To a certain extent, the Arab-Middle East experts, and politicians are truly aware of popular Arab uprisings and circumstances in making new interpretations analysis. After the “Arab Spring ”, now holds the term “Arab-trap”. The International society acknowledges that Arab public protestations have extended source of social changes in current days to several Arab states like Iran, Iraq, and Lebanon, mostly ten months after they broke out in Sudan and Algeria.
Currently, Iran, which has a strong implication of the convergence of inner and external political factors. When the invoke of public uprisings diffuses to sixty percent of cities, the Iranian government expedient to use force, coercion, and imprisonment, restricting internet accesses, and distending the conspiracy theory. The Iranian government appears to be in a state of intensive upheaval and anxiety after groups of police forces seized the University of Tehran and captured fifty students without any reason. Yet, Amnesty International convicted the killing of at least 100 protesters due to the irresponsible behavior of the police forces. The paradox is that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo calls demonstrators to provide video recordings as evidence of the crackdown from Iranian forces, and promises that the United States will “reveal those illegal violations and punish those responsible.”
In this case, the spokesman for the Revolutionary Guards states that several leaders of the demonstrations have “dual citizenship”. Rather, the semi-official Fars News Agency went to mention that whoever flamed to some shops in the purlieus of Tehran gains $ 60 for every firing place. Contrarily, President Rouhani is trying to drop the scope of maintaining order and stability to an upheaval situation, and he declares that the Iranian government eradicated what he analyzed as instigating overseas countries. Thought, this is a reaction that simulates what the Mubarak regime did during the demonstration of the situation in Tahrir Square in January 2011, but there are significant implications of the solidity of the Iranian demonstrations, as the spokesman of Shiraz districts pointed out that conflicts between the Iranian forces and demonstrators were fuming, and that the main access transportation infrastructure was stopped in four important provinces.
At the conclusion of their boiling and societal dissatisfaction over the political elite of its conservatives and liberalistic in Tehran, more than it was during the uprisings of summer 2009, and also the crisis’s of 2018; and if the discontent implications continue to increase between the high cost of fuel and other daily life materials, the increase in the unemployment rate, the failure of public governmental policies, and the fall in the performance of the religious speech, in widening the gap between the state and society, additionally the state of promise over Iran’s reopening to the West after President Trump’s decentralization from the nuclear agreement, the failure of French mediation and the Japanese accepted it.
Accordingly, the situation in Iraq and Lebanon is not very different from the Iranian scenario. We may say that the motives behind the crisis are political and financial corruption for most Iraqi government officials, such as some of them receiving monthly salaries from Tehran, and others were involved in contacts with Washington. During five weeks, more than 200,000 Iraqis took public demonstration against the government in Baghdad, and people of Sadr City, which are more prestigious, joined the uprisings and clashes that knocked off more than 320 citizens, and ended in the injury of more than 15,000 others, according to the statistics of the United Nations Office in Baghdad.
True, The hot circumstances in Lebanon is also the outcome of accumulations of the political, financial irresponsibility and societal mismanagement of politics, whether the public disrepute of Saad Hariri, the prime minister, who dedicated 16 million dollars to one of the fashion foundations of South Africa, or the decline of Hezbollah image because of its support for the Assad regime, the dilemma of sectarianism or the dissimilarities between Shiites and Sunnis orientation and other ideological identity in Lebanon and Iraq.
There is a cliché that existed among Arab Middle East Scholars that the Iranian smuggled the revolution to Iraq within forty years and that Iraq reacted into it in less than forty days. Simply speaking. In such articulated changes in the process of state development, the blaze of demonstrations and uprisings always starts with the depreciation of the cost of living at home when the protesters reach discontent and frustration with the state’s failures socially, economically and politically for its lack of effective social development.
Recently, Some scholars of Security and Middle East issues acknowledged that we observe a changeable interval of state and intrastate conflicts versus the departure of external armed conflicts between states and therefore these conflicts related to the existence and role of the state, in governance, and in social groups and their status within states.
