A Revolution Gone Wrong

Al-Quds al-Arabi, London, November 17

In a recent televised interview, Iraqi politician and parliamentarian Izzat Shabandar was asked by a host about his opinion on the current situation in Iraq and the corruption that hinders the formation of a new government. Shabandar replied that he would be willing to support a government even if 70 percent of its members proved to be corrupt politicians, since it is more important, at this specific point in time, to end the state of division in Iraqi society than to rid its political system of nepotism. Without even flinching, the interviewer then posed a follow-up question: “Why, then, did you fail to support the government of Saddam Hussein?” To this, Shabandar admitted that if he had known what Iraq would look like following the American invasion, then he would have stood by the side of Saddam Hussein and defended his regime at any cost. Despite disagreeing with many of Shabandar’s politics, I can’t help but admire the honesty. His remarks were very telling not only of his own politics but also of those of many other revolutionaries in the Arab world. Many of them now admit that if they knew how the Arab Spring would unfold, they would have likely turned down the call to rebel against their leaders. The chants for “liberty,” “justice,” and “dignity for all” that we’ve all heard in the main squares were quickly forgotten. New leaders rose to power and claimed to represent the people, but worked to defeat their revolutionary demands. What we’re witnessing today in Iraq, Syria and Yemen is a direct result of revolutions that have gone wrong. Those who allowed Islamist movements to lead their protests ended up with pious regimes that bred further sectarian conflict and civil war. The religious movements who once inspired the Arab public and gave them hope for a better future have now come full circle and revealed their true face. Their true motivation was to increase their own political power; not represent the people who stood behind them.  –Abd al-Nasser Essa

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