Color of Arab Spring is Pink
For almost half a
century, the Arab pride was in deep slumber. It was awakened by a
woman’s slap in a small Tunisian town of Sidi Buziz. A woman’s
slap in fact ignited a revolution which we call today the Arab
New Delhi: The Arab
Spring will lead to a long and cold Arab Winter as the countries
that have seen forcible regime changes either fragment along
tribal lines or transform into Islamist entities, two Israeli
security experts said Thursday.
In all this, peace will prevail in the Gulf states, barring
Bahrain, as they are homogenous entities with just one tribe
ruling in each of them, the experts said.
"We are headed for a cold and long Arab winter. If you look at
East Europe, countries like Poland and Romania are yet to make the
transition (from the Cold War era) even after 20 years. Whoever
says it will happen here (in the Middle East and North Africa) in
one year is hallucinating," Eytan Gilboa, director of the Bar-Ilan
University's School of Communication, said.
He was speaking at a seminar on "The Arab Spring: An Israeli
Perspective" at the defence ministry-funded think tank Institute
of Defence Studies and Analyses.
According to Mordechai Kedar, Research Associate at the Bar-Ilan
University's Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies, "two
trends" had emerged from the Arab Spring.
Egypt and Tunisia were heading to be Islamist states, while Iraq
and Yeman, and possibly Libya and Syria too could fragment along
"In Libya, 140 tribes united to oust (Muammar) Gaddafi and today
they are fighting each other. One wants to control the oil, one
wants to control the economy, one wants to control the
government," he pointed out.
"The genie of tribalism has been released from the bottle. This is
now the name of the game," Kedar said.
The "exceptions" in this festering scenario were Kuwait and the
United Arab Emirates, but not Bahrain.
"These are homogenous states where oil is not the prime driver.
Each of these states is ruled by one tribe. Since it is one family
ruling, so the leadership is legitimate," Kedar contended.
He, in fact, wondered at the use of the expression "Arab Spring",
deprecating attempts to liken it to the European Revolutions of
1848, known in some countries as the Spring of Nations and
Springtime of the Peoples.
"Spring is very problematic in the Middle East. One day there is
the sun, the next day there is rain, then it is hot and dry. Then,
it is very hard to predict where a spring, if released, will go.
These countries have jumped to nobody knows where," Kedar
So, what would be the implications of all this on Israel?
For one, "there is the real threat of the Eastern Mediterranean
becoming an Islamic lake", said Efraim Inbar, director of the
Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies.
"It is ringed by Tunisia, Libya and Egypt. The Sinai is becoming
another Somalia because of Al Qaeda. Gaza is Islamist under Hamas.
Libya is under the Hezbollah. Syria is an open question. Turkey
has turned Islamist and is less and less a good NATO member.
"Then, there is Cyprus, where the north is occupied by Turkey. Gas
has been discovered in the Mediterranean south of Cyprus and this
could tempt Turkey to take the south too," Inbar pointed out.
"This is not good for Israel as 90 percent of our exports pass
through the Mediterranean," he added.
Then, there was the question of Iran and its covert plans to
create a nuclear arsenal.
"There is a debate in Israel about covert operations or a military
strike (against Iran's bomb-making facilities). Israel believes
that sanctions will not work. Thus, we must invest very much more
on security and build a larger force. But, force building takes
"No one believes that peace is around the corner. Our economy is
in good shape and we will tighten our belts till this mini-storm
passes," Inbar said.