by Rami G. Khouri
Those elites and foreign powers were caught off guard four years ago today, on Dec. 17, 2010, when Mohammad Bouazizi set himself on fire in the Tunisian town of Sidi Bouzid, when he became exasperated by the mistreatment he experienced at the hands of local police.
That noble desire – a universal human characteristic – could not prevail and transform societies into functioning pluralistic democracies, with the exception of Tunisia to date.
One major reason for the slippage of half a dozen Arab states into violence, chaos and fragmentation has been that those indigenous elites and foreign powers who had been taken by surprise in early 2011 regained their footing and fought back viciously to reassert control.
Fear transformed otherwise normal people into fanatical machines that often killed according to sectarian identity.
The noble aspirations of those Arabs who non-violently rebelled against their dictators in early 2011 never had a chance, it now appears in retrospect. Some Arab governments and foreign powers poured guns and money into other Arab countries, as old elites and comfortable generals with their backs to the wall lashed out mercilessly and killed everything in sight in order to remain in power.