Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Struggles of the Arab Spring/Summer: A Win/Win

Libor Hajsky/Agence France-Presse

The struggles of the Arab Spring/Summer have been diverse depending on the MENA country in which they are taking place. All have included sacrifice in various forms. Some, like Tunisia and Egypt, have been less bloody and protracted than others, yet face the challenges of post-regime change and reconstruction, or, like Morocco, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia ensuring that pre-emptive promised changes are effected. Others, like Libya, Syria, and Yemen are still actively being fought in the streets and throughout the country, even if, as in Libya, seeming to be in the closing days of battle. Bahrain seems to be in a category of its own--repressed, negotiating, and yet smouldering.

However, whatever the outcome in each country, including in those where there have been less overt demands for change, or pre-emptive promises, the Arab Spring is a win-win. As the Prague Spring of 1968 showed, the uprising may be suppressed, but the spirit lives on. There is a paradigm shift, or in the spirit of the Arab Spring, the fear is overcome.

Libor Hajsky/Agence France-Presse

For seven months in 1968, Czechoslovakia stepped out from the Soviet Union's shadow, easing restrictions on freedom of speech and paving the way for democratic elections. Moscow, worried about the stability of the Communist Bloc, would have none of it. On the late evening of Aug. 20, a Soviet airborne unit captured Prague's airport while Warsaw Pact troops and tanks flooded the country. They met little military resistance; instead, citizens took to the streets in protest and tried to argue with the Soviet soldiers. The reforms were squelched and, within a few months, Czechoslovak Communist chief Alexander Dubcek was ousted and replaced with a more Moscow-friendly leader. While the Prague Spring was easily crushed, its spirit inspired legions of reformers who would achieve its goals a generation later. --Adrian Morrow
--From The Globe and Mail's "A Moment in Time: Aug. 20, 1968 Soviets Crush Prague Spring" [print edition only, not available online]

(AP Photo/Libor Hajsky/CTK)

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(AP Photo/Libor Hajsky/CTK)

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