« The 21st century is that of the Arabic world. »
This claim, uncontroversial three years ago, has now become reality.
The Arab springs – I consciously write in the plural – have shaken the global order and thrown over numerous foundations, which structured the relations between the Orient and the Occident and were most often built on the principle of economic and/or military domination of the former by the latter.
But these changes and mutations have not always taken the paths, which editors and newsmen had wished for them to take….
Most of all, these changes are more weighty than they even seem today: many observers have analysed the instantaneousness of the current affairs, failing to fully grasp the entirety of the changes due to lacking foresight in their analyses. The changes faced today are changing realities. Moreover, the phenomena are more often interconnected and woven throughout the entire Arabic and Muslim world, ranging from Rabat to Kabul, unable to be spelt out through a western perspective or through deforming prisms and inadequate keys of understanding, miles away from the singular realities of the Maghreb and the Orient.
Once past the media euphoria of the first months of the “Arab Spring”, the time has come for the less optimistic analysts. The civil societies which were supposed to capture in their dynamic all the Arabic states and pull them towards a political model similar to the European and North-American democracies, as was imagined by the press columnists, do not exist. On the contrary, the vague democratisation desire some thought to have perceived within the socio-economic depths of the Arabic revolts are at best retreating but, more realistically, are being replaced by Islamism – or more precisely various types of Islamism. The political Islamism, for instance that of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, or of Ennahdha in Tunisia; the Salafi Islamism, whose vivacity has spread throughout Syria, Libya, Algeria and also Jordan, engraining itself mostly in Yemen and not sparing Tunis or Cairo, reaching as far as Mali and frightening the Saudi and Qatari monarchies, although they had supported it with their oil dollars.
In the light of such sudden and brutal emergence of these phenomena, the Occident, stunned and disoriented, is looking for points of contact.
But the political tendencies opposing the Islamists are not democratic either. The military coup in Egypt masterfully displayed the reality. Even in Tunisia, where a provisory Parliament, behind appearances and media enthusiasm, gave itself a new constitution, ambiguously phrased with grey areas leaving the door open for dangerously free interpretations, as well as for the probable return of the forces of the past – those of the dictatorship – awaiting revenge.
Everywhere the old and new regimes are tensing; in Egypt the revolution stopped to express itself and imprisonment, as well as capital punishment, threaten those who have not yet accepted it – like beaters whipping their animals along the banks of the Nile. Democracy did not flourish; the dialogue has been interrupted.
In Yemen or in Libya ancient clan practices have succeeded the crumbling of the central government: pillage, abductions, vendettas and raiding … make these countries more permeable than ever to jihadist networks. Algeria is tearing itself apart in an electoral imbroglio without issue.
The retreat of Western forces from Afghanistan – in other words a meek stampede – leaves the country, in the context of a high-risk electorate, at its own mercy. The country is dissected by warlords and devastated by bandits and also here Salafism will not refrain from immediately establishing bases with international vocation…
Whilst Ankara did not manage to replace Cairo as new regional pivot point, Turkey’s Kemalist movement is worrying about the degradation of the state of law, the AKP’s increasingly violent and daring actions and how to return the gaze. In Mali the Saharan jihadists pursue their bloody guerrilla warfare making more victims every day – mostly unspoken of and below the radar of international consciousness, sedated by triumphant speeches from Paris.
An ambiguous « Iraqi spring », tainted with the odour of the Sunni-Shi’ite civil war, is being smothered by the government with gunshots and the weight of tanks in the greatest media silence. Nonetheless, the pro-Western government controls, lesser and lesser, a state falling apart. In Fallujah, bodies are being counted in the hundreds …
Iran breathes hot and cold over Syria and the Lebanon and at the same time spectacularly patches things up with the « Great Satan » of Washington, blowing over regional perspectives, much to the annoyance of Tel-Aviv’s hawks.
This new era, which will drive international relations and the ties between the Orient and the Occident for a long time, provides the context from which is born the principle of this publication – of which this is the first edition.
The Maghreb and Orient Courier distinguishes itself from the media sphere above all through its editorial team gathering together academics and specialists of the Arabic world. The editorial team possesses the tools for interpretation that are necessary for the understanding of these social, political, economic and cultural phenomena. Too rarely are these subjects approached with sufficient know-how and acquaintance with the topic – something the editorial team can provide for, given the contributor’s origins from and permanent residence in more than twenty countries of the Arabic and Muslim world and its periphery.
All articles published in The Maghreb and Orient Courier are results of rigorous on-site research; the supplied information, often unpublished and novel, is tallied with the situation, independent of globalised circuits of information and is not recycled news, which the big press agencies distribute.
A further determining characteristic of The Maghreb and Orient Courier is the one and only editorial line: the promotion of plural points of view and analyses. The editorial team withholds itself from any form of self-censorship, which is sadly so common in the world of the media.
Those are the services, which The Maghreb and Orient Courier proposes to its readers and the promise, which its editorial team vows never to renege.