The beginning of this new year in the Arab region looks remarkably like that of past year. 2018 started with social turmoil and protests in Morocco, Tunisia, Jordan, and Sudan — even Iran seemed to catch up with the Arab upheaval. One year later, in this beginning of 2019, the social earthquake is still shaking an Arab region characterized by its high density of volcanoes, whether active exploding ones or dormant ones ready to erupt at any time.
Tunisia, the epicenter of the big earthquake that started on December 17, 2010 in the town of Sidi Bouzid in the country’s impoverished center — the country that inaugurated the Arab Spring, the most exhilarating chapter of Arab modern history (until the next “spring”) — is still going through one explosion after another. The most recent local uprising erupted in the town of Kasserine, in the country’s same impoverished central region, and extended to other areas in the vicinity of the two major cities of Tunis and Sfax.
In Sudan, whose people joined the 2011 Arab Spring early on and were met by harsh repression from Omar al-Bashir’s despotic regime, the popular movement has gone back on the offensive again and again, relentlessly. Like a tempestuous sea whose gigantic waves are knocking at the walls of a huge prison, the people’s movement is gathering momentum, strike after strike, until the day when the Sudanese Bastille will crumble — a day that will come inexorably despite all the efforts deployed by the Sudanese despot’s “brothers” among the Gulf monarchs to rescue him.
The Arab Old Regime is now coming together again, and the region’s counterrevolutionary forces are reuniting, overcoming the religious sectarian divisions that they exploited for a while in striving to push the Arab Spring off its course towards democracy and social equality into the filthy swamp of sectarian hatreds. How telling that the man who first reembraced Bashar al-Assad — the Syrian symbol of the despotic order that held out against the sweeping revolutionary wave that began in Tunisia eight years ago — is none other than the head of what is presently the weakest link of the chain of Arab regimes: Omar al-Bashir himself, who made a surprise visit to Damascus by the end of last year. [Continue reading…]