20 Feb 2012

The ‘Arab Spring’, or the ‘Great Arab Secularist Disappointment of 2011/2’

I never liked the term ‘The Arab Spring’. I found it too passive a description with its connotation of a natural phenomenon that didn’t fully capture the sense of defiance that characterised the Arab Uprisings of 2011. But in hindsight there was perhaps something prescient about the ‘Arab Spring’ reflecting the lack of a sense of control over events that now characterises the frustration and disappointment felt by secularist Arab supporters of the uprisings. Not for the first time in their history, Arab leftists and liberals have revealed the same kind of incompetence and lack of political clarity that have allowed other parties, such as the Baath, to outmanoeuvre them in the past. This time round they seem to have reconciled themselves to watching from the sidelines and bemoaning the ignorance of the Arab masses as the Islamists appear to be gaining the upper hand. This would be a premature declaration of defeat.