The Arab Spring: The End of Postcolonialism


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Yet not all members of these forces supported the crackdown; early in the uprising, two air force pilots, refusing to bomb civilians, defected to Malta, while diplomatic defections were reported at the UN in New York. On 22 February, Gaddafi, in power since , delivered a belligerent speech threatening protestors with a swift crackdown. Protests now spread to Tripoli, where many were shot.

Heavy fighting was reported in Zwiyah, 30 miles from Tripoli. On 18 March, the UN Security Council passed a resolution approving a no-fly zone over Libya and authorized NATO to take 'all necessary measures' to protect civilians, short of putting troops on the ground. On 19 March the first air strikes were launched by the US and its European allies against Libyan targets. France was instrumental in launching a military strike against Gaddafi.

The US and its allies were now officially at war with yet another Muslim country. The US soon handed operational authority to NATO, as Obama was beginning to concentrate on his re-election and wished to avoid the perception that the country was involved in yet another war, and Congress was adding to the pressure by indicating that it would oppose military involvement in Libya. By now, Israel was very nervous and wanted to make sure that any post-Gaddafi regime was friendly toward the Jewish state.

But against the odds Gaddafi stood firm; he had become a finger against the wind of the Arab Spring. Protests in Yemen began as early as 23 January. In response, on 2 February, President Ali Abdullah Saleh, in power since , told the Yemeni parliament that he would not be seeking re-election when his term expired in On 3 February, the Yemenis planned a 'Day of Rage' to express their opposition to the ruling regime and some 20, took to the streets in Sana'a. A young Yemeni human rights activist and journalist, Tawakkol Karman, became world famous as she led thousands of her compatriots in demonstrations.

On 12 February thousands more demonstrated, calling for political reforms. President Saleh — baffled by the speed of events, as was his patron, the US — held an emergency meeting. On 10 March, in response to the continued protests, Saleh announced he would draw up a new constitution. Later in the month, pro-reform demonstrations resumed, after police snipers opened fire on peaceful demonstrators in Sana'a, killing scores.

Senior military figures, including a key general, Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, now declared their backing for the protest movement. Several ministers and other senior regime figures also defected.


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In April, the pattern of unrest and violent government response continued; President Saleh vowed to remain in office. In May, dozens more died in clashes between troops and tribal fighters in Sana'a. Alarmed by the uprising, the US feared an al-Qaeda resurgence in Yemen. Soon airports were shut down while thousands fled the city. In June, President Saleh was injured in a rocket attack on his presidential palace and was flown to Saudi Arabia.

The Arab Spring: The end of postcolonialism

Saudi Arabia had now become the main haven for runaway dictators fleeing the Arab Spring, its own ruling regime becoming ever more heavily involved in suppressing the movement. On 14 February Bahrain launched its own 'Day of Rage,' organized through social media. Demonstrators were mostly Shi'a. The ruling Sunni regime soon denounced the uprising, arguing that it was different from the Arab Spring, and in fact instigated by the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The Shi'i—Sunni divide, however, was a ruse. The more fundamental matter of political corruption lay at the root of the action. Two demonstrators were killed in Manama. To commemorate their death, on 15 February, thousands of demonstrators gathered at Pearl Square, and the main opposition party withdrew from parliament in protest. On 17 February, an early morning raid cleared Pearl Square of the thousands of protestors who had camped there; four people were reported killed. The king, Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, his family ruling Bahrain since , released a number of political prisoners as a conciliatory gesture, while ordering an even more severe crackdown on the protests.

Meanwhile prominent Shi'a opposition figure Hassan Mushaima, the secretary general of the Haq Movement, returned from exile. The following day martial law was declared by the ruler, but the protests continued. Soon after, due to the fear of a repetition of Egypt's Tahrir Square, the focal point of demonstrations, the Pearl Square, was demolished.

In April, the government banned the two main political parties representing the Shi'a majority. Four protesters were sentenced to death. By June, the heavy security remained in place, while scores of activists were sentenced to imprisonment, ranging from two years to life. In just over two weeks, following the fall of Ben Ali, the regime of Hosni Mubarak too had fallen: the Arab world was watching, and learning. The Obama administration was caught off guard, Europeans were baffled, Israel was scared.

The Arab Spring now had its biggest apple, and events was in full swing. What country would be next? On 16 February, protests erupted in Benghazi, Libya; further clashes with the police and security forces were reported the following day. The immediate cause was the arrest of a human rights activist, Fethi Tarbel, known for his tireless work with families of the victims of a notorious massacre at the Abu Salim prison, where it is believed over a thousand prisoners were executed.

