Standort: / Meldung: "It's complicated: the downside of the Arab Spring"

Kate Farmer

Cutting to the chase

22. 1. 2013 - 15:00

It's complicated: the downside of the Arab Spring

Reality Check: Mali conflict and the Arab Spring, Eritrea coup, Israeli elections, Berlusconi's comeback, pilots' protest

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In the increasingly unstable landscape of North Africa, the Arab Spring is having some unexpected and unwanted fallout.

Of course, "unexpected" and "unwanted" are a matter of perspective. It's unexpected and unwanted fallout from the point of view of those who heralded the Arab Spring as a tidal wave carrying North Africa and the Middle East towards freedom and democracy; it's a golden opportunity with a cherry on top for Islamic fundamentalists.



French and Malian troops patrol the streets of Diabaly which was retaken yesterday, but winning back the north of Mali from the Islamists will be no easy task

Mali is a classic example of what's going wrong. Before the fall of Muamar Gaddafi in Libya, Mali was seen as something of a model of African democracy. The majority of people were moderate Muslims, and while the country was poor, it was relatively stable.

Then came a rebellion by the Tuareg - a largely nomadic Berber people, who wanted an independent state in the North. After Gaddafi fell, the Tuareg rebels were supported and fuelled by fighters and weapons pouring in from the now leaderless and destabilized Libya, and those fighters were mostly jihadis.They shared the Tuareg aim of independence from Malian government, but the two groups had rather different ideas of what the new independent state should be like.

Soon the Tuareg were more or less sidelined, and it became a battle between Islamic fundamentalists in the north, and the moderate Islamic government in the south. This was not at all what the Tuareg had in mind and, as so often happens in such circumstances, the conflict dissolved into fragmented conflicts between ethnic-based militias. Now that's the very over simplified version - the more you go into it, the more complicated it becomes and the wider the net spreads.

It all sounds terribly familiar, doesn't it? Now that French troops are in the mix as well, the signs are not good for any early resolution.

If there is one thing jihadis want, it is power vacuums and instability. Those are the opportunities they seize and exploit to the maximum. Among all the labels flying around, I find labeling them "terrorists" alarmingly over simplistic. There may be a terrorism element to their activities, but that is not how they are achieving their long term aims. Their longer term aims are better served by usurping other people's conflicts - and this is not going to be solved by western nations piling into the fray.

International Security expert, Shashank Joshi, told Riem Higazi about the complex network of jihadi groups around the world and how they are finding a stronghold in North Africa.

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Eritrea coup attempt

A coup attempt in Eritrea failed yesterday, but pressure remains high on the secretive and repressive government, which some people say is every bit as bad as North Korea. John Campbell at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London explains how Eritrea has become one of the world's most oppressive states.

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Israel votes

As Israelis go to the polls, Rosemary Hollis discussed her "Olive Tree Programme" designed to bring Israeli and Palestinian students together to study.

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Berlusconi's return

Josephine McKenna looks at the remarkable comeback of Silvio Berlusconi.

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Pilots' protest

Austrian pilots are among those taking action to protest against proposed changes they say would compromise airline safety.

Pilots' protest


Aircrews in Frankfurt protest against the proposed new working hours.

The Austrian Cockpit Association's spokesman, Christoph Mair discusses his main concerns with Steve Crilley.

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