I have often wondered about the consequences of the revolutions across the Middle East. Many believe that these were inevitable and eventually there would be an outcry for autocratic regimes to be toppled and replaced by a democratic election process. In fact, when the Arab spring started the common themes uniting Tunisia, Libya and Egypt were in fact high unemployment, poverty and an increase in food and energy prices. What has resulted has been astonishing. On one level three major regimes were toppled the Tunisian, Egyptian and Libya. Over night the major world powers went from supporting regimes to calling for each leader to step down, WHY?
I want to focus on both Egypt and Syria. Morsi has been elected in Egypt and represents the Muslim Brotherhood. In Syria a battle is still raging between Assad and the “rebels”. Who are the rebels?
What has Morsi achieved since gaining powers? He has allowed for Egypt to suffer and the Egyptians to suffer. Those who had taken to the streets calling for freedom, human rights and equality have been cheated. The youth movement in Egypt who could have encouraged a real democracy to emerge have found themselves worse off under Morsi than they were under Mubarak. Morsi has given himself the title of The New Pharaoh, he assumed overall powers and re-drafted a constitution for his own interests. This is the democracy in Egypt. Of course demonstrators took to the streets and his re-draft of the constitution was yet again re-drafted and elections took place. Egypt will have another revolution the people were smart to rally against Mubarak they will not be daft to keep Morsi and Morsi knows that he too will be toppled. The revolution has not finished.
Syria, Assad, what the hell are you doing? As a leader he has during his time before the revolution protected sectarian divisions and maintained a balance and within Syria. Small factions want to cause trouble and they grouped together inspired by events in Tunisia, Libya and Egypt thinking that they too could toppled Assad. How wrong were they? What makes Syria unique is that Assad has to a large extent pleased everyone. Assad has to a large extent maintained an iron fist over society and not allowed other groups to form and to establish themselves as a major opposition. In fact, if Assad were toppled who would replace him? What would happen? Assad should have been smarter from the beginning, he should have listened to the people and allowed for an election to occur. No one was ready to oppose him because to an extent he had a majority of supporters and would definitely won a greater percentage in votes. He should have listened to the demands of the people and removed changed parts of the constitution. Assad did not play his cards right; In fear of his position and keeping an eye on the emerging political landscape Assad appeared to have lost confidence. However, what he has achieved now for Syria appears to be a civil war based along both ethnic and sectarian divides. Syria could well find itself in a situation not dissimilar to the Lebanese Civil War and that lasted for fifteen years.
Regardless of what happens in Syria the shift that has created the biggest fear within the region is the rise in radical Islam. This rise in radical Islam can not lead to anything positive for the region and for the worlds major powers. Firstly, minority religions and ethnic groups will suffer and that is a certainty. Secondly, ties with Israel and the Western world will suffer. It is not in the interest of the major powers in the long term to continue to support the opposition groups within the MENA region unless they are supporting truly secular and democratic opposition groups.