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RE: Authoritarianism and Dictatorship - Admin - 02-08-2009

Zafar Bangash

History has a habit of returning with a vengeance to reveal the behavior of unsavory characters. The Israeli onslaught on Ghazzah launched on December 27 that resulted in the cold-blooded murder of thousands of Palestinians is not the first dastardly crime perpetrated by the zionists. Theirs is a history of repeated genocides against the hapless Palestinians from Deir Yasin (1948), Qibya (1953) to the Sabra and Shatilla refugee camps (September 1982), the massacre in Jenin (April 2002) and Beit Hanoun (March 2008). In between there were the two intifadahs — October 1987 to September 1993 and September 2000 to June 2005 — that reveal a clear pattern of zionist crimes. And now we witness the two-year-long siege of Ghazzah since Hamas won the elections in January 2006 and the recent barbaric onslaught.

While Zionist barbarism is well established, what is less well known is the true nature of Arab rulers. There striking parallels between what the noble messenger of Allah (saws) had faced at the hands of the Arabian mushriks in Makkah 1400 years ago and the attitude displayed toward Hamas and the Palestinians in Ghazzah by Arabian rulers in the Middle East today. In particular, the Israeli siege of and assault on Ghazzah has many similarities with the mushriks’ siege of Muslims in Sha’b Abi Talib during the seventh to the tenth year of the Prophetic mission in Makkah. Then as now, narrow self-interest superseded other considerations: moral, social and even ties of blood. Those closest to the Prophet (saws) by blood—Abu Lahab and his wife Um Jamil — betrayed and abandoned him and his companions as the Arabian rulers have done with the Palestinians today. The present-day rulers are much worse: Abu Lahab and his wife were openly hostile and did not hide their shirk; today’s Arabian rulers claim to be Muslims but their behavior is closer to that of mushriks than to Muslims except in one important respect: unlike the Arabian rulers today, the mushriks of Makkah were not cowards.

Let us briefly recall the events in Makkah. When the Makkan chiefs despaired of convincing the Prophet’s uncle Abu Talib to abandon him, they embarked on a collective boycott of the two clans of Banu Hashim (to which the Prophet (saws) belonged) and Banu Abd al-Muttalib, their cousins. The boycott extended even to their non-Muslim members but clan solidarity prevented them from abandoning the Prophet (saws). Only Abu Lahab and his wife broke away and vacated the house that shared a common wall with the Prophet’s house, to live with the mushriks. The mushriks’ demand was that Abu Talib should either abandon the Prophet (saws) or the latter should abandon Islam (nastaghfirullah) before they would lift the siege. The boycott agreement was written down, signed by 40 leading figures of Makkah and posted inside the Ka’aba. The siege lasted nearly three years; it was ultimately broken at the behest of a number of concerned mushrik relatives of the besieged people. Principal among those that decided to break the siege were Hisham ibn Amr (Aamir clan); Abu al-Bakhtari ibn Hisham and Zam’ah ibn al-Aswad (Banu Asad clan); Zuhayr ibn Abi Umayyah (Makhzum clan) and Mut’im ibn Adi (Adi clan).

One can immediately identify the modern-day equivalents of Abu Lahab: Mahmoud Abbas and his so-called Palestinian Authority. His alliance with the zionists against Hamas and the Palestinian people ranks on par with Abu Lahab’s attitude toward the noble messenger of Allah. But Mahmoud Abbas is not alone in this dubious honor. The Arabian rulers of the Middle East, in particular those of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan fall in the same category. This is not mere speculation; their own statements and behavior expose them unambiguously.

Ten days before the start of the Israeli onslaught on Ghazzah, Egypt’s Intelligence Minister Omar Suleiman had told the visiting Security Advisor to Israeli prime minister, retired general Amos Gilad, that Egypt would like to see Hamas cut down to size, even in Damascus. Further, that Cairo would not mind an Israeli incursion into Ghazzah to put and end to Hamas. A day before Israel launched its murderous aerial assault on Ghazzah that murdered 300 Palestinians in the first 15 minutes, Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni was received with hugs and kisses in Cairo by President Husni Mubarak of Egypt. Even after the murderous nature of Israeli attacks became clear, Mubarak told a delegation of European Union (EU) foreign ministers that “Hamas must not be allowed to win”, according to the Israeli daily, Ha’aretz (January 5, 2009). When the Egyptian people held rallies demanding the immediate opening of Refah border with Ghazzah to help the besieged Palestinians, Egyptian authorities said they could not do so because the Quartet (the UN, US, Russia and the EU) had imposed this blockade. The Egyptian rulers pathetically admitted they were not free to make decisions even about their own borders. They suggested instead that the people should demand that Israel open its border!

Other Arab rulers have been equally criminal in their negligence toward the suffering Palestinian masses. At the Arab League summit in Cairo on December 31, Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal advanced the lame excuse: “This terrible massacre would not have happened if the Palestinian people were united behind one leadership.” He went on to pontificate: “Your Arab brothers cannot extend to you the hand of real help, if you do not extend the hand of affection to each other.” This was disingenuous: the Saudis are directly responsible for creating divisions among the Palestinians. The Saudi regime and its mukhabarat (intelligence agency) have used the kingdom’s wealth not to alleviate the suffering of the Palestinians but to bankroll the corrupt Palestinian Authority against Hamas. This so-called “Authority” has been rejected by the Palestinian people but since the US and Israel prop it up, the Saudis too support this puppet authority whose only purpose, besides stealing whatever money is donated to alleviate the suffering of the Palestinian people, appears to be to do Israel’s bidding.

The excuse advanced by Saud al-Faisal, however, is even worse than the behavior of the Makkan mushriks. Hisham ibn Amr, Abu al-Bakhtari ibn Hisham and Zuhayr ibn Abi Umayyah (a member of the rival Makhzum clan), for instance, did not argue that they could not help the Prophet (saws) and those besieged with him in Sh’ab Abi Talib because the Banu Hashim clan was divided. After all, one of their leading figures, Abu Lahab had broken rank and openly sided with the mushriks. Some of the Makkan mushriks could see that an injustice was being perpetrated against the Prophet (saws) and his relatives. They decided to challenge their elders to end this. The mushriks of the Prophet’s time appeared to have far greater sense of justice and honor than today’s “Muslim” Arabian rulers!

One can find non-Muslims of similar disposition even today that rank far higher than the Arabian rulers in the Middle East. Professor Richard Falk, the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Palestine, and international law expert at Princeton University, described Israel’s siege of Gaza last year, prior to the current onslaught, in the following terms: “Is it an irresponsible overstatement to associate the treatment of Palestinians with this criminalized Nazi record of collective atrocity? I think not. The recent developments in Gaza are especially disturbing because they express so vividly a deliberate intention on the part of Israel and its allies to subject an entire human community to life-endangering conditions of utmost cruelty.” It should be stated for the record that Professor Falk is Jewish yet he is prepared to speak out against Israeli crimes. After the Israeli onslaught began, Professor Falk issued the following statement on December 27: “The Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip represent severe and massive violations of international humanitarian law as defined in the Geneva Conventions, both in regard to the obligations of an Occupying Power and in the requirements of the laws of war.” These were augmented by statements made by Miguel D’Escoto Brockmann, President of the UN General Assembly who not only condemned Israeli atrocities but also called for sanctions similar to those imposed on the apartheid regime of South Africa in the eighties. While the Arab regimes refused to expel Israeli diplomats operating in their countries, President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela gave marching orders to the zionists to pack their bags and leave Caracas. Venezuela and Bolivia broke off diplomatic relations with the zionist State on January 14. President Evo Morales of Bolivia even called for putting Israeli leaders on trial for war crimes.

Only a few Arab governments have shown any concern for the Palestinians: Syria, Libya and to a lesser extend Qatar. While the first two do not have diplomatic relations with the zionist State, Qatar and Mauritania belatedly announced expulsion of the Israelis from Doha on January 16 during another Arab League summit; Egypt and Jordan are averse to breaking off diplomatic relations with the zionists while Morocco refuses to cut commercial and political ties even if does not have formal diplomatic relations. Both Libya and Qatar attempted to send food and medicines to Ghazzah by sea but were unsuccessful. The Libyan ship is docked at an Egyptian port while the Qatari boat did not set out to sea at all once it became clear that their Israeli friends would not give them permission to enter Ghazzah waters. In the Muslim world, only the Islamic Republic of Iran, Hizbullah in Lebanon and to some extent, the Turkish government, have spoken out against Israeli crimes and demanded immediate action.

For Muslims the lesson is clear: the Arab regimes are agents of the kuffar and have been planted in Muslim lands to provide a ring of protection to the zionist State. Nearly 60 years ago, David Ben Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, had said in a moment of candor that the Arab regimes were Israel’s “first line of defense”. For decades, these regimes camouflaged their true nature under an avalanche of rhetoric but now they stand fully exposed. The first cracks in their carefully constructed façade had appeared immediately after the victory of the Islamic Revolution in Iran (February 1979). Far from welcoming the Muslims’ success they embarked on a policy of undermining the Islamic State in order to contain the spread of revolutionary ideas into their societies. These cracks widened further with the emergence of Hizbullah in Lebanon to confront the zionist invaders, something the Arab regimes had demonstrably failed to do. In Israel’s July 2006 invasion of Lebanon, the Arab regimes were further exposed; instead of condemning Israeli barbarities, they and their agents in and outside Lebanon, condemned Hizbullah instead. Reaction from the Arab street was swift and strong. The masses were appalled at the behavior of their rulers: far from defending Arab (if not Islamic) honor, they sided with the zionist aggressors. Today their behavior has sunk even lower. They bickered over whether to call an Arab League summit or a meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council. When the Arab League finally met in Doha, it achieved little of practical value.    

If Muslims truly wish to support the Palestinian people then they must reach the inescapable conclusion that these puppet regimes must be overthrown and replaced by Islamic governments. Nothing less would do. There can be no compromises on this point. While Egypt and Jordan are crucial for the liberation of Palestine and Al-Quds, for the larger Muslim Ummah, bringing to an end the control of the House of Saud over the Haramayn (the two holy cities of Makkah and Madinah) is absolutely imperative. Without the liberation of Makkah and Madinah from the clutches of the corrupt Saudi monarchy, the Muslim Ummah cannot make progress. Once committed Muslims are in control of the Haramayn, conditions in the Ummah will change dramatically. It was not without reason that the House of Saud was planted in the Arabian Peninsula. More than a century ago, the British had realized the importance of the Haramyn; the US that donned the mantle of a world power after Britain, has similarly realized its importance.

