arab-springTomorrow, an Egyptian court is expected to hand down a verdict to Hosni Mubarak, former Egyptian President, on charges of corruption and the premediated killing of peaceful protestors (a charge which carries the death penalty). Mubarak was toppled from power in 2011 by a popular revolution, becoming the second North African leader forced from office in the Arab Spring after Tunisian President Ben Ali. The verdict will come ahead of Egypt’s Presidential run-off elections on the 16th and 17th of June between Mubarak’s former Prime Minister, Ahmed Shafik, and Mohamed Morsi, the unofficial candidate of the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood.

Yesterday, Debating Europe spoke to Mohamed ElBaradei after he received Friends of Europe’s inaugaral ‘Prize for Statesmanship’ in Brussels. Dr. ElBaradei is the former Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and was a key figure in the 2011 Egyptian revolution, where he headed the Egyptian National Coalition for Change and helped negotiate the formation of a transitional unity government. We asked him about some of the challenges facing Egypt, and he responded with cautious optimism:

However, during his address, Dr. ElBaradei also cautioned that Egyptians still remembered the support that European countries had previously given to the Mubarak regime. He highlighted the importance of rebuilding trust between Egypt and Europe as Egypt makes the transition to democraacy. Yet with the EU sovereign debt and banking crisis taking up so much attention right now, is Europe responding properly to the momentous changes taking place along its borders?

Egypt is not even the most alarming case. There may be room for cautious optimism in some countries, but events in others are rapidly spinning out of control. British Foreign Secretary William Hague recently described Syria as being “on the edge of an all-out civil war.” How should Europe respond? Christos sent in a comment arguing that further diplomacy was the only credible option: “We cannot just watch, but we cannot interfere too much either. We must support the civilians, but I am not in favor of military action anywhere… Aid and sanctions are my ideal ways of intervention.”

We spoke to Dr. Rainer Stinner, a member of the German Bundestag and Foreign policy spokesman for the liberal centre-right Free Democratic Party (FDP), and asked him to respond to Christos’ comment:

I totally agree with this comment. A military intervention would not be appropriate. You cannot compare Libya to Syria, and I totally agree there should be no military intervention in the latter. I am in favour of the initiative of Kofi Annan, which asks both sides for a ceasefire.

Political influence and diplomacy will be vital. If the whole world sticks together, including Russia, China and the Middle East, it will have some influence on the Assad regime. He will see that he is totally isolated and has to come to a compromise. The important thing is to prevent any more killings and open the way for new alternatives and systems.

What do YOU think? Given recent events in Syria, including accusations of massacres by government forces, is diplomacy still a viable option? And can Europe start rebuilding trust and supporting post-revolutionary countries in their transition to democracy? Do you think Europe has responded well to the Arab Spring so far? Or has it been too destracted by the crisis within its own borders? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policy-makers for their reactions.

IMAGE CREDITS: CC / Flickr – Gwenael Piaser

30 comments Post a commentcomment

  1. avatar
    Sam-uel Sam Ndungula

    i rate europe 9 out of 10 when it comes to the way they responded to the arab spring, however i still blame Russia for the violence in Syria, had the agreed with the rest of europe then Assad would have been gone… as for egypt, i think it is the begining of new and great things, however if they elect the guy that promised protection to christeans then it will probably be the begining of cevil war…between muslems and christeans

  2. avatar
    MandyandPj Leneghan

    Or any comment on this little snippet from wikipedia and wikileaks?..In 1983, President Assad of Syria signed a peace and friendship treaty with the Soviet Union and some have suggested that the coincidental uprising by the Muslim brotherhood in Syria was a CIA operation to overthrow Assad for his pro-Soviet policies.[1][2]
    Syria 2011

    Wikileaks has reported that the US government has been covertly funding the Syrian opposition.[3] Ron Paul has accused the CIA of being behind the uprising [1] The United States is angry that Bashir Assad has agreed to a major expansion of the Russian naval base in Tarsus that is ongoing[2][3] The close friendship between Russia and Syria have also created great anger in Washington.[4] Syria has also refused to allow a building of a oil pipeline from Iraq through Syria to the Mediterranean and the Muslim Brotherhood has promised the US government to allow the building of such a pipeline.

  3. avatar

    Yes rather no intervention, but i am afraid the new islamic states that are emerging in the ME are not that peace loving as we hoped they would be. Even in this early stage, they are intolerant and agressive and we must be very cautious not to grow a new Taliban regime in our own back yards. The most paradoxal of all these events is that while we are solving geographical problems with our NATO allies a very old social clash with Islam starts to doom right back up. And if that’s what we are doing over here well than it is maybe better to be there at the start than at the end and interfere where neccessary.