In short, they are societal conflicts against the central government in Iran, as in Iraq and Lebanon, and before them in Algeria and Sudan this year. For instance, there are other states in the Middle East or Maghreb region that coexist with an accumulation of ineffective development policies and an enhance in citizens’ dissatisfaction, and similar events will appear at the beginning of 2020. The internal social and political predictions in these states no longer work according to the logic of exception of each country separately, or security containment strategy, or moving over the will of the extravagant demonstrations.
Due to what we are seeing in the entire Arab region, with some special case in the Middle East, is the fall of the central state’s efficiency and the susceptibilities of its political capital and legitimacy in the peoples due to its entrenchment within the box of security “solutions”, imprisonment, and punishment of activists like Egypt. These failed policies and inadequate effective solutions of demonstration that struck the governments of power when it was found to be an existential struggle after being challenged by the youth of the demonstrations during the events of 2011. In one word, it is a societal discontent that creates outrageous action in the street on a political elite that stumbled into the square of reaction.
Now the question is why Arab Spring is going to act a “responsible role” in the Arab state’s issue?
Actually, much of the debate on “Arab-trap” or Arab Spring to the third world countries have been misplaced or even wrongly implemented, simply because little or no specific attention has been given to the origin and purpose of Arab people demand regionally.
Some scholars like Mohammed Cherkaoui Professor of International Conflict and Arab Middle East Issue at George Mason University in Washington pointed out that Arab Spring does not consider it as the second wave for three reasons that revolve around the dual context and the outcome of these protest outcomes. First, during 2011 Arab people were calling for reform and change, as its protests covered around the phrase “Leave”, and this “transit” phenomenon became a concept that reflected in 982 cities that seen similar protests across the globe, but main demands did not determine the level of this movement. Most of the protesters interpreted the phrase “The Army and the People… One Hand …!”, And some demonstrators involved in the uprisings not for social change but just to server other politician’s agenda or swift out the Arab Spring rationality of evaluation and planning into proxy conflicts, like the scene of Mubarak’s removal, or the burning of Ali Saleh, and the killing of Qaddafi, and before them Ben Ali fled from Tunisia. And behind all these “Arab Trap” incidences, Arabs are going to heal for this historic moment, which is a symbolic wave for meaningful change in Arab countries’ context.
Thus, the problem here is about two basic dilemmas, the first of which is that the Arab street showed activists of heavy committed to change the old regimes and reform political status. Secondly, there were no Arab intellectuals predicting carefully the future of new generation capabilities in changing political status under the so-called ” Smart revolution”, and also are able to hear their voices not regionally but internationally with the help of new technologies such as world web and social media.
This is one of the indications of the historical movement in weaving the supposed linkage between the true relationship between politics and society and the intersection of the path in the intellectual context between society and politics. In a short term, most of the intellectuals were absent-minded in participating for a better change . Frankly speaking, let’s see the scene of Qais Saeed’s victory, carrying hopes of change and reform to the presidential deck in Carthage. Many sought the way towards a Tunisian Enlightenment movement as a model that could be best achieved in whole Arab Maghreb, as well as more than two hundred revolutions that took place during the past two decades invigorated the thought of the lights that carried the torch of Emmanuel Kant and other philosophers of modernity in Germany, before its sound spread to the rest of Europe and the world.
Secondly, this year’s demonstrations are not a continuation of the 2011 world as much as a reformatory movement, and it initiates on overcoming strategic mistakes and traps that 2011 activists did not notice. More than this, the demonstrators in Algeria were keen not to swift along the line that Egypt’s developments followed, both in terms of commitment and consistency for more than forty weeks in the conduct of weekly demonstrations in Algiers, or tactics of negotiating with the Algerian forces or adhering to the formation of a pure civilian government.
Third, the so-called political science writing is no longer the meeting point of “transitology “that several academics have adapted and adjusts a theoretical framework for what happened between 2011 and 2019. As Mohammed Cherkaoui noted, for instance, Stephen Heinemann’s conviction of a new concept “transformation” as a process of change without focusing on a feature or a form of contextual-democracy. therefore, We are facing an Arab setting in which there is a great deal of political flexibility and an inability to anticipate the outcome of this transformation.
