World, Middle East

Arab Spring, Trumpism discussed at Istanbul panel

Trumpism 'not interested in stability, democracy,' says political analyst

Nilay Kar   | 14.03.2019
Arab Spring, Trumpism discussed at Istanbul panel



The impact of the Arab Spring on the Middle East and the effects of Trumpism were discussed at an Istanbul seminar on Wednesday.

Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA) at Istanbul Sabahattin Zaim University (IZU) in the city hosted the seminar titled "The Future of the Arab Spring in the Age of Trumpism and Authoritarianism".

Sami A. Al-Arian, Director of the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA) and Public Affairs Professor at Istanbul Sabahattin Zaim University, and Richard Falk, the Albert G. Milbank Professor of International Law and Practice Emeritus at Princeton University analyzed what happened during and after the “Arab Spring.”

Al-Arian said the idea of the uprisings was a moment that the Arab world has been waiting for many decades as many political transformations were taking place across the globe.

In 2013, there was a setback that “started in Egypt and we saw how the counter-revolutionary forces were taking over throughout,” he said. “That moment has gone and passed very quickly without analyzing what actually happened.”

“The counter-revolutionary forces put all their efforts and all their energy on Egypt because they knew if it fails in Egypt, it will also be a failure throughout. They thought that Egypt was the cornerstone of this counter-attack,” he said.

Criticizing the Trumpism, Al-Arian said U.S. President Donald Trump or Trumpism is not “interested in stability and democracy.”

“They are interested simply to prevent the people from expressing whatever aspirations and hopes that they would like to have,” he said.

“Trumpism or Trump would allow [Egyptian President Abdel Fattah] al-Sisi, to kill hundreds of thousands.

“The same way they allowed [Bashar] al-Assad to kill hundreds of thousands,” al-Arian said.

The CIGA director said there are five factors necessary for revolutions. “If they don’t come together, revolution cannot succeed.”

They include popular discontent, a security crackdown, and abandonment of elites, the collapse services and the loss of international support.

-"Preferring tyranny to chaos”

After the Egyptian response to the Arab Spring, “there was a second important set of tragic results that followed the Arab Spring, the 2010-2011 period that was quite different from the Egyptian experience,” according to Falk. “In many ways, as bad and as tragic for the people. That is the kind of chaos and strife that has emerged in this period in Syria, in Yemen and in Libya.”

“In some ways, this phenomenon, maybe partly the Egyptian phenomenon, can be traced back also to the American attack on Iraq in 2003. The kind of chaotic impact that attack had. I wouldn’t put that out of the context within, which we are trying to evaluate the effects of the Arab Spring.”

He recalled an Arabic saying: "People prefer a hundred years of tyranny to a single year of chaos."

“So, the chaos of Yemen, Libya, and Syria combines with civil war and intervention is really the worst possible kind of result,” Falk said.

“Arab Spring is not an event but it is a process,” he stressed.

“It didn’t end after the fall of the Morsi regime or after the various counter-revolutionary and civil-strife scenarios unfolded.”

In regards to the rise of Trumpism around the world, he said, “This rise of Trump in the United States, Trumpism around the world is not just the U.S. that has moved from a liberal form of democracy to illiberal democracy. Every important country in the world virtually has moved in this direction.”

Falk said there was a "progressive alternative that is challenging what has been the fundamental orientation of the U.S. ever since after WWII.”

The "system of sort of mixing the procedure of democracy with the substance of autocracy is unsustainable," he added.

Arab Spring uprisings shook the Middle East and North Africa in late 2010 with demonstrations in Tunisia the birthplace.

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