  4. avatar
    MandyandPj Leneghan

    Diplomacy? NATO via the US today has killer drones buzzing around throughout the region, murdering at will. 100s of thousands of troops and vicious, brutal weapons of mass destruction. Brutal blocades, orwellian term being sanctions imposed on any that dare not comply. As well as funding despotic proxy nations and individual terrorist groups. And you call this diplomacy? Sickening! is what I would say…pj

  5. avatar
    catherine benning

    Can anyone explain why Europe should intervene at all? What does it have to do with us? These people are deciding for themselves what they want to do about the rule they live under. It has absolutely nothing to do with Europe.

    And until we have a perfect set up with our own governments and what thesepeople do on our behalf we should stay out of the war games of others. Europe wants to have a right to kill and torture when it suits them but, not when other do the identical acts.

    What was Europe doing in Iraq? What of rendition and torture of the Iraqi people? What was Europe doing and in doing in Libya and Afghanistan? What of the as yet untold stories of barbarism there?

    Europe is not an innocent bystander it is a warring concern just like those it colludes with. So stay out of the ‘Arab Spring’ and allow those people to judge for themselves.

  6. avatar

    The greatest weapon of mass destruction is hate against the west.

    • avatar
      catherine benning

      Hate against Europe has not been helped one iota by importing, in the multi millions, those who hate our way of life, our culture and our people. And are you aware the intention is to import another 150 million people from outside Europe? Which of course will swell the amount of residents searching for non existent work as well as the welfare roll we all pay through the nose for?

      Why don’t you ask these leaders we have, who decided to bring massive change and disorientation of our society and culture the way they have, what they are doing and why? And why, as it has been shown to be a disaster, they still feel they should be in office leading us to more devastation?

      What are they leading us to? Has anyone asked or had an answer? Why does this European elite feel they have a right to decide on these devastating issues without asking the people who pay for their experiment via their taxation.

      Weapons of mass destruction, held by the US and pasted around different countries who act as bases for their war games, are the cause of the hatred in large proportion. Time to be rid of those US advisers and of those tax absorbing bases they insist on keeping on European soil but not in their own back yard.

      Why does Europe feel it should be host to the American war machine and disguise it from the residents? This is why they are pushing for Turkey to also be foisted on European tax payers.

      Turkey should join the North American Free Trade Aliance and get that sickness out of our domain.

  7. avatar
    Vicente Silva Tavares

    When people fight a dictatorship yelling “God is Great” instead of Freedom or Liberty, the “revolution” does not bring the seeds of the future but the seed of backwardness. We alread saw that in Iran. The islamits will try to impose their views, will impose the sharia, women will have to cover their heads, the persecution will start (Iran is the second country in the world condemning people to death and the first one condemning women and children to death, from the early age of 8 yo). Today, the youths of Iran are all against the regime. May be these Peoples of the Arab Spring have to suffer first, before they can live in democracy.

  8. avatar
    Karel Van Isacker

    This whole “liberation” of north AFrica is orchestrated by the West to a large degree, and so is the instability in other middle east countries. The way the West dropped Mubarak shows enough about loyalty. So the Arab Spring is a joke and will bring further repression and extremism next to Europe’s entrance. That is the result of Western policies. So: stay out of it and let people do what they want to do. We have NO dealings there. The oil we can buy from whoever, and the less we need to buy the better.

  9. avatar
    Aikhiobare Fumilayo Angela

    For the pains Mubarak caused His people and even others, i don’t think life sentence is enough for Him…….. Mubarak deserve to be beheaded………..

  10. avatar
    Bruno Jose Mendonca Dias

    I agree with Zoltan…. Europe has huge problems to solve. Leave them fights and wars to them. Our people fought for our freedom longtime ago and nobody help us, let them do it by them self. By the way deport them from Europe out and maybe with solve the problem of europe unployment

  11. avatar
    MandyandPj Leneghan

    I don’t support a death penalty so rest of life in prison is a good outcome. But what about his partners in crime & grime? The fascist global bankster corporatists and their political servants that occupy all European governments, the US government & allied governments, with the global gestapo HQ based in the US and their European control centre being the EEAS. And of course, all good fascist regimes require a massive military force which we know to be the nazi atlantic treaty organisation. That have 100s of thousands of troops shocking and awing all over the place. Brutal weapons of mass destruction, 100s of nazi drones constantly terrorizing those that vil not comply and murdering mainly civilians. Then we have the creating &funding of proxy brutal puppet regimes. The creating & funding of terrorist & mercenary groups, that create death & destruction before and after, the main nazi force’s shocking and awing. At the moment all of the evidence points to that terrorists, with the support of this nazi atlantic treaty organisation and their puppet regimes in the M.E. are butchering babies, kids, women & men in Syria to provide a pretext for another shock and awe adventure. So what should be the penalty for the nazis behind this situation? Makes what happened in Egypt look like a non event. And why do the fascist global banksters and their nazi military machine need any pretext at all? The fact is, for the moment at least, they can be stopped by people power. Say NO to war and warmongers. Do not forget, what is happening to the EU, Euro and individual European nations is no accident, we too are under a brutal fascist invasion, economically at the moment but worse is to come, unless we wake up and say no. That isn’t so difficult, is it?…pj

  12. avatar
    Redjade InHungary

    the EU countries should treat these countries the same way western europe helped the central and eastern european countries after the fall of communism. Help them build their democracies and create enforcement of human rights. The West has for too long been complicit in supporting the dictatorships of the Arab world – now is the time to create justice.

