How effectively have Libya and Tunisia transitioned post-revolution?

The Arab press discusses the ongoing struggles in countries affected by the Arab uprisings that left the region frail before extremist groups.

The optimistic moment of the Arab Spring is long gone, as the countries the uprisings touched struggle to transition into peaceful societies.

While the eyes of the international community tend to be focused on Syria, Egypt and Iraq, Libya seems to have been forgotten, as groups of extremists and militias wreak havoc.

“The Great Libyan Arab Jamahiriya has turned into the Arab Libyan Militias and instead of one single Gaddafi, there is one Gaddafi for each militia. The Great Jamahiriya is now divided into small Jamahiriyas, all as great as the first”, observes Abdullah Al Suweiji in the UAE daily Al Khaleej.

Libyan militias are now impeding the establishment of a sovereign state, preventing Libyans from living in peace and harmony.

“The Arab League must own up to its responsibilities now, as it did when it helped oust Gaddafi, so must Nato forces who destroyed the Libyan army and the Security Council who so easily issued a no-fly zone resolution. They are all responsible for Libya’s instabilities and will be held accountable for Libya’s division, should it truly take place”, argued Al Suweiji.

Libya, he concluded, is now forgotten by all except oil and gas traders and deserves to be remembered.

Neighbouring Tunisia fares better after political players were able to agree on a modern constitution.

“The civil nature of the State and the role of religion in public life were decisive in Tunisia, leading to a constitution that is the first of its kind (both in the Arab and Muslim World), featuring articles regarded as exceptional milestones,” remarked Maha Yahia, columnist in the pan-Arab Al Hayat.

Negotiations between political parties during the drafting process have led to inconsistencies between certain articles, mirroring underlying contradictions in the Tunisian society, shedding the light on various upcoming challenges. One of the most pressing debates ahead is about electoral legislation, defining processes for presidential, parliamentary, regional and municipal elections.

“The Tunisian Constitution postponed the discussion of many matters until implementation time, thus leaving the door wide open for political games and manoeuvres. Such is a double-edged sword. It provides a possibility of undermining the fundamental rules of the new social contract though it allows broad segments of society to act under their obligations as citizens, to work together and maintain the basic principles of their uprising, ensuring they don’t undermine the spirit of the Constitution and recognition of fundamental rights”, observed Yahia.

Despite its deep-rooted contradictions, the new Tunisian Constitution paves the way to a more effective reform. It will ensure a positive impact on daily lives, truly testing democracy. “The struggle for Tunisia’s future has just begun”, she concluded.

The Syrian conflict, on the other hand, is the open wound that overshadowed most regional uncertainties, crowned with humanitarian disasters and war crimes

“Ahmed Al Jarba, the would-be successor of Bashar Al Assad as president, visited Washington in a new attempt to get anti-aircraft missiles, the same ones that pushed the Soviets out of Afghanistan and that prevented Syrian rebels from isolating Assad in Damascus”, observed Abdel Rahman Al Rashed in the pan-Arab daily Asharq El Awsat.

“Nothing seems to signify that the White House is prepared to change its position on the matter, despite the enormity of the tragedy and despite the persistence of the Assad regime to use shells in its daily attacks on towns and villages.”

He argued that “no one believes the pretext that claiming the fear that weapons fall in the hands of extremist organisations such as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and Al Nusra, because a credible opposition is present on the Syrian territory and is well-known by the Americans.”

Will the US recognition of Syrian National Coalition offices empower the opposition, and push the Assad regime to attend Geneva negotiations? Al Rashed asked.

Translated by Carla Mirza

Published: May 6, 2014 04:00 AM


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