Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

Former German FM: “The Bright Hope of a New Middle East Has Vanished”

March 6, 2013 1:59 pm 3 comments

Anti-government demonstrations during the 2010-2011 Tunisian uprising.

Germany’s former Foreign Minister sounded a sobering note on the Arab Spring in a recent opinion piece posted to the Project Syndicate website.

Joschka Fischer writes: “Given Syria’s bloody civil war, the rise to power of Islamist forces through free elections, the ever-deepening political and economic crises in Egypt and Tunisia, increasing instability in Iraq, uncertainty about the future of Jordan and Lebanon, and the threat of war over Iran’s nuclear program, the bright hope of a new Middle East has vanished.”

Fischer, who served as Vice Chancellor and Foreign Minister in Gerhard Shroder’s government from 1998-2005 and currently serves on the board of the Arab Democracy Foundation, while not outright critical of the international community’s initial rush to anoint the revolutions of 2011 a success, more or less pointed to history as a warning that many failed to heed: “All of us tend to make the same mistake repeatedly: we think at the beginning of a revolution that freedom and justice have prevailed over dictatorship and cruelty. But history teaches us that what follows is usually nothing good.”

Fischer mostly expresses his concern with the West’s tunnel vision and its inability to evaluate the uprisings with anything beyond a dichotomous approach of good versus bad. “A revolution not only overthrows a repressive regime; it also destroys the old order, paving the way for a mostly brutal, if not bloody, fight for power,” he writes. “Indeed, exceptions to this pattern are rare: South Africa is one, owing to the genius of one of the century’s most outstanding statesmen, Nelson Mandela. The alternative option can be observed in Zimbabwe.”

Fischer dismisses the correlation between the Arab Spring and a post-communist Eastern Europe, saying it is “not an appropriate reference point” as nearly all of these [former communist] countries had a very clear idea about what they wanted: democracy, freedom, a market economy, and protection from the return of the Russian empire.”

Of course the most notable failure of the Arab Spring can perhaps be witnessed in Syria, a country Fischer fears will not only be reduced to a host of violent sectarian conflicts for years to come, but also a country whose ” disintegration could further balkanize the Middle East, potentially unleashing new violence. Frontline states like Lebanon, Iraq, and Jordan will not manage to remain aloof from a disintegrating Syria.”

To conclude Fischer doesn’t outright reject the possibility that progress can be made, but the chances are slim, the light dim, and time a hindrance rather than a help. “Of course, even in the face of this misery, we should not lose hope in agreements reached by diplomatic means; but, realistically, the chances are dwindling every day,” he says, adding, “a new and stable order will take a long time to establish.”

3 Comments

  • another case of not studying history, therefore repeating it.

    sigh…I taught history at the high school level…most of the kids thought it was soooooooooo boreing, cuz it didn’t speak to them, about them…when, in reality, that’s exactly what history (the ‘story’ of mankind) does.

    ebeal

  • E Pluribus Beagle

    For God’s Sake what on earth did they think would happen? Hello. This is the Arab world.

  • I agree and so as is usually the case – all eyes will soon focus back to the collective Jew ie Israel.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition. Comments written in all caps will be deleted.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Book Reviews Opinion The Syrian Virgin (REVIEW)

    The Syrian Virgin (REVIEW)

    The Syrian Virgin, by Zack Love. CreateSpace, 2015. The Syrian Virgin, by Zack Love, is a very interesting novel. Equally a political and romantic thriller, at times a real page-turner, it gets you intimately involved in the dire situation in today’s Syria, as well as in the romantic entanglements of its mostly New York-based characters — whose entanglements just might determine the fate of that dire situation in Syria. Along the way it introduces a really important idea that somehow […]

    Read more →
  • Features Unpacking the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict and Its Ripple Effect on Israel’s Region

    Unpacking the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict and Its Ripple Effect on Israel’s Region

