Mubarak’s verdict: ancien Arab regimes as new regimes
Make no mistake about it. The Sisi court which reversed previous court and government decisions in Egypt regarding the culpability of Hosni Mubarak and his family in cases of murder and corruption did not only come from inside Egypt. It was part of the package deal that installed Sisi in power. Saudi Arabia is now in charge of arranging and re-arranging the Arab regional order according to its wishes and the wishes of Israel. Saudi Arabia expelled Qatar’s influence from the Arab world and is now making sure, by force, coercion and diplomacy that the Qatari regime would no longer pose a threat to its influence. In Tunisia, the Saudi regime funded the As-Sibsi political party as a way to reintroduce the Ben Ali regime but without Ben Ali.
The Saudi regime generously funded the Sisi regime and ordered its close ally, the UAE, to do the same. This generous funding came at a price: that the Sisi regime would not allow the revolutionary youth fervor to launch a vendetta against Mubarak and his cronies. On the contrary, the deal ensured that Mubarak would be spared a tough sentence and be allowed to live in comfort while maintaining to the public that he is technically in a jail. But the Saudi regime would not have been able to undertake this change in Egypt and elsewhere without the full support and cooperation of Israel and the US.
The new Qatari regime seems to have accepted to take a backseat to Saudi leadership of the Arab world. The Arab counter-revolution is now in Saudi-Israeli-US hands while the rest of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) regimes are ordered to follow suit. The emerging Arab regional order strikingly resembles the old Arab regional order. The old regimes either will be preserved or will be remodeled with cosmetic changes at the top.
This was never an “Arab spring.” The recent books by Hillary Clinton and Henry Kissinger make it very clear that the US government (and Israel, of course) will never give up that easily on its collection of potentates in the region. They will not be forced to abdicate in the name of democracy or some higher ideals. They will be protected and armed and if the popular tide goes against them, an alternative potentate will be put in place (that was the scenario of Yemen that Saudi Arabia and the US will emulate throughout the region).
The Mubarak verdict was important: the long ruling by the judge reveals the trends to come. Mubarak was found innocent but he was blamed for some corruption of people around him and also for being somewhat slow his decision-making. The number of casualties of that infamous day was lowered to make the exoneration of Mubarak less offensive.
The process of political transformation that sent in with the eruption of Arab uprising has not ended. It has been thwarted, blocked, and aborted but the process will continue. Those who are seeking change will realize that they won’t be permitted to make change peacefully and quietly. The next phase of the Arab uprising will be more violent, especially after the suppression of the Muslim Brotherhood. The Brotherhood and its sponsor in Doha and Ankara won’t allow for the arming of the Brotherhood. Instead, some violent splinter groups (not necessarily Al-Qa`idah types) will emerge and exact revenge on those who determinedly prevented the peaceful and democratic victories of the Brotherhood at the ballot box.
The Arab counter-revolutionary process is now in full motion. No Arab youth movement and no Muslim Brotherhood and no talks about democracy will stand in its way. It has the full support of the US and Israel and all three partners will shape the region in the full service of the American-Israeli alliance.
But therein lays the paradox: the new regional order stands as an act of provocation against Arab youths and their dreams. If Mubarak was overthrown, his successors will be in time easier to replace and the next revolutionary leadership will learn from the past phase. Heads will roll and the Bastille will be stormed on the very first day of the uprising.
Dr. As’ad AbuKhalil is a Professor of Political Science at California State University, Stanislaus, a lecturer and the author of The Angry Arab News Service. He tweets @asadabukhalil
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