In the third #IpevLive conversation that took place on June 1, 2021, Osama Gharizi from the US Institute of Peace and Mohamad Moustafa Alabsi From Columbia Global Center in Amman discussed with Journalist Hal Plotkin the restructuring of Arab societies following the 2011 Arab protests. The third speaker Yasmine El Rashidi was unfortunately unable to join the debate.
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Mohamad Moustafa Alabsi insisted on the necessity to develop “historical consciousness” in the Arab world in order to understand what’s happening in those countries and anticipate the future. To him, self-criticism is the first step to understand what’s at stake. Osama Gharizi argued that the core manifestation of violence in the Middle East is social and economic exclusion. He took the example of Lebanon where people have been protesting against a system, against political confessionalism.
They both recognized the complexity of the political situation in the Middle East. According to Mohamad Moustafa Alabsi, it is important to understand that 20 years ago there were partisan armies but, after the revolutions and civil wars, different armies emerged such as the Islamic state, Al Nosra, militia of Bachar Al Assad…etc making it difficult to control the region. He argued that a revolution needs a fixed society in order to transform itself but it is however impossible in the Middle East, even if soft power exists thanks to the internet. Besides, he expressed how important it is to let the Arabs know themselves and the structures of the states they live in.
On the other hand, Osama Gharizi argued that the challenge today is to translate civil society to political society. According to him, the 2019 uprising in Lebanon showed that people were tired of corruption and political confessionalism.
“Despite the tragic outcomes in the Middle East countries, the protests have given a new narrative”, said Mohamad Moustafa Alabsi. He added that despite the tragic outcome, the protests gave these societies an identity. Western intervention according to Mohamad Moustafa Alabsi broke the arab spring and polarised societies whereas according to Osama Gharizi, history has shown that western intervention has not produced any type of solutions.