After Aleppo, it may feel like the Arab winter - but it's just late spring

#ArabSpring

As Rosa Luxemburg once said, revolution is the only form of war in which the ultimate victory can be attained only by a series of defeats

Ahmed al-Burai's picture
Wednesday 21 December 2016 19:16 UTC
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Shortly, Assad might triumphantly proclaim “Order prevails in Aleppo!” the same as Minister Sebastiani declared in Warsaw in 1831. The only difference is that Aleppo has been entirely rendered to rubble by Russian and Assad’s marauding forces that have wreaked havoc and terror across the whole city.

History shows us that almost all post-rebellion phases are marked by a euphoric enthusiasm that is followed by unfathomable disenchantment and deflation

Assad and his patrons in Moscow deceitfully took advantage of ideal timing and embarked on their cruel and massive offensive against the staunchest stronghold of the Syrian rebels. The transitional period in the Oval Office saved Assad and his backers, an impeccable opportunity to settle the ongoing battle in Syria’s northern city.

Once the dust settles and the war is over, it wouldn’t be surprising if Assad watches scenes of Syrian mobs chanting the Egyptian song of gratitude Teslam Al Ayadi – the same song that Egyptians sang to thank Sisi after the heinous coup d’etat in 2013 - in support of the ‘national’ Syrian army.

The counter-revolution would immediately start its campaign to induce a sense of defeat and disseminate a state of despair. Many have already been airing its toxins and claiming that the Arab Spring has turned into a daunting winter. 

The agents of the deep state are inclined to convince themselves that the revolutionary fervour has already dissipated and that the so-called ‘freedom fighters’ have recovered from the coma of democracy and human rights, already gone with the wind.

But history shows us that almost all post-rebellion phases are marked by a euphoric enthusiasm that is followed by unfathomable disenchantment and deflation. So revolutionaries should anticipate feeling that their colourful aspirations have been shattered, their stimulating dreams crumpled.

Revolutionary virus must be quarantined

When the Arab citizens vented their wrath, their uprisings panicked not only regional thrones and dictatorships, but also other international totalitarian regimes who know that revolutions regularly cross borders. China blocked “Egypt” on the internet, fearing a Tiananmen Square repeat.

When the Arab citizens vented their wrath, their uprisings panicked not only regional thrones and dictatorships, but also other international totalitarian regimes 

International powers, regional autocratic regimes and theocratic monarchies were unwaveringly determined to end the Arab nations’ awakening.

It seems that Assad happened to be the spearhead of the deterrence campaign to end this fantasy of democracy, freedom, justice and tolerance, entombing it in the rubble of his country.

Overlooked by the international community, Assad’s regime, backed by Russia and Iran, launched his barbaric massacres, committing war crimes that amount to the “extermination” of the civilian population.

The thwarted aspirations of peaceful protests have been the primary cause behind the heartbreaking exodus of desperate refugees who boarded unseaworthy boats to escape Assad’s atrocities and the world’s premeditated inaction.

The ruthlessness of the Syrian regime against the peaceful demonstrations pushed young people to turn towards extremist groups such as the Islamic State (IS) after they had been admonished for believing that peaceful transformation was a possibility.

Too early to judge

But the irrefutable truth is that just as nobody could predict the scale of an Arab revolution, it’s hard to imagine the immensity of the eruption that will inevitably occur when alternatives reach an utter impasse.

International and regional players will have committed a fatal mistake if they think that a mutinous nation will naively accept to be tamed or even reconcile with its executioners. Mohamed Bouazizi, the young Tunisian street vendor who set himself ablaze after being slapped by police officer, was the unextinguishable spark that ignited a revolution against the deep-rooted inequities in the Arab world.

Bouazizi’s outcry was a rebellion against a noxious mixture of humiliation and disgrace. For so long, Arabs have been submissive to oppressive regimes whose governance brought nothing but tyranny, brutal repression, poverty and failing states.

The rising generations have never bought into the binary rhetoric that they had to choose between stability under eternal dictatorship or the curse of democracy.

Remediable opposition fiasco?

Undoubtedly, the defects and deficiencies of the inexperienced opposition parties have been utterly exposed. The slogan that first emerged during the Tunisian revolution - “the people want to bring down the regime” - was useful in mobilising people to force a dictatorial and corrupt ruler to step down, but it was not enough to demolish the pillars of the deep state and to face the lurking enemies internally and externally.

Just as nobody could predict the scale of an Arab revolution, it’s hard to imagine the immensity of the eruption that will inevitably occur when alternatives reach an utter impasse

Essentially, we’re living in a period of outrageous chaos because our political ‘elites’ could not cope with the task in hand. Arab nations have been chasing the mirage of democracy without clear vision or coherent planning that could remain impervious to alien influences or narrow partisan interests.

Tunisia’s Jasmine Revolution has achieved a political change with the lowest losses. Yet Egyptians’ revolution has been hijacked by the army and the revolutionaries have been anathematised by the adherents of obsolete doctrines. Libya, Yemen and Syria were lured to totter down the path of anarchy and into civil war quagmires.

However, the great revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg once said that the peculiar law of history suggests that revolution is the only form of “war” in which the ultimate victory can be attained alone by a series of defeats.

-Ahmed al-Burai is a lecturer at Istanbul Aydin University. He worked with BBC World Service Trust and LA Times in Gaza. He is currently based in Istanbul and mainly interested in the Middle East issues. You can follow him on Twitter @ahmedalburai1

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.

Image: Snow covers the ground as a young Syrian boy plays in the snow in Aleppo on in December 2013 (AFP)