The beginning of the “Arab Spring” was laid in January 2011 in Tunisia, where, after stormy street protests, President Ben-Ali, who ruled the country 23 of the year, was forced to give up power and flee to Saudi Arabia.
In January-February, unrest spread to Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen, Libya, Syria, where mass demonstrations against the existing regimes organized by the opposition took place. In Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain and Yemen, the main reasons for anti-government protests were internal factors: the socio-economic crisis, the corruption of the ruling elite, the lack of real democratic freedoms, ethnic and confessional contradictions. Coups in these countries occurred without open outside interference and relatively bloodless.
In Libya and Syria, in contrast to Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain and Yemen, there was no acute socio-economic and political crisis. The main factor of confrontation in these countries was armed opposition groups that wanted to overthrow the existing power and organized popular demonstrations on a wide variety of reasons.
Muammar Gaddafi and Bashar Asad did not want to be led by popular unrest and entered into an open armed confrontation with supporters of change. At the same time, an external factor played a decisive role in the confrontation - support from outside forces.
Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya
The riots that began in 15 in February 2011 in Libya were the arrest of human rights activist Fathi Terbil (later released), who was the official representative of the relatives of the victims of the massacre of the prisoners of the Abu Salim prison, who died (already) 29 on June 1996, when prisoners made protest against conditions of detention. 17 February in the cities of Benghazi, Bevid, Zentan, Rujban and Derna began mass demonstrations, held under the slogan "People want the overthrow of the regime," which quickly turned into riots. Protesters attacked police stations and barracks, seizing weapon and losing the status of demonstrators. Soon, during the mass demonstrations, the dead and wounded appeared on both sides. Part of the government forces went over to the rebels and called for a march on Tripoli, in which up to 5000 people were going to take part.
For the period from February 18 to March 18, the troops that remained loyal to Gaddafi managed to seize the initiative and launch a successful counter-offensive in certain sectors of the front. On the night of March 18, the UN Security Council adopted a Resolution 1973 of March 17 (New York time), authorizing the use of NATO forces in Libya, excluding ground intervention. Ten countries voted for this resolution. Five countries, including Russia, abstained, no one voted against.
Vladimir Putin, the then Prime Minister of the Russian Federation, spoke of the resolution as follows: “This Security Council resolution is certainly inferior and flawed ... It will immediately become clear that it allows everyone to take everything, any actions regarding a sovereign state ... And in general, it reminds me of a medieval call for a crusade. " He also described the US policy of intervening in conflicts in other countries as a steady trend, in which there is “neither conscience nor logic” ... Vladimir Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov clarified that Putin’s assessment of the situation around Libya was his personal opinion.
A few hours later, President Medvedev made a statement, urging caution in assessing the situation in Libya and called the use of expressions like "crusade" unacceptable and unacceptable, which, in his opinion, "essentially lead to a clash of civilizations." The position of Russia, which supported the resolution, described it as an adequate response to the "ugly behavior of the Libyan leadership towards its own people." Gaddafi himself, D. Medvedev, called it a "non-handshaking face" with whom it is useless to talk.
19 March (at 16.00 local time) French fighters entered Libya airspace, making aerial reconnaissance to prepare for an intervention. And in 16.45, NATO forces began an operation under the code name "Operation Odyssey Dawn", in which the United States, Great Britain, France, Italy, Canada and Spain took part.
The results of this intervention, resulting in a full-scale seven-month armed confrontation involving aviation NATO, well known. The regime of Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown (Gaddafi was killed on October 20, 2011), but at an extremely high price. The war in Libya brought numerous destruction of infrastructure, claimed the lives of tens of thousands of people, divided the population into warring clan and tribal groups, and stopped the work of most public institutions.
Now there are two opposing governments in Libya, and the "Islamic State" * hastened to take advantage of the situation. Now there are militant training camps in the country. 3 March 2016, the representative of the UN Secretary-General in Libya, Martin Kobler, said: "The fighters of the Islamic State * terrorist group in Libya pose a growing threat both to the country and to the whole of North Africa and other regions."
US Secretary of State John Kerry during hearings in the US Congress at the end of February this year, when asked about Libya, said that this country was on the verge of collapse. “In recent months we have been making every effort to form a unified government in Tripoli. If the opposing forces in the country do not unite, Libya will become an incompetent state, ”he said.
The Syrian Arab Republic
The unrest in Syria began on March 15, 2011, in Damascus and Aleppo. The protests were caused by imprisonment and, allegedly, torture of several young students who were arrested for writing anti-government graffiti in the cities "People want the regime to fall." In the following week, riots spread to other cities, increasing in size. 20 March in the southern city of Dar'a, which the Syrian opposition sometimes calls the “cradle of the revolution,” protesters burned down the local headquarters of the ruling Baath Party, the city’s court building and the telephone company’s building. In response to these actions, the security forces opened fire on the protesting crowds. On that day, 15 demonstrators and 7 policemen were killed.
The protests continued on March 23 near the al-Omari mosque. Several armed oppositionists attacked an ambulance that stopped near a mosque, as a result of which the driver, the doctor and the rescuer were killed. Security forces opened fire on the attacking militants, some of whom took refuge in the mosque. As a result of the operation to disarm the militants, the mosque was occupied by security forces and hidden ammunition was found in it. At the same time one security officer died. Later, tear gas was used against the demonstrators who staged a protest at the mosque. The riots killed 5 people.
