Many countries in the Middle East are in political turmoil and even civil war since the Arab Spring revolution that began in 2010. Was the Arab Spring a big political mistake?

Prescott Valley, AZ Correspondent-The Arab Spring was a major political mistake because of its ripple effect on the many countries in the region and the reluctance of America and its allies to thwart the resulting disasters. The inability of the Obama administration to respond in the appropriate manner to the Arab Spring uprising was a huge challenge that was not dealt with appropriately. The ramifications of those continued uprisings, protests and terrorist activities will be passed on to President-elect Donald Trump to sort out and some day resolve.  

The fracturing  and dismantling of authoritarian state systems, which had been in place for years throughout the Middle East, and the rise of major radical groups such as ISIS (Islamic State) have been nothing short of disastrous for the countries in the region, not to mention dealing with the unsettling and dangerous upheavals that have resulted from the turmoil. The people in the region have been seriously affected as have American interests.

The greatest mistakes of America and its allies were in not devising, establishing and implementing adequate programs to replace authoritarian rule as well as the rebuilding and restoring of those countries that were subjected to the effects of the Arab Spring. The resulting conflicts and devastation have become insurmountable. Removing dictators in that region is far easier than rebuilding new and alternative governing structures.

Mistakes were made in condoning, following and supporting unbalanced regimes such as that of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and its deposed leader Mohamed Morsi.  On one end of the spectrum, the leadership of Hosni Mubarak was supported by the United States for decades until he was toppled by extremists in the Muslim Brotherhood that were backed by the Obama administration. Further intrusion was apparent concerning succeeding regimes after Morsi, which did nothing to endear America with the Egyptian debacle.

Conflicts throughout the region brought on by the Arab Spring, and exacerbated by the lack of productive solutions encouraged both real and perceived indifference to the tragedies and sufferings of those trapped in combat zones.  Holding back and procrastination only served to make the situation more complicated, insurmountable and seemingly unending.

The mistakes made by the United States and others must be corrected if there are to be better outcomes in dealing with those affected in Middle Eastern countries.  The current administration cannot claim that it responded in the right way to the uprisings or that they were not part of the quest to topple regimes there and create support for questionable replacements.  There is no confidence in what the administration has said it would do in the form of strategies to remove leaders in the region, particularly in Syria.  The refusal and reluctance to follow through with bolder initiatives created stagnation and emboldened Islamic terrorists in the region to continue with their attacks. There has always been continued talk of local forces taking control and stabilizing national and regional security, but there is nothing beyond this plan to cover the inadequacies of those who would defend the region, even with training through the American military.  This reluctance and inconsistency has created a political void that has allowed ISIS and affiliated groups to maintain strongholds in the region.

The inconsistency with American strategy has done little to nothing to stop the threat of extremism, and if the United States is going to help the people in the region, new approaches are of dire need.  Those approaches should include rebuilding and stabilizing countries in the region, providing safe zones or havens for fleeing residents of ISIS infiltrated areas, instituting the rule of law and democratic institutions and securing multilateral actions with the total commitment and involvement of the Middle Eastern countries in question.

The Arab Spring upset the balance in the Middle East, and it was a political mistake.  In order to restore some semblance of civility and respect for human rights, there must be cooperation on the part of the countries involved as well as American commitment to create and implement measures to put an end to violent extremism. 

Owatonna, MN Correspondent-Syria is embroiled in a violent civil war. Egypt has been shaken and reverted to a military government. Iraq is still split between tribes even though the U.S. left the country in relative peace several years ago. ISIS has emerged as the new terrorist bully on the block. All these problems imply that the popular political uprising called the Arab Spring has been a failure.

The apparent goal of the myriad protesters region-wide in the Middle East was to shake off the puppet governments that had been installed and/or supported in these countries by the world superpowers at the time: the United States, the Soviet Union, Great Britain, and France. One cannot deny that tyrannical rulers such as the Shah of Iran, Saddam Hussein, and Muammar Gaddafi were oppressors and reviled by most of the citizenry.

But would the millions of protesters have reconsidered if they knew their uprising would result in the current chaos? Maybe. But maybe revolutions are slow, cultural changes even slower, and one can’t judge the final value of a revolution in less than ten years.

If ISIS is destroyed or at least marginalized; if Syrian rebels eventually overcome their ruler, Bashar al-Assad; if Iraq’s three main warring tribes—Sunni, Shiite, and, Kurds—eventually solve their differences; and if the other political struggles in the region are eventually resolved in a more-or-less democratic fashion, then perhaps the Arab Spring will have been well worth the cost in lives, money, and peace.

Many of these countries were created by the victors of the two World Wars in the last century. Arbitrary borders were drawn that failed to account for tribes, cultures, and religions. This forced together people who may have had deep hatred and distrust of their neighbors going back centuries. It only makes sense that neighbors are always better off resolving their differences directly in a manner that benefits both sides and allows them to co-exist in peace. Rich, powerful white men thousands of miles away who only have an economic interest in the Middle East’s oil have created a cascade of socio-political unintended consequences that have imploded and will not be resolved for many years.



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