Arab Revolts: Painful Transitions, Hopeful Future
North Africans are going through unusual times. Most nations there are attempting to plan the reformation of their political systems in an environment full of risks. One of them, Libya, precipitated into a civil war and the embattled Muamar Gaddafi is still entrenched in his bunkers directing the terminal destruction of his nation. Libya’s recovery when the conflict ends will not be smooth either. A new Libya will have to reinvent a new constitution, new institutions, new leaders and tribes willing to respect each others.
While Libya struggles with the guns, other nations are working hard to avoid them. Tunisia, which ignited the Arab revolts, has renewed with some level of peace and stability yet the damage post-Ben Ali is already done. While the economy is in chaos, the interim government is struggling to keep its focus on the democratization agenda. It has been battling internal crises, such as the occasional firing of a minister, the resignation of another and plenty of conspiracy allegations regarding the existence of a shadowy government that calls the shots. Such entity is rumored to have the military behind it and hardliners who are proposing a military coup in case the Islamists of the Ennahda party are propelled to power via popular vote. Of course, these allegations are flatly rejected as non-sense by the interim Prime Minister Essebsi. Yet even if Essebsi is right and this is much ado about nothing, this internal crisis only reduces the level of trust and confidence on the government and hints on an unfinished business.
Meanwhile, the regimes of Algeria and Morocco appear to be unscathed by the Arab season of revolt. The Streets, though continuing to attract demonstrators on the small scale resulting from a substantial crackdown and police repression, have not been the scene of the types of violence we have seen in places like Libya, Yemen and Syria. For most observers, this is a good sign of stable regimes, but make no mistake; these two countries are undergoing substantial transformation though with no noise or fanfare. A quiet revolution is underway that is characterized by various groups pitted against one another, all looking toward the inevitable changes in the political landscape. As these countries look to the future, the coming months promise to be busy, full of hope and yet dangerous.
And danger, there is plenty. Starting with the opportunistic, violent, yet politically irrelevant Al Qaeda in the Maghreb (AQIM). Seeing how irrelevant they have been in the Arab Spring, and in the aftermath of the death of Osama Bin Laden and with ongoing chaos in Libya, there are many indications that AQIM is on the move. Meanwhile, shadowy forces attached to one political lobby or another, such as those linked to Ben Ali, Gaddafi or other regimes in the region will try to set the agenda by remaining active under the radar screen. And that spells trouble.
In this latest issue of The North Africa Journal (http://www.north-africa.com/premium/issues/226.htm), we report about of all that. We look at the economic consequences of the Jasmine Revolution and what’s likely to happen. We look at how Al Qaeda is trying to undermine progress to maintain the region in perpetual chaos. And much more.
As usual, we welcome your opinions, views and analyses. Please feel free to send us your notes at my email address at firstname.lastname@example.org