It changes character, like in quantum mechanics, even as we watch. The French revolution did that in the late 1780s and early 1790s. But spring is gone, and revolt is in, so far not revolution. There are layers of rulers and layers of opposition. The unveiling has started.
If winter seeds from a suicide in Tunisia made buds sprout in early spring, then they must have fallen on fertile soil. Events make processes when "stability" is unstable, like the huge power and wealth gaps. The U.S. trick is to make people believe in individual mobility: "If you don't make it, it is your fault." Others see it as a relation: By taking power-wealth from us they got powerful-rich and we powerless and poor. The former is individualist and person-oriented; the latter collectivist and system-oriented. See it that way and revolts follow, like Tahrir Square, like Wall Street. But some resources are needed.
Three Arab Revolts in One Century
The Arab Spring is the third Arab revolt in less than a century.
The first, in 1916-18, was against the Ottoman Empire. The resource was England-France-Russia against Prussia-Hapsburg-Turkey, with Arab freedom in exchange for revolt. In came the Sykes-Picot treason, four colonies, Palestine and Iraq, Syria-Lebanon, and a Jewish "homeland."
The Ottoman Empire was Muslim, the Western empires (including Italy in Libya from 1911), were secular, open to missionaries. The Ottoman Empire was based on provinces, wilayat; the West constructed countries ridden by strong built-in fault lines, very visible today, only somewhat viable under Western imperialism or Arab dictatorship.
The second, in 1952 -69, from Muhammad Naguib and Gamal Abdel Nasser in Egypt to Muammar Gaddafi in Libya, was against Western imperialism. The resource was their military. U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower and Secretary of State John Foster Dulles condemned the English-French-Israeli attack on Egypt, and in came the U.S.-Israeli empire. The attack on Libya came in 2011.
The third revolt, in 2011-? is against the U.S.-Israeli empire. The resource: unemployed students and suppressed Muslim groups, huge and new.
Unlike the Ottomans and Western colonialists, the United States. and Israel control Arab countries indirectly, via autocratic and kleptocratic elites, based on military force and bribery, not condemned as long as they serve U.S.-Israel. Algeria - the worst in the Arab world, with a quarter million killed since the elections with Front Islamique de Salvation headed for victory were canceled - has the European Union turning a blind eye to atrocities. The best in the Arab world is Algeria's neighbor, Morocco, with a wise King Mohammed VI sensing that the time has come for basic change with constitution, referendum, elections. He might inspire Saudi Arabia to act on the demands of their intellectuals.
The revolts have denounced dictatorship and bribery, knowing well the role of U.S.-Israel in bribing top Egyptian military officials, fighting for their privileges. From Israel, deeply worried about the future of the Camp David deal with Egypt, no concern for democracy has been heard.
The American Game
But the U.S., champion of democracy, plays another game. They are behind some of the training in nonviolence, originally adopted as a foreign policy tool (in Ukraine, Georgia, the colored revolutions) from the Otpor student uprising against Milosevic. They admonish all autocrats to step down and leave. Why? No doubt, there is somewhere a belief in democracy, that people everywhere when given freedom will recognize the U.S. as their stronghold, and become supportive.
But there is another dimension. Autocracy rests on the military, hence on the state, and gets "commissions" from state monopolies. The U.S. prefers privatization. Democracy can be manipulated through media, and private enterprises through investment. Very important is the privatization of central banks for Western globalization of the financial markets (via Basel multilateral clearing). This applies to Iraq-Iran, Lebanon-Libya, Syria-Somalia-Sudan - seven major U.S. targets. Benghazi's Transitional National Assembly (TNA) privatized the central bank immediately. Democrats may be more amenable than even U.S.-sympathetic autocrats, Washington feels.
But this is further complicated by the fault lines in Arab countries. Democracy works fine for homogeneous Nordic countries with "I-cultures" but is very problematic for heterogeneous "we-culture" states with race, ethnicity, religion, modern-traditional-primitive divides (tribes) and geographical rivalries - in short, Libya, no democratic, unitary state; nor are the rest of the seven above, nor others like Israel, with democracy for Jews and an iron fist for Palestinians.
But combining three solutions - federation within, confederation without with open borders, local democracy - may work, say, for Iraq. And that is what the Ottoman Empire was all about, so Turkey may feel called upon to, and no doubt will, play a major role, with the Justice and Development Party (AKP), as a model of Islam with democracy. But apart from the Kurds, Turkey is homogenous relative to the others.
Liberating both the oppressors and the oppressed
Islam is the West's obsession. The West might ask how Christians would react had they been overshadowed by modernizers, Muslim or not, military or not. A Christian brotherhood perhaps? Coming out in the open when a revolt is on, fueling it? And then adapting to others, maybe into some kind of enlightened, sensitive semi-democracy?
A U.S.-Israel switch from obsession to sensitivity would help greatly. Arabs want a better life, unattainable under elites more sensitive to U.S.- Israeli interests than to their own people. Revolts will continue until U.S.-Israel also accept a federationconfederation formula: an Israeli- Palestinian federation (between a twostate and a one-state solution!), within a confederation of Israel, with the five Arab neighbors from Lebanon to Egypt - a Middle East Community. Within that formula the 2011 Arab Spring-inspired protests in Tel Aviv could extend the concern for equality from themselves to their Arab neighbors. And the region could wake up to a new set of rules, more Ottoman, less Western-U.S.-Israeli, but with capitals everywhere, not only Istanbul.
A revolution, liberating both the oppressors and the oppressed.