Will the Muslims wake up to this reality or simply go back to slumber after the latest carnage in Ghazzah becomes a distant memory? This is the challenge facing Muslims and the Islamic movement—the vehicle through which they must operate to achieve their goals in the world today.

Israel’s three-week long offensive on the tiny desert patch called Ghazzah has once again revealed the barbaric nature of the zionist state. Showing complete disregard for civilian lives, many of them children, whom they deliberately and repeatedly targeted, the zionists stand exposed as war criminals. Their actions also confirm yet again that they are racists and bigots, something the world has long known, hence the slogan: zionism is racism. Their onslaught on Ghazzah, however, has exposed many others; their traditional supporters in the West stand in the same dock of war criminals as the zionist rulers. Israel’s Ghazzah war has also finally exposed the true face of Arab rulers who, with few exceptions, all sided with the zionist criminals. It is important to name them even if such naming will not shame them because they have neither self-respect nor dignity. Leading the list of Israel’s Arab allies is the Pharaoh of Egypt, Husni Mubarak. Not far behind is the House of Saud that emerged more than a century ago from Dar‘iyyah in Najd and illegally occupied the Haramayn (the two holy cities of Makkah and Madinah). Their rivals from the family of Husain ibn Ali, who like Abdul Aziz ibn Saud was also a British agent, and whose descendants today rule Jordan, are perhaps even more subservient to the zionists than the first two. But as a well-known proverb goes: the snow does not fall but to reveal the beast that walks upon it. Israel’s Ghazzah onslaught has revealed many a beast. It has also revealed the myth of Arab unity and fraud of Arab nationalism as evidenced by the pathetic meetings of the Arab League. The Arab rulers met to confirm their collective impotence.

Beyond revealing the ugly faces of unsavory characters lies another truth: the complete failure of Israeli strategy. When Israel launched its assault on Ghazzah on December 27, the stated objective was to stop Hamas from firing rockets into Israeli towns. There were other objectives as well—both declared and undeclared. The zionists (Israeli defense minister Ehud Barak, for instance) said that they would change the ground rules in Ghazzah. What this meant was that Hamas would either be eliminated or so weakened that it will be rendered ineffective in determining Palestinian policy in the future. They intended to supplant their quislings from the Palestinian Authority in Ghazzah from where they were driven out in June 2007. There was an unstated objective as well: Israel’s onslaught against a defenseless population surrounded on all sides including the sea and impoverished by a vicious siege for two years, would enable some Israeli politicians within the ruling coalition — Barak, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni et al — to improve their standing with the Israeli public in the February elections.

On January 18 when Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced a ceasefire, Hamas was still firing rockets into Israel. While these rockets are neither effective nor cause much damage, they symbolize Hamas’s and therefore, the Palestinians’ defiance of zionist aggression and occupation. Even if they cannot match Israel’s military might and firepower, the Palestinians refuse to be cowed down. It is this defiance in the face of overwhelming odds that has earned Hamas respect and recognition worldwide, even in countries that have declared it a “terrorist” organization.

Israel’s other objectives also failed to materialize except the cynical ploy of zionist politicians for their short-term domestic considerations: to advance their chances in the forthcoming elections. If Israeli politicians want to climb to power on the crushed bones and broken limbs of Palestinian children and the Israeli public applauds them for this, then this makes them accomplices in war crimes. The genocide of Palestinians, however, carries long-term implications that the zionists will not be able to withstand.

Most people in the world have realized, even if their rulers refuse to admit, that the fundamental issue in Palestine is not Hamas rockets; it is the 60-year-old occupation of the Palestinians’ land by the zionists. Further, that despite all the noxious propaganda against Hamas, it is Israel and its rulers that stand condemned as terrorists and war criminals. Blasting public buildings including schools, mosques, universities and hospitals with 1,000-pound bombs dropped from the sky and crushing their inhabitants in them are not acts of bravery or self-defense. Similarly, herding people into buildings and then blowing them up with artillery fire are war crimes, made worse by the Israeli soldiers’ refusal to allow medical personnel to help the wounded. While contemporary global power politics may prevent the prosecution of Israeli rulers as war criminals at present, their barbarism has exposed them in the bar of public opinion. Most people no longer accept the argument that the Nazi holocaust of Jews gives Israel the license to kill Palestinians with impunity.

Far from degrading Hamas militarily or politically, it has emerged out of this carnage with its dignity intact and its standing greatly enhanced. Even the Palestinian Authority was forced to speak out against Israeli crimes, not because it cares about the people but because silence in the face of such atrocities would have eroded its already low standing even further. It is now universally recognized that there cannot be real peace or permanent solution to the question of Palestine without the involvement of Hamas. Thus, by its steadfastness and perseverance, Hamas has won the respect of people worldwide. It has also forced the issue of Palestine to centre-stage in global politics. While Israel’s aim was to crush Hamas militarily, thereby burying the aspirations of the Palestinian people under rubble, Hamas withstood the onslaught and frustrated this plot. By showing immense courage under extremely difficult circumstances, Hamas leaders have emerged with their reputations greatly enhanced. Such courage comes from unflinching faith in Allah and the righteousness of one’s cause.

Hamas, like Hizbullah in Lebanon in July-August 2006, has demonstrated that military might alone is not sufficient to secure one’s objectives. Unlike its confrontation with Hizbullah 30 months ago, Israel came out of this conflict relatively unscathed in terms of its own casualties because Hamas had little or no military hardware to confront Israeli planes, helicopters and armor. Further, Israel inflicted far more casualties in three weeks (1400 killed and 5,000 injured) in Ghazzah than it did on Lebanon in four (1100 killed) but politically it failed just as badly as it did in Lebanon. Military campaigns are launched to accomplish certain political goals; Israel achieved none. Instead, it suffered a political defeat. The fact that Livni had to rush to Washington to sign an agreement with the US to stop the flow of weapons to Hamas is admission of this defeat. Hamas rockets are not supplied by the US, the principal sponsor and financier of zionist crimes in Palestine. Even Egypt, that is no supporter of Hamas, refused to accept the US-Israel deal on Hamas arms. Besides, as people under occupation, the Palestinians have the right to fight their occupiers; arms flows should be stopped to the Zionist occupiers because of their criminal disregard for human life.

Hamas’s perseverance has also enhanced the standing of its friends in the region — Islamic Iran, Hizbullah, Syria and to a lesser extent Libya and Turkey. Muslim masses in the region witnessed who stood up for and spoke in defense of Hamas and the Palestinian people and those who sided with the zionists and the US either openly or by remaining silent over Israeli crimes. Human beings are emotional beings; emotions are aroused when they witness innocent people being brutalized. When they see horrible images of mutilated children and hear the heart-wrenching screams of mothers on their television screens, it is unrealistic to expect that they will not be moved. It arouses their anger when they see their own governments remain indifferent in the face of such crimes. Thus, far from weakening Hamas, Israel’s onslaught may have unhinged the illegitimate Arab rulers and shaken their grip on power because their people now see them as accomplices in Israeli crimes.

That fact alone explains why the military assault on Ghazzah represents a clear defeat for Israel. This was always likely to be the outcome; 60 years of Israeli brutalities have failed to crush Palestinian aspirations. As a colonial settler entity, Israel has always relied on brute force to impose its will on the indigenous population. Ethnic cleansing and mass murder have been the zionists’ favorite tools. Continuing the European policy of colonization, they thought this ploy would be as successful in Palestine as it was in North America and Australia centuries ago. But the Palestinians refuse to disappear quietly or give up without a fight. While Israeli rulers may delude themselves into believing that excessive use of brute force would buy them security, the tide of history is turning against them. Their criminal disregard for human life is hastening the day when the zionist temple will come crashing down on their heads.

With two successive defeats in less than three years, the exposure of the Palestinian Authority as zionist quislings and Arab rulers as accomplices in Israeli crimes, the battle lines are now much clearer. These have been sharpened by Israel’s own brutal conduct, most recently in Ghazzah. As Muslim masses gain greater awareness of the reality and as they see their own rulers siding with the enemy so openly against innocent Palestinians, this will hasten the day when these regimes and their rulers are swept into the dustbin of history. When that happens, Israel’s external defense barriers will be gone. The zionist state will then collapse into a heap of ash as a result of its own inner contradictions.

The fact that Israel’s latest onslaught on Ghazzah has given rise to many voices even in the West demanding the trial of Israeli politicians as war criminals is a leap forward. They have become political lepers. This is a sure sign of their impending demise.

RE: Authoritarianism and Dictatorship - Admin - 01-16-2011


Tunisians have sent a message to the Arab world, warning leaders they are no longer immune to popular anger.

In cities across the Arab world, people have been reinvigorated by the Tunisian uprising.

The Tunisian uprising, which succeeded in toppling Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, the Tunisian president, has brought down the walls of fear, erected by repression and marginalisation, thus restoring the Arab peoples' faith in their ability to demand social justice and end tyranny.

It is a warning to all leaders, whether supported by international or regional powers, that they are no longer immune to popular outcries of fury.

It is true that Ben Ali's flight from the country is just the beginning of an arduous path towards freedom. It is equally true that the achievements of the Tunisian people could still be contained or confiscated by the country's ruling elite, which is desperately clinging to power.

But the Tunisian intifada has placed the Arab world at a crossroads. If it fully succeeds in bringing real change to Tunis it will push the door wide open to freedom in Arab word. If it suffers a setback we shall witness unprecedented repression by rulers struggling to maintain their absolute grip on power.

Either way, a system that combined a starkly unequal distribution of wealth with the denial of freedoms has collapsed.

A model of tyranny

Tunis may have been an extreme example, but all Arab regimes are variations on the same model, which obediently follows Western-instructed economic 'liberalisation' while strangling human rights and civil liberties.

The West has long admired the Tunisian system, praising its "secularism" and "liberal economic policies", and, in its quest to open world markets and maximise profit, has turned a blind eye to human rights violations and the gagging of the media - two functions at which the Ben Ali regime excelled.

But Tunis, under Ben Ali, was not a model of secularism but a shameless model of tyranny. It turned "secularism" into an ideology of terror - not merely in the name of countering Islamic extremism but in an attempt to crush the spirit of opposition - Islamic, secular, liberal and socialist alike.

As with previous examples of countries it deemed to have embraced 'successful economic models', like Chile under the late dictator Augusto Pinochet, the West, particularly the US and France, backed the Ben Ali regime - prioritising forced stability over democracy.