Conclusion. The extension of Arab Spring or “Arab Trap” it appears that Arab youth no longer accept the continued dominance of the corrupted mind and the unchanged of authoritarianism in a variety of contexts, but rather demand reform, and establishing the dignity of social citizenship based on democratic principles, whether at the level of daily living or moral consideration. Yet, Arab people their demands that are in accordance with the passion of all European revolutions from the French Revolution in 1789 until the integration of the civil transformation with the spring of European peoples in 1848 and on the same line in many of the outbreaks and revolts that took place in the past two decades.
Saudi Arabia and Iran want to be friends again
Eventually the ice-cold relationship between Iran and Saudi Arabia began to melt. The two countries sat at the negotiating table shortly after Biden came to power. The results of that discussion are finally being seen. Trade relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia have already begun to move. Although there has been no diplomatic relationship between the two countries since 2016, trade relations have been tense. But trade between Iran and the two countries was zero from last fiscal year until March 20 this year. Iran recently released a report on trade with neighboring countries over the past six months. The report also mentions the name of Saudi Arabia. This means that the rivalry between the two countries is slowly normalizing.
Historically, Shia-dominated Iran was opposed to the Ottoman Empire. The Safavids of Persia have been at war with the Ottomans for a long time, However, after the fall of the Ottomans, when the Middle East was divided like monkey bread, the newly created Saudi Arabia did not have much of a problem with Iran. Business trade between the two countries was normal. This is because the rulers of Saudi Arabia and Iran at the time were Western-backed. That is why there was not much of a problem between them. But when a revolution was organized in Iran in 1979 and the Islamic Republic of Iran was established by overthrowing the Shah, Iran’s relations with the West as well as with Saudi Arabia deteriorated. During the revolution, Ayatollah Khomeini called for the ouster of Western-backed rulers from the Middle East. After this announcement, naturally the Arab rulers went against Iran.
Saddam Hussein later invaded Iran with US support and Saudi financial support. After that, as long as Khomeini was alive, Saudi Arabia’s relations with Iran were bad. After Khomeini’s death, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and Mohammad Khatemi tried to mend fences again. But they didn’t get much of an advantage.
When the Bush administration launched its invasion of Iraq in 2003, Iran’s influence in Shiite-majority Iraq continued to grow. Since the start of the Arab Spring in 2011, Iran’s influence in the region has grown. Saudi Arabia has been embroiled in a series of shadow wars to reduce its influence. It can be said that Iran and Saudi Arabia are involved in the Cold War just like the United States and the Soviet Union. Behind that war was a conflict of religious ideology and political interests. Diplomatic relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran came to a complete standstill in 2016. Iranians attack the Saudi embassy in Tehran after executing Saudi Shiite cleric Sheikh Nimar al-Nimar. Since then, the two countries have not had diplomatic relations.
Finally, in April this year, representatives of the two countries met behind closed doors in Baghdad. And through this, the two countries started the process of normalizing diplomatic relations again. The last direct meeting between the two countries was held on September 21.
Now why are these two countries interested in normalizing relations? At one point, Mohammed bin Salman said they had no chance of negotiating with Iran. And Khomeini, the current Supreme Leader of Iran, called Mohammed bin Salman the new Hitler. But there is no such thing as a permanent enemy ally in politics or foreign policy. That is why it has brought Saudi Arabia and Iran back to the negotiating table. Prince Salman once refused to negotiate with Iran, but now he says Iran is our neighbor, we all want good and special relations with Iran.
Saudi Arabia has realized that its Western allies are short-lived. But Iran is their permanent neighbor. They have to live with Iran. The United States will not return to fight against Iran on behalf of Saudi Arabia. That is why it is logical for Iran and Saudi Arabia to have their ideological differences and different interests at the negotiating table. Saudi Arabia has been at the negotiating table with Iran for a number of reasons. The first reason is that Saudi Arabia wants to reduce its oil dependence. Prince Salman has announced Vision 2030. In order to implement Vision 2030 and get out of the oil dependent economy, we need to have good relations with our neighbors. It is not possible to achieve such goals without regional stability, He said.
