Second wave of the Arab Revolt?

05.04.2011 - Trípoli - Luis Ammann

“*The entire Libyan conflict of the last month … is in fact one big distraction – a deliberate distraction – from the principal political struggle in the Arab world. (…) They all want to slow down, channel, co-opt, limit the second Arab revolt and prevent it from changing the basic political realities of the Arab world and its role in the geopolitics of the world-system*”. He affirms

The author recalls other youth rebellions such as the French one in May 1968 that was popularised in the West and offers a starting point for the current conflict, “*the suicide of Mohamed Bouazizi on Dec. 17, 2010 launched a very different process.*” He says. And then explains: “*It was in my view the continuation of the spirit of the world revolution of 1968. In 1968, as in the last few months in the Arab world, the group that had the courage and the will to launch the protest against instituted authority were young people. They were motivated by many things: the arbitrariness and cruelty and corruption of those in authority, their own worsening economic situation, and above all the insistence on their moral and political right to be a major part of determining their own political and cultural destiny. They have also been protesting against the whole structure of the world-system and the ways in which their leaders have been subordinated to the pressures of outside forces.*”

“*These young people were not organized, at least at first. And they were not always totally cognizant of the political scene. But they have been courageous. And, as in 1968, their actions were contagious. Very soon, in virtually every Arab state, without distinction as to foreign policy, they have threatened the established order. When they showed their strength in Egypt, still the key Arab state, everyone began to take them seriously. There are two ways of taking such a revolt seriously. One is to join it and try thereby to control it. And one is to take strong measures to quash it. Both have been tried.*”

“*There were three groups who joined it, underlined by Samir Amin in his analysis of Egypt: the traditional and revivified left, the middle-class professionals, and the Islamists (…) And then there is the army, always the bastion of order, which joined the Egyptian revolt late, precisely in order to limit its effect.*”

“*So, when the uprising began in Libya, it was the direct result of the success of the revolts in the two neighboring countries, Tunisia and Egypt.*”

(…) “*The intervention camp had two components: those for whom any and all military interventions by the West are irresistible, and those who argued the case for humanitarian intervention. (…) The latter group seemed to be winning out, when suddenly the resolution of the Arab League changed the balance of forces.*”

“*How did this happen? The Saudi government worked very hard and effectively to get a resolution passed endorsing the institution of a no-fly zone. (…) This was an instance of the Saudis trying to affect U.S. policy rather than the other way around. And it worked. It tipped the balance.*”

“*What the Saudis wanted, and what they got, was a big distraction from what they thought most urgent, and what they were doing – a crackdown on the Arab revolt, as it affected first of all Saudi Arabia itself, then the Gulf states, then elsewhere in the Arab world.*”

(…) ”*The U.S. military action in Libya is a mistake, even from the narrow point of view of the United States, and even from the point of view of being humanitarian. It won’t end soon.*”

“*In the meantime, the best hope of everyone is that the second Arab revolt renews steam – perhaps a long shot now – and shakes first of all the Saudis.*”

Writer, Journalist and Humanist Politician

*Translation: Silvia Swinden*

Categories: Africa, International, Politics

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