On Friday May 16th, retired general Khalifa Haftar stormed the Libyan parliament and declared it dissolved. Libya was among the Arab countries where just three years ago, the people had risen up against the government to embrace democracy and overthrow their dictators who had ruled over their countries for several decades. Three years later, both in Libya and across the rest of the Middle East, dictators have fallen and the political landscape has greatly changed. However, none of the Arab countries have been able to peacefully and properly install a democratic government.
The story in Libya revolves around the fact that the country has had a very strong tribal culture that traces its origins way before the toppling of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. Although Gaddafi was a brutal dictator, he had centralized power and had been able to keep the tribes in check during his reign. Following his ouster during the Libyan Civil War of 2011, a massive power vacuum appeared. Even though the opposition has attempted to form a legitimate and democratically elected government, fighting among the tribes, which had been kept under control during the Gaddafi era, have so far made the democratization process a failure. The transitional government currently has no control over a majority of the country, a constitution remains to be approved by a referendum and the country awaits the election of its fourth prime minister following the kidnapping and ouster of the country’s previous prime minister. Regarding the instance earlier this week, General Haftar has claimed that the current government, which is led by the Islamist Justice and Construction party, is too religious and has transformed the country into a breeding ground of Islamist terrorists. The central government dispatched its own loyal tribal militias to counter the retired General.
Just like in Libya, internal turmoil rages in the remaining countries that had been part of the Arab Spring. A military coup overthrew the democratically elected government in Egypt, a bloody civil war still rages on in Syria and the uprising has been crushed in Bahrain. The video of this week takes a look in detail at how each country has fared in the past three years. The video is 4 months old, but not much has changed since then. It is saddening to see that much of the euphoric feelings at the start of the Arab Spring have now turned into disillusionment and outright tragedy. It goes to show that despite what some Western leaders have claimed in the past (George Bush, Tony Blair, etc) democracy is not something that can be installed overnight, especially in a region with such a chaotic history and a complicated political climate as the Middle East. For the sake of the Arab people, lets hope that I’m wrong and that peace and prosperity can return to these lands as soon as possible.
The following link also contains a timeline of significant events regarding the Arab Spring since the start of the movement all the way up till today.
“I think this is really a defining moment for the Arab world. The problem is, it is all going to be about blood, sweat and tears. In certain countries it may be just sweat, and in some countries sweat and tears, and in some countries, as you can see, a lot of blood. I think initial instability is something that we are all extremely nervous of.”
– King Abdalah II of Jordan