Saudi Arabia also wants to emerge from the ongoing shadow war with Iran in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Lebanon to achieve regional stability. The war in Yemen in particular is now a thorn in the side of Saudi Arabia. The Saudis are unable to get out of this war, nor are they able to achieve the desired goal. Saudi Arabia must normalize relations with Iran if it is to emerge from the war in Yemen. Without a mutual understanding with Iran, Yemen will not be able to end the war. That is why Saudi Arabia wants to end the war through a peace deal with the Houthis by improving relations with Iran.
Drone strikes could also have an impact on the Saudi Aramco oil field to bring Saudi Arabia to the negotiating table. Because after the drone attack, the oil supply was cut in half. The Saudis do not want Aramco to be attacked again. Also, since the Biden administration has no eye on the Middle East, it would be wise to improve relations with Iran in its own interests.
Iran will benefit the most if relations with Saudi Arabia improve. Their economy has been shaken by long-standing US sanctions on Iran. As Saudi Arabia is the largest and most powerful country in the Middle East, Iran has the potential to benefit politically as well as economically if relations with them are normal.
While Saudi Arabia will normalize relations with Iran, its allies will also improve relations with Iran. As a result, Iran’s political and trade relations with all the countries of the Saudi alliance will be better. This will give them a chance to turn their economy around again. The development of Iran’s relations with Saudi Arabia will also send a positive message to the Biden administration. It could lead to a renewed nuclear deal and lift sanctions on Iran.
Another reason is that when Saudi Arabia normalizes relations with Iran, it will receive formal recognition of Iran’s power in the Middle East. The message will be conveyed that it is not possible to turn the stick in the Middle East by bypassing Iran. Relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran need to be normalized for peace and stability in the Middle East.
But in this case, the United Arab Emirates and Israel may be an obstacle. The closeness that Saudi Arabia had with the UAE will no longer exist. The UAE now relies much more on Israel. There will also be some conflict of interest between Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Prince Salman wants to turn Saudi into a full-fledged tourism and business hub that could pose a major threat to the UAE’s economy and make the two countries compete.
Furthermore, in order to sell arms to the Middle East, Iran must show something special. Why would Middle Eastern countries buy weapons if the Iranian offensive was stopped? During the Cold War, arms dealers forced NATO allies to buy large quantities of weapons out of fear of the Soviet Union. So it is in the Middle East. But if the relationship between Iran and Saudi Arabia is normal, it will be positive for the Muslim world, but it will lead to a recession in the arms market.
Turkey and Iran find soft power more difficult than hard power
The times they are a changin’. Iranian leaders may not be Bob Dylan fans, but his words are likely to resonate as they contemplate their next steps in Iraq, Iraqi Kurdistan, Lebanon, and Azerbaijan.
The same is true for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The president’s shine as a fierce defender of Muslim causes, except for when there is an economic price tag attached as is the case of China’s brutal crackdown on Turkic Muslims, has been dented by allegations of lax defences against money laundering and economic mismanagement.
The setbacks come at a time that Mr. Erdogan’s popularity is diving in opinion polls.
Turkey this weekend expelled the ambassadors of the US, Canada, France, Finland, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, and Sweden for calling for the release of philanthropist and civil rights activist Osman Kavala in line with a European Court of Human Rights decision.
Neither Turkey nor Iran can afford the setbacks that often are the result of hubris. Both have bigger geopolitical, diplomatic, and economic fish to fry and are competing with Saudi Arabia and the UAE as well as Indonesia’s Nahdlatul Ulama for religious soft power, if not leadership of the Muslim world.
That competition takes on added significance in a world in which Middle Eastern rivals seek to manage rather than resolve their differences by focusing on economics and trade and soft, rather than hard power and proxy battles.