But even when such governments remain in power for decades, thanks to Western support and a security apparatus that suppresses the people with immunity, it is only a matter of time before they come to a humiliating end.

The West, and the US in particular, has always abandoned its allies - a memorable example is the way in which Washington dropped Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the late shah of Iran, when popular anger threatened the country's stability.

The Arabs are listening

The people of Tunisia have spoken and, most significantly, the Arab people are listening.

The Tunisian protests have already triggered peaceful demonstrations in Jordan, where people have protested over inflation and government efforts to undermine political liberties and press freedoms and have demanded the departure of Samir al-Rifai, the prime minister.

The government, seemingly concerned by the unfolding developments, sought to appease popular discontent by reversing what had been the ninth increase in fuel prices since 1989. But it was too little, too late, particularly as food prices continue to rise, and Jordanians are expected to continue their demonstrations over the coming weeks.

The government would do well to learn from Tunis that repression by the security forces can no longer solve its problems and guarantee the consent of its citizens.

In Egypt, the opposition Movement for Change appears to have been reinvigorated by the events in Tunisia. And in Arab capitals, from Sana'a to Cairo, the people are sending a message to their own governments, as well as expressing their support for the Tunisian people, by organising sit-ins in front of Tunisian embassies.

Arabs of all generations are also expressing their sentiments online - not only congratulating Tunisians but also calling for similar movements in their own countries. And on Facebook, many have replaced their profile pictures with images of the Tunisian flag, as though draping themselves in the colours of an Arab revolution.

Fear and jubilation

The failure of one of the Arab world's most repressive security forces to quell people power has been met with jubilation. Bloggers have compared the event to the fall of the Berlin wall, suggesting that it will usher in a new era in which the Arab people will have a greater say in determining their future.

Mohamed Bouazizi, the young Tunisian who set himself on fire in protest against unemployment and poverty, has become a symbol of Tunisian sacrifices for freedom.

Activists across the region have called for the "Tunisation" of the Arab street - taking Tunis as a model for the assertion of people power and aspirations for social justice, the eradication of corruption and democratisation.

But the celebratory atmosphere dominating the blogosphere and wide sectors of Arab society is tainted by a prevailing sense of caution and fear: Caution because the situation in Tunis remains unclear and fear that there may be a coup d'état, which would impose security but stifle popular aspirations.

Whether the Tunisian uprising will succeed in bringing about radical reforms or be partially aborted by the ruling elite remains to be seen. But it has already empowered people across the Arab world to expose the fallacy of regimes that believe adopting a pro-Western agenda will enable them to fool their people and guarantee their longevity.

History has shown that security forces can silence people but can never crush the simmering revolt that lies beneath the ashes. Or in the words of the beloved Tunisian poet Abul-Qasim al-Shabi in his poem To the Tyrants of the World:

Wait, don't let the spring, the clearness of the sky and the shine of the morning light fool you ...
Because the darkness, the thunder's rumble and the blowing of the wind are coming toward you
from the horizon
Beware because there is a fire underneath the ash

Lamis Andoni is an analyst and commentator on Middle Eastern and Palestinian affairs.


How one young Tunisian is emerging as a symbol of disenfranchised and impoverished Arab youth.

Mohammed Bouazizi's attempted self-immolation set off protests by Tunisians  

Mohamed Bou'aziz, the young Tunisian who set fire to himself on December 17, is emerging as a symbol of the wider plight of the millions of young Arabs who are struggling to improve their living conditions.

Like many across the Arab world, Bou'aziz, who is now being treated for severe burns, discovered that a university degree was insufficient to secure decent employment. He turned to selling fruit for a living, but when the security forces confiscated his vending cart he torched himself - igniting a series of protests across Tunisia.

The roots of this Tunisian 'uprising' are to be found in a lethal combination of poverty, unemployment and political repression: three characteristics of most Arab societies.

Corruption, nepotism and inefficiency

Official figures place unemployment in the Arab world at 15 per cent but many economists believe the real rate is far higher than government supplied statistics suggest.

A joint study by the Arab League and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) indicates that in most Arab countries young people constitute 50 per cent of the unemployed - the highest rate in the world.

According to the same report, rates of poverty remain high - "reaching up to 40 per cent on average, which means that nearly 140 million Arabs continue to live under the upper poverty line". Worse still, the study noted that the region has seen no decrease in rates of poverty in the past 20 years.

The report was submitted to the Arab summit that convened in Kuwait in 2009, but found no real response from Arab officials - who continued to pursue economic policies that had, in their main outlines, been imposed by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF).

In most Arab countries, rampant corruption, nepotism and inefficiency have further aggravated the impact of IMF-inspired privatisation processes, austerity measures and the reduction or scrapping of government subsidies on fuel and staple foodstuffs.

Bread and couscous

It was, in fact, Tunisians who first rejected the then newly introduced IMF guidelines by protesting against resulting food shortages in January 1984. But the government of Habib Bourguiba, the then Tunisian president, cracked down on the bread riots, as they were called, and imposed nightly curfews to curb the protests.

But the Tunisian protests did not stop other governments from following suit and endorsing the 'economic liberalisation programme' dictated by the IMF and World Bank. In October 1988, violent protests swept Algeria as liberalisation policies were introduced. The 'couscous protests', as they became known, were led by young people who emulated the ongoing Palestinian intifada against Israeli occupation by donning the Palestinian keffeya, burning tires and throwing stones at security forces.

The subsequent security crackdown resulted in the deaths of hundreds and the imprisonment of more than 1,000 people - serving to silence critics and pave the way for more governments to adopt IMF proposed austerity measures.

Less than a year later, Jordan reached an agreement with the IMF that involved decreasing government subsidies. This triggered hikes in fuel prices and resulted in protests in the southern cities of Ma'an and Karak. The government, like those of other Arab countries, responded by sending in the security forces to round up activists and protest leaders.

But the outcry, having shaken the bedrock of Hashemite support in the south of the country, prompted the late King Hussein to restore elections, lift three-decades old martial law and allow the existence of political parties in order to appease the opposition and to contain the growing anger.

The king's response was a success - particularly as parliamentary elections were held and political prisoners released. His subsequent refusal to join US-led coalition forces in the battle to free Kuwait and in the bombing of Iraq, a stance that corresponded with popular sentiment, also helped to ease the tensions that had arisen from his economic policies. Thus consecutive governments continued to 'liberalise the economy' - resulting in higher inflation rates and price hikes.

A prelude to political liberalism?

The US administrations of both George Bush senior, a Republican, and Bill Clinton, a Democrat, asserted pressure on Arab governments to pursue the 'neo-liberal economic model' promoted by American economist Milton Friedman.

Neo-liberalism marked a sharp retreat from the Keynesian model of government intervention through welfare policies to ensure some degree of social equilibrium within capitalist societies. With the collapse of the former Communist bloc, the promoters of neo-liberal economics sought to associate a free economy with a more politically free society.

During the 1990s, neo-liberal economics became more entrenched in Arab societies - producing a new elite of wealthy young capitalist entrepreneurs and prompting envy and discontent among the established elite who too rushed to join the new game.

Even many former leftist intellectuals, in the Arab world and beyond, espoused the new school of thought as a prelude to a politically liberal society - thus dampening opposition to economic policies that were increasing poverty and unemployment.

But political freedoms did not go hand-in-hand with economic liberalisation. In fact, in most Arab countries the governments asserted more control, while taking measures to undercut dissent and opposition.

In 1996, protests again erupted in the south of Jordan in response to increases in bread prices. The government responded with a security crackdown - but this time no widening political freedoms followed.

Crying out against injustice

It was not until the global economic crisis that the Arab world started to witness the recovery of popular opposition - first materialising in Egypt in 2007 and 2008. These strikes and protests were the first indications of a return to organised protests against political repression and poverty inducing economic policies.

These movements, ultimately unsuccessfully, brought students and workers together to challenge the apathy and disdain of the ruling elite to the suffering of the poor and marginalised. The political movement for change, led by Mohamed ElBaradei, to establish a democratic and participatory political system, reflected the merger of the discontented sectors of Egyptian society.

But it was Bou'aziz's heart-wrenching attempt to kill himself that most accurately represented the loud cry of the millions of impoverished and aching citizens against the yoke of politically and economically repressive systems. His act was one of extreme despair. But he is not alone. Lahseen Naji, another young Tunisian, followed - electrocuting himself to death - and at least five others attempted to commit suicide but were stopped.

In Jordan and some other Arab countries, frustration borne out of political and economic disenfranchisement has manifested itself in a higher rate of societal violence, especially among the young. The absence of strong political parties and movements are strengthening tribal rivalries among younger generations, often leading to armed clashes.

But Jordanian society has also witnessed this frustration being turned into affirmative action in the form of workers' and teachers' demands for improved working conditions. Jordan's teachers have emerged as an important force within the country, resisting government attempts to marginalise them and pushing their demand for the formation of a syndicate to protect their interests.

As the Tunisian protests continued, demonstrations took place in Algeria against a housing programme that failed to accommodate the thousands of families made homeless by the country's devastating 2003 earthquake.

Bou'aziz's wounds and Naji's death should not go down in history as mere tragic incidents: if the Tunisian protests do indeed signal the return of social movements to the Arab world, their stifled hopes may just be turned into an outcry against injustice.

Lamis Andoni is an analyst and commentator on Middle Eastern and Palestinian affairs.


Chronicle of nationwide demonstrations over the country's unemployment crisis. Unrest broke out after a young man tried to commit suicide in frustration over rampant unemployment [EPA]

December 17: Mohammed Bouazizi, a 26-year-old unemployed graduate in the central town of Sidi Bouzid, sets himself on fire in an attempt to commit suicide.

Police had confiscated fruit and vegetables he was selling because he lacked a permit. He is still being treated for third-degree burns across his entire body at a hospital near Tunis, the capital.

Bouazizi's act of desperation highlights the public's boiling frustration over living standards and a lack of human rights.

His self-immolation sparked demonstrations in which protesters burned tyres and chanted slogans demanding jobs. Protests soon spread to other parts of the country.

December 20: Mohamed Al Nouri Al Juwayni , the Tunisian development minister, travels to Sidi Bouzid to announce a new $10m employment programme. But protests continue unabated.

December 22: Houcine Falhi, a 22-year-old, commits suicide by electrocuting himself in the midst of another demonstration over unemployment in Sidi Bouzid, after shouting out "No to misery, no to unemployment!"

December 24: Mohamed Ammari, an 18-year-old protester, is killed by police bullets during violent demonstrations in the central town of Menzel Bouzaiene.