  13. avatar
    MandyandPj Leneghan

    That is definitely a most interesting outlook Redjade, of course all is hunkey dorey (fine) on this side of the ‘wall’? Not only that, if ‘we’ keep on going, ‘we’ could scoop up China, Russia and their areas of influence as well as the independents. A US of the World in fact. Yep, not a bad little narrative, one that those that own the corporatist financial sectors will definitely be in favour of. I wonder could that be a part of the ‘master plan’? Wonder how many billions in human lives will that cost? Does it matter how many? Would the means justify the ends or even the ends justify the means? What about religious views, maybe a one world religion? Certainly, the ideal of a one world living in harmony must be the end goal for all human beings BUT not this way, not the master race way. Many have tried it that way, leading to the slaughter of several millions, I would suggest that we are looking at the slaughter of billions, next time around. THERE IS A WAY though, that I can see, it is via what the Zeitgeist Movement is presenting or something similar. However, those that own the world today, in my opinion, will do all that they can, even to the extent of destroying the planet, to prevent such a system or anything like it from happening. Check it out, it makes sense in my opinion……pj

  14. avatar

    If the ME wants more support from Europe than they should come to terms with their benefactors. The pro democracy demonstrators are not democrats yet. Under all those modern conflicts there hides an old conflict between several factions dispersed by old feuds, this makes it very hard to form a objective view on the matter. It is very possible that EU interests collide with our western principals. We must take care not to deviate those two to much from each other.

  15. avatar
    MandyandPj Leneghan

    If you had heavily armed foreign troops running around kicking your & your neighbour’s doors down Ozcan, killing and beating up people in your communities, jets, helicopters & drones buzzing around killing and harrassing at will, I reckon that you would find it very hard to love those foreign tormentors, what do you think? In fact, I am amazed at the low level of reaction shown by these beleagured peoples. Just imagine if the shoe was on the other foot and that we were the victims, what do you think our reaction would be? Well, look at the reaction to one strike on NY, I didn’t see much love as a reaction…pj

  16. avatar
    MandyandPj Leneghan

    In my opinion this isn’t really about Syria, Casper and Syria appears to be just one more pawn in this global geo-political game of chess. If Russia do not move their pieces into Syria, they are one move away from check-mate, upon which they will accept their fate, with bribes being offered on a mafia scale or they will upturn the chess board and all our unemployment problems will be over. So the next move should be, Russian troops invited into Syria to protect the Syria’s borders whilst the Syrian people via their government clean out the foreign terrorists. That is the logical next step…pj

  17. avatar

    Yes pj, you are right about the fact that violence from a invading force never wins the hearts and minds of the people. However those countries had leaders that called those wars upon them. If Saddam had ruled as a wise man in Iraq, than Iraq could be a regional power by now. However Saddam was a tyrant and led Iraq into a era of turmoil. Another problem of the ME is Islamic intolerance and its internal conflict between Shia’s and Suni’s. Those few elements of poor governing and deep rooted religious disputes makes the ME easy to divide and conquer. Today the world finds itself at a new chapter of ME politics. Iran is physically contained with western presence in Afghanistan and Iraq and now it is obviously time to bring down its allies before Iran gets full attention. Believe it or not all these conflicts are preperations for a bigger event that one day is going to lead a campaign deep into Iranian territory.

    • avatar
      catherine benning

      What you mean is if Saddam had remained an American stooge and not threatened the American dollar he would have been allowed to go on acting the tyrant with US backing.

      You sound the most un European voice I have ever read. Now I wonder why that is?

  18. avatar

    Go to Brussels and gather all to protest against:
    – the large expenditures of the EU, they spend too much money in times like these
    – the idea that the EU wants to have more and more power and arrange everything, instead of only arranging the things countries themselves cannot arrange
    – protest againt the moving hassle between strassbourg and brussels,
    So, what do you think? are you up to fill the square in front of the EU?

  19. avatar
    David Eaton

    Stay neutral in the affair and only involve ourselves if there is a threat of genocide.

    29/08/2013 Ivo Vajgl, MEP, has responded to this comment.

  20. avatar
    David Eaton

    Stay neutral in the affair only involve ourselves if there is a treat of genocide

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