by Abdulateef Al-Muhlim

In the past, whenever an American secretary of state arrived in any Middle Eastern country, it would be primetime news. He would meet the highest political figures and his/her visit would be given the maximum news coverage with everyone hoping for an end to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

John Kerry, the current US secretary of state, came and went and no one knew about his many visits. He wanted to restart the negotiation process, but the Arabs are busy with their never-ending Arab Spring and the Israeli military and political figures are in no rush because they are watching Arabs kill each other. Whenever they have extra time, they watch an Arab TV show called, the "Arab Idol."

Ofir Gendelman, spokesman for the Israeli prime minister and Avichay Adraee, Israeli Defense Forces spokesman, said it is part of their job to watch "Arab Idol." I thought their job is to keep an eye on the threat that Arab Spring countries pose to Israel. However, why would the Syrians have killed hundreds and thousands of their own people and displaced more than four million? The Israelis couldn't pull something like this off, but the Arab Spring did it for them.

According to news media, the Arab Spring caught the world by surprise on Dec. 18, 2010. I will, however, add that the Arab Spring didn't come out of the blue. It is an accumulation of years of political corruption, human rights violations, sectarianism, poor education systems and unemployment. To sum it all up, the Arabs were not fighting the enemy, they were sleeping with it. This is why it is impossible to analyze and forecast the outcome of the Arab Spring. The Arab world never looks at mirrors. We don't like to say mirror, mirror on the wall because mirrors don't lie and we don't want to know the truth. We can't handle it.

During the Arab Spring, I read a lot of analyses about the root of the Arab Spring — it is decades of hiding from reality, chasing a mirage of enemies, conspiracies and blaming the outside world. We never blamed our systems for the many failures to develop the Arab mind. We talk about Sykes-Picot, imperialism and Zionism, but we never look at the mirrors on the wall. Some people, however, did.

On June 15, 2013 a Saudi columnist who I have never met wrote an article in the Saudi newspaper Al-Sharq titled "Israel, the everlasting Arab treasure." The columnist, Abdusalam Alwael, is a very highly educated Saudi who gained a bachelor's degree from a Saudi university, his master's degree from a university in California and his doctorate degree from a university in Virginia. He basically said that Israel was a bounty for Arab dictators who use the Palestinian-Israeli conflict to rule their countries and make a lot of money by just issuing hollow threats to Israel. Israel is a moneymaking machine for Arab dictators and many Palestinian corrupt officials. In other words, the Arab dictators have forgotten to develop their countries and innocent people have paid for it with their own lives. This is the reality of the Arab Spring.

Everyone knows the truth, but we won't admit it. During the Arab Spring, we saw our real faces in the mirrors. It showed that the Arabs were never united and are now divided beyond anybody's imagination. We hate each other more than we hate the outside enemy. This is why no one in the Arab world showed any sympathy to the Syrians when Israeli planes attacked Syrian targets a few weeks ago. As a matter of fact, even hardcore anti-Israelis wished the Israeli planes had continued eastward and attacked the Syrian Presidential Palace and killed an Arab leader named Bashar Assad. In other words, many in the Arab world sided with Israel against an Arab country. After the attack, we saw many Syrians approach the Israeli-fortified checkpoints in the Golan Heights, not to attack Israeli soldiers, but to seek refuge and get medical attention. I am not talking about simple medical care. I am talking about major surgeries like the four-year-old Syrian girl who got a heart transplant at Wolfson Hospital in Holon, Israel.

This is the real Arab Spring. Syrians are hurting Syrians and the Israelis are the ones who treat the Syrian wounds. Yes, the Arab Spring is a joke and I mean a very bad joke. The Arab Spring is not about seeking democracy, it is about Arabs killing Arabs. And this is why Israeli soldiers are busy on the Golan Heights. They are not busy with loading ammunition; they are busy picking cherries and other fruits. What is more, they are also busy giving guided tours to show the world Syrian planes targeting civilians, Scud missiles destroying villages and tanks attacking schools and mosques. What goes inside Syria is more horrific. Syrian men humiliate Syrian women in front of their relatives, rape and kill them. It is not only the killing that is ugly. We saw a Syrian kill another Syrian and then open his chest with a knife and take a bite of his heart. It can't get any uglier.

Now, mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the ugliest of them all? Well, they are all ugly. It has turned out that the Arab Spring is not about a search for democracy, social justice and better standards of living. The Arab Spring is all about hate and sectarian violence. The world didn't hear anything about rebuilding the countries or eradicating poverty. The talk is all about fighting among the same people from the same country.

Just look at the land of one of the oldest civilizations, Egypt. A country that failed to bring one, just one iconic figure like Nelson Mandela or Martin Luther King — individuals who talk about peace and harmony and are respected the world over. Not someone who enjoys destroying his own country and killing his own people.

Abdulateef Al-Mulhim writes for Arab News, SUSRISblog, etc. He is retired from the Royal Saudi Navy at the rank of Commodore. Al-Mulhim served extensively in the United States, including attendance at the Maritime College of the State University of New York. He is based in Alkhobar. Contact him at This article appeared July 9, 2013 on the Arab News website. It is archived at Thanks are due Joan Swirsky for sending this to Think-Israel. See also:

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