In one recent incident Hidayat Nur Wahid, deputy speaker of the Indonesian parliament, opposed naming a street in Jakarta after Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the general-turned-statemen who carved modern Turkey out of the ruins of the Ottoman empire. Mr. Wahid suggested that it would be more appropriate to commemorate Ottoman sultans Mehmet the Conqueror or Suleiman the Magnificent or 14th-century Islamic scholar, Sufi mystic, and poet Jalaludin Rumi.
Mr. Wahid is a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood-linked Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) and a board member of the Saudi-run Muslim World League, one of the kingdom’s main promoters of religious soft power.
More importantly, Turkey’s integrity as a country that forcefully combats funding of political violence and money laundering has been called into question by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an international watchdog, and a potential court case in the United States that could further tarnish Mr. Erdogan’s image.
A US appeals court ruled on Friday that state-owned Turkish lender Halkbank can be prosecuted over accusations it helped Iran evade American sanctions.
Prosecutors have accused Halkbank of converting oil revenue into gold and then cash to benefit Iranian interests and documenting fake food shipments to justify transfers of oil proceeds. They also said Halkbank helped Iran secretly transfer US$20 billion of restricted funds, with at least $1 billion laundered through the US financial system.
Halkbank has pleaded not guilty and argued that it is immune from prosecution under the federal Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act because it was “synonymous” with Turkey, which has immunity under that law. The case has complicated US-Turkish relations, with Mr. Erdogan backing Halkbank’s innocence in a 2018 memo to then US President Donald Trump.
FATF placed Turkey on its grey list last week. It joins countries like Pakistan, Syria, South Sudan, and Yemen that have failed to comply with the group’s standards. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) warned earlier this year that greylisting would affect a country’s ability to borrow on international markets, and cost it an equivalent of up to 3 per cent of gross domestic product as well as a drop in foreign direct investment.
Mr. Erdogan’s management of the economy has been troubled by the recent firing of three central bank policymakers, a bigger-than-expected interest rate cut that sent the Turkish lira tumbling, soaring prices, and an annual inflation rate that last month ran just shy of 20 per cent. Mr. Erdogan has regularly blamed high-interest rates for inflation.
A public opinion survey concluded in May that 56.9% of respondents would not vote for Mr. Erdogan and that the president would lose in a run-off against two of his rivals, Ankara Mayor Mansur Yavas and his Istanbul counterpart Ekrem Imamoglu.
In further bad news for the president, polling company Metropoll said its September survey showed that 69 per cent of respondents saw secularism as a necessity while 85.1 per cent objected to religion being used in election campaigning.
In Iran’s case, a combination of factors is changing the dynamics of Iran’s relations with some of its allied Arab militias, calling into question the domestic positioning of some of those militias, fueling concern in Tehran that its detractors are encircling it, and putting a dent in the way Iran would like to project itself.
A just-published report by the Combatting Terrorism Center at the US Military Academy West Point concluded that Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) faced “growing difficulties in controlling local militant cells. Hardline anti-US militias struggle with the contending needs to de-escalate US-Iran tensions, meet the demands of their base for anti-US operations, and simultaneously evolve non-kinetic political and social wings.”
Iranian de-escalation of tensions with the United States is a function of efforts to revive the defunct 2015 international agreement to curb Iran’s nuclear program and talks aimed at improving relations with Saudi Arabia even if they have yet to produce concrete results.
In addition, like in Lebanon, Iranian soft power in Iraq has been challenged by growing Iraqi public opposition to sectarianism and Iranian-backed Shiite militias that are at best only nominally controlled by the state.
Even worse, militias, including Hezbollah, the Arab world’s foremost Iranian-supported armed group, have been identified with corrupt elites in Lebanon and Iraq. Many in Lebanon oppose Hezbollah as part of an elite that has allowed the Lebanese state to collapse to protect its vested interests.
Hezbollah did little to counter those perceptions when the group’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, threatened Lebanese Christians after fighting erupted this month between the militia and the Lebanese Forces, a Maronite party, along the Green Line that separated Christian East and Muslim West Beirut during the 1975-1990 civil war.
The two groups battled each other for hours as Hezbollah staged a demonstration to pressure the government to stymie an investigation into last year’s devastating explosion in the port of Beirut. Hezbollah fears that the inquiry could lay bare pursuit of the group’s interests at the expense of public safety.
