The Arab Spring Is Dead — and Syria Is Writing Its Obituary
I called an old friend the other day, dialing the number somewhat sheepishly. He’s a senior adviser to the Iraq government and I knew what to expect when he answered.
First, he reprimanded me for not calling enough and hardly visiting. I’ve been away too long. You can’t do that, not to your friends. What’s so difficult about calling? he asked.
I apologized, asked about his children, his health, if he’s having success in quitting smoking, and offered the only excuse I could think of: “I’ve been busy with the Arab Spring.”
“The Arab Spring?” he said. “What’s that? There’s no Arab Spring anymore. That’s over. It is now a big struggle for power.”
He may have been acting like an insistent grandmother, but he was right. The Arab Spring is over. The days of the protesters with laptops and BlackBerrys in Tahrir Square are long gone.
Instead, a much bigger struggle is underway, one that goes back centuries that is both a regional battle for dominance and an epic tug of war between Sunnis and Shiites for control of the Middle East and the Prophet Muhammad’s legacy.
The front line is now in Syria, where the United Nations says more than 20,000 people have been killed since pro-democracy protests started in March 2011.
But it goes back, at least in very modern history, at least to Iraq — and America shares a large part of the responsibility for reopening this Pandora’s Box.