Europe and the “Arabellion” in 2012
“spotlight europe” takes stock of past events, coming challenges
Ever since the Tunisian fruit vendor Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire on December 17, 2010, the Arab world has been in an uproar. As of today, the "Arabellion", as the German media have dubbed the unrest, has toppled leaders in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen, and the Assad regime in Syria has become unstable.
Publication examines coming challenges
Dedicated to the topic of “Europe and the Arabellion in 2012,” the current issue of the Bertelsmann Stiftung’s “spotlight europe” takes stock of recent happenings in the Middle East and looks at the challenges Arab-European relations will face in the coming year. For Europe, the Arab Spring must be seen as an opportunity. After all, the EU needs to do more to coordinate its activities and promote basic democratic values, both at home and vis-à-vis its new partners. The cooperation practiced by Europe’s states in the form of the EU can serve as a prime example, especially for the Arab world, of how it is possible to start over as a democracy.
A brief look back
The Arab Spring achieved quite a bit in 2011, including the feeling of pan-Arab democracy, communicated via the Internet, along with a renaissance in civil society, the relaunch of numerous political parties and the advent of free elections.
In 2012, political parties in the Arab world will be impacted by the degree to which religion plays a role in national constitutions. How much of this influence the new political structures can bear remains to be seen. Paradoxically, the Arab world’s secular revolts brought Islamist parties to power for the first time. In Tunisia, for example, the region’s model country when it comes to political restructuring, the moderate Islamist Ennahda party emerged as the victor after elections for the country’s constitutional assembly. Together with secular partners, it is now taking on governmental responsibilities.
No regime change in other Arab countries
Many countries are likely to experience rebellions, however. The monarchies in Morocco and Jordan have therefore begun introducing structural changes based on partial, long-term reforms. At the same time, Saudi Arabia’s monarchy, the sultan of Oman, the amirs of Qatar and Kuwait and the president of the United Arab Emirates have a better chance of implementing reforms and increasing political participation. Although the Arab Spring has stalled in these countries, it has escalated and become violent in Bahrain, Yemen, Libya and Syria. These countries now face the challenge of creating a new political order based on free elections and equal participation, thereby bringing an end to the violence through the rule of law.
Europe has a range of tools at its disposal for efficiently supporting partner states in the Arab world. In September, for example, the EU agreed as part of its Neighbourhood Policy to implement four new programs designed to help Arab states transform themselves and thereby achieve the following goals:
- Promote democracy, human rights and the rule of law
- Increase the focus on partnerships with civil society
- Offer greater financial assistance
- Conclude a comprehensive free-trade agreement with Arab states
For more, see our current issue of "spotlight europe".
+49 5241 81-81187