Chawki Belhoussine El Hadri , a 44-year-old man, is among those shot by police at the same protest.

Hundreds of protesters rally in front of the Tunisian labour union headquarters over rampant unemployment, clashing with Tunisian security forces in the central towns of al-Ragab and Miknassi. Skirmishes break out when security forces stage overnight crackdown campaigns.

December 25: Rallies spread to Kairouan, Sfax and Ben Guerdane.

An interior ministry spokesperson says police were forced to "shoot in self-defence" after shots in the air failed to disperse scores of protesters who were setting police cars and buildings ablaze.

December 27: Police and demonstrators scuffle as 1,000 Tunisians hold a rally in Tunis, calling for jobs in a show of solidarity with those protesting in poorer regions. Demonstrations also break out in Sousse.

December 28: Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, the country's president, warns in a national television broadcast that protests are unacceptable and will have a negative impact on the economy. Ben Ali criticises the "use of violence in the streets by a minority of extremists" and says the law will be applied "in all firmness" to punish protesters.

The Tunisian Federation of Labour Unions holds another rally in Gafsa province, which is squashed by security forces.

At the same time, about 300 lawyers hold a rally near the government's palace in Tunis in solidarity with protesters. Lawyers march in several other cities as well.

The governors of Sidi Bouzid, Jendouba, and Zaghouan provinces are dismissed for unspecified reasons related to the uprising, according to the Pana news agency.

The Tunisian ministers of communication, trade and handicrafts, and religious affairs are all sacked for reasons related to the uprising, Al-Arabiya news channel reports.

Abderrahman Ayedi, a prominent Tunisian lawyer, is allegedly tortured by police after they arrest him for protesting.

December 29: Security forces peacefully break up a demonstration in the northeastern city of Monastir but allegedly use violence in the town of Sbikha. There are also reports of police brutality in the town of Chebba, where one protester is hospitalised.

Nessma TV, a private news channel, becomes the first major Tunisian media outlet to cover the protests, after 12 days of demonstrations.

December 30: El Hadri, shot by police six days prior, dies of his injuries.

France's Socialist Party, the main opposition, condemns the "brutal repression" of the protesters, calling for lawyers and demonstrators to be released.

December 31: Lawyers across Tunisia respond to a call to assemble in protest over the arrested lawyers and in solidarity with the people of Sidi Bouzid.

Authorities react to the protests with force, and lawyers tell Al Jazeera they were "savagely beaten".

January 2: The hacktivist group "Anonymous" announces Operation Tunisia in solidarity with the protests by hacking a number of Tunisian state-run websites, temporarily shutting them down.

Several online activists report on Twitter that their email and Facebook accounts were hacked.

January 3: About 250 demonstrators, mostly students, stage a peaceful marchin the city of Thala. The protest turns violent after police try to stop it by firing tear gas canisters.

At least nine protesters are reportedly injured. In response, protesters set fire to tyres and attack the local offices of the ruling party.

January 4: The Tunisian Bar Association announces a general strike to be staged January 6 in protest over attacks by security forces against its members.

January 5: Mohamed Bouazizi dies of self-inflicted burns. A funeral is later held for him in Sidi Bouzid, his hometown.

January 6: It is reported that 95 per cent of Tunisia's 8,000 lawyers launch a strike, demanding an end to police brutality against peaceful protesters.

January 7:  Authorities arrest a group of bloggers, journalists, activists and a rap singer in a crackdown on dissent. Some of them reportedly go missing.

January 8: At least six protesters are reportedly killed and six others wounded in clashes with police in Tala, a provincial town near the border with Algeria. Another three people were killed in similar clashes in the Kasserine region.

In Tala, witnesses said police fired their weapons after using water cannons to try to disperse a crowd which had set fire to a government building. The crowd has also thrown stones and petrol bombs at police.

January 9: Two protesters named Chihab Alibi and Youssef Fitouri are shot dead by police in Miknassi, according to the SBZ news agency.

January 13: The Paris-based International Federation for Human Rights tallies 66 deaths since the protests began, and sources tell Al Jazeera on Thursday that at least 13 people were killed in the past two days alone. The government's official toll stands at 23 after several weeks of clashes.

Later, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, Tunisia's president, makes a televised address, announcing unprecedented concessions and vowing not to seek re-election in 2014. He also pledges to introduce more freedoms into society, institute widespread reforms and investigate the killings of protesters during demonstrations.

January 14: President imposes a state of emergency and fires the country's government amid violent clashes between protesters and security forces.

Ben Ali also promises fresh legislative elections within six months in an attempt to quell mass dissent.

State media reports that gatherings of more than three people have been banned and "arms will be used if orders of security forces are not heeded".

President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali leaves country and the prime minister takes control of the government.

Mohammed Ghannouchi, the Tunisian prime minister, cites chapter 56 of the Tunisian constitution and becomes the interim president.

French media report that Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, refused to allow Ben Ali to land in his country.

January 15: Saudi Arabia officially announces that it is hosting Ben Ali and his family for an unspecified period of time.

Security vacuum left by the departure of Ben Ali is exploited by looters and violent gangs, witnesses say.

Residents in several parts of Tunis say that groups were prowling through neighbourhoods at night setting fire to buildings and attacking people and property, with no police in sight.


The real terror eating away at the Arab world is socio-economic marginalisation.

From Tunisia and Algeria in the Maghreb to Jordan and Egypt in the Arab east, the real terror is marginalisation [AFP]

Conventional wisdom has it that 'terror' in the Arab world is monopolised by al-Qaeda in its various incarnations. There may be some truth in this.

However, this is a limited viewpoint. Regimes in countries like Tunisia and Algeria have been arming and training security apparatuses to fight Osama bin Laden. But they were caught unawares by the 'bin Laden within': the terror of marginalisation for the millions of educated youth who make up a large portion of the region's population.

The winds of uncertainty blowing in the Arab west - the Maghreb - threaten to blow eastwards towards the Levant as the marginalised issue the fatalistic scream of despair to be given freedom and bread or death.

Whose terror?

The gurus of so-called 'radicalisation' who have turned Islam into a security issue have fixed the debate, making bin Laden a timeless, single and permanent pathology of all things Muslim.

It is no exaggeration to claim that since 9/11 so-called radicalisation has replaced new Orientalism as the prism through which Western security apparatuses view Middle Eastern youth and societies. Guantanamo Bay, profiling, extraordinary renditions, among others, are only the tip of the iceberg.

The policing, equipment, funding, expertise and anti-terror philosophy being fed to the likes of Algeria, Libya and Morocco are geared towards fighting the 'bearded, radical salafis' whose prophet is Osama bin Laden. But, the tangible bin Ladens bracing suicide in its entirety have emerged from the ranks of the educated middle classes whose prophet is Adam Smith.

Al-Qaeda, literally "the base", may today be the swelling armies of marginals in the Middle East, not the 'salafis'.

It is not the Quran or Sayyid Qutb - who is in absentia charged with perpetrating 9/11 despite being dead since 1966 - Western security experts should worry about. They should perhaps purchase Das Kapital and bond with Karl Marx to get a reality check, a rethink, a dose of sobriety in a post-9/11 world afflicted by over-securitisation.

From Tunisia and Algeria in the Maghreb to Jordan and Egypt in the Arab east, the real terror that eats at self-worth, sabotages community and communal rites of passage, including marriage, is the terror of socio-economic marginalisation.

The armies of 'khobzistes' (the unemployed of the Maghreb) - now marching for bread in the streets and slums of Algiers and Kasserine and who tomorrow may be in Amman, Rabat, San'aa, Ramallah, Cairo and southern Beirut - are not fighting the terror of unemployment with ideology. They do not need one. Unemployment is their ideology. The periphery is their geography. And for now, spontaneous peaceful protest and self-harm is their weaponry. They are 'les misérables' of the modern world.

The 'bread compact'

The bread compacts which framed the political order in much of the Arab world came unstuck in the mid- to late-1980s.

In the 1960s, regimes committed to the distribution of bread (subsidised goods) in return for political passivity. In the 1980s, the new political fix shifted to giving the vote instead of bread.

Who can forget the 1988 bread riots that eventually brought the Islamists to the verge of parliamentary control of Algeria in 1991? The riots in Jordan at around the same time inspired state-led political liberalisation in 1989.

For Tunisia, Algeria, Jordan and Egypt, the impoverished Arab states, in need of the liquidity of Euro-American and International Misery Fund aid, infitah (open-door policy) was the only blueprint of forward economic management. Within its bosom are bred greed, land grab, corruption, monopoly and the new entrepreneurial classes who exchange loyalty and patronage with the political masters as well as the banknotes and concessions with which both fund flash lifestyles.

Thus the map of distribution was gerrymandered at the expense of the have-nots who are placated with insufficient micro credits or ill-managed national development funds. The crumbs - whatever subsidies are allowed by the new economic order built on the pillars of privatisation, the absence of social safety nets and economic protectionism - delay disaffection but never eliminate it.

Below the surface the pent-up anger of the marginals simmers.
'Tis the season of 'bread intifadas'

The 'khobzistes' have returned. At home they are marginals; abroad, they are largely persona non grata for being born in the wrong geography, inheriting the perfect genes for 'profiling' and being too culturally challenged for some European assimilationists. Their only added value is as objects of social dumping in capitalism's sweat shops.

Potentially, they are the fodder of chaos in the absence of social justice, culturally sensitive sustainable development and democratic mediating networks and civic channels of socio-political bargaining and

Bread uprisings have a plus and a minus. On the positive side, they act as elections, as plebiscites on performance, as an airing of public anger, they issue verdicts on failed policies and send stress messages to rulers.

The response comes swiftly: when initial oppression becomes too heavy and politically costly, bargains begin. They include promises of jobs and policy, reversals of hikes in food prices and even scapegoats in the form of ministerial dismissals.

This is where Algeria and Tunisia are today.

In Tunisia, in particular, the government has been clumsy, nervous and completely out of line for threatening the use of force and then employing it. Fatalities have been on the rise. The death toll is heavy and may already have produced irreversible tipping-point logic.

Bargains, but no democracy

On the negative side, there is no 'democratic spring' in Algeria. Bread riots come and go. But regimes stay on.

The absence of a critical mass that produces a tipping-point dynamic means that regimes know how to buy time, co-opt and fund themselves out of trouble when pushed. Genuine democratic bargains do not ensue. The states have not invested in social and political capital.

