March 24, 2016 Special Dispatch No. 6361

'Al-Sharq Al-Awsat' Columnist: The Arab Spring Exposed The Failure Of All Shades Of Arab Opposition

March 24, 2016
Sudan | Special Dispatch No. 6361

In his column in the London-based Saudi daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, 'Uthman Al-Mirghani argued that the Arab Spring had exposed not only the failure of the Arab regimes, but also the various Arab oppositions' failure to constitute an alternative to the tyrannical regimes that had been brought down. He stated that these oppositions, of all political shades - liberal, leftist, rightist, and Islamic - were just as opportunistic, egocentric, and dictatorial as the regimes they had deposed. Furthermore, he wrote, they had distanced themselves from the Arab peoples so much that the peoples now yearned for the previous regimes. In light of the powerlessness and failure of all the oppositions in the Arab world, he added, it is no wonder that the young people have abandoned them and turned to the 'online party' as an arena for opposition and for voicing their distress."

Below are translated excerpts from the column:[1]

'Uthman Al-Mirghani (Image:

"Many maintain that the 'Arab Spring' failed to actualize even one of the hopes and dreams pinned on it in its initial days and months - and that, on the contrary, it even led the region to a series of disasters and crises. Undoubtedly, there are many factors in how the fleeting '[Arab] Spring ended as it did, in chaos, crises and wars...

"[However,] what is most important of all is that the Arab Spring exposed not only our crisis and the crisis of the regimes against which the peoples rose up, but also the failure of the [various] Arab oppositions to present themselves as a convincing, credible alternative [to these regimes] that could actualize the peoples' hopes and aspirations. The crisis of the Arab oppositions definitely preceded the Arab Spring, but is etched more deeply in the people's minds [since the Arab Spring] because of these oppositions' frustrating performance, the disappointing outcomes[of their actions], and the current regression, wars, and chaos.

"The widespread impression today is that the weakness of the opposition parties and groups, and likewise their internal division and their intense preoccupation with their own interests and dreams of power, have distanced them from the people, and they have become detached from the issues that preoccupy the people. For this reason, [these opposition elements] can no longer convince [the people] that they are fit to rule as an option that is better than the regimes that they oppose. To prove this, we need only point out that today the people are lamenting, yearning for the past and for the era of the regimes that [the opposition elements] brought down, against the backdrop of widespread fear that change could mean [only] chaos and wars.

"The problem with the Arab oppositions is not with a specific stream of thought, but is general and crosses ideological boundaries. It includes the liberal streams as well as parties of the left or those who wield religious slogans. Many of the opposition parties accusing the existing regimes of tyranny are, within themselves, undemocratic. Thus, for example, some opposition leaders' leadership of their own parties predates the regimes of the rulers whom they oppose and accuse of dictatorship and of stubbornly clinging to power. The leftist parties have, in the eyes of the people, become a model of the elitism that is sunk in developing theories, while the Islamic parties have become a model of egocentrism and opportunism.

"In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood showed an additional model, according to which the Islamic Arab parties, or most of them, tend to impose a dictatorship because they do not believe in democracy. They adopt it as a tactic only in order to attain their objectives, and when they take power, their true face is revealed, and they turn to tyranny and absolute rule. In Sudan, the Islamists carried out a military coup against democracy when they were still part of the parliament, and saw fit to impose their rule with tanks instead of obeying the ballot box.

"Some may argue that the Islamic parties in Tunisia and Morocco are currently presenting a different model, and that they have proven their desire for a peaceful and democratic transfer of power. A response to this is that, while the experience in both these countries justifiably sparks hope, it is [just] at the beginning of its path, and we must wait and monitor it to see how it develops before taking a stand on it.

"It is not only the Islamists who have not passed the test of democracy. The left, with its communist and national parties, has also [failed it],by turning to coups that they call revolutions; the region's history is rife with examples [of such revolutions] that have left in their wake dictatorships, wars and crises. There are of course other streams and parties, that transcend the label of political left and religious right, but they too are helpless and failing, like the other Arab oppositions, with all their elements.

"So it is no wonder that the young people have abandoned the traditional opposition, as became clear in the Arab Spring revolutions, and have turned to what can be called 'the online party' as an arena for opposition and for voicing their distress... The young people are not alone in this, of course, because frustration becomes generalized when people see the internecine wars and the internal rift - such as in Libya, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen - that is caused by the failure of the political elites and opposition [there]...

"The Arab Spring...was not a message just to the regimes, as some people think. Its outcomes are an indictment of the Arab oppositions, which seem, to this day, not to have gotten the message."



[1]  Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), January 21, 2016.

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