The man who predicted the revolution in Egypt two years before it happened says it was Islamists that profited from the Arab Spring, stressing that the cause of the uprisings across the region was the economy and not a desire for a Western-style democracy.
A second revolutionary phase will come soon, which will not be hijacked by Islamists this time, but will be led by them, according to John R. Bradley. The British author and journalist, who has lived in the Middle East for more than a decade, said the new revolution will consolidate the rule of Islamists to a degree that the West would be unable to control it. Bradley said the West is “blinded by its short-term vision”.
In his latest book “After the Arab Spring: How the Islamists Hijacked the Middle East Revolts” he goes beyond the glossy picture that has been drawn in the Western media and asks a fundamental question: do the events in the Arab world that brought down several dictators qualify as an ‘Arab Spring’?
“These uprisings were not motivated by a thirst for a Western-style democracy, elections and freedom of expression. They were motivated by economic factors first and foremost,” Bradley told euronews. He added that both in Tunisia and Syria the first sparks of revolution were ignited in the heart of areas affected by acute poverty.
The election process has benefited the Islamists because all the other parties are disorganised and have complicated manifestos, whereas the Islamists speak to a significant part of the population in a language that they can understand, he said.
In all the three post-Arab Spring elections in the region – in Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco – participation was only at about 40 percent of eligible voters.
“Islamists have minority support, they can only get about 20 to 25 percent of the population’s backing, but they’re highly motivated and disciplined,” he said, adding that “they know how to manipulate the game.”
COST OF THE SPRING
Political risk consultancy Geopolicity conducted an analysis on International Monetary Fund data in October that indicated the uprisings in the Middle East have cost $55 billion, with Libya and Syria being the biggest losers, followed by Egypt, Tunisia, Bahrain and Yemen.
“As long as people have money in their pocket and they can bring food to the table for their family, they’re not going to revolt, anywhere. But when that second revolutionary wave comes, the Islamists will be perfectly poised to completely consolidate their rule and cut ties with any party that entails compromises, in terms of secularism and liberalism and democracy,” said Bradley.
The Arab Spring may have had some short term benefit in return for a potential long-term nightmare, he believes. “But that’s a decent definition of Western policy in the region.”
After the Arab Spring: How Islamists Hijacked the Middle-East Revolts by John R Bradley is published by Palgrave Macmillan, priced £10.99.
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