December 17, 2010, the self-immolation of Tunisian peddler Bouazizi triggered a “jasmine revolution”, which immediately ignited the fuse for the continued turmoil in Egypt, Libya, Syria, Yemen and other Arab countries.
Ten years after the Arab Spring, some countries have frequently changed regimes, some have fallen into perennial civil wars, and some have slow economic development and the security situation has difficulty in returning to normal. Looking back on ten years, many Middle Eastern media are lamenting “from the Arab Spring to the Arab Winter” and “from hope to pain”.
The revolution broke the peace of society and broke the sense of security of the people. This is not the revolution we expected. Recently, some Egyptian youths interviewed by the Global Times reflected in this way. Tunisians also expect the country to find the right “key” for its own development as soon as possible, while Syrians hope to replace the turmoil and war with reform.
Tunisia: Sick countries need a good dose of medicine
“Look at the Arab countries swept by the so-called ‘revolutionary’ storm – some of them sent away the original dictators, but ushered in greater uncertainty and instability.” Basley, the president of the Mediterranean Silk Road Organization in Tunisia, told the Global Times that in the past 10 years since the fall of Ben Ali’s regime in January 2011, Tunisia’s president and prime minister have changed more than a dozen, but they have still not found the right “key” suitable for their own development.
“Tunisia’s economic and social development is also Not as good as before.”
In 2018, the reporter of Global Times visited Sidi Buzid, the hometown of Bouazizi, a self-immolation hawker in Tunisia. Driving south from the capital Tunis for more than three hours, you came to Sidi Buzid, which is planted with large olive and fruit trees. The local taxi driver Ganusi did not shy away from the scene that happened on December 17, 2010.
He believed that the municipal administrators were too rude to Bouazizi, who sold fruit, to stimulate the young man living at the bottom of society and “deemed to be extremely insulted”. Ten years later, the residents of Sidi Buzid still have full sympathy for the peddler. In the past few days, Tunisians have demonstrated in some places, and huge photos of Bouazizizi have been hung on the buildings of Sidi Buzid government agency.
Before the Arab Spring, the Global Times reporter also went to Tunisia several times to cover. Tunisia, known as the “back garden of Europe”, is across the sea from Italy.
Originally, various economic indicators and development indicators were among the best in the Middle East and the African continent. Tunisia’s national competitiveness ranking fell from 40th in the world before the turmoil to 95th.” Before the Jasmine Revolution, Tunisia, which had a simple folk customs, was a favorite country for tourists from all over the world.
One of the reasons is that it has a sense of security. Unexpectedly, in 2018, when the reporter went to Tunisia for an interview, he was stolen from the cash he carried on the street.
As the starting place of the “Arab Spring” that swept the Middle East countries, Tunisia has experienced a difficult road of reconstruction for 10 years. In addition to the economic difficulties, inflation rates and high government debt, the people are most worried about the deterioration of the security situation.
In 2015 and 2016, there were many serious terrorist attacks in Tunisia and the most important tourist city of Sus, causing foreign tourist casualties. In November 2015, the presidential guard vehicle was hit by a suicide bombing, killing 12 security personnel, and the Tunisian government was forced to declare a national state of emergency. Tunisia’s tourism industry has improved in the past two years, but terrorist attacks, as well as popular strikes and demonstrations, continue to occur.
An article in Tunisia’s Morning Post on the 15th lamented: “Sick countries are still waiting for a good dose of medicine.”
Tahir, a senior reporter of the Morning Post, told the Global Times: “Compared with the pre-revolutionary, Tunisia’s democratic atmosphere has increased, and everyone can express your views at will.” However, he also complained: “This kind of freedom and democracy seems a little empty and can’t be eaten. I prefer to make myself earn more and better support my family.” Tahir said that due to factors such as rising prices, his income is not as high as 10 years ago, which makes him “no sense of gain, let alone happiness”.
As Mahdi Juma, the former Prime Minister of Tunisia’s caretaker government, said in an interview with the Global Times, a smooth transformation of a country is much more difficult than an enterprise to successfully transform. Tunisians who have experienced a “revolution” are pursuing their own development path. They “need a stable and clear vision of society to And continuous leadership.