By 21 February, hundreds of protestors were reported killed in clashes with police and security. Yet not all members of these forces supported the crackdown; early in the uprising, two air force pilots, refusing to bomb civilians, defected to Malta, while diplomatic defections were reported at the UN in New York.

The Enigma of the Arab Spring and its Autumn

On 22 February, Gaddafi, in power since , delivered a belligerent speech threatening protestors with a swift crackdown. Protests now spread to Tripoli, where many were shot. Heavy fighting was reported in Zwiyah, 30 miles from Tripoli. On 18 March, the UN Security Council passed a resolution approving a no-fly zone over Libya and authorized NATO to take 'all necessary measures' to protect civilians, short of putting troops on the ground.

On 19 March the first air strikes were launched by the US and its European allies against Libyan targets. France was instrumental in launching a military strike against Gaddafi.

The End of Postcolonialism

The US and its allies were now officially at war with yet another Muslim country. The US soon handed operational authority to NATO, as Obama was beginning to concentrate on his re-election and wished to avoid the perception that the country was involved in yet another war, and Congress was adding to the pressure by indicating that it would oppose military involvement in Libya. By now, Israel was very nervous and wanted to make sure that any post-Gaddafi regime was friendly toward the Jewish state.

But against the odds Gaddafi stood firm; he had become a finger against the wind of the Arab Spring. Protests in Yemen began as early as 23 January. In response, on 2 February, President Ali Abdullah Saleh, in power since , told the Yemeni parliament that he would not be seeking re-election when his term expired in On 3 February, the Yemenis planned a 'Day of Rage' to express their opposition to the ruling regime and some 20, took to the streets in Sana'a.

A young Yemeni human rights activist and journalist, Tawakkol Karman, became world famous as she led thousands of her compatriots in demonstrations. On 12 February thousands more demonstrated, calling for political reforms. President Saleh — baffled by the speed of events, as was his patron, the US — held an emergency meeting. On 10 March, in response to the continued protests, Saleh announced he would draw up a new constitution.

Later in the month, pro-reform demonstrations resumed, after police snipers opened fire on peaceful demonstrators in Sana'a, killing scores. Senior military figures, including a key general, Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, now declared their backing for the protest movement. Several ministers and other senior regime figures also defected.

In April, the pattern of unrest and violent government response continued; President Saleh vowed to remain in office. In May, dozens more died in clashes between troops and tribal fighters in Sana'a. Alarmed by the uprising, the US feared an al-Qaeda resurgence in Yemen. Soon airports were shut down while thousands fled the city. In June, President Saleh was injured in a rocket attack on his presidential palace and was flown to Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia had now become the main haven for runaway dictators fleeing the Arab Spring, its own ruling regime becoming ever more heavily involved in suppressing the movement.

On 14 February Bahrain launched its own 'Day of Rage,' organized through social media. Demonstrators were mostly Shi'a. The ruling Sunni regime soon denounced the uprising, arguing that it was different from the Arab Spring, and in fact instigated by the Islamic Republic of Iran. The Shi'i—Sunni divide, however, was a ruse.

The more fundamental matter of political corruption lay at the root of the action. Two demonstrators were killed in Manama.

Hamid Dabashi and The Arab Spring

To commemorate their death, on 15 February, thousands of demonstrators gathered at Pearl Square, and the main opposition party withdrew from parliament in protest. On 17 February, an early morning raid cleared Pearl Square of the thousands of protestors who had camped there; four people were reported killed. In this landmark book, Hamid Dabashi argues that the revolutionary uprisings that have engulfed multiple countries and political climes from Morocco to Iran and from Syria to Yemen, are driven by a "Delayed Defiance" - a point of rebellion against domestic tyranny and globalized disempowerment that signifies no less than the end of Postcolonialism.

Dabashi shows how the Arab Spring has altered the geopolitics of the region so radically that we must begin re-imagining the moral map of "the Middle East" afresh. Ultimately, a "permanent revolutionary mood" has the potential to liberate not only those already ignited, but many others through a universal geopolitics of hope. Hamid has been a columnist for the Egyptianal-Ahram Weekly for over a decade, and is now a regular columnist for Aljazeera , and he has had a regular column at CNN.

He has travelled and lectured extensively in the Arab world, from Morocco to Egypt to Palestine to Syria.

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The book is so rich, careful and systematic in making its case that I expect it to define a new paradigm regarding the nature of revolution itself. He recounts philosophically an open-ended non-linear story, which is still in the making. It offers a fresh look at some deeper resources of Arab societies and cultures. Convert currency.


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