By Loubna Flah
By Loubna Flah
Morocco World News
Casablanca, January 27, 2012
The euphoria of victory spread among the resolved crowds in Tahrir Square after President Mubarak announced his resignation. At this particular moment, many started even to talk about the post-Arab Spring era in reference to the period following the ouster of Arab dictators. Nevertheless, history has taught us that deep-rooted practices don’t change overnight. Likewise, the pre-Arab spring era marked by social unrest spanned over decades before indignation raged among underprivileged social strata.
Despite being engrossed in life routines, the “common” citizen felt an overt antagonism alive in the recess of their mind. But when the uprising could overthrow dictatorship everyone rejoiced at the sight of men and children hugging soldiers and mounting tanks waving the sign of “victory”. Nobody could foresee that the same soldiers would months later strip a female protester, stomp on her and drag her along the ground like a slaughtered lamb. It became clear that the military’s siding with the protesters in January had been a survival bid of the military commanders. The youth movement started to crack the veneer to realize that the umbilical cord had not been cut between the military and the old ways of Mubarak and his cronies.
In all political systems, the armed forces are the safeguard against any potential invasion that poses a threat to a nation’s sovereignty. Though it does not interfere directly in the domestic issues that pertain to governance, the military remains a powerful institution by the virtue of its offensive capacity and the network of connections with decision makers. When the military and the government’s interests are in sync, their complicity remains invincible since they can brandish their weapon in the face of any foreign or domestic threat. Avertedly, frictions between the government and the military are liable to endanger the countries’ stability, as it is the case in Pakistan where the possibility of a military coup is never totally debunked. In the Arab uprisings, in particular, the rapport between the military and the civilian order has been decisive in controlling the course of events and the their outcomes.
The military is a public institution characterized by the use of lethal force to deter threats to the national security and to defend the borders against an actual offensive. The military is a closed community that has its own facilities and is considered as “a society within society”. Its capacity depends on the defense budget allocated by the state to resource and sustain its infrastructure and equipment. The armed forces often function in the shadows, unnoticed by civil society except in wartime where they are propelled to the public’s attention. In Egypt for instance, junior officers affiliated with The Free Officers movement could orchestrate a military coup to overthrow King Faros in 1952. Therefore, they could expand their power through infiltration of strategic sectors in Egypt namely politics and the economy. Needless to say that two of the most influential presidents in Egypt‘s history namely Jamal Abdenasser and Anwar Saadaat were officers. Thus, the military’s attitude on critical issues and at sensitive junctures is susceptible to shape history by the virtue of the hard power they have at their disposal and their firm grip over key sectors.
There is no doubt that the alignment of the military in Tunisia with the masses had a soothing effect as it made the transition from an authoritarian regime to a democratic system rather smooth. The Tunisian armed forces pledged to protect the revolution and chased off Ben Ali security forces accused of harsh repression against peaceful protesters. The Tunisian revolution unexpectedly sparked and unfolded as a relatively peaceful denouement. In Egypt, the revolution’s tale has had more than one twist. The military council’s delay to return power to civilians and its insistence to remain above the rule of law has outraged the bulk of Egyptians who have started to think that their victory against totalitarian rule is being hijacked. It has become obvious that the Egyptian revolution still has to jump many hurdles to stay afloat.
In Syria the military apparatus boasts a much wider circle of influence. Bashar Al Assad was propelled to power, shifting from medicine to politics, to reproduce a replica of his father’s staunch rule. With Maher al Assad, Bashar’s brother, at the head of the Republican Guard and the Fourth Armored Division, the military remained under the Assad family control. In addition, the Alawites who pledge allegiance to Bahsar al Assad make up the majority of soldiers in the Syrian armed forces. Strongly backed by the military, Bashar al Assad struck back the uprising with an iron fist. The fears of the security forces’ retaliation besides the reluctance of the Syrian opposition are the main factors that adjourned a real revolution in Syria. It is noteworthy that more cracks are appearing in the armed forces with many defections by soldiers reluctant to perpetrate massacres of Syrians. To add a layer of complexity to the Syrian file, Russia, a permanent member of the Security Council wielded its veto power to prevent a UN resolution against the Syrian regime. In the midst of this chaos, the military still has the upper hand committing atrocities against civilians with total impunity.
The military apparatus has played a pivotal role in the Arab revolutions’ viability and continuation. Whether the armed forces have assailed the disarmed protesters or they have presented themselves as the new revolution guards, they have proven to be major players in sketching the features of the new Arab democraci.
Edited by Benjamin Villanti
Loubna Flah is a Moroccan national. She earned a master degree in Biochemistry from the Mohammedia faculty of science and technologies. She obtained also a bachelor degree in English studies from Ain Chok University after writing a dissertation about the aspects of sexism in Moroccan Arabic. She graduated from the Ecole Normale Superieure in Rabat as a high school teacher of English.
© Morocco World News