x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Tunisia, Libya and Egypt show variations on the theme of Arab rebellion

A study of three Arab Spring countries shows that complaints turned into revolutions but that revolutions was followed by insurgency, an Arab scholar writes. Also: questions Egyptians should ask their rulers.

Close look at Tunisia, Libya and Egypt reveals differences and similarities of their revolutions

"Is it possible to look at the Arab Spring revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya as phenomena that have similar characteristics? Or are there qualitative differences that make it necessary to distinguish among these revolutions?"

That's what the Egyptian political scientist Sayed Yaseen asked in the London-based Al Hayat.

Social scientists distinguish between the "public survey" method and the "case study" method. The first allows us to highlight the similarities of the three revolutions: all were preceded by hidden or public protest movements against oppressive authoritarian systems.

"And the hidden protest movements emerged in particular in Tunisia through human rights organisations that practised - despite the direct political repression of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali's regime - various forms of protest against the repressive practices of the system," he added.

The Tunisian regime's attempts to suppress these movements led to the arrest of dozens of political activists, and the return of some prominent leaders from exile, including the most famous one, Dr Moncef Marzouki, who became the temporary president of the republic.

In Egypt, the protest movements in the last years of the rule of the former president, Hosni Mubarak were in form of labour strikes against social injustice.

"And if we turn to the Libyan revolution, we see that Muammar Qaddafi's authoritarian regime had succeeded in suppressing and crushing all signs of protest through brutal means."

Thus, we can say that using the survey method on the three revolutions shows that all of them were concentrated in the form of protest movements by elites while the masses were faced with suppression by authoritarian systems," the political scientist said.

But applying the case study approach reveals some qualitative differences among the three revolutions.

The results of this approach can't be understood unless we focused on "the next day of the revolution". This day is never less important than the day of the revolution itself, because what happens next is what determines the fate of any revolution.

What happened on the next day of the Tunisian revolution? National powers agreed to organise elections to constituent a democratic assembly to prepare the country for the next stage.

The elections were held and won by the Ennahda Party, led by Islamic Sheikh Rashid Ghannouchi, who decided on the basis of rational political wisdom that he could not govern Tunisia alone.

And so Dr Marzouki was chosen as temporary president of the republic, a member of the opposition as head of the Constituent Assembly, and the prime minister from Ennahda.

But nowadays, there is a beginning of a political crisis after the withdrawal of about 73 members of the Constituent Assembly, and the opposition's demand for a change of government.

In Egypt, unlike in Tunisia, the Muslim Brotherhood and their Freedom and Justice Party imposed their theory of political consensus to get full power - especially after the success of Mr Morsi in the presidential elections. They excluded all opposition parties, until Mr Morsi was toppled by a military coup backed by popular protests.

But the Brotherhood rejected the demands of the Egyptian masses and organised sit-ins; these met a deadly clampdown in recent days from the military and security forces.

In Libya, the rebellion against the revolution took various forms, notably, the refusal of some tribal militias to give up their arms; instead they practised systematic aggression against the state and its institutions.

"Thus we can say that for in Tunisia and Egypt and Libya, what began as positive rebellion movements against authoritarian ruling regimes turned into complete revolutions.

The political fallout in each of the three countries during the transition period led to the emergence of chaotic insurgency against the revolutionary authorities; this insurgency in each case came into being after the revolution."

So each country moved from a state of rebellion to a state of revolution, and then went back again with various cases of rebellion. These still need an integrated study of their root causes.

Egyptians should ask rulers a few questions

It is possible to oppose the Muslim Brotherhood, and its supporters' attacks on churches and police stations, and at the same time to believe that violent "solutions" will only complicate problems. But why do so many Egyptians fail to understand that, columnist Bilal Fadl asked in the Cairo-based Al Shorouk.

Egyptians should ask a few questions before they are prohibited from doing so, he added.

Where are the heavy weapons that the media said were in pro-Morsi protest camps? Why haven't we heard any officials comment on dozens of videotapes that showed unarmed protesters being shot in the head and chest by snipers, especially since many of these victims had been trying to carry the wounded to safety, or to film the events?

Why hasn't a single Egyptian media outlet broadcast pictures and names of the victims of the bloody clampdown on the two pro-Morsi camps, if not out of respect for their humanity, then out of respect for viewers' right to information?

"My questions are not addressed to the facade president Adly Mansour, but to the de factor rulers who are responsible for the killings, namely Prime Minister Hazem El Beblawi and Defence Minister Abdel Fattah Al Sisi," he said.


* Digest compiled by The Translation Desk