Demolishing myths about the Arab Spring

Writing in the Washington Post, Mid East expert Fouad Ajami sets the record straight on the so called Arab Spring, offering his valuable insights while demolishing five cliched myths about the revolutionary situation in many Muslim nations.  

1. Obama's 2009 Cairo speech helped inspire the Arab Spring.

Nothing could be further from the truth. By the time of these rebellions, the Arab and Muslim romance with President Obama had long vanished. He had gone to Cairo in June 2009 promising a new American approach to the Arab-Muslim world. But embattled liberals in the Arab world (and in Iran) had already begun to see through him. While Obama pledged "a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world, one based on mutual interest and mutual respect," Arabs saw the new American leader's ease with the status quo. 


2. These are Facebook and Twitter revolutions.

Facebook and Twitter enabled young dissidents to get around entrenched autocracies and communicate with one another.


These rebellions have been fueled by traditional sparks: crowds coming out of mosques after Friday prayers in the embattled cities of Syria; the test of wills between brutal regimes and those brave enough to challenge them; and young people in Daraa, Homs and Hama conquering the culture of fear and taking on despotism.

Mohammed Bouazizi, the young Tunisian street vendor who set himself ablaze in December 2010, didn't have a Facebook page. He had a sense of righteous anger and despair. We should rein in the technophilia:

3. The Obama administration threw Hosni Mubarak under the bus.

The Egyptian president was the author of his own demise. Washington had assumed that Mubarak would ride out the storm.


4. Saddam Hussein's fall in Iraq inspired the Arab Spring.

Iraq, contrary to the hopes and assertions of conservative proponents of the war, is not relevant to the Arab Spring.

When the protests began in late 2010, Iraq no longer held the Arab world's attention.


5. The rebellions will further damage prospects for the Arab-Israeli peace process.

...The leaders of the Arab rebellions may not be fervent, public advocates of peace with Israel, but they have emerged out of the recognition that the dictatorships used the conflict with Israel as a convenient alibi for their own political and economic failures. Does anyone truly believe that the people of Homs dread Israel more than Assad's tyranny?

And oh, by the way, he adds casually "America should not write itself into every story."  In other words, not everything that happens in the world is caused by America's actions or lack thereof; individual countries and its citizens are often indpendent actors, responsible for their actions.