Political opportunists can thrive on the penchant of people to long for the old authoritarian system and forget its dark sides. Many Libyans increasingly look back at the stability of the Gadhafi years with some nostalgia, even if they fervently supported the 2011 revolution.
Syria's Alawite minority have always been painfully aware of the fragility of sectarian coexistence. Many of us preferred one dictator, Bashar al-Assad, to a Syria broken into multiple sectarian dictatorships. So, despite reservations, despite its repression, we still stuck by the regime.
One man showed up dressed as the blue Genie from “Aladdin” and declared his presidential candidacy. Another one, donning a face mask made from the Iranian flag, created massive chaos in the registration hall, then promised the bemused bureaucrats that he was running to “save Iran from the current chaos.”
Arabs are of course not of a single mind on any particular issue, nor is it possible to gauge public opinion under tyrannical regimes. But it is indicative of the fact that these authoritarians no longer see the pan-Arab Palestinian cause and supporting it as vital to their survival.
For years Nabil Adeeb provided legal representation to opponents of the old regime, earning him the respect of human rights activists. He now leads an inquiry into atrocities that threatens to destabilize his country.
Libya now has a unified national government that resulted from a peaceful transition of power and handover by the two rival governments. Two top U.N. envoys to Libya say they could have hardly imagined this development a year ago when they were serving in the United Nations.
We are witnessing an intense scramble for control of the Middle East among mostly autocratic, disparate regimes, creating new alignments where the fabulous wealth of small states is conjugated with countries boasting larger armies, with proxies and mercenaries as expendable cannon fodder in tow.