Since the eruption of the Arab revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen, and Syria for instance, many questions were raised about the overall political scene and the inter-Arab relations, and if this movement will result in reforms in other countries.
This study aims at analysing the effect of these revolutions on the external relations, as well as the inter-Arab relations, in an attempt to predict the future Arab political landscape.
The Arab region is going through major changes and unprecedented political movement ranging from total revolutions that toppled regimes, to revolutions that are still struggling against stubborn regimens, and other initiatives of introducing political and economic reforms to prevent revolutions. All this will eventually lead to a major historic transformation, based on new norms such as the popular participation, citizenship, human rights, political pluralism and refusal of international intervention.
The accession to power of the Political Islamic movements didn’t create the anticipated unified front between Egypt, Libya and Tunisia, mainly because of their internal problems, as well as the economic crisis in some of them.
Yemen is still busy with its own reforms, in addition to facing the separatists’ demands in the South and the North, which is limiting any regional role or affiliation.
The Arab Maghreb region was very affected by the changes, as the access of Islamists to power in Tunisia and Libya will have negative implications to their ties with Europe, which is still reluctant to take a final stance towards the Islamic regimes due to the business and economic ties, and the bilateral agreements. The intra-Maghreb union is still a far goal to reach due the security challenges, and the fact that Algeria isn’t admitting the changes in Libya. Instead the efforts are more into the bilateral ties to enhance security collaboration in order to face the hardliner groups.
The relation between the Arab Spring states and the Gulf countries:
The GCC countries worked hard to halt any popular demands of change, and went through a real test in the way it dealt with the Arab revolutions. Qatar, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates took the lead in supporting change in dictatorships, to an extent that they rushed into providing political and economic support to the newly formed governments in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya.
However, the biggest fear was in the raise of the Muslim Brotherhood, especially in Egypt, and the fear of exporting the revolution to the GCC, especially that this movement is supported by Qatar and is expanding in North Africa and has a growing presence in Kuwait.
The ties between Egypt and the GCC are still under formation, although the GCC are eager to keep these ties as they fear that a neglected Egypt will turn to Iran.
The economic situation in the Arab spring countries:
The revolutions came at a hefty cost, as it is estimated that Egypt, Libya, Yemen and Tunisia lost 100 billion US Dollars because of these revolutions, and they are still facing major challenges, as the economic analysts talk about an unemployment rate exceeding 18% which means that there are 17 million unemployed, requiring 70 billion dollars of investment in employment generating investments, while the Arab countries have more than 15 million foreign workers, and 20% of the Arab universities’ graduates migrate every year.
The instability affected the public revenues of these countries, which encouraged the IMF and other international economic organizations to criticize them, and ask them to abide by strict rules if they want foreign aids. The reservations expressed by the Gulf countries made them reluctant to help the revolution countries at the same pace they used to help in the past.
It looks difficult to change this situation as long as the mistrust persists between the stable regimes (the doubting) and the new regimes (the turbulent), and one easily see a power shift between the GCC countries and Egypt that is trying to gain her role, and not without resistance.
The Syrian situation represents another challenge, as the more time it will take more resources it will need, to an extent that it might distract the attention from the Palestinian cause. And whatever might the final outcome be, the Arab countries will suffer, especially that the Arab lost its neutral role by giving Syria’s seat to the opposition, if the regime resists or falls, problems will persist and the repercussions could reach Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq.
The Arab world needs to set new rules for a new system and invest in the transitional period until reaching a new era and reinventing Arab work mechanisms.
In conclusion the present Arab situation doesn’t allow having a unified vision to confront the dangers and challenges, which makes it impossible to have a unified vision to the Arab security priorities until the end of the revolutions season and its repercussions.
And it is worth noting that in spite of all the political movement and constitutional changes in the Arab region, they didn’t affect positively the intra-Arab relations, and it is likely for this period of instability to continue for a while, as long as the political and strategic void persists.