The Shape of Things to Come
Are we witnessing an "Arab Spring?" Events in Tunisia, Egypt, Lebanon and the Palestinian Territories are capturing the world's attention, as it seems that many people of the region are turning a corner. The sudden outbreak of democratic sentiment in the region is at once inspiring and disquieting. So many questions remain unanswered, and undoubtedly, only time will reveal the final form that these events will take.
Already, in Tunisia, we are witnessing the infant stages of post-revolutionary schism. While some of those involved in the movement to oust Ben Ali are prepared to proceed with an interim unity government, others demand that all remnants of the former regime be cleared from the government before any diminution of the revolutionary spirit begins. Whatever the final outcome, it seems - at least for the moment - that the Tunisian people are determining their destiny themselves.
With the fall of the March 14th led government in Beirut, Walid Jumblatt and Hezbollah have installed a new president and are in the process of forming a new government. Hezbollah appears to have significant popular support, and the Druze leader Jumblatt seems to have finally sided with the pan-Arabist aspirations of his forefathers. These recent events seem to repudiate March 14th's Pro-Western orientation. What remains to be seen is how Hariri will react; is this a time for entrenchment or engagement?
Events in Egypt continue to unfold. Even if Mubarak does not step down, his son possesses neither the support nor savvy to actually retain dynastic succession. Again, it is too early to know what will become of the protests currently erupting in the Egyptian street. However, there will no doubt be a fear-mongering campaign sponsored by Mubarak's regime suggesting that the fall of the government will automatically result in the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood to power. This is a false dichotomy to be sure. While the Ikhwan has significant support, the Kefaya movement is by and large a secular movement that would likely throw significant support behind someone like Mohammad el Baradei. However, whatever the choice of Egyptian people in a post Mubarak age, for the first time in a long time it will be their choice alone.
The leaking of the now infamous "Palestinian Papers" is a significant, and perhaps historic event. I want to take a separate post to talk about them, as they contain much information, with still more being revealed everyday. However, one point must be made. Abu Mazen had very recently suggested that if Israeli concessions could not be made during the most recent round of negotiations, that the PA would dissolve and Israel would be made responsible for the administration of the territories. The release of these papers will hasten this reality, as popular support for the PA, and probably for Fatah, will wane to next to nothing.
More later . . .