The Shots In Sarajevo, “The Arab Spring” And Unintended Consequences

Today, it is exactly 100 years since the event that triggered World War I, the shots in Sarajevo, where a young Serbian nationalist assassinated Crown Prince Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary, because he  wanted Bosnia-Herzegovina would belong to Serbia and not Austria-Hungary.

This event triggered the First World War, which in turn led temporarily (a rule that was first temporarily ended by the Nazi German occupation and then finally permanently in 1992 when Yugoslavia was dissolved) to the intended results as Serbia in the form of Yugoslavia took over Bosnia-Herzegovina and some other areas of former Austria-Hungary, but also that Germany was forced into a humiliating peace treaty, something that caused Hitler to enter politics and also contributed to many Germans sympathy for Hitler and his party, the NSDAP.

All in all, the event 100 years ago contributed to about 70-80 million deaths, a to say the least high price for the cause of  Bosnia-Herzegovina.becoming ruled by Serbia for 70 years.

Another example of how a man may inadvertently trigger a chain of events that lead to widespread death and suffering was when unemployed Mohammed Bouazizi January 4, 2011, in protest against his street carriage being confiscated by corrupt policemen, killed himself by publicly setting himself on fire.

Since very many recognized himself in his fate to have been harassed and robbed by corrupt police officers, bureaucrats and politicians, this led to widespread protests and the then Tunisian dictatorship was ended. It also led to similar uprisings in other Arab countries, something that came to be called the Arab Spring.

The outcome of these uprisings have been very mixed. In the country where it started, Tunisia, we have actually seen a slight improvement, but in other countries the results have at best the status quo, and in some cases a dramatic turn for the worse.. In Bahrain the dictatorship was able to quell the rebellion , partly with the help of troops from Saudi Arabia. In Egypt former general Mubarak was overthrown and replaced with a democratically elected Islamist who in turn then was replaced by another general. In Libya the Gadaffi regime was overthrown, largely with the help of a NATO-led foreign intervention, but instead Libya has seen chaotic conditions with a low-intensity civil war between government forces and various tribal-based militias.

The most tragic consequences of the “Arab Spring” have been in Iraq and Syria. Many of those who rebelled against the Assad regime have been motivated by opposition to its oppression and abuse of power, but resistance has been increasingly driven by Sunni Islamist sectarian antipathy against Assad’s secularism and his membership of the Alawite religious group, whose faith is a variant of Shia Islam .

The latter feature has been enhanced by the large amounts of Sunni jihadists, many from immigrant groups in Sweden and other European countries, coming to Syria to participate in the armed uprising against the Assad regime. Some of these have been organized in the now infamous ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

ISIS has been growing ever stronger, particularly because they have been able to take over many of the weapons that misguided Western governments have sent to somewhat less fundamentalist Free Syrian Army. Using these weapons, and many Sunni tribes in Iraq, ISIS has now then plunged Iraq too in a civil war.

These civil wars have killed close to 150 000,  made millions refugees and subjected more and more to the Taliban-like Islamist oppression. And all because corrupt police officers’ abuse led one man to kill himself in a spectacular suicide that would have tragic unintended consequences.

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1 Comment

  1. The trigger event is one thing, the underlying reasons are another one. Even if Mohammed Bouazizi had not killed himself, some other event would probably have triggered the “Arab Spring”. Underlying reasons for e.g. the civil war in Syria are many years of oppressive government combined with failed harvests in the years preceding the civil war.

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