Oppositions and dissidents have not yet learned how to infiltrate governments and build strong political identities and power bases. This is one reason why the protests that produced 'Velvet revolutions' elsewhere seem to be absent in the Arab world.

The momentum created by the bread rioters is never translated into self-sustaining critical mass by opposition forces. Regimes wait until the last minute after use of force fails to kill off the momentum through the offer of concessionary and momentary welfare.

Tunisia will be the first Arab exception to this: Ben Ali is in no position to act Machiavellian and intransigent. He is weak, and the party following and army that has protected him for 24 years may be withdrawing loyalty as the crisis deepens.

The 'fishers of men'

The misery belts tightening around the pockets of affluence and opportunity from Algiers to Amman hint at the microcosm of the unevenness of global distribution.

Just as Sidi Bouzid, El-Kobba, Ma'an or Imbaba function internally in that belt of misery, so do the cities of Arab states globally. They are the periphery, literally the misery belts tightening around rich 'fortress Europe' - a Europe that is increasingly more interested in the technology of security, surveillance systems, 'radicalisation' theories, policing and the mental nets functioning as 'fishers of men' according to one study. Today the ClubMed geography is in rebellion mode.  

Frontex is the EU agency that spearheads the task of constructing fortress Europe. It is at the front, fighting against the boat people that threaten the lifestyles and comfort of the EU. Its planes, frigates and patrols literally fish men from the tiny boats laden with Arab and African human cargo destined for EU shores.

These desperados weather the high seas knowing that their chance of survival is not more than 10 per cent. Many drown. Tunisian Mohamed Bouazizi's act of insanity was not the only suicide. The 'harraqa', as North African boat people are called, seek exodus by stealth, and by death.

Those who do not drown are chased back to their shores of departure. Some are caught and returned to countries of transition such as Libya.

A 2009 EU agreement assigns maritime patrolling and policing to Libya so that boat people do not reach Italian ports, discarding the ethical implications of entrusting refugee protection to countries with dubious human rights records.

From Israel to Spain, fences are erected to keep non-Europeans out. They are allowed to dream of Europe ... but not of setting foot in it.

The time has come for the Arab Gulf labour markets to do more for the Arab marginals.

The 'geography of hunger'

In Frantz Fanon's The Wretched of the Earth one finds resonance with the misery engulfing Tunisia and Algeria today, where the have-nots, or the mahrumin, and the khobzistes strike back at the state and target its symbols. They fight back and thus "struggle ... and with their shrunken bellies [and humiliated egos] outline of the geography of hunger".

In this geography of hunger and marginalisation, the ruling native becomes the new coloniser. By contrast to the have-nots, the ruling natives and the economic 'mafias' are sheltered not only in mansions and villas, but also within 'a hard shell' that immures them from the "poverty that surrounds" them.

In The Wretched of the Earth one reads about the "poor,
Underdeveloped countries, where the rule is that the greatest wealth is surrounded by the greatest poverty".

To map out the "geography of hunger" is not complete without marking out the geography of authoritarianism. In both Algeria and Tunisia, the big interests and profiteers supporting Bouteflika and  Ben Ali seem to fulfill Fanon's prophecy about corruption "sooner or later" making leaders "men of straw in the hands of the army ... immobilising and terrorising". It is the security forces and the army that run the show in both countries.

Fanon, the ideologue of the Algerian revolution, is probably turning in his grave at the thought that a country of "one million martyrs" sacrificed for independence is today battling for new freedoms from housing shortages, rising food prices, autocracy and overall marginalisation.

The figures construct on paper stories of growth and stability that are not matched by the reality of marginalisation.

For how long republics of paper and men of straw can withstand the hell-fire of the Algerian and Tunisian eruptions fuelled by marginalisation remains to be seen. What is certain, however, is that the beginnings of a 'Tunisian democratic spring' are in the offing.

Larbi Sadiki is a senior lecturer in Middle East Politics at the University of Exeter, and author of Arab Democratisation: Elections without Democracy (Oxford University Press, 2009) and The Search for Arab Democracy: Discourses and Counter-Discourses (Columbia University Press, 2004), forthcoming Hamas and the Political Process (2011).

RE: Authoritarianism and Dictatorship - Admin - 01-23-2011


As revolutionary zeal engulfs the region, the people must be on their guard against the forces seeking to smother it. Regimes in the region have long imposed their will on a reluctant population through the use of fear. Eastern European nations, for decades shackled under the weight of Communism, were the last geographical bloc to break the chains of oppression en masse, and in the process shed a history of subservience to a far off and, to many, an alien political culture. How that landscape has now changed. While Eastern Europe is now free, the plight of the majority of the Arab world is reminiscent of the worst excesses of Soviet rule: Political repression is the norm, civil society is suffocated while a political elite operates in a parallel existence intoxicated by the stench of absolute power.

Lest anyone think oppression breeds indifference, however, the people of Tunisia have just turned history on its head and unleashed a defiance that is bound to resonate with the people of neighbouring nations and to shake the thrones of Arab despots. Do not underestimate the psychological impact of what Tunisians have just achieved. Arab regimes have had a free hand at imposing their will on reluctant populations through the use of a single instrument: Fear. In the space of just a few weeks, masses of Tunisians have demonstrated to the Arab region the limits of dictatorial rule.

The death of one young Tunisian who set fire to himself in an act of desperation lit the fuse of popular protests against mounting economic turmoil, blistering corruption and a massive breach of trust with the ruling class. Where perhaps just a month ago such anger would have been momentary and the rage dowsed by pure state brutality, the strength of feeling that has propelled Tunisians to fight the state has proven overwhelming and irreversible.

It is such sentiment which has resonated so profoundly across the region. The rage is not specific to Tunisia: almost identical conditions fester right across the Middle East. Tunisia in this instance could just as well be Algeria, Libya, Morocco, Egypt, Jordan or Syria. (This is to momentarily ignore the political situation in the Gulf region.)

What is not lost on most of the protest voices in the region is the sheer complicity of Western nations which have long waved an abstract, need one say meaningless, flag of freedom. The violent protests that greeted the result of the Iranian election were utilised to maximum effect by governments in the US and Europe. Iranian leaders, rightly so, were at the end of some heavy political vitriol from Western powers. The popular revolution that many had thought - wished - would materialise in Iran has forced itself on Tunisia. No words of praise for Tunisians, however, from Western quarters for toppling their dictator, unsurprisingly.

Beware the French

As the former colonial overlord in Tunisia, France has a history of deceit, mendacity and, to boot, hypocrisy in relation to North Africa. How often are the French wont to proclaim liberté, égalité, fraternité as their most fundamental values? As far as French policy in North Africa is concerned, we may add another: Fallacy.

The Tunisian despot's closeness to France was legendary. Despite achieving independence from France, Tunisia remained subject to its puppet master's whims under its dictatorial regime. Something of a similar revolution spread across Algeria some two decades ago. Back then, with the avowed backing of the French state, Algerian security forces trampled over Algerian democracy precipitating a brutal civil war.
For Tunisia's revolution not to be short-lived, the population will need to be alert to the behind-the-scenes machinations and manoeuvrings of the French.

That France refused refuge to the deposed despot was not a sign of the former's solidarity with the Tunisian people. Rather a play at real politik by the French and a little forward thinking in how best to influence future events in Tunisia. If a new system beckons in Tunisia, the people would do well to distance themselves from France. The Arab world has had little cause for celebration of late. At the mercy of long-standing kingdoms and hereditary life-time autocrats, political suffocation has been the order of the day. Defeatism had taken hold over civil society. But the momentous events in Tunisia show how no amount of bloodletting will kill peoples' spirit. Platitudes from foreign powers are unnecessary now. The people of the Middle East are capable of building their own futures as they see fit. Despite such optimism, however, do not be surprised if the new revolutionary zeal is buried prematurely given what it may mean for Western policy.

The tide of defiance will not easily be pushed back. That is not to say there will not be many forces out there employing all means necessary to smother it. Tunisians and Arabs are only at the very early stages of their struggle for freedom and must be on their guard against the difficult obstacles ahead.

Mohammed Khan is a political analyst based in the UAE.

RE: Authoritarianism and Dictatorship - Admin - 01-23-2011


Arab League chief warns regional leaders that recent political upheaval is linked to deteriorating economic conditions. The head of the Arab League has told the region's leaders that the recent upheaval in Tunisia is linked to deteriorating economic conditions throughout the Arab world, warning them that their people's anger has reached unprecedented heights.

Amr Moussa told an Arab economic summit in Egypt that "the Arab soul is broken by poverty, unemployment and general recession." "This is in the mind of all of us," Moussa said in his opening address to the 20 Arab leaders and other representatives of Arab League members gathered in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.

The summit is the first top level Arab meeting since protests fuelled by joblessness and other economic woes in Tunisia forced Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, the president, to flee, bringing an end to his 23-year rule of the country. The unrest has helped inspire similar protests around the Arab world and calls for political change, although activists in many countries face security forces heavily vested in maintaining the status quo and governments that refuse to allow dissent. "The Tunisian revolution is not far from us," Moussa warned. "The Arab citizen entered an unprecedented state of anger and frustration." He called for an Arab "renaissance" to lift people from their frustration.

Billion-dollar fund

The meeting in Egypt was originally intended as a platform to discuss trade, business and investment, but has been overshadowed by the revolt in Tunisia and its reverberation around the region. Thousands of people have demonstrated in Jordan, Egypt, Sudan, Oman, Libya and Yemen recently over the economic situation in their respective countries, some explicitly in solidarity with the Tunisians. A rash of attempted self-immolations has also struck Egypt, Algeria and Mauritania, with protesters seeking to copy Tunisian Mohammed Bouazizi, the 26-year-old whose set fire to himself and helped inspire the protests that toppled Tunisia's president.

Mindful of those events, Arab leaders at the summit committed to a proposed $2bn programme to boost faltering economies that have propelled crowds into the streets to protest against high unemployment, rising prices and rampant corruption. Sheik Sabah al-Ahmed al-Jaber al-Sabah, the Kuwaiti ruler, said the fund will "contribute to creating new job opportunities for young Arabs" at a time when the Arab world is witnessing "unprecedented historical crisis". The idea of the fund was first suggested by Kuwait during the economic summit it hosted in 2009, but the proposal has been slow getting off the ground - like many Arab League initiatives requiring members to pledge money. Oil-rich Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have promised to pay $500m each and, after the economic-related unrest in Tunisia, additional pledges are pouring in.
It is not immediately clear how these funds would be dispersed and who qualifies to benefit from them.

