Opinion: Tides of the Arab revolutions

As calls for intervention increase, ask not who will replace dictators and when, ask what replaces the regimes and how – Published on english Al Jazeera, by Marwan Bishara, Nov. 26, 2011.

… Three dimensions or general guidelines should, in particular, be examined.

Numbers speak louder than words:  

Some of the regimes, as in Libya or Syria, have had bloody records during the years, and their violent crackdown in recent months has pushed people to arm themselves or to ask for international intervention or protection.

But the militarisation of the Libyan revolution and the international intervention in Libya has proven costly. Before the intervention started, the estimated deaths stood at one to two thousand people.

By the time it ended several months later, tens of thousands were dead. Some put the figure at 20,000, others more than double that.

The huge difference in the estimates underlines just how bad and messy things have become.

Those Syrians asking for international intervention must consider the terrible cost paid by the Libyans.

Moreover, the oil-rich North African nation might be able to pay for reconstruction, but it won’t recover the terrible “collateral damage” in human losses and injuries.

Syria, meanwhile, is not only poor, it’s also a complicated society with growing ethnic tensions and deep societal polarisation. It’s not clear how imposing a no-fly-zone in Syria could ease the regime’s crackdown. The Syrian military is heavily deployed among the population centres and would be hard to hit without terrible cost to citizens.

Short of costly foreign military intervention with boots on the ground that would also cripple Syria’s national security capabilities for decades to come, with dangerous regional and international ramifications, it’s not clear how any foreign military intervention could help.

Furthermore, NATO, the only international military alliance capable of such operation as in Libya or the Balkans, has made clear they have no appetite for another mission. They also emphasised they wouldn’t act in any way without a UN Security Council mandate.

In addition, Russia and China have already made clear their rejection of any such military scenario in Syria or a repeat of Libya.

Short history, shorter memory: … (full long text).

(Marwan Bishara is Al Jazeera’s senior political analyst and a former professor of international relations at the American University of Paris. His latest book, The Invisible Arab: The promise and peril of the Arab revolutions, hits bookstores in January: The Invisible Arab, The Promise and Peril of the Arab Revolutions).


Infographic: Egypt elections explained, Understanding the logistics of Egypt’s complex election process, on Al Jazeera, by staff, Nov. 27, 2011.

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