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MOSCOW, January 16 /ITAR-TASS/. The “Arab Spring” (the term for the wave of revolutionary demonstrations and protests in Arab countries - Itar-Tass) that began three years back has not led to democratic changes in North Africa and in the Middle East and caused the total damage of some 800 billion dollars to the economies of countries of the region, Mikhail Margelov, the Russian President’s Special Representative for Africa and Chairman of the Federation Council International Affairs Committee, told reporters on Thursday.
He said the processes launched by the “Arab Spring” had not yet been completed, and the results of the events in Tunisia, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, Bahrain and Jordan had the intermediate character. The assessments of these events indicated that they had not led to democratic changes in the region, he noted.
There had been no triumph of democracy Western style, he said. Disappointment is apparent in the region, hightened by social and economic difficulties. “The total damage to the economies of those countries amounts to nearly 800 billion dollars,” Margelov said, remarking that they were not flourishing even before the “Arab Spring.” “So the new authorities could not change the situation for the better overnight,” he stressed.
Margelov said the “Arab Spring” had aggravated the main contradictions of the region the dictatorial regimes used to smooth over. “What is more, these contradictions manifested themselves also in adjacent African countries from the Sahel zone to the Horn of Africa,” Margelov said. He added that geopolitical problems aggravated because of rivalry between the Shiite Iran and Sunnite monarchies for domination of the region. “And Syria landed in the focus of this rivalry,” he said.
Still Margelov is sure that the situation in the Middle East and in North Africa will stabilize. “The new authorities will be compelled to bring into life at least some of the slogans of the ‘Arab Spring’,” he said. Geneva-2 conference will play an important part in this, showing that talks between irreconcilable rivals are possible, he said.