    JNS.org – Aside from Israel itself, those with a vested interest in the Jewish state are accustomed to tracking developments related to Middle East players such as Iran, Syria, Jordan and Egypt. But much global attention has recently focused on the Caucasus region at the Europe-Asia border, specifically on the suddenly intensified violence between Azerbaijan and Armenia in the mountainous Nagorno-Karabakh area of western Azerbaijan. The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, while not taking place in Israel’s immediate neighborhood, does have what one scholar called […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Features Earth Day 2016: Israel Shines in Water Technology, Recycling, Renewable Energy

    Earth Day 2016: Israel Shines in Water Technology, Recycling, Renewable Energy

    JNS.org – On Friday, April 22, 196 nations across the world mark Earth Day, the annual day dedicated to environmental protection that was enacted in 1970. Not to be forgotten on this day is Israel, which is known as the “start-up nation” for its disproportionate amount of technological innovation, including in the area of protecting the environment. For Earth Day 2016, JNS.org presents a sampling of the Jewish state’s internal achievements and global contributions in the environmental realm. Water conservation Israeli […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture World New Documentary Explores Holocaust Humor, Role That Laughter Played in Death Camps

    New Documentary Explores Holocaust Humor, Role That Laughter Played in Death Camps

    Holocaust humor and the role that laughter played in the lives of Jews during World War II are the focus of a documentary that made its world premiere on Monday at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City. In The Last Laugh, first- and second-generation survivors, as well as famous Jewish and non-Jewish comedians, discuss their thoughts on when joking about the death camps is appropriate or taboo. “Nazi humor, that’s OK. Holocaust humor, no,” Jewish comedic giant, actor and filmmaker Mel Brooks says in the film. “Anything I […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Tragedy Culminates in ‘Celebration,’ Says Israeli Author Who Lost Son to Terror

    Tragedy Culminates in ‘Celebration,’ Says Israeli Author Who Lost Son to Terror

    JNS.org – Sherri Mandell’s life was devastated on May 8, 2001, when her 13-year-old son Koby was murdered by terrorists on the outskirts of the Israeli Jewish community of Tekoa. Yet Mandell not only shares the story of her loss, but also celebrates the lessons she has learned from tragedy. Indeed, “celebrate” is this Israeli-American author’s word choice. Her second book, The Road to Resilience: From Chaos to Celebration (Toby Press), came out earlier this year. The lesson: in every celebration, there is […]

    Read more →
  • Features Opinion For Alan Gross, Cuban Prison Didn’t Harden His Heart or Weaken His Ambition

    For Alan Gross, Cuban Prison Didn’t Harden His Heart or Weaken His Ambition

    JNS.org – Alan Gross used to be nothing more to me than a tragic headline. When I started my position at this news service in July 2011, Gross had been imprisoned in Cuba since December 2009 for what that country called “crimes against the state.” Gross, a subcontractor for the United States Agency for International Development, went to Cuba to help the Jewish community there access the Internet. After his arrest, he received a trial he describes as a “B movie,” […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Features New Movie Shows How Global Economic Instability Grew From Very Local Greed

    New Movie Shows How Global Economic Instability Grew From Very Local Greed

    JNS.org – When I saw the recent Academy Award-winning film “The Big Short,” I was struck by the sheer genius of the financiers who devised the schemes and packaged the loans for resale, but it left me with unanswered questions about how the properties these loans represented were moved. “The Big Short” was largely about paper transactions, big money, and wealthy investors, and it mildly touched on the way the actual end-users — the home buyers and brokers — played into this […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Book Reviews Psychiatry and the Spirit

    Psychiatry and the Spirit

    Why do we think so negatively about psychiatrists that we still insult them by calling them shrinks? Some medics might be quacks, but we don’t generally refer to them as witches! Shrinks; The Untold Story of Psychiatry, by Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman, is a sobering account of how psychiatry has swung from a marginal, unscientific mixture of weird theories into one of the most common and pervasive forms of treatment of what are commonly called “disorders of the mind.” Is it […]

    Read more →