Since the start of the Arab Spring, we have seen men, women and children get killed by stray bullets, tank shells, scud missiles, attack helicopters and fighter jets.
There are innocent people in Syria under attack by chemical weapons, regardless of which side is guilty of using them, and nothing has been done by world communities. So, what are we waiting for? Are we waiting to see nuclear bombs used to kill innocents indiscriminately?
The Arab Spring erupted in many Arab countries, from Tunisia to Libya and from Egypt to Syria.
Yet I have always maintained that the Arab Spring was dead on arrival although I have the highest respect for people’s demands for better living standards, social equality, freedom to think and ask questions and to eradicate corruption.
I also have no fond sentiment for Tunisia’s Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak and his sons, Yemen’s Ali Abdullah Saleh, Libya’s Muammar Qaddafi and Syria’s Bashar Assad, but I wasn’t optimistic about the outcome of their departure.
The Arab and Western media welcomed the changes, but apparently, many analysts don’t know the complexity of the Arab world.
When you talk to a Syrian from Damascus and a Syrian from Aleppo, it is like talking to two people from two different planets.
A Libyan from Benghazi is completely different to a Libyan from Tripoli. An Egyptian from Cairo would not be welcome in Egypt’s Sinai.
A Yemeni from Sanaa considers a Yemini from Aden his sworn enemy. The simple fact is that these countries are already divided beyond imagination.
Ironically, it was those ousted dictators who held these countries together. Yes, dictatorship is inexcusable, but this is the reality of the Arab world. Just look at Iraq after Saddam Hussein. Who would have imagined that many Iraqis now miss the good old days of Saddam? How can people miss someone who was behind the death of at least one member of every single Iraqi family, including his own?
The answer is easy. Arabs are not ready to be ruled by a democratic system and dictatorship is the norm. Somehow, the Arab world always enjoys having a leader with charisma regardless of what he does or doesn’t do for them.
Former Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser’s legacy is still lamented in Egypt although it was him who made the Arab world as divided as we see it today and lost every war he dragged Egypt into.
Saddam Hussein gassed his own people and many still regard him as a hero. In other words, if democracy is good for one place, then so is dictatorship. This is why I thought the quest for democracy during the Arab Spring was dead on arrival. But, it isn’t only the Arab Spring that has died. Respect for humanity is dead too.
We now see chemical weapons being used against innocent men, women and children. What atrocity can be more ghastly than this?
The sad story in the Middle East is that we distort reality. Over the past few decades, the world saw extensive use of chemical weapons on two occasions and not during a state of war between two enemies, but by governments against their own people. Iraq used it against the Kurds and Syria used it against Syrians.
And it is ironic that the area saw many wars, but no chemical weapons were used except against civilians by their own government, with the exception of Iraq using such weapons against the Iranians during the eight-year Iran-Iraq war.
So now, the question is: What would make a dictator stage an all-out war against his own people? The answer is simple. Because he knows that he can get away with it.
Everyone in the area is waiting for the United States Navy and other Western countries to carry out their routine checks and surveillance and wait for the green light from the White House.
Whatever the outcome of the intervention, we will hear many voices. If the attack takes place and its results go as planned, many people will say the United States did it for its own interest.
If the attacks don’t go as planned, then we will blame Washington and never ourselves.
Isn’t it ironic that we’re so anti-American and yet the first thing we ask for during conflict is American intervention?
The bigger question is: What would happen to Syria and the Syrian people if Bashar Assad is gone or killed?
Who will run the country and who will prevent any future atrocities when the time for revenge and counter-revenge comes?
There will be more killings and the dust will not settle for a long time. So, the question that people in the Arab world have to answer is: What really led to the Arab Spring and how can civilian death be avoided during times of unrest?
The Arab world will continue to suffer very unstable conditions unless they eradicate corruption and promote social equality. We should educate our children to respect the others and not teach them to hate others. Killing in the countries of the Arab Spring, including Iraq, is becoming daily news.
The sad fact is that the killings are carried out in the most gruesome of manners in the name of religion and the killing is based on sect and ethnicity.
Your identity could be a blessing in one place but could be the reason for a lengthy interrogation and brutal execution the next.
The bottom line is that this Arab Spring has exposed how divided the Arabs really are. The Arabs’ No. 1 enemy is not foreigners but themselves. Indeed, many Arab countries have been sleeping with the enemy for a long time. The Arab Spring has taught us that a there is no respect for the human soul.
Finally, the billion-dollar question. Many in the Arab world want to see the US attack the Syrian government’s strongholds, but what if the American military has to use Israeli military data links, intelligence data, air space, radar coverage and search-and-rescue cooperation to do so?
• This article is exclusive to Arab News.