It’s that part of the year again. Go back the memory lane a bit. December 2010. Precursor to the Arab Spring. After all those years, there’s something in the air that makes me feel I’ve seen this too many a times. It’s the same old script. It’s the same old storyline. And, above all, it’s intended for the same audience. An old wine in a new bottle. Here’s what I’m referring to.

When George Tenet, the then Central Intelligence Agency’s Director, acquiesced in President George Walker Bush’s decision to launch a preemptive strike in Iraq in March 2003, neither of the two stalwarts may have imagined the level of chaos that will rip the region apart like never before. What has transpired over the years in the Middle East is tantamount to having ‘strange bedfellows’ longing for a piece of the pie by means of forging surreptitious alliances.  .

Arab Spring was initially tipped as a beacon of hope. However, democratization of the entire region appeared a far-fetched dream, and the kerfuffle that followed speaks volumes for the viability of the idea of making the dictators ‘go democrats’. Tunisian case study is equally intriguing for the security analysts worldwide. How can a country that actuated the uprising in December 2010 come out as a successful non-violent outcome of the Arab Spring?

Indeed, Tunisia was able to ‘democratize’ without shedding blood in the meanwhile. By the Spring of 2011, the Tunisian model was exported out to neighboring countries in the hope of replicating a similar outcome, but the mayhem and violence that followed served as a worst nightmare for most of the Middle East . Why a similar peaceful transition to democracy eluded other countries, especially Egypt, the largest and the most powerful country in the region? It’s a question that you should delve into.

Let’s consider Libya. Post-war Libya seemed to be a in a state of flux, with the state lagging behind in terms of the level of perspicacity on display. The people of Libya along with the successive governments decided to conform to kaleidoscopic means by demanding self-sufficiency and yet expecting rolling in of international aid at the same time. The international community is now witness to the ramifications of such a paradoxical situation.

In Egypt, 18 days of street protest in January-February 2011 outweighed the 30 years of authoritarian rule by Hosni Mubarak.  When evaluating Egypt, Stephen M. Walt’s analysis sums up the situation perfectly. “It is impossible to know for certain whether a revolution will be contagious, but there is usually some reason to fear it might be.”  How could a street protest be so powerful and enigmatic that it topples a dictator within three weeks?

There may be instances where the states tend to fall apart by virtue of their own militaries. Particularly, it becomes pertinent when the military becomes the ‘only game in town’ and starts running the show themselves without any inclination towards the civilian populace. It is about the Middle East as a whole, not just a single weak or failing state. Remember that if a weak state transitions into a failed state, then the neighborhood is eventually affected as well; thereby, replicating and transporting the weak-failed stated model to other countries of the region as well.  

The question to ask is why there were jubilations in streets in some of the countries, whereas, others experienced modest and outmoded response to the Arab Spring. The thing to note here is that Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen all had an unpopular leader at the top that served as a catalyst for a regime change. In addition, these countries were governed under the dictatorial form of government. Whereas, in other Arab countries such as Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Bahrain, things happen to be fundamentally different. These are monarchies, which constitute an altogether different form of government, distinct from the dictatorial mode. 

Let’s focus on the situation at hand. The CIA has finally admitted that ‘having boots on ground’ in Iraq was a mistake that has had severe consequences. Even if it wasn’t an ill-conceived idea, backing the moderate rebel groups in Iraq surely was. The same script is being applied in Syria. I may not have any love lost with Bashar-ul-Assad, but the world needs to know one thing. It’s his country. He knows the people, he knows the topography, and above all, he knows how the Arabs think.

I’ve been craving for this all along. Don’t back the rebels in order to oust Assad. Don’t add to the already chaotic situation. The ‘moderates’ aren’t your allies, don’t even expect them to be. It’s the repeat of the same old story. We’ve witnessed this before. There’s a sense of déjà vu.

Since the script is the same, can you expect the results to be any different, then? Think about it.