The Arab Awakening: Islam and the New Middle East - A Reflection

Like many political junkies of the world, I was intrigued and fascinated by the events in the Middle East in 2011-12. A series of revolutions (popularly referred to as the ArabSpring) swept across the Arab world from Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen to Bahrain and Syria. Looking back, I was naive for actually believing that real political change was really happening.

So when I first read this book 4 years ago, I couldn't quite understand Dr Ramadan's pessimism or in his own words - "cautious optimism" over the events in the MidEast. I mean, come on, they have never tasted real democracy (Malaysia on the other hand have had 12 General Elections since 1955). Why not give them a chance instead of being overly pessimistic?

But by now, it is evidently clear that Dr Ramadan's pessimism was fully justified. The so-called revolution was only meant to be temporary. While the revolution succeeded in bringing down Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, promises of a democratic elections and a new era of a civillian leadership, the hard harsh reality was that the Egyptian army continues to dominate the judiciary, the security and the economy, thus making it virtually impossible for anyone to rule Egypt without the strong support and resources from the military generals (Think Myanmar).

So despite winning in a democratic election, former president Morsi's fate was sealed from the beginning. He ruled only for about a year before being toppled by the army. In the end, it's all back to square one when General Al-Sisi was made president.

Dr Ramadan's pessimism, or his reluctance to be too optimistic about the future in the MidEast, particularly in Egypt was right after all. This is a mark of a true intellectual - one who is able to really understand the ground, the direction of events and the kind of social change that may or may not happen in future.