The Arab Spring Revolutions’ Deviations: Have They Started in Palestine?

Prof. As’ad Abdul Rahman

Historically, people will not ask who was right when the first Palestinian schism took place in the late twenties of last century between the Jerusalemite ‘Husseini camp’ led by the Mufti of Palestine Haj Amin al-Husseini and the ‘Nashashibi camp’ led by Ragheb al-Nashashibi. This split along with other major factors, led to the loss of 78.5% of the historic land of Palestine. Currently, nothing new then to see the Palestinian national project losing its direction because of the present schism between Fateh and Hamas.

The Palestinian crisis of failure to unite persisted when the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was established in 1964, led by the late Ahmed al-Shuqairi, amid the boycott of the resistance factions at the time, especially the Fatah movement. The latter considered the Organization an Arab project to dominate the Palestinian national action. But the current Fateh/ Hamas crisis has degenerated into a dangerous reality of division that has sadly led to the emergence of two opposing political entities under Israeli occupation/blockade.

It has been said that the ‘real Arab spring’ began in Palestine in the first comprehensive Palestinian uprising (1987). This intifada quickly gave rise to pricey results (Oslo accords, colonization and Judaization of Jerusalem) that cast a heavy shadow on nationalist achievements. Before the phenomenon of ‘Arab Spring’ turned into a devastating disaster, disappointing to many people who believed that this movement (well-intentioned but hard-won for many reasons) was the path leading to real change in the Arab world, the first deviation from course, took place in the Palestinian arena as earlier mentioned. It happened when the serious differences between two different ideological and political movements (Fatah and Hamas) led to the emergence of two “sovereign” authorities. The first was positioned in the West Bank and the second in the Gaza Strip, thus the political, ideological and organizational separation turned into a geographical one!!!

With the outbreak of the ‘Arab Spring’ revolutions, the Arab peoples with their broad social spectrum, were suffering from the tyranny of the ‘double chemical mix’ of corruption and oppression of the ruling regimes that suppressed their peoples for long decades, leading them to a an abyss of backwardness at various levels. With the occurrence of such ‘revolutions’ that aimed to deepen roots of an ‘Arab spring’ and dismantle the multi-dimensional social injustice, they were seen by many people as underlying heavy prices, destroying -as in the first Palestinian uprising- many achievements, yet, appearing as a simultaneous victory of the ‘counter-revolution’ or the ‘deep state’ in more than a country.

The latter, with all their components and alliances (military apparatuses, intelligence, judicial system, intellectuals, administrators, politicians, media people, and religious figures) have proven their ability to swerve from the path of ‘Arab Spring’. It is not a state within the state, but rather the state itself with its institutions, organs, and media, cultural and religious frameworks. Across the capitals of the ‘Arab spring’, there is a violent/ bloody coup that tears apart in the components of the fabric of their societies. Indeed, it proved to be very painful that that the new leaders in the Arab Spring capitals failed to fill the political vacuum that existed. The most serious development was the eruption of sectarian tensions at religious levels and within existing tribal and class divisions. Thus, sectarian, doctrinal and ethnic conflicts pervaded the Arab popular body involving Copts and Moslems in Egypt, the Sunni/Alawite/Kurdish circles in Syria, as well as the Sunni/Shiite/Arab and Kurdish communities in Iraq. Existing divisions in Bahrain and Yemen are also other example.

Many achievements have been made as a result of the so-called Arab Spring which broke the barrier of fear, now and in the future, as well as the ruler’s contempt and marginalization of his people. The sanctity of the ruler, his authority and regime has also been torn down. The ability of the citizen to make a change has been expanded, accountability of leaders established, and the multifaceted political, economic, media and social tyranny brought down. The youth were engaged in the process of change and opportunities opened up to them as mechanisms of ballot boxes’ fraud have been restricted and the deep state exposed. Yet, while such achievements were felt by the Arab citizens as a result of their ‘spring’, the absence of leadership and alternative programs and with accusations of disloyalty, hardened demands and inability to accept opposing views, along with the intimidation of the deep state, the path of the Arab Spring was bound to stray. The outcomes were serious with strikes directed to Arab national states, some of them fragmented or their resources plundered either by destroying their power as the case was in Iraq which faces the threat of fragmentation and division or the failure of Syria as a state. Egypt, Libya and Yemen also have their problems.

Deviation from the path is the name of the current Arab stage. Fruitless years have been passing on with the Arab blood flowing on the streets, only to discover that there have been no revolutions but partitioning and fragmentation of the already divided. What we see are serious deviations from the course of the ‘spring’ that once raised high hopes of the possibility of getting rid of the dictatorial regimes and building a democracy capable of saving the Arab peoples of dependency and underdevelopment.

Unfortunately, Arab opposition groups (possibly the people) were not able to build solid positions to block the road in order to prevent deviation of the ‘Arab spring’ from its path which led to collapse into the labyrinth of destructive civil wars. Hopes are faltering now as a result of the domination and intervention of powers with special agendas who hate to see Arabs make their way to freedom, equality and social justice. Under such a dark situation, would optimistic views that believe that peoples never fail to progress and that history, despite deviations and faults, moves forward, come true? It is a difficult question at this critical time of Arab history.