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George Palmer's Perspectives on the World Outside: Arab Spring Has Turned to Winter PDF Print Email


Apr. 4, 2012:  The global intelligence company Strategic Forecasting notes that in none of the "Arab Spring" situations, begun around the first of February of 2011, has there been any change toward democracy.

Where political changes have occurred, Islamists have been winners.  Some older political orders have been replaced by similar new ones.  A possible major upcoming development is the rise of Iran and geo-sectarianism.

The ouster of President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt occurred just over 12 months ago after Tunisian autocrat Zine El Abidine Ben Ali fled his country during substantial unrest.  Neither toppling resulted in important political change.  In Tunisia an interim government took over, followed by elections last October.  The Islamist Ennahda won the legislative polls and proceeded to form a coalition government with the two other largest vote-getting parties.

In Egypt, Mubarak's power was handed over to a military junta that was probably ruling from behind the scenes anyway.  Protests in Egypt and Tunisia continue, but in both countries Islamists appear likely to be now crafting constitutional revisions.

Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi was the third Arab leader to fall from power--aided by NATO air, intelligence, and special forces.  The rebels killed Gadhafi but continue to fight with his supporters and with each other.  A caretaker government appears directionless, and it is difficult to determine who is in charge.

Events in the Arab Persian Gulf island kingdom of Bahrain appear far more geopolitically significant.  The Sunni monarchy is faced with an uprising of the country's Shia majority, who are Islamists exploitable by Iran.  Next-door neighbor Saudi Arabia, a Sunni majority country, and Gulf Cooperation Council countries have successfully contained the uprising to date, but Shia unrest continues in Bahrain and in adjacent regions of Saudi Arabia.

The Saudis have also been worried about protests in Yemen against President Ali Abdullah Saleh.  The president survived a genuine assassination attempt but was badly wounded.  He is still in charge of Yemen but is expected to step down as part of a Saudi-brokered deal that would leave his former confederates in command.

Syria and its President Bashar al Assad is a unique scenario.  Here, minority Shia govern a majority Sunni.  The government has brutally weathered a ten-month uprising.  The opposition is weak, outside powers are reluctant to intervene, and Iran is always a potential aide.  Stratfor believes the regime will not fall.

The nature of the various unrests has widely varied.  Most of the protesters in all of the countries complain of unjust governing.  Except for Bahrain, regional monarchies have not been hit.  Egypt and Tunisia saw quick results but no real political change.  Libya witnessed a regime collapse, and Yemen a negotiated regime settlement.  Syria is still up in the air.  No one, to date, can describe the "Arab Spring" as successful.

Editor's note: George Palmer is a longtime resident of Bronxville whose blog has become quite popular in the community.  He was a WWII prisoner of war and takes a keen interest in writing about international affairs, particularly as they relate to the military.



Good summary. Thank you.


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Bronxville Overview

Bronxville is a quaint village (one square mile) located just 16 miles north of midtown Manhattan (roughly 30 minutes on the train) and has a population of approximately 6,500. It is known as a premier community with an excellent public school (K-12) and easy access to Manhattan. Bronxville offers many amenities including an attractive business district, a hospital (Lawrence Hospital), public paddle and tennis courts, fine dining at local restaurants, two private country clubs and a community library.

While the earliest settlers of Bronxville date back to the first half of the 18th century, the history of the modern suburb of Bronxville began in 1890 when William Van Duzer Lawrence purchased a farm and commissioned the architect, William A. Bates, to design a planned community of houses for well-known artists and professionals that became a thriving art colony. This community, now called Lawrence Park, is listed on the National register of Historic Places and many of the homes still have artists’ studios. A neighborhood association within Lawrence Park called “The Hilltop Association” keeps this heritage alive with art shows and other events for neighbors.

Bronxville offers many charming neighborhoods as well as a variety of living options for residents including single family homes, town houses, cooperatives and condominiums. One of the chief benefits of living in “the village” is that your children can attend the Bronxville School.

The Bronxville postal zone (10708, known as “Bronxville PO”) includes the village of Bronxville as well as the Chester Heights section of Eastchester, parts of Tuckahoe and the Lawrence Park West, Cedar Knolls, Armour Villa and Longvale sections of Yonkers. Many of these areas have their own distinct character. For instance, the Armour Villa section has many historic homes and even has its own newsletter called “The Villa Voice” which reports on neighborhood news.

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