The Arab Spring has in hindsight been a complete disaster for the region. Syria is in a massive civil war. Libya effectively split apart into several state. Egypt is experiencing constant turmoil. And other countries in the region are likewise ready to blow up at any time.

Did any Western government officially concede that this is the case and apologize for participating in the Arab Spring events? Or does the West still maintain that it was a successful step in the fight towards democratic rule?

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    Politicians behaving differently when in power compared to when retired or campaigning? That would be absolutely and utterly ... business as usual. – Andrew Grimm Apr 3 '18 at 3:07
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    The "ready to blow up at any time" part seems also true before the arab spring. – user5751924 Apr 3 '18 at 6:02
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    The French Revolution from 1789 has also been a complete desaster in hindsight. Still, we celebrate it as one of the birth hours of democracy in even further hindsight. Evaluations keep changing over time. – Thern Apr 3 '18 at 6:38
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    To qualify the question and add to @user5751924's: the movement started in Tunis and spread to other countries as popular revolts. No intervention in Tunis, Egypt was more of a "lack of intervention" (by not backing their traditional ally Mubarak) than of intervention, and interventions in Libya and Syria started after the revolts there were already going on. So implying that without the intervention there would have been no turmoil is debatable. – SJuan76 Apr 3 '18 at 8:36
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    The question is quite leading and makes several unwarranted assumptions without any proof. – user4012 Apr 3 '18 at 14:24

The most important flaw in the premise is that Western invention had a significant impact on the "Arab Spring". This is not the case.

The civil war in Syria was neither started nor mainly influenced by the West. Military actions mostly focused on the Islamic State, and this only after it emerged several years after the beginning of the civil war. Other global players, especially Russia and Iran, had a far more important contribution on the war than Western states.

The split of Libya was also imminent. While in this case a contribution indeed came from the West (effectively the only one, that is), it also happened after the civil war had already begun, and it is very questionable if the removal of Ghaddafi did actually change much. Now Libya is in a state of a disabled government; else it probably would have been more like Syria, with a dictator that lost control over large parts of the country. But the West could never prevent the civil war.

In Egypt, the West practically was absent. Mubarak was ousted, Mursi was elected and ousted, and Al-Sisi returned the country to a military dictatorship as it was before. The turmoil was there before the rebellion, and it is still there, especially because nothing has changed fundamentally. It is difficult to see any Western responsibility here.

This also holds for other countries that are "ready to blow up at any time". Note that the Arab Spring was not the reason for the instability of the countries, but the instability of the countries was the reason for the Arab Spring.

So there is not much to apologize for.

  • Actually, the other answer, which you down voted, was the correct one. – user17569 Apr 3 '18 at 14:17
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    I didn't downvote the other answer (and I don't appreciate unfounded accusations) because the point is valid that even if Western interventionism during Arab Spring had been a major contribution to the turmoil in the Arab world, no active politician would admit that, but the premise is wrong. (This, however, is already a problem of the question at hand.) I was just, let's say, confused about the interpretation of the reparations from Germany to Israel. After all, there were a million Allied soldiers in Germany after WWII which had all opportunity to get the proofs for the Holocaust themselves. – Thern Apr 3 '18 at 14:40
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    "Note that the Arab Spring was not the reason for the instability of the countries, but the instability of the countries was the reason for the Arab Spring." This is the most important takeaway here. – Gramatik Apr 3 '18 at 16:27

To be completely cynical, who says that it was a mistake - for the west? Simply as a matter of geopolitics, it seems better to have your enemies fighting amongst themselves, than to have them united against you.

So if we take Libya, for example, we had an entrenched dictator who used the country's oil wealth to finance various jihadist movements, and used the mechanism of the state to carry out a number of attacks. Now the parts of Libya are too busy fighting amongst themselves to do much in the way of attacking others. Which seems like an improvement if you're one of those others, no?

  • coughcough IS coughcough – Sean Apr 4 '18 at 21:03
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    But history has shown over and over again that continued fightings increase poverty and radicalization. This cynical solution would also be a very short-sighted one. Especially if the IS emerges from Libya as the strongest group. – Thern Apr 4 '18 at 22:02
  • @Thern: I'm not sure that "radicalization" really applies here. Certainly we have numerous counterexamples of people with considerable wealth supporting jihad. Osama bin Laden was far from poor, and he certainly obtained considerable financial support from others, as did ISIS. In the case of Gadaffi, Hussein, or the Iranian rulers, they had the wealth of entire oil-rich countries to play with. – jamesqf Apr 5 '18 at 4:37
  • @Sean: You mean ISIS? Well, consider the cynical advantages. You gather a bunch of jihadists, including many from your home countries who might otherwise carry out attacks there, in one place, where you can conveniently bomb the crap out of them, and leave the Kurds, Iraqis, and others to deal with the survivors. – jamesqf Apr 5 '18 at 4:40
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    @jamesqf You also had wealthy people supporting socialism (both Ghaddafi and Hussein were socialists in the first place, much more than islamists), but that doesn't change the fact that radicalization goes hand in hand with poverty. There always will be a certain share of well-situated people with radical ideas, but to move the masses, you need widespread poverty or war. – Thern Apr 5 '18 at 4:54

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