Over time, the protest movement spread to most of the Syrian cities. The main demands of the opposition were: the resignation of President Bashar Assad, the abolition of the state of emergency (in force since 1962), and the holding of democratic reforms in the country. By the summer of 2011, the confrontation between the government and the opposition had developed into a full-scale armed conflict.
The situation in Syria did not fail to take advantage of the United States. Syria has long had the status of a hostile power to the United States. Washington’s relations with this country deteriorated sharply in the 2000 year after the 34 year old B. Assad came to power. At the same time, the American leadership accused the Syrian government of being a threat in terms of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons. In relation to this country, the United States imposed unilateral economic sanctions. It was officially announced that Damascus was involved in supporting terrorism, and therefore the United States unconditionally supported the rebels from the Syrian opposition, despite the fact that most of them were in one way or another connected with the terrorist organization Al-Qaeda. The overwhelming majority of European countries and the Arab League countries are on the side of the United States
Over the next four years, the United States, under various pretexts, repeatedly tried to initiate military intervention in Syria with the participation of NATO countries. However, every time Russia and China supporting it declared that the situation in Syria, despite aggravation and tension, did not pose a threat to international peace and security, and called on the world community to refrain from interfering in the internal affairs of this country. So in June 2012, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, in response to a statement by French President Francois Hollande about the possibility of a military solution to the conflict, if it is held in accordance with international law, warned that Russia would supply modern air defense systems to the Syrian government and continue to block the intervention initiative UN Security Council in the Syrian conflict.
In August of the same year, US President Barack Obama announced the possibility of a military solution to the conflict in Syria if a serious threat of the use of chemical or biological weapons appeared and by the beginning of December the Pentagon had deployed a naval group of aircraft carrier Eisenhower and two dozen warships near the Syrian coast.
In response to this, 18 December, the Russian Ministry of Defense reported that a squadron of military ships was sent to the shores of Syria: the Yaroslav the Wise patrol ship, the Kaliningrad and Alexander Shabalin large landing ships. Until the end of February 2013, the squadron was replenished with a detachment of ships as part of the missile cruiser "Moscow" and the patrol ship "Smetlivy", large landing ships "Azov", "Saratov" and "Nikolay Filchenkov", on board which were 2000 soldiers of marines and military equipment .
The use of 19 in March 2013 by militants of the opposition of chemical weapons against civilians in the suburbs of Damascus led to increased international pressure on B. Assad's regime, accused the United States of using chemical warfare agents. The likelihood of direct military intervention by the West in the Syrian conflict was higher than ever: on September 1, US President Barack Obama sent a draft resolution authorizing a military operation against Syria to the Senate and House of Representatives.
5-6 September at the final press conference of the G20 summit held in St. Petersburg, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the use of chemical weapons in the SAR is a provocation of militants, and a strike on this country without UN sanction will be outlawed. During a meeting at the summit with Barack Obama, Vladimir Putin put forward the initiative to put international control of chemical weapons in Syria, and subsequently destroy them, and call on the authorities of this country to join the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. Putin’s proposal was supported by B. Obama and welcomed by the Syrian leadership. The Syrian opposition rejected Russia's proposal to establish international control over chemical weapons in an Arab country and demanded that Western countries "respond" to the actions of the "Assad regime." However, the Russian chemical weapons initiative for a long time knocked the ground out from under the feet of the supporters of aggression against Syria.
Following this initiative, Russia attempted to build on success and achieve a political settlement of the Syrian conflict at the second international conference in Geneva in January-February of 2014. However, the views of the Syrian authorities and the opposition, as well as the positions of their foreign sponsors, turned out to be incompatible.
The West, repeating like the mantra "Assad should leave", nevertheless, was in no hurry to provide military assistance to the opposition, demanding the supply of weapons, since by the beginning of 2014, the negative consequences of the Syrian conflict had become acute. Radical Islamist groups, primarily “Dzhebhat en-Nusra” * and “Islamic State” *, became the most active participants in the hostilities, challenging not only the Syrian regime, but also B. Assad's opponents, pushing aside the opposition. By proclaiming Syria as one of the “world caliphate”, IS *, at the end of June 2014, with the tacit approval of the US and its satellites, by September 2015 captured about 70% of Syria’s territory during the fighting. According to Western experts, until the fall of B.Assad’s power was very short.
However, at the end of September 2015, quite unexpectedly, a new air base with Russian weapons and military specialists appeared in Syria, making a real sensation in the West. Russia's participation in the anti-IG * anti-terrorist operation in Syria began on September 30 at the invitation of the legal president of this country, B. Assad. Air strikes carried out by bombers and attack aircraft under the guise of fighters and helicopters, strategic long-range bombers of the Russian aerospace forces, target shelling with cruise missiles from Caspian ships flotilla and the Black Sea Fleet for five and a half months, allowed the SAR army to develop an attack on the ISIS * militants, liberate most of the territory they seized and begin peace negotiations with the sane opposition.
How will develop further military and political events in the SAR, time will tell. I would like to hope that peace will finally come to the long-suffering Syria.
Comparing the course of the events of the “Arab spring” in Libya and Syria, only one conclusion can be made: in any very inadequate situation, its decision depends on the constructive or destructive position of the interested parties. As you can see, the solution of the situations in Libya and Syria are two big differences, as they say in Odessa.
* Banned in the Russian Federation.