February 10, 2012

Summary

This issue of Diplomaatia focuses on the follow-up of the ‘Arab spring’, now more often called the ‘Arab Winter’, as roughly a year has passed since the beginning of the initially unexpected revolutionary developments in the region. Offering overviews of the region as a whole and analyses of the current situation in some particular countries of the region, our authors investigate the extent to which the region has changed by now and whether or not the emergence of genuine democracy in the Arab states has become feasible in the near future.

This issue of Diplomaatia focuses on the follow-up of the ‘Arab spring’, now more often called the ‘Arab Winter’, as roughly a year has passed since the beginning of the initially unexpected revolutionary developments in the region. Offering overviews of the region as a whole and analyses of the current situation in some particular countries of the region, our authors investigate the extent to which the region has changed by now and whether or not the emergence of genuine democracy in the Arab states has become feasible in the near future.

Summary

This issue of Diplomaatia focuses on the follow-up of the ‘Arab spring’, now more often called the ‘Arab Winter’, as roughly a year has passed since the beginning of the initially unexpected revolutionary developments in the region. Offering overviews of the region as a whole and analyses of the current situation in some particular countries of the region, our authors investigate the extent to which the region has changed by now and whether or not the emergence of genuine democracy in the Arab states has become feasible in the near future.
In the opening essay, Director of the Estonian Institute of Human Rights Mart Nutt presents a general overview of the course of the Arab revolutions and recalls the reasons and circumstances that triggered the revolutions a little more than a year ago.
Said Sadek, a professor of the American University in Cairo, analyses the situation in Egypt from the beginning of the revolution in January 2011 to the recent parliamentary elections and the likely implications of their outcome. Given the return of violence to the streets and the success of Islamist parties in the elections, Dr Sadek predicts that Egypt will still have to deal with instability and restlessness at least for another decade. Kadri Jõgi, a lecturer at Tallinn University, writes in her article about the situation of women in the Arab world before and after the ‘Spring’.
In his essay ‘A Quiet Spring in Morocco’, freelance journalist Georg Merilo assesses the reasons why the revolutionary changes of several other Arab states have not occurred in Morocco. He claims that the willingness of King Mohammed VI to enforce genuine reforms through peaceful means has reduced the pressures that have motivated people to demand radical changes elsewhere in the region. MEP Kristiina Ojuland analyses the situation in Tunisia where the wave of revolutions started in December 2010. She compares the current revolution to the Jasmine Revolution of 1987 that brought President Ben Ali to power and initially raised hopes for positive changes.
Michael Weiss, the Communications Director at the Henry Jackson Society, writes about the plight of the Syrian people under the Assad regime that resorts to remarkable cruelty in order to avoid the fate that has befallen other Middle Eastern tyrannies. Weiss suggests a number of possible post-Assad developments, while acknowledging that after another failure of the West to agree on an intervention – as the UN Security Council resolution on Syria was vetoed by Russia and China – the liberation of Syria from the Assad regime might still take a while. European Commissioner Cecilia Malmström criticises in her commentary the EU’s asylum policy in 2011, regretting that the EU has not managed to react appropriately to the increasing flow of refugees triggered by the Arab Spring.
Kristiina Koivunen, a sociologist teaching at the University of Sulaymaniyah, and Asso Zand, a Swedish politician, analyse the current situation of Iraq in the light of the country’s history. They remind the reader that there is no ‘Iraqi’ ethnicity or culture and that the three major identities within Iraq – Shia Arab, Sunni Arab and Kurdish – preserve a fragile balance that has not yet been stabilised to ensure the continuity of a united Iraq. Erik Männik, a security analyst at ICDS, offers visions for a post-conflict Libya. He argues that Libya is gradually moving towards democracy and free elections, but there are still a lot of problems to solve. Männik predicts that Syria may face similar problems.
Hannes Hanso, also an analyst at ICDS, contemplates in his essay ‘The Arab Dream’ both the reasons and the outcomes of the Arab Spring a year after the beginning of the turmoil. Hanso warns us that before the overall situation in the region might get better, it could still become much worse. A major difference between the revolutions in Eastern Europe after the fall of the Berlin Wall on the one hand, and the Arab Spring on the other, is that East Europeans had a much clearer picture of what they wanted instead of the old regimes that they had overthrown. The positive scenario for the ‘Arab Dream’ is much more obscure and thus it is harder to predict the outcomes of the events in that region.
Beyond the ‘Arab Winter’, this issue of Diplomaatia features an essay by political scientist Maria Mälksoo on the late Czech President Ví¡clav Havel, portraying him as one of the greatest visionaries of a free and democratic Eastern Europe, the likes of whom – intellectuals as politicians and vice versa – we seldom see today. The Editor of Diplomaatia Iivi Anna Masso gives an initial analysis of the process and result of the presidential elections in Finland, the final round of which was held on last Sunday, February 5. And finally there is review of a book by the Pakistani dissident Ibn Warraq, “Why I am not a Muslim”, by diplomat Merle Pajula, who reassesses the significance of this already classical work in the context of our times, the Arab Spring and multicultural Europe.

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