) stars Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant, Dwight Howard, and Stephen Curry. Ravin’s new book, “The Hoops Whisperer: On the Court and Inside the Head of Basketball’s Best Players,” details his rise from a Jewish upbringing [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.