My opinion about the Arab spring, originally written and posted here for a project for the Swedish Institute.
I have mixed feelings about the so-called Arab Spring. On one hand, there is a hope for a true democratic breakthrough in the region, while on the other hand there is a fear of failed revolutions, where the outcome is yet again autocratic regimes with extremist ideologies. There is also some sadness in my heart for all the violence that has erupted in those revolutions, and for all lives that have been lost fighting for freedom and equality.
People of Europe and the western world seem to be in awe of the Arab youth. I felt their admiration and encouragement myself at the Tällberg global environmental convention in Sigtuna in July. In reality, things are more chaotic on the ground; even in those countries where there is a consensus that all traces of the old regime must be removed, there is still a power play between different groups trying to gain control.
The newfound belief in the power of their own voices has encouraged people of different shapes, colors and ideologies to rise up and demand what they see as just. This is great, as long as there is a democratic system in place that caters to all players; when a proper system is lacking, things can go awry.