IN­TER­NA­TIONAL

Arab Awak­en­ing - A Myth?

Southasia - - Front page - By Tayyab Siddiqui

Sel­dom has ide­al­ism in­flu­enced the judg­ment of po­lit­i­cal an­a­lysts as much as is ev­i­dent in the col­or­ful in­ter­pre­ta­tions and pro­jec­tions of the “Arab re­volt” and the “Arab spring” in the wake of mass protests in Tu­nisia and Egypt and regime changes there. Po­lit­i­cal pun­dits spoke in glow­ing terms of the “Jas­mine Rev­o­lu­tion” in Tu­nis and the “Demo­cratic Tsunami” in Cairo. There is now a sense of be­wil­der­ment if not frus­tra­tion. The pre­dic­tions have gone awry and pro­jec­tions are off the mark. The Arab Spring has failed to blos­som.

His­tor­i­cally the sim­mer­ing dis­con­tent in Arab so­ci­eties was first dis­played in the elec­tions in Gaza and West Bank in the Jan­uary 2006 elec­tions. Against all as­sess­ment the PLO was trounced in the Pales­tinian elec­tions and Ha­mas emerged as the ma­jor­ity party in Gaza.

Yasser Arafat held sway for 25 years un­til his death in Novem­ber 2004 and while the PLO had a demo­cratic struc­ture with a Pales­tinian National Coun­cil and a Cen­tral Com­mit­tee, all ma­jor de­ci­sions were taken by Yasser Arafat and his tow­er­ing per­son­al­ity dom­i­nated the in­sti­tu­tions. In the process of lead­ing Pales­tini­ans to­wards state­hood and re­turn of oc­cu­pied ter­ri­to­ries, Arafat com­mit­ted ma­jor blun­ders such as sup­port of Sad­dam Hus­sein in his ag­gres­sion against Kuwait, recog­ni­tion of Is­rael and sign­ing of the Oslo Ac­cords with­out cred­i­ble U.S. as­sur­ances or a mech­a­nism of com­pli­ance of its pro­vi­sions which, in­ter alia, stip­u­lated the cre­ation of a Pales­tinian State by 1998.

The elec­tions in the Pales­tinian ter­ri­to­ries were the first sign of re­volt against the old Arab or­der and the sta-

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