A short carnival, a cruel test
Tunisia’s sudden change soon affected Egypt. Beginning in January 2011, anti-government activities such as street demonstrations broke out in Egypt. Mubarak, who ruled Egypt for 30 years, resigned on February 11 of that year.
Mubarak died on February 25 this year at the age of 91. Speaking of the Mubarak era, the most dissatisfied thing about Madehart, an Egyptian youth who graduated from the Chinese Department of Ainshams University, was that “corruption is rampant, and the whole society is like a pool of stagnant water”. But he also misses the low prices of those days, and “many people can muddle along”.
Madhardt told the Global Times that the “Arab Spring” gave hope on the other side, but unfortunately, this change was only a superficial change and did not touch deep institutional pain points.
“It is said that when Mubarak was in power, if it didn’t matter for young people to graduate from college, they would not find decent jobs.” In Madhardt’s view, the widening gap between rich and poor and the lack of decent jobs resent the Egyptians who can’t see the future, and they are eager to revolutionize the situation at that time with a great change.
Some experts analyzed that the ultimate beneficiaries of economic reform were bureaucrats and capitalists with nepotism with the Mubarak family, which was the root cause of the large-scale popular protests in Egypt in 2011.
“But the fact is not as everyone wants. After Mubarak stepped down, our living conditions have not changed, and the consequences of political turmoil are endless – frequent terrorist attacks and economic collapse.” An Egyptian friend told the Global Times, “This series of negative changes have also caused many people’s mentality about the revolution to change dramatically.
Those Egyptians who participated in the demonstrations felt that their actions were too stupid at that time.” But Madehart said that people who think revolution is unnecessary are still because they have too much hope for it, and it is impractical to change the status quo overnight and turn Egypt into a developed country.
He believes that one of the main reasons for the failure of the revolution was that few political parties in Egypt at that time could take charge of the whole situation, and there were no leaders with clear governance agendas. Madhardt said that the Muslim Brotherhood, which had great social influence, came to power for a time, but because of the lack of long-term experience in political and economic planning and managing the country, problems swarmed in Morsi’s presidency.
Nowadays, some Egyptians are dissatisfied with the rise in prices caused by the government’s cuts in subsidies for people’s livelihood, but according to the Global Times, few people support the “street revolution”. Some Egyptians believe that the country under the Sisi government is on the right track, and people no longer talk about “the revolution has set Egypt back 15 to 20 years”.
According to the Economic Outlook for the Middle East and Central Asia released by the International Monetary Fund in October, Egypt is the only country in the Middle East and North Africa region that will achieve positive real GDP growth in 2020. Madehart said: “Although this setback will take a long time to heal, I am still satisfied with the status quo. The country is full of changes, and I personally have a future in my heart. Although life is under more pressure and the pace of life has become faster, after all, this is a stable and normal development country.
“Sadly, we learned to ‘copy’ democracy, but didn’t know how we really got there.” In the interview, Madehart’s words impressed the reporter most.
Egypt’s Pyramid also recently published a commentary that the “Arab Spring” has allowed Western democracy to achieve a brief carnival on Arab land, but the violence, war and terrorism caused by the carnival have destroyed the social order of many Arab countries.
In the past 10 years, the region has experienced a series of remnants. The cold test is that religious extremism and terrorism have seriously invaded the region.
Said lost his calf, wife and 18-year-old son.
In the winter, the air in Damascus, the capital of Syria, is a little colder. Said, 45, came to the working bakery early in the morning with crutches. When the turmoil and war came, everything changed.
While not having too many customers, Said drank black tea and told the tragedy of the past 10 years with the Global Times reporter. Said originally lived in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo, and his family’s ancestral craftsmanship of making laurel soap was excellent. In the old city of Aleppo, he once owned a small store and his business was not bad.
In early 2013, the Syrian rebels took control of a large part of Aleppo’s urban area, and the continuous war made Said decide to flee with his family. But the day before his departure, he was attacked by artillery fire when he went out shopping. Although he recovered his life, he lost his left calf forever.
