The darkening Arab Spring

Today’s BBC headlines on the protests in Tunis turning nasty, as conservative Islamists fight to be heard prior to the elections for a constituent assembly next week, indicate a worrying potential parallel between the futures of Libya, Tunisia and Egypt. The prospect of a peaceful, unified future seems increasingly under threat across all three countries, as sectarian divisions and tensions with security forces grow stronger.

Syria, meanwhile, remains trapped in the throes of brutal government repression of the revolution, with new figures pronouncing the protest death toll at 3,000. The suggestion that Syria is heading towards full-scale civil war has already been made. What is more concerning in the long term is the fact that the Syrian National Council – Syria’s version of Libya’s National Transitional Council – includes within its many component groups a banned Islamic political party: the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood. The inclusion of an Islamist group in Syria’s post-revolution government could be very divisive and could jeopardise Syria’s external relationship with Europe and its internal peace. Also included within this fractured coalition is a bundle of Kurdish factions and tribal leaders; the parallels with Libya are clear, and the threat of total disunity in post-revolution Syria (assuming that the revolution does actually succeed, and President Bashar al-Assad is removed from power) is potentially very dangerous.

The Arab Spring has certainly turned ugly. Hopes of a brighter post-revolutionary future seem to be fading fast – but what do you think? Do you remain optimistic for the long-term consequences of the uprisings? Please leave your comments below.

P.S. Here’s an interesting, short video on the economic impact of the Arab Spring. It offers food for thought in terms of the outlook for Libya and Syria in particular.

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