Gilles Kepel: Arab Revolutions in their third phase

MENA , Monday 8 Apr 2013

French researcher Gilles Kepel observes the Arab revolutions and analyses the regional conditions that led to the complicated Syrian situation

Gilles Kepel

The French researcher and author a specialist on Arab and Islam for 40 years, Gilles Kepel, considers the Arab revolutions, and especially the Egyptian revolution, to be entering their third phase. This announcement took place during a discussion at the Institute Du Monde Arab in Paris, celebrating the launch of the new book by Kepel, 'Arab Passion.'

According to Kepel, the Arab revolutions have already completed two phases, the first started with the mass movement initiated by the communication on social media and that had resulted in the ousting of Mubarak, and the second phase witnessed the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) reaching power, and now the revolution is on its third wave where the Brotherhood lose popularity for failing to manage the country economically and politically.  

The new book, Kepel hopes, is a living text that tracks the change that took place throughout the Arab world since the start of revolutions and until now, where we're witnessing critical days in the history of the Arab world. He has toured the Arab world, starting with Tunisia and Egypt, then to Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Libya, Gaza, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain and the Arab Emirates, meeting various people from different factions of society. 

"Whatever becomes of the future of Arab revolutions, the citizens gained back their freedom of expression," Kepel said, pointing to the role played by Al-Jazeera satellite channel that played a role in the MB reaching power where they highlighted their role in the revolution, doing them the media marketing as if they were the leaders of the Egyptian revolution. 

"The MB are perceived by Arabs and Egyptians as legitimate representatives of the revolution, and in return Qatar awaited a return of the favour through supporting it in front of its opponent, Saudi Arabia, and its neighbor, Iran… What is happening now in the Arab countries, especially in Syria, is strife between the Shiite of Iran, Iraq and South of Lebanon on one side, and the Salafists and Wahabis who belong to the Gulf countries on another, with the aim of controlling the region," Kepel stated. 

Opposition in Egypt doesn't have weight in the Egyptian streets, Kepel argues, because of their internal divisions, and the division among Egyptians themselves on leadership of the opposition, some of whom belong to the old regime, considering the youth as the true opposition as they reject the current status that did not meet their aspirations.  

Kepel explained that youth of the Arab world changed dramatically, and these differences between youth in the Arab and the West have dissolved as was revealed by the Bouazizi setting himself on fire in Tunisia, and becoming the fuel for the Arab revolutions.  

Having analysed the situation closely and observing Tahrir Square, he discovered that the excited and brave youth who led the revolution that succeeded in getting rid of Mubarak, believe that they want democracy that they see in developed countries through their TV screens.  

Kepel mentioned that the Syrian uprising started peaceful like everywhere else in the Arab revolutions, but it turned militant rendering the whole situation difficult because of the failure to reach a political solution to sectarian strife. "Syria is living a tragedy today, where the current regime is supported by Russia, Iran and China, while the opposition doesn't find the support it anticipated from the West like in Libya, and thus looked for the Sunni Gulf countries that saw in the Syrian battles a chance to take revenge against Iran," Kepel concluded.

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