By Abani Baruah
Afew years back — precisely in 2010 — the word Arab Spring came in to vogue. The country was Tunisia. A popular upsurge against a corrupt and authoritarian government, fuelled by the self-immolation of Mohammad Bouazizi, spread across the country. The uprising forced President Zime El Abidine Ali to relinquish power and to flee to Saudi Arabia.
These events in Tunisia created euphoria amongst the disgruntled and unemployed youths of the Middle East and North Africa. They began to believe that the pacea for all the ills of their country could be found in a democratic form of government. In no time, people, particularly the youths of Egypt, Libya and Yemen were up against their respective governments. As a result, tens of thousands protested on the streets of Egypt and the fall of the Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak became imminent. Soon, Hosni Mubarak and his former minister Halrib Al Adli were sentenced to life imprisonment.
In August 2011, Muammar Gaddafi’s government in Tripoli was toppled. A similar fate awaited President Ali Abdulla Salah of Yemen. Numerous protest movements shook the Arab World till the middle of 2012. But to an unbiased observer, a definite pattern is discernible in these events. First, the western governments led by the United States, The United Kingdom and France were more enthusiastic about transforming these countries to democratic constitutions.
The obvious question is, why? Perhaps the answer lies in the fact that the Western powers were more interested in regime change than the welfare of the people of the Middle East and North Africa. These powers were also aware that it is not easy to teach and propagate democratic norms to a vast population, long used to a feudal system. The proof of this can be easily found in the slogan they created in Arabic: ‘Ash-Sha’b Yurid Isquat An-Nizam’ i.e. “the people want to bring down the regime”. This reminds us of the bogey of weapons of mass destruction created by George W. Bush and Tony Blair and how the American Secretary of State Colin Powell made a fool of himself by making a pathetic presentation in the United tions to convince the world that Iraq really had weapons of mass destruction.
Hence, we are led to believe that the Western world tried to exploit the real dissatisfaction of the people of Middle East and North Africa to further its singular agenda of regime change for consolidating their economic interests in these oil-rich regions.
After their successes in Iraq, Tunisia, Egypt and Yemen, they were almost successful in Syria. Thanks to a determined Russia and Iran, they gave second thoughts about toppling Basher-al-Assad of Syria. Further, when they realized that without Russian help they would not be able to contain the ISIS threat, the Western powers — particularly, the United States — were forced to take Russia into confidence.
Now, what about the effect of the Arab Spring? By pursuing a rrow and selfish goal, the Western powers have damaged the social fabric of the Middle East and North Africa and had thrown the countries open to civil wars.
As a result, untold miseries have befallen the inhabitants. Millions of people had to flee their homes and hearth. But where would they go to? Obviously, these refugees — many hoodwinked by human traffickers — had chosen Europe as their choicest destition.
They say, “When Winter is near, can Spring be far behind.” But by the same logic, it can also be held that when Spring is there, Winter cannot be far behind. Paradoxically, the winter I am referring to is not Arab Winter, but European Winter.
As a result of their uncalled for and unjustified interference in these regions, millions of refugees are entering Europe. As if to atone themselves for their misadventures, European countries like France and Germany embraced these refugees from the Middle East and North Africa with open arms. But thanks to the rising influence of ISIS — another Frankenstein created by the West — the numbers of refugees swelled to many millions. Even rich countries like Germany, France and United Kingdom are realizing that accepting these refugees will make a serious dent to their economy.
Another impact to which the European countries were blind to was the cultural impact. Particularly, after the unfortute incident in Cologne, European tions — especially Germany — became aware that large scale influx of refugees will create serious social problems in future. Even a liberal Chancellor like Angela Merkel became vocal about cultural security of the German people.
On top of this, the genuine fear of extremist organizations like the ISIS, Al-Qaida mingling with these refugees, made all European tions jittery about their own security. When poor countries like Greece, Spain or Italy are reluctant for economic regions, other countries like Austria, Hungary and Scandivia are apprehensive that their own cultures and values will be totally destroyed by the alien culture imported from Middle East and North Africa.
In fact, the fear and apprehension raised by the people of Europe were soon vindicated by the ISIS and Al-Qaida sponsored terrorist acts perpetrated in France and Belgium. Things have gone to such a pass that many countries in Europe are contemplating seriously to ect laws to bar further the entry of refugees from Middle East and North Africa.
According to the United tions High Commission for Refugees, Syrian refugees constituted 49 percent of the over 1 million refugees that reached Europe by sea in 2015. The fact that 25 percent of the immigrant population were children is a stark reminder of the humanitarian angle of the problem.
As for now, almost all the European tions are skeptical in accepting refugees from the Muslim world. It is apparent from the fact that many tions like Austria are erecting fences to stop entry of these people to their countries.
Even thousands of refugees were uble to cross the English Channel, as the United Kingdom was firm in not allowing their entry. In prosperous countries like Germany, United Kingdom and France, this crisis has eroded the credibility of their political leaders.
As a result, many countries in Europe are bent on ecting new laws to block the easy entry of the migrants. The solution to this vexed problem can perhaps be dealt with by creating a peaceful Middle East and North Africa. To a peaceful homeland many of the refugees will return. However, for this the Western powers should give up the idea of regime changes and provide the people of these regions a chance to genuinely select their own governments.