'Basic demand'

Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian president for three decades, made no reference to the Tunisian revolt in his opening speech but acknowledged economic development and co-operation had become a national security priority. "We have realised that the priority of economic co-operation and development is no longer just about progress for our people ... but a basic demand of Arab national security," he said.

Among other developments at the summit, Arab leaders voiced their "total rejection" of foreign interference in Arab affairs, especially over the region's Christian minorities. "Arab kings and presidents ... express their total rejection of attempts by certain states and foreign parties to intervene in Arab affairs in the name of protecting the minorities of the East," they said in a final statement at the end of the summit. This "demonstrates a regrettable lack of understanding of the nature of the terrorist acts ... and a harmful ignorance of the history of the people of the region," it read. The statement came in response to repeated Western calls for the protection of the Arab world's Christian communities after two deadly attacks on churches in Egypt and Iraq.

'Stand alongside Jerusalem'

Palestinian officials at the summit also criticised Arab states for paying only a fraction of funds pledged to sustain Palestinian life in Jerusalem.
Foreign minister Riad Malki's comments reflected the Palestinians' frustration over the Arab failure to support them in the face of what they see as an Israeli campaign to "Judaize" Jerusalem, the city at the heart of the Middle East conflict. Addressing the summit, Salam Fayyad, the Palestinian Authority prime minister, said the city faced a "bitter reality" and ured the leaders to implement their previous resolutions on supporting Jerusalem. "We are looking to you, brothers, to stand alongside Jerusalem", he said. Malki, in an interview with the official Palestinian news agency WAFA, said the Palestinians had so far received only $37m of $500m pledged by Arab leaders at a summit in Libya in 2010.

Salman Shaikh

Salman Shaikh says uprisings herald new Arab, post-Islamist people's revolution. He says it's transformative, nothing short of the birth of Arab politics. He says it was propelled by youth, digital technology, increased literacy Shaikh: The West must strike balance: Support democracy and ensure peace in region. Salman Shaikh is a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution and the Director of the Brookings Institution's Doha Center. in Doha, Qatar. He focuses on mediation and conflict resolution in the Middle East and South Asia, and has also worked for the United Nations, including a post as a special adviser to the U.N. secretary-general on the Middle East. Brookings is a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit public policy think tank.

The uprisings raging from Tunisia to Egypt to Yemen are heralding a new Arab, post-Islamist revolution. Today's events across Egypt illustrate the futility of a dictatorial Mubarak regime seeking to push back the tides of history with mere repression and brutality. They will not succeed. President Hosni Mubarak's days, like those of deposed Tunisian President Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali, are numbered. The effects on the region were, until today, unthinkable. Today's Arab revolution is no less significant than those that preceded it in recent decades in Eastern Europe and Latin America. This time, Arabs are not being led by their leaders -- from colonialism to pan-Arabism or Islamism or any other "ism" -- as was the case in the past.

Instead, they have turned on those leaders who have failed to provide them their dignity, justice and a better life. Make no mistake, we are witnessing today an Arab people's revolution. Like those before them, today's Arab revolution will transform the region's politics. What is happening today is nothing short of what the respected Arab commentator, Rami Khouri, prophetically described late last year as the birth of Arab politics. He was right. Politics in the region will never be the same again.

Propelled by the young and the digital revolution, citizens will demand nothing less than the right to choose and change their representatives in the future. To glimpse the nature of what can emerge, we should understand the rapidly changing social structure of Arab societies. Those societies are more educated, urban and connected than ever before. Due to the phenomenal growth of secondary and university-level education, literacy rates among the region's youths have skyrocketed in the past 40 years. The percentage of people living in Arab cities has risen by 50% in the same period.

The number of mobile phone users and internet users has proliferated to hundreds of thousands since the technology was introduced to the region 10 or 15 years ago. No wonder, then, that the people have finally snapped at the lack of opportunity and representation and the high levels of corruption and control that characterize their lives.

Most tellingly, more has united the protesting people than divided them. Notable has been the absence of a clear, emerging leader of the protests, particularly from Islamist party leadership.

The call for dignity, justice and a better life has been a universal value -- not the domain of any one particular opposing party or movement. Instead, the national movements, which these conditions have spawned, will continue to demand a political system that is more pluralistic, democratic and produces effective and competent governments sensitive to the legitimate aspirations of all the society's people.

Crucially, the unfolding events will also require a new set of calculations from the old regimes' main backers: the United States and its allies. The long-term changes for Western policy in the region should be profound. Gone should be the reflex to side with those who willfully subvert the democratic and constitutional process out of fear of the Islamist boogeyman.

The binary calculation between supporting stability on the one hand and the risks of unprecedented regime change, particularly the rise to power of Islamist parties, no longer holds. The people of the region are deciding.

The irony is that while U.S. policymakers have been playing catch-up, it has largely been U.S.-created technology -- the internet, particularly Facebook and Twitter -- that has sustained the spread of the Arab revolution.

Now is the time for policymakers to suggest an appropriate response to support a peaceful political transition in each country. Western policymakers must strike a careful balance between ensuring key interests (including support for a comprehensive peace in the Arab-Israeli conflict and Israel's security) and respecting the wishes of the region's people. In this regard, support for the peace process and Israel's interests will best be ensured by real and tangible progress over the next year.

In the case of Egypt, the most populated Arab nation and symbol of Arab leadership, the transition will be particularly important. If managed well, it will provide a useful example for all in the days and weeks ahead. The U.S. in particular has a role in persuading Mubarak to outline a peaceful transition of power to an interim administration that will manage the process to a new democratic constitution and elections.

There should also be a role for international and regional organizations such as the United Nations, the European Union, the Gulf Council and the Organization of the Islamic Conference to lend technical and material support to the transition.

It has not been lost on many that the U.S. and other Western governments have been trying to catch up to the unfolding events -- attempting to balance support for old friends and allies with a call for restraint and urgent economic and political reforms.

This will not do. It is time to break through the past fears that have guided Western policy with fresh hope for a better future for the people of the region. It is time to choose change.

Salman Shaikh is a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution and the Director of the Brookings Institution's Doha Center. in Doha, Qatar. He focuses on mediation and conflict resolution in the Middle East and South Asia, and has also worked for the United Nations, including a post as a special adviser to the U.N. secretary-general on the Middle East. Brookings is a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit public policy think tank.

RE: Authoritarianism and Dictatorship - Admin - 01-31-2011

In These New Times
Cailean Bochanan

The response of the British political class to the Egyptian uprising has been to get on their high horse about democracy whilst keeping their fingers crossed behind their backs for Mubarak and Israel. But luck has nothing to do with it: Mubarak is destined to fall, as is the Washington-London-Tel Aviv axis of global power sometimes rather grandiosely referred to as the New World Order. Actually, it’s the Old World Order: the New World Order is to be seen on the streets of Cairo. The Arab street has lost its fear, and Wall street has found it. The Arab nations and the great Arabic culture now move to centre stage in the new, multipolar world order.

One day, 28th January, 2011, has shaken the world and it will never be the same again. Obviously, this new reality is beyond the conceptual framework of the West: it’s too simple for them, with all their learned professors, think-tanks and institutes,to grasp. The NWO, which was to obliterate the sovereign nation in establishing a global oligarchy, has come face to face with its antithesis, the sovereign people and has turned away aghast. If only the events in Egypt could be characterized as an extremist, “islamicist” putsch as British foreign minister William Hague and a flurry of pundits are trying to suggest. Anything but the Egyptian people with a novel, wholly unexpected symbol of their aspirations: the Egyptian flag. The NWO offered Egypt a special role in their scheme of things as a reliable Western ally, as a force for stability in the region and as a pillar of the Israeli-Palestinian “peace process”. But they have spurned it: they merely wish to be themselves- a self determining people.

The Israelis have responded with disbelief to the unfolding events. They remain confident that Mubarak’s massive paraphernalia of oppression can restore ‘stability” i.e. the dictatorship. They have to believe this: what else do they have to offer the world except brute force? If that fails all will fail.

The British government has now discovered that it wants reforms in Egypt. Anything is better than the removal of their man, Mubarak. Hague fears that could lead to “a more authoritarian system of government”. That really would take some doing! He wants free and fair elections (no postal ballots or Diebold counting machines presumably). Never mind what the people want- this is democracy British style, democracy without the demos.

What about our radicals? In Britain this grouping is subsumed under the great British Labour Party now that they are in opposition and we start re-imagining them as some kind of force for good. Shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander has declared:

“Egypt can move from protest to progress”

This sounds like the old New Labour “move on” mantra: let’s move on from Arab-nationalist anti-imperialist revolution to “progress”. But for the Egyptian people Arab-nationalist anti-imperialist revolution is progress.

Demonstrations in London by Egyptian expatriates seem to have remained unsupported. In a country where thousands have campaigned to end the siege of Gaza this seems illogical. Hopefully we will see some movement from them soon.

Some in the western left have put out the idea that this is an orange revolution, Ukraine- style- an idea which has been picked up by the Daily Telegraph and the Israeli website Debka. According to Professor Michel Chossudovsky:

“The removal of Hosni Mubarak has, for several years, been on the drawing board of US foreign policy.”

Well if that’s their goal now is their opportunity to realize it. I suspect that the opposite is the case: Mubarak, seeing the writing on the wall, wanted to take a plane out but his masters insisted on him staying.

Anyway, in an orange revolution the bad guy wins an election which the “international community” then expose as having been, supposedly, fraudulent and replace him with their own guy, the good guy. Here the good guy is in power and understands, to quote an unnamed Israeli minister, that “the time is not right for the Arab region to go through the democratic process”. He tries to blast the bad guys, the people, off the streets and the international community tries to buy him a bit of extra time by pretending that he’s got some great reforms in the pipeline.

El-Baradei cut right through the bullshit in yesterday’s interview:

“Those powers who preach democracy are either with the people or the dictatorship- there is no middle ground”

They are with the dictatorship and the preaching is finally and definitively exposed as utter hypocrisy. This seems indiscreet given that Mubarak’s fate is sealed but what else can they do? Their world order needs a pro-western pro-Israeli strongman in Cairo. The Egyptian people are neither pro-western nor pro-Israeli. Therefore there can be no democracy in Egypt if their world order is to survive.

But it isn’t going to survive. Therefore as El-Baradei said:

“These countries should recalculate their agenda”

This applies especially to the UK which stands on the brink of total oblivion as its economy collapses and its dependence on the wider world exposes the absurdity of its narrowly based foreign policy. Do we intend to make enemies of the new wave of democracies in the Arab world to add to all the other enemies we insist on making? What support can we seriously expect from the USA, itself going down?

