The results of the Arab Spring “on balance are more than disappointing,” says Larry Diamond, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, where he directs the Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law (CDDRL).
It has been more than three years since the first protest movements started in late 2011. …Do you think this is a completely disappointing process when looking back to the early euphoria people experienced? asks Mehmet Hecan.
No, it’s not completely disappointing because at least one of the several countries that had revolutionary movements and deposed authoritarian regimes is now moving towards democracy, namely Tunisia. This is a very significant development. I think it’s now very likely to lead to the first clear democratic system in the Arab world, at a minimum, since the failure of parliamentary democracy in Lebanon in the mid-1970s. …
We should notice that meanwhile in Yemen, which is one of the other four Arab countries that deposed an autocrat, there has been a pre-constitution-making process and a national dialogue conference that at least reached some degree of agreement on the broad parameters of a new constitutional structure and the need of sharing power and revenue between northern and southern Yemen. It still has a very long way to go and could implode in a variety of bad ways, but you know, at least the process is still on track.
Elsewhere it is very grim. Egypt has emerged in an extreme authoritarian direction with a narrative and set of dynamics that are viciously repressive, and a fascist overtone of complete intolerance of criticism of the opposition, glorification of xenophobic nationalism, and worshipping of a hero-savior in the form of general El-Sisi. It is very alarming. Libya has virtually disintegrated as a state since it is in the control of different militias and warlords. Bahrain has become again a repressive authoritarian regime that has completely suffocated popular aspirations for freedom and accountability.
The outcomes on balance are more than disappointing, but there is one emerging success story and another possibility of a partial success story. Much of the history of the Arab world remains to be written. This is a process that is going to evolve and unfold over an extended period of time, probably over the next 20 years.