Arab Awakening - A Myth?
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-