We need to open out both at home and abroad. The surprise campaign against the Murdoch monopoly could be the beginning of a kind of glasnost at home. We need to adapt to the post-imperial world internationally. Our response to the movement in the Arab world shows how far we are from doing this but the momentum towards a new global system is unstoppable: the sooner we embrace it, the sooner we’ll be able to extract ourselves from the deep and dark hole we’ve dug ourselves into.

RE: Authoritarianism and Dictatorship - Admin - 02-06-2011

Matthias Chang

The unraveling of the Zionist Anglo-American policies of demonisation of Islam in collaboration with autocratic Muslim police states.The Zionist Anglo-American Imperial power and their Muslim collaborators are finally reaping what they have sowed for the last fifty years, but more so in the last twelve years.

This was all too apparent when the so-called “Evil Empire” of the Soviet Union as propagated by the Reagan regime was replaced by “Islamo-Fascism” as the new global ideological enemy at the end of the Cold War. In their book, An End to Evil, David Frum and Richard Perle identified Islam, specifically Islamo-Fascism as the global enemy of the 21st century that must be ruthlessly wiped out.

And when war criminal Bush demanded that if anyone does not support his Global War Against Terror agenda, then they are against his regime and must pay the price – invasion, occupation and total destruction, the die was cast. It was the most audacious political blackmail and it worked.

The autocratic Muslim regimes took this opportunity to buttress their oppressive political stranglehold by pandering to the global agenda of the Zionist Anglo-American war establishment. These autocratic scumbags without exception portrayed themselves as “moderate” Muslims and their domestic opposition forces as “extremists”, “Jihardists”, “terrorists”, “fundamentalists”, and “deviationists” in like manner as the authors of An End to Evil.

They queued and prostrate before Emperor Bush and his poodle Blair to demonstrate who is the “better” and “more moderate” Muslim. A deal was hatched between these sycophants and Emperor Bush and poodle Blair. In exchange for military protection and support as well as generous financial aid, the so-called “moderate” Muslim regimes would ensure “stability” and ruthless suppression of any opposition to the Zionist Anglo-American global agenda.

Make no mistake, the Zionist Anglo-American elites are only too aware that these Muslim sycophants are all scumbags and cut-throats. But they don’t care for the simple reason that it would be too costly to invade and occupy these countries all at once. Better to take them out one by one, if they don’t toe the line. In the meantime, these scumbags must do all the dirty work to prove their loyalty to the Empire!

After all, it only costs a mere US$2 Billion to maintain Mubarak and his security apparatus to have a docile Egypt. And in the case of the Saudis and the Gulf  States, flushed with petro-dollars, they would be toppled by the Economic Hitmen and Jackals if they don’t support the Zionist Anglo-American Military-Industrial Complex by the purchase of superfluous military hardware.

For lesser autocrats, the threat of fomenting social unrest and or trade sanctions was enough to secure obedience and compliance.

This pantomime was given a dramatic touch when CIA-MI6-Mossad sponsored terrorist groups were let loose to create havoc to foster the illusion that these regimes are in fact “moderate” and a bulwark against Muslim fanatics. A whole new industry was created around this global agenda.

The final touch – an invitation to the White House was deemed a certificate of good standing and membership to an elite club and so they were led to believe. Gullible scumbags!

The Saudi monarch and Wahhabism were and still are the British Empire's constructs. Wahhabism is a feudal, tribal aberration of Islam but no one dares expose it as such. One and all must bow to the God of Petro-dollar, the only pillar that currently supports the US toilet paper money.

Is it any wonder that Islam is so maligned today?

A time bomb was ticking, but the focus was on the alleged threat of WMDs, the pretext for the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan. And now the same lies are perpetrated against Iran. But the time bomb has exploded in Tunisia and has triggered a chain reaction. Egypt has now erupted! The true voice of Islam has cried out – no more betrayals, no more false Islamic regimes, sycophants of the Zionist Anglo-American empire. Let the corrupt tremble and fear the retribution of the oppressed. The security apparatus and police state are paper tigers for in the final analysis, it is the people that really matters.

The self-delusion that autocrats like Mubarak, are guarantors of stability have been shattered. We need not fear that the progressive voice of Islam will not rise to the occasion and usher in a new era of renaissance. If there is to be genuine peace, then each and every corrupt and moribund Muslim regime must be swept away by progressive forces so that true Islam will shine on its people.  

The unfolding events in the Middle East is a stark warning to one and all that the distortion of Islam for corrupt political agenda and power grab will give rise to a blowback, that has been fifty years in the making. No force can hold back this transformational tsunami.

Progressive Muslims versus Moribund “Islamic” regimes of all hues!

RE: Authoritarianism and Dictatorship - Admin - 02-12-2011


John Stubley

We are witnessing unfold in Egypt an expression of the inner reality of the human being in our time. No longer does the human being of today wish to subjugate themselves to the rulership of another. No longer do we seek for Pharaohs, kings, queens, presidents, prime ministers etc. who stand in for our own highest potential. No – today, we ourselves are the kings and queens we are looking for – the new Pharaohs of Egypt and the world.

What we are watching every day unfold in Cairo’s Tahrir Square – Freedom / Liberation Square – is the human being of today battling for their own humanity. In striving for freedom, these individuals are striving to throw off all of the old chains of the past – all of that which in reality belongs to earlier times.

The Pharaoh of old was considered an incarnate divine being – a God in human form. From out of his mouth flowed the whole cultural and spiritual impulse for the greater society. The Pharaoh stood as the highest potential for the whole of the society – people looked to him in order to understand their own becoming, their own development.

In a way, this was appropriate for the civilization of Egypt and the world at that time. One felt one’s-self as part of a community. The sense of community ran through the veins and arteries of people of that time like blood. The community was one organism with a shared blood flowing through it. One could say that the Pharaoh was the ‘head’ of such an organism, such a community.

Since that time, the reality of the situation has changed, however. After the fall of the Egyptian civilization into decadence – as all civilizations eventually do – the individual human being began more and more to stand on their own two feet – and to think with their own ‘head.’ In time, the human being gradually began to grow more into an individuality – a community of one.

The social forms did not necessarily follow this reality, however. From the Caesars of Rome to the Pope of the Catholic Church; from the kings and queens of monarchies to the presidents and prime-ministers of nation states – in all of the social forms these rulers expressed we see something of an out-of-time Pharaoh-ism. The social structure does not take into account the reality that the human being no longer needs another ‘head’ to think for them – we are quite capable of doing it ourselves.

What we are seeing all around the world at present, and especially in Egypt in recent weeks, is the further articulation of the individual human being. Over the centuries, this individual human being has come more and more into their own, especially since the scientific revolution in which the world began to be studied and known as something truly separate from ourselves. During this revolution – the scientific revolution – our individual intellects truly began to blossom. We grew more fully our own ‘heads.’

From this period right up until our own time we have witnessed the human being gradually develop the capacities to do that which the Pharaoh had done for the community as a whole all those centuries ago. Each and every human being has gradually become the point at which cultural and intellectual/spiritual impulses can flow into society as a whole. Each human being, in reality, has become a free entry point for impulses which can transform the world. Each human being is, in reality, a modern Pharaoh, and is charged with tasks similar to these earlier God-kings.

The people of Egypt – the place in which such Pharaoh-ism originated – are showing us that now is the time for us to rise to the tasks of today. They are reminding us that no longer do we need to sacrifice our own freedom by elevating another into the position which we ourselves should rightly occupy. The thrones are ours.

The question arises, however, as to how we are each to exist in a world where each one of us is, in truth, a king, a queen, a Pharaoh. How do we in fact live in a healthy community when we have each become so individual? We can see that, for a large part, the western world has been so far unable to provide a satisfactory answer to this question.

If we observe more closely what is happening in Egypt, we can perhaps find part of a beginning-answer to this question. The Egyptian people have lived for three decades under a ruler who has amassed more wealth than the country as a whole. There has been no political equality, no cultural or spiritual freedom. In reality he has elevated himself, like so many other rulers since the time of the Pharaohs, at the expense of others. He has lifted himself up to the heights by keeping others firmly pressed to the ground.

What is being asked of us today, out of the reality of the situation at hand, is something quite different. We are being asked for a new kind of rulership. We are being asked for the kind of rulership whereby we do not elevate ourselves by forcing others down, but where we allow a space for others to become the kings and queens and Pharaohs that they are destined to become; that we make a space in ourselves for the Pharaoh – for the highest potential – in the other human being.

Interestingly, if we turn to Tahrir Square – to Freedom Square – at the moment, we do not see a revolution in which one major political or other organization is overthrowing another. We do not see a single opposition leader rallying others behind him or her. We do not see the military overthrowing a ruler. We do not see human beings handing their freedom over to another human being (or even an organization) who will simply replace the human being who previously ruled over them.

What we are seeing is a revolution of hundreds of thousands of human beings from all walks of life calling first and foremost for the removal of the self-installed Pharaoh who has ruled by keeping others down. We are seeing individuals and organizations – largely civil society organizations – working together by holding one another up – by raising one another into their rightful place as free human beings.

We are seeing Freedom Square organized in such a way that individual human beings are able to live together in community while striving to attain their own, and one another’s, freedom. If we are attentive, we can see that the revolution is actually practicing, in part, the kind of new society it is itself asking for.

In the medieval story of Parzival, it is only when the knight is able to recognise the suffering of another king and ask him the all-redeeming question ‘What ails thee?’ that he is able to take up his own position as king of the grail castle. What we are seeing unfold in Freedom Square is a Parzival kingship of individuals supporting one another to become what they are destined to become. They have made a space for one another’s suffering and seek to help one another to take up their thrones. They are a practicing example of individuals living together with one another in community. Their hard-won individuality is not lost in this process – rather, by helping one another, it is strengthened, as is the community.

Food and water are extremely well organized, as are medical supplies and security. Communications and media are grasped hold of in the best possible way considering the situation. There are songs and dancing. People have come from all around the country. Families are gathered. They seem to live as individuals within a common star: their own and one another’s freedom, together with the freedom of their country. They are thereby reminding the rest of us around the world of our own responsibilities and tasks.

The question must arise at this point, however, as to how to enable that which lives in the heart of so many Egyptians right now, and within the heart of Cairo – in Freedom Square – how can this same quality of individual freedom in community exist on the level of the country as a whole?

