Due West: Arab summer

© RIA NovostiKonstantin von Eggert
Konstantin von Eggert - Sputnik International
The Arab spring has given way to the Arab summer, and the fall promises to be no cooler. It seems Muammar Gaddafi will hold out against NATO’s bombing campaign for some time.

The Russian version of this text appeared first in Novaya Gazeta newspaper.

The Arab spring has given way to the Arab summer, and the fall promises to be no cooler. It seems Muammar Gaddafi will hold out against NATO’s bombing campaign for some time. However, according to recent reports, the colonel is seeking a way to step down that will allow him to save face and keep the frozen Libyan assets that Western governments have not yet given to the rebels.

Bashar Assad is keeping a lid on the situation in Syria with tough repressive measures and an information blockade (foreign journalists are barred from Syria). It is clear Syrian cities are in the throes of a popular uprising. It is also clear that too much blood has been shed and the people will not forgive their president for that. Therefore, a national dialogue will not be possible in the near future. Assad has the upper hand on the poorly organized and weak opposition. He also enjoys – for now – the financial support of Iran, the main sponsor of the Syrian regime. Iran needs Syria as a foothold for influencing the radicals in the region, primarily Hezbollah in Lebanon, and as a potential channel for smuggling components for its nuclear missile program. The Iranians want to forestall the downfall of the minority Allawite regime in Damascus, fearing a majority Sunni government that will most likely become a client of Iran’s worst enemy, Saudi Arabia. This is also Assad’s main headache. He does not have support in the Arab world. No one will stand in the way of his inevitable downfall.

The Iranian factor is playing no small role in two other countries with a predominantly Shiite population: Bahrain and Iraq. The tragic paradox of Bahrain is that free democratic elections will bring to power Iranian agents who will immediately abolish the Sunni monarchy and install an Iranian-style republic on the island. Tehran wants not only to help its fellow Shias but also to shut down the base of the U.S. Fifth Fleet in Bahrain. For the time being, it seems impossible to have a democracy in Bahrain that is free of Iranian influence.

Iraq is not facing a popular uprising, despite periodic acts of terror perpetrated predominantly by the Iranian-backed fifth column. The reason is clear: as a result of the U.S. invasion in 2003, Iraq is one of the most politically free countries in the Middle East. Political parties act as valves venting the steam of popular discontent. There is no need to take to the streets. This does not mean that the country’s future is cloudless. It will have to go through years of stabilization and normalization. Iraq is plagued by corruption, and this combined with religious and clan-based strife could be an explosive mix. However, as of summer 2011, Iraq is more stable than many of its neighbors.

The monarchies of Jordan and Morocco have proved to be better prepared to handle the wave of social and political unrest that has swept the Middle East. King Abdullah II of Jordan and Morocco's King Mohammed VI both have responded to the popular call for political reforms in their countries, albeit in different ways and not without reservations. So far, the Gulf monarchies (with the exception of Bahrain) have avoided mass unrest altogether. Strangely, monarchs are seen as more legitimate than presidents. Actually, this makes perfect sense, as king or emir is a lifelong position by nature; a lifelong president is another matter. Tunisia’s Ben Ali, Yemen’s Saleh and Egypt’s Mubarak were let down by their lack of political acumen. Aspiring dictators in the Middle East will have to adopt new methods.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s and may not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.


Due West: Russian Nazis look to Norway

Due West: Sailing out of corruption

Due West: Medvedev should visit the graves of those who gave Russia true freedom

Due West: Otto of Austria - the uncrowned Emperor of Europe

Due West: Moscow and Minsk start a cold war, while China waits in the wings

Due West: Ukraine Turns Gaze Back to Brussels

Due West: Russia divided in wake of a murderer’s death

Due West: Long live the King!

Due West: Russia’s Balkans obsession seems to be finally over

Due West: Laying the table for Obama and Medvedev

Due West: Russia’s Two-Faced Approach to Foreign Policy

Due West: VE-Day Truths and Lies

Due West: George W. Bush has the last laugh

Due West: Wake up, it’s a new world Mr. Prime Minister

Due West: Putin vs. Medvedev

Due West: East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet

Due West: The Kuchma sensation

Due West: More Putin-Medvedev cat and mouse?

Due West: Send in the Sukhois

Due West: Russia’s Romance with conspiracy theories

Due West: Good-bye to a colonel and his Socialist People’s Republic

Due West: Was George W. Bush right on Arab democracy?

Due West: And What about Syria?

Due West: Boris Yeltsin - Russia's flawed but genuine revolutionary

Due West: Pointing fingers instead of pulling levers

Due West: The times they are a-changing – should secular Arabs fear democracy?

Due West: EU ready to sell out to Beijing

Due West: Not to be missed – two anniversaries in 2011

Due West: Hotspots and weak spots around the world in 2010

Due West: Lukashenko as Europe’s number one psychologist

Due West: Vaclav Havel – the man, who still believes in politics

Due West: Georgia’s wildcard in Russia’s WTO membership

Due West: The tabloid freedom of WikiLeaks

Due West: Russia prepared to go as far as NATO is prepared

Due West: Looking into the Russian-Japanese island spat

Due West: Russia's NATO Dream


What is Russia's place in this world? Unashamed and unreconstructed Atlanticist, Konstantin von Eggert believes his country to be part and parcel of the "global West." And while this is a minority view in Russia, the author is prepared to fight from his corner.

Konstantin Eggert is an independent Russian journalist and political analyst. In the 1990s he was Diplomatic Correspondent for “Izvestia” and later the BBC Russian Service Moscow Bureau Editor. Konstantin has also spent some time working as ExxonMobil Vice-President in Russia. He was made Honorary Member of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II.

To participate in the discussion
log in or register
Заголовок открываемого материала