Arab Spring nations face years of 'convulsions': Hague
Countries rocked by the Arab Spring uprisings face "turbulent and difficult" times, Britain's foreign secretary warned Thursday, hours after expelling diplomats loyal to Moamer Kadhafi from Britain.
William Hague said the movements could be derailed by faltering economies, sectarian feuds and counter-revolutions, predicting "a lot of problems and even convulsions" for years to come, in an interview with The Times.
Hague, who announced on Wednesday that Britain now recognised Libya's rebel National Transitional Council (NTC) as the nation's legitimate rulers, highlighted Egypt as a key point in the region.
"The next few months could be quite turbulent and difficult in Egypt," he said. "It is perhaps the single most important piece of the jigsaw in the whole Arab Spring."
Deflecting criticism that the NATO mission to unseat Libyan leader Kadhafi was taking too long, Hague stressed the uprisings could take a generation to bear fruit.
"We mustn't expect each country to be neatly done in six months," he said. "It's not a computer game that comes to an end when you get bored.
"It's not a TV programme that finishes at 10pm. We are going to be working at this for the rest of our lives," he said.
The former Conservative party leader said he was "optimistic" that the region would not be dragged back into despotism and warned Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whose forces have killed hundreds of civilians, he could be ousted within six months.
"Events have shown that no one can assume they are able to carry on in power," he added.
Hague also cautioned that the focus on the Arab Spring could lead to the Middle East peace process and the continued threat posed by Iran being neglected.
© 2011 AFP