With the help of relatives and friends, the Said family transferred to Damascus, but at that time Damascus was also “the sound of gunfire and explosions, and it would never know where the next flying shell would fall”.
Recalling the first two years in Damascus, Said said: “Although the days were very difficult, I didn’t think about leaving Syria at that time, because this is my motherland.” Unfortunately, in the summer of 2015, Said’s wife was killed by a car bomb attack in Damascus. After dealing with his wife’s affairs, Sad Said once wanted to escape to Lebanon with his two children.
The tragedy of the Said family is also the nightmare of Syrians in the past 10 years. Statistics from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees show that as of March this year, nearly 5.6 million Syrian refugees had been registered, and about 6.2 million people were displaced in Syria. To the surprise of Said, who eventually chose to stay in Damascus, he lost his son who was about to turn 18 in 2019 – the tragedy occurred in an explosion in Umayyad Square in the city. Speaking of the tragic experience of losing a loved one twice, Said said: “I thought that physical disability would be the greatest suffering in my life, but later I gradually realized that it was just the beginning of tragedy.
If there is anything that has remained unchanged over the years, I think it is conflict, attack, explosion… you will slowly calm down from the beginning of panic, grief, anger, and then continue to find opportunities for life. I can’t even allow myself to spend too much time to be sad because I still have to do my best to protect and raise my daughter, and I want to see her in Syria one day and truly have a happy life in our own country…”
At the end of November and the beginning of December, the fourth meeting of the Group of the Syrian Constitutional Council was held in Geneva under the auspices of the United Nations.
Although the meeting, which was attended by representatives of the Syrian government, the opposition and civil society, had little effect, the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General of the United Nations for Syria, Jill Peterson, said that the meeting could be held was a positive signal in itself. “The Syrian people have suffered a lot as a result. They need to see politics in 2021. The process is moving forward.
“Revolution exploited by the West”
“The opposition must be clear that addressing deep structural problems requires systemic reform, not turmoil and war, let alone at the expense of people’s lives,” Hajim, a Syrian political analyst told the Global Times.
Hajim believes that the current situation of the panel meeting of the Syrian Constitutional Council also reflects the deadlock in Syria: Idlib in the northwest, as the last base of the opposition forces, is still uncertain; in the northeast, some areas de facto controlled by Kurdish forces will be linked to the Syrian government in the future.
There is no clear plan for what kind of model to coordinate the position and positioning, and it is always difficult to avoid the intervention of the United States and Turkey behind the Kurdish issue. In the southeast, the U.S. military has plundered Syria’s oil and gas resources in part of the area under its actual control, which has seriously damaged Syria’s energy and electricity supply in the past few years. Ability; In addition, the U.S. military also periodically imports weapons and equipment into Syria through the region, laying the root for the regional conflict.
According to a report released by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights on December 9, about 387,000 people have been killed in Syria in the past 10 years of war.
Hajim said: “No matter how glorifying the wording of the West over the past 10 years, its fundamental purpose and sinister intention have never changed, and the turmoil, instability and threat they bring to the Middle East have never stopped.
Today, when people look back on the experience of Tunisia, Libya, Egypt and Syria over the past 10 years, one thing that has quietly changed is that more and more people realize that the Syrian problem should be solved artificially and that the problems in the Middle East should be dominated by countries in the Middle East. Solve. Western countries should no longer impose the so-called “Western-style democracy” and governance model, and should not provoke relations between different ethnic, religious and sectarian forces.
“Most of the motivation of the revolution was triggered by the people, but it was later used by Western countries.” Rawandi, a professor at Cairo University in Egypt, also told the Global Times that the United States has “well-meaned” to promote Egypt’s “democratization”. By supporting and funding local research institutions and non-governmental organizations, it gradually penetrating Western democratic theories. Everything seems natural, but it imperceptibly the traditional social structure of Egypt.
And people’s values have been quietly changed. Egyptian youth Madehart said indignantly: “Wherever there is the intervention of the United States and other Western countries, it is ruined and devastated. The United States is in fact to promote the implementation of their “Greater Middle East Plan”, and we are the martyrs of “democracy in Western countries”.