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How and Why the West Reacted to the Arab Spring: An Arab Perspective

For many decades, the Arab despots would serve the Western interests in the region in return for a Western disregard to democracy policies in their countries. By the outbreak of the Arab uprisings in the Middle East, this implicit agreement between the West and the Arab despots was put in jeopardy. This article defines the challenges faced by the Western interests as a result of these revolts. Moreover, it digs deeper into the American and European reactions to the uprisings. Finally, the article contemplates the reasons behind the western behavior towards these revolts. Against this backdrop, this article argues that the implicit agreement is still possible in spite of the Arab uprising, albeit with a diverse formula.

How and Why the West Reacted to the Arab Spring
Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi meets with Former U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton at the presidential palace in Cairo on November 21, 2012. AFP / Khaled Desouki
 

For nearly six decades, both the United States and Europe had established an implicit accord with the Middle East’s authoritarian regimes; to turn a blind eye to dictatorial practices in exchange for achieving, securing and even promoting their strategic interests in the Middle East. So long as the authoritarian regimes fulfilled the West’s interests in the Middle East – protecting Israel’s security and even promoting friendly relationships with Israel, maintaining the influx of oil and energy supplies to the West, and complying with the Western capitals’ demands in fighting against terrorism and containing the rogue states, particularly Iran – the Western nations had ‘tolerated’ the flagrant suppression of economic and political rights in the Arab region.1

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