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Arab Unrest: Islamic Winter Is Coming
Glendale Community College
October 21, 2013

Abstract
This paper will cover the events of the unrest in the Arab world, better known as the Arab Spring. The objective of the paper is to help the reader understand the situation better and decide if the United States should support the new Islamic backed governments in the Arab world. The cause that led to the unrest will be presented. Also the regimes which were overthrown and their authoritarian style of governance will be discussed as well as the nature of who replaced them.

Arab Unrest: Islamic Winter Is Coming President Barak Obama said of the Arab Spring in 2011, “There must be no doubt that the United States of America welcomes change that advances self-determination and opportunity”. All across the Arab world there has been a plethora of change. In Tunisia, Libya, Syria, Egypt, and even Mali longstanding governments have been toppled, and almost all have been replaced by Islamist governments. The paramount question, at least for Americans, about these revolutions is, should the United States help support them. To answer this question one must know what ignited the Arab Spring, who was removed from power and who replaced those removed. The best way to understand a product is by looking into the process in which it was made. During what has been coined “The Arab Spring”, unrest has acted like a plague in the Arab world. Riots, demonstrations, and full blown civil war has spread too much of the Arab controlled world. This has not come out of thin air. The spark which ignited the Arab Spring was a rather literal one. In December of 2012, a Tunisian vendor, Mohamed Bouazizi, was assaulted by a police officer because he was illegally operating without a license. Bouazizi went to the police headquarters to file a complaint and was completely ignored. After this he set himself on fire outside of the building. This was done in an attempt protest the government’s treatment of the population (Issues and Controversies, 2013, Unrest in the Arab World, Tunisia Section). After this incident Bouazizi became a martyr to the cause of regime change within Arab/Muslim nations. Citizens of these nations began to denounce and demand the removal of the dictatorial regimes which they had lived under for so long. In nations such as Egypt the population had been living under very oppressive governments. Most of the leaders of Arab nations had been in power for decades. Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak had been in power for more than thirty years. It has been common knowledge for some time that Mubarak ruled with an iron fist. His police force operated like Adolf Hitler’s infamous Reichssicherheitshauptamt. Dissenters who opposed Mubarak were tortured, raped and murdered at will. The growing anger over the authoritarian style of ruling, coupled with the events in Tunisia, set off a chain of events which soon would be uncontrollable for Mubarak. A December, 2010 article from the World News Digest details this:

Several thousand Egyptians June 25 staged a rare large-scale demonstration in the port city of Alexandria to protest the death earlier that month of a man alleged to have been a victim of police brutality. Witnesses said two plainclothes police officers June 6 had dragged the man, 28-year-old Khaled Said, out of an Internet cafe and beaten him to death; photographs of his beaten and bruised face had subsequently circulated on the Internet, stirring outrage (Egypt: Protests Mount Over Police Brutality, World News Digest, 2010).

The killing described was of course not the first of its kind, nor was it the last. Ahmed Shaaban, who was nineteen years old at the time of his death, was found dead in a canal. His corpse displayed signs of torture. Shaaban was found dead four days after he was detained at a police checkpoint (Egypt: Protests Mount Over Police Brutality, World News Digest, 2010). The population in Egypt, as in Tunisia and other Arab nations, became fed up and took to the streets and internet to demand change. The populations threw off the chains which they had been living with for years and formed new governments. This change is what President Obama had been referring to. But it has come at a price, the old secular authoritarian regimes have been replaced by Islamist rulers. One cannot blame Arabs for wanting to be free of rulers such as Mubarak, but it seems as if their choice for new leadership may be worse then what they just rid themselves of.
Since September 11, 2001 the United States has been at war with radical Islamist. And since the unrest in the Arab world began, followers of this ideology have taken control of nations. In Tunisia the Ennahda Movement, which is an Islamist party, came to power and have drafted a new constitution (Issues and Controversies, 2013, Unrest in the Arab World, Tunisia Section). The civil war in Syria has also been infiltrated by Islamist looking to advance their aims, “Attempts to intervene in Syria, meanwhile, have been further complicated by the participation of Islamic militants, likely including members of Al Qaeda…” (Issues and Controversies, 2013, Unrest in the Arab World, Syria Section). The African nation of Mali has been fighting Islamist forces as well, “The group leading the 2012 insurgency was known as the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA)… [t]he Malian government had accused the MNLA of collaborating with Al Qaeda…” ( Mali: Tuareg Rebellion Displaces Tens of Thousands, World News Digest, 2013). The most controversial change of power has been in Egypt. In Egypt the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), which spawned al Qaeda and Hamas, took power and also made a new constitution. The United States had been continuing to give monetary and military aid to Egypt while under control of the Muslim Brotherhood. This seems to be contrary to the US’s mission in the War on Terror, nonetheless the aid was given. The MB was ousted by the Egyptian military in July, 2013. After this the United States cut its aid to Egypt, citing the military removing the MB as the reason. The US government has publicly called for the MB to return to power, along with the new Islamist constitution they created, “President Barack Obama (D) issued a statement on July 3 stating that the U.S. government was ‘deeply concerned by the decision of the Egyptian armed forces to remove [President Morsi] and suspend the Egyptian constitution’” (Unrest in the Arab World Follow-Up: Egyptian Military Deposes Islamist President After Massive Protests, Issues and Controversies, 2013).
The unrest in the Arab world has spread like wild fire. Brutal and oppressive governments from the Middle East to Africa have been toppled and replaced by Islamic leaders. These Islamist are the same individuals the United States has been fighting a war against since September 11, 2001. There is much debate if the US should support these new governments since they came to power through the decisions of the citizens of each respective nation. To answer this one must know how the unrest started, who was removed from power and who has taken power. To acknowledge that the Arab regimes of the past were horrible is the right thing to do. But one needs to look at all the facts as they relate to who controls these Arab nations now before deciding if the world’s lone superpower should support them. If the United States jumps head first in to support groups without fully understanding their beliefs and goals; then it is a real possibility that the free world could soon be facing an Islamist winter storm, much like the storm brought on by the Nazi Blitzkrieg of 1939.

References

(2013, February 13). Unrest in the Arab world. Issues and Controversies database. Retrieved from http://www.2facts.com/article/i1800070 (2013, July 22). Unrest in the Arab World Follow-Up. Issues and Controversies database. Retrieved from http://www.2facts.com/article/ib180074 (2010, December 31). Egypt: Protests Mount Over Police Brutality; Other Development.
Retrieved from http://www.2facts.com/article/2010536540
(2012, March 13). Mali: Tuareg Rebellion Displaces Tens of Thousands. Retrieved from http://www.2facts.com/article/2012554215…...

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