“The biggest threat for the Christian presence in Lebanon is the Lebanese Forces party and its head,” Mr. Nasrallah warned, fuelling fears of a return to sectarian violence.
It’s a warning that puts a blot on Iran’s assertion that its Islam respects minority rights, witness the reserved seats in the country’s parliament for religious minorities. These include Jews, Armenians, Assyrians and Zoroastrians.
Similarly, an alliance of Iranian-backed Shiite militias emerged as the biggest loser in this month’s Iraqi elections. The Fateh (Conquest) Alliance, previously the second-largest bloc in parliament, saw its number of seats drop from 48 to 17.
Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi brought forward the vote from 2022 to appease a youth-led protest movement that erupted two years ago against corruption, unemployment, crumbling public services, sectarianism, and Iranian influence in politics.
One bright light from Iran’s perspective is the fact that an attempt in September by activists in the United States to engineer support for Iraqi recognition of Israel backfired.
Iran last month targeted facilities in northern Iraq operated by Iranian opposition Kurdish groups. Teheran believes they are part of a tightening US-Israeli noose around the Islamic republic that involves proxies and covert operations on its Iraqi and Azerbaijani borders.
Efforts to reduce tension with Azerbaijan have failed. An end to a war of words that duelling military manoeuvres on both sides of the border proved short-lived. Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, emboldened by Israeli and Turkish support in last year’s war against Armenia, appeared unwilling to dial down the rhetoric.
With a revival of the nuclear program in doubt, Iran fears that Azerbaijan could become a staging pad for US and Israeli covert operations. Those doubts were reinforced by calls for US backing of Azerbaijan by scholars in conservative Washington think tanks, including the Hudson Institute and the Heritage Foundation.
Eldar Mamedov, a political adviser for the social-democrats in the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament, warned that “the US government should resist calls from hawks to get embroiled in a conflict where it has no vital interest at stake, and much less on behalf of a regime that is so antithetical to US values and interests.”
He noted that Mr. Aliyev has forced major US NGOs to leave Azerbaijan, has trampled on human and political rights, and been anything but tolerant of the country’s Armenian heritage.
Process to draft Syria constitution begins this week
The process of drafting a new constitution for Syria will begin this week, the UN Special Envoy for the country, Geir Pedersen, said on Sunday at a press conference in Geneva.
Mr. Pedersen was speaking following a meeting with the government and opposition co-chairs of the Syrian Constitutional Committee, who have agreed to start the process for constitutional reform.
The members of its so-called “small body”, tasked with preparing and drafting the Constitution, are in the Swiss city for their sixth round of talks in two years, which begin on Monday.
Their last meeting, held in January, ended without progress, and the UN envoy has been negotiating between the parties on a way forward.
“The two Co-Chairs now agree that we will not only prepare for constitutional reform, but we will prepare and start drafting for constitutional reform,” Mr. Pedersen told journalists.
“So, the new thing this week is that we will actually be starting a drafting process for constitutional reform in Syria.”
The UN continues to support efforts towards a Syrian-owned and led political solution to end more than a decade of war that has killed upwards of 350,000 people and left 13 million in need of humanitarian aid.
An important contribution
The Syrian Constitutional Committee was formed in 2019, comprising 150 men and women, with the Government, the opposition and civil society each nominating 50 people.
This larger group established the 45-member small body, which consists of 15 representatives from each of the three sectors.
For the first time ever, committee co-chairs Ahmad Kuzbari, the Syrian government representative, and Hadi al-Bahra, from the opposition side, met together with Mr. Pedersen on Sunday morning.
He described it as “a substantial and frank discussion on how we are to proceed with the constitutional reform and indeed in detail how we are planning for the week ahead of us.”
Mr. Pedersen told journalists that while the Syrian Constitutional Committee is an important contribution to the political process, “the committee in itself will not be able to solve the Syrian crisis, so we need to come together, with serious work, on the Constitutional Committee, but also address the other aspects of the Syrian crisis.”
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