How to uphold peace in the Middle East?

More Arab and non-Arab analysts speak about new popular uprisings in the Arab world nowadays. Even the readmission of Syria to the Arab League is perceived by some of them as an attempt to consolidate power by Arab governments before new likely riots. Actually, both political theory and practice suggest that a new Arab uprising (“spring” is indeed the wrong word to define it) is unavoidable. The theory even argues that if the first wave fails, the second one will certainly be successful, but it will be bloodier unless rulers opt for a peaceful transition.

Regardless of the likelihood of a new wave of uprisings, its potential consequences would undoubtedly have a devastating impact on the Arab region, as well as neighboring countries and third parties that have economic and political relations with Arab states. Since new riots will not favor any side, people of the region and outsiders should discuss how peace can be permanently sustained in the Middle East. There are many suggestions circulating for peace and prosperity in the region.

This article additionally suggests that the logical way will be to accept a peaceful handover of power, which will not be sudden and mean an entire give up by power holders. People with no political experience can co-work with ruling elites for a period of time regarding state affairs. If military and civilian elites share power for a few years, they will have a chance to become better acquainted and exchange their views and experiences in the meantime. Then, a gradual transfer of power to civilians can start. Such a power transition was planned by Sudanese generals and politicians right after Omar al-Bashir was overthrown but was not finalized.

Sudan crisis

In Sudan, generals and leaders of protestors formed a joint ruling body that comprised five soldiers and six civilians. Called the Sudan Sovereign Council, the body was designed to be headed by a general for 21 months followed by a civilian for the next 18 months. There would also be a 300-member legislative assembly and a cabinet of technocrats, which would rule the country until elections are held 39 months later.

The system worked for a while but was halted for several reasons. However, it can still be a model for gradual power transition since it enables civilian groups and the military to cooperate instead of fighting. In the Sudanese model, no side feels ousted from power. Also, giving a certain time to recover the country and for the formation of the new system was a good idea. The Sudanese “gradual transition” model enables interaction, cooperation and dialog between the two sides. Such collaboration also prevents the manipulation of external powers that want to control the government for their interests. Regardless of achievement or failure in Sudan, their model of transition is indeed a good invention that other Arab states can implement.

There have been two sides in many Arab states for power grab: military elites who consider people a threat to their regime vs. representatives of people who assumed army generals as “evils.” Such negative views and stubbornness just led to more prejudices and hostility. Hence, the war for power control caused only more oppression, polarization and torture, which eventually ended up with civil wars, terrorism and failed states.

In conclusion, Arab states could find inspiration in Sudan’s unrealized power share and gradual transition before new uprisings, or even when there is no likelihood of new riots. If regimes continue to rely on their weapons and use them against the people as they did before, they still cannot prevent uprisings. Tens of thousands of people will be killed for nothing as the fated result will eventually actualize.

The Sudanese model is a product of the Arab world, does not discriminate against any side and paves the way for peaceful power change. All sides should not underestimate such a win-win system. Perhaps, Arab monarchies that took sides during the Arab Spring can help conflicting parties in countries where uprisings happened or may implement the model and become the champion of the transition.

Source: Daily Sabah

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