We see already the seed-answer for this in the activity taking place in Freedom Square. We see individuals from many different organizations and spheres of social life working together. We see civil society organizations representing cultural and spiritual life. We see political organizations representing political life. And we see businesses and business owners representing economic life. These three areas are all currently thrown together in the revolutionary melting pot at the centre of the Freedom Square of Egypt as a whole.

It is obvious enough to anyone with eyes to see that the situation is not asking for the same system to continue simply with a change of ‘heads.’ As much as many western and other ruling ‘heads’ may want this, that which is living in Freedom Square does not. If this does happen – if the Vice President, or any other individual is installed as a new ‘head’ for the social organism – we will see the same scenes repeated again and again in the years ahead. (And surely the situation in America is proof enough that no matter how ideal an individual ‘head’ may seem to be, the structure of existing national social forms does not allow for the full unfolding of the free human being of today.)

If, however, that which is taking place in this point of liberation is understood in the right way, then we can see that the human being of today is asking for social forms that are in line with the reality of who it has become. The human being of today demands freedom – it demands to be able to do as it likes with respect to all cultural and spiritual life. At the same time, it demands equality in all activities related to political and legal life – we seek equality before the law, and we each want our voice heard in the formation of such laws. And finally, the human being of today seeks to work together with other human beings – that is, to work in economic association. The reality of the human being today demands this, as do all human beings who currently sit in any Freedom Square around the world.

In the same way that each human being’s individuality must be upheld in a community in order that people can work together freely, so too on the national level must such autonomous interdependence hold sway. Each human being is autonomous, yet we rely on each other. It is the same with the systems of our physical body: our nerve-sense system, our heart-lung system, our metabolic-limb system – here too each system is in reality separate and yet depends on one another for healthy life.

So too is this autonomous interdependence currently being expressed in Freedom Square. A free cultural/spiritual realm, an equality-imbued political realm and a co-operative economic realm are all equally dependent on one another. On the other hand, they are, in reality, all separate from one another. Three realms of social life distinct from one another and yet working together. Here we see already a way in which we can move from government by government alone to a new governance based on the reality of the human being today.

Civil society representing a free cultural realm, government representing an equal political/legal realm, and business representing an associative economic life where each realm is autonomous yet interdependent. Three autonomous yet interdependent realms of social life coming together at the decision making tables of the world, fully respecting one another’s role and part in the health of society as a whole. From government by government alone to a new tri-polar societal governance.

This is obviously no abstract program, but that which is already clearly expressing itself out of the social and human needs of the world today, as we can see through all that is currently taking place in Egypt.

We are no longer the slaves of Pharaoh or of any other leader. We are each now Pharaohs, and we need social forms that allow this to be expressed. Anything else is a form of structural violence – violence against the developing human being. The people of Freedom Square in Egypt and in many other Freedom Squares around the world are expressing this need out of the reality of our times. May we have the strength to support one another in the fashioning of kingdoms worthy of each of us as human beings – as the Pharaohs we are and must continue to become.

RE: Authoritarianism and Dictatorship - Admin - 02-12-2011

ARE WE WITNESSING THE START OF A GLOBAL REVOLUTION?North Africa and the Global Political Awakening

Andrew Gavin Marshall

For the first time in human history almost all of humanity is politically activated, politically conscious and politically interactive... The resulting global political activism is generating a surge in the quest for personal dignity, cultural respect and economic opportunity in a world painfully scarred by memories of centuries-long alien colonial or imperial domination... The worldwide yearning for human dignity is the central challenge inherent in the phenomenon of global political awakening... That awakening is socially massive and politically radicalizing... The nearly universal access to radio, television and increasingly the Internet is creating a community of shared perceptions and envy that can be galvanized and channeled by demagogic political or religious passions. These energies transcend sovereign borders and pose a challenge both to existing states as well as to the existing global hierarchy, on top of which America still perches...

The youth of the Third World are particularly restless and resentful. The demographic revolution they embody is thus a political time-bomb, as well... Their potential revolutionary spearhead is likely to emerge from among the scores of millions of students concentrated in the often intellectually dubious "tertiary level" educational institutions of developing countries. Depending on the definition of the tertiary educational level, there are currently worldwide between 80 and 130 million "college" students. Typically originating from the socially insecure lower middle class and inflamed by a sense of social outrage, these millions of students are revolutionaries-in-waiting, already semi-mobilized in large congregations, connected by the Internet and pre-positioned for a replay on a larger scale of what transpired years earlier in Mexico City or in Tiananmen Square. Their physical energy and emotional frustration is just waiting to be triggered by a cause, or a faith, or a hatred...

[The] major world powers, new and old, also face a novel reality: while the lethality of their military might is greater than ever, their capacity to impose control over the politically awakened masses of the world is at a historic low. To put it bluntly: in earlier times, it was easier to control one million people than to physically kill one million people; today, it is infinitely easier to kill one million people than to control one million people.[1]

- Zbigniew Brzezinski

Former U.S. National Security Advisor

Co-Founder of the Trilateral Commission

Member, Board of Trustees, Center for Strategic and International Studies

An uprising in Tunisia led to the overthrow of the country’s 23-year long dictatorship of President Ben Ali. A new ‘transitional’ government was formed, but the protests continued demanding a totally new government without the relics of the previous tyranny. Protests in Algeria have continued for weeks, as rage mounts against rising food prices, corruption and state oppression. Protests in Jordan forced the King to call on the military to surround cities with tanks and set up checkpoints. Tens of thousands of protesters marched on Cairo demanding an end to the 30-year dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak. Thousands of activists, opposition leaders and students rallied in the capitol of Yemen against the corrupt dictatorship of President Saleh, in power since 1978. Saleh has been, with U.S. military assistance, attempting to crush a rebel movement in the north and a massive secessionist movement growing in the south, called the “Southern Movement.” Protests in Bolivia against rising food prices forced the populist government of Evo Morales to backtrack on plans to cut subsidies. Chile erupted in protests as demonstrators railed against rising fuel prices. Anti-government demonstrations broke out in Albania, resulting in the deaths of several protesters.

It seems as if the world is entering the beginnings of a new revolutionary era: the era of the ‘Global Political Awakening.’ While this ‘awakening’ is materializing in different regions, different nations and under different circumstances, it is being largely influenced by global conditions. The global domination by the major Western powers, principally the United States, over the past 65 years, and more broadly, centuries, is reaching a turning point. The people of the world are restless, resentful, and enraged. Change, it seems, is in the air. As the above quotes from Brzezinski indicate, this development on the world scene is the most radical and potentially dangerous threat to global power structures and empire. It is not a threat simply to the nations in which the protests arise or seek change, but perhaps to a greater degree, it is a threat to the imperial Western powers, international institutions, multinational corporations and banks that prop up, arm, support and profit from these oppressive regimes around the world. Thus, America and the West are faced with a monumental strategic challenge: what can be done to stem the Global Political Awakening? Zbigniew Brzezinski is one of the chief architects of American foreign policy, and arguably one of the intellectual pioneers of the system of globalization. Thus, his warnings about the 'Global Political Awakening' are directly in reference to its nature as a threat to the prevailing global hierarchy. As such, we must view the 'Awakening' as the greatest hope for humanity. Certainly, there will be mainy failures, problems, and regressions; but the 'Awakening' has begun, it is underway, and it cannot be so easily co-opted or controlled as many might assume.

The reflex action of the imperial powers is to further arm and support the oppressive regimes, as well as the potential to organize a destabilization through covert operations or open warfare (as is being done in Yemen). The alterantive is to undertake a strategy of "democratization" in which Western NGOs, aid agencies and civil society organizations establish strong contacts and relationships with the domestic civil society in these regions and nations. The objective of this strategy is to organize, fund and help direct the domestic civil society to produce a democratic system made in the image of the West, and thus maintain continuity in the international hierarchy. Essentially, the project of "democratization" implies creating the outward visible constructs of a democratic state (multi-party elections, active civil society, "independent" media, etc) and yet maintain continuity in subservience to the World Bank, IMF, multinational corporations and Western powers.

It appears that both of these strategies are being simultaneously imposed in the Arab world: enforcing and supporting state oppression and building ties with civil society organizations. The problem for the West, however, is that they have not had the ability to yet establish strong and dependent ties with civil society groups in much of the region, as ironically, the oppressive regimes they propped up were and are unsurprisingly resistant to such measures. In this sense, we must not cast aside these protests and uprisings as being instigated by the West, but rather that they emerged organically, and the West is subsequently attempting to co-opt and control the emerging movements.

Part 1 of this essay focuses on the emergence of these protest movements and uprisings, placing it in the context of the Global Political Awakening. Part 2 will examine the West's strategy of "democratic imperialism" as a method of co-opting the 'Awakening' and installing "friendly" governments.

The Tunisian Spark

A July 2009 diplomatic cable from America’s Embassy in Tunisia reported that, “many Tunisians are frustrated by the lack of political freedom and angered by First Family corruption, high unemployment and regional inequities. Extremism poses a continuing threat,” and that, “the risks to the regime’s long-term stability are increasing.”[2]

On Friday, 14 January 2011, the U.S.-supported 23-year long dictatorship of Tunisian president Ben Ali ended. For several weeks prior to this, the Tunisian people had risen in protest against rising food prices, stoked on by an immense and growing dissatisfaction with the political repression, and prodded by the WikiLeaks cables confirming the popular Tunisian perception of gross corruption on the part of the ruling family. The spark, it seems, was when a 26-year old unemployed youth set himself on fire in protest on December 17.

With the wave of protests sparked by the death of the 26-year old who set himself on fire on December 17, the government of Tunisia responded by cracking down on the protesters. Estimates vary, but roughly 100 people were killed in the clashes. Half of Tunisia’s 10 million people are under the age of 25, meaning that they have never known a life in Tunisia outside of living under this one dictator. Since Independence from the French empire in 1956, Tunisia has had only two leaders: Habib Bourguiba and Ben Ali.[3] The Tunisian people were rising up against a great many things: an oppressive dictatorship which has employed extensive information and internet censorship, rising food prices and inflation, a corrupt ruling family, lack of jobs for the educated youth, and a general sense and experience of exploitation, subjugation and disrespect for human dignity.

Following the ouster of Ben Ali, Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi assumed presidential power and declared a “transitional government.” Yet, this just spurred more protests demanding his resignation and the resignation of the entire government. Significantly, the trade union movement had a large mobilizing role in the protests, with a lawyers union being particularly active during the initial protests.[4]

Protests in Tunisia

Social media and the Internet did play a large part in mobilizing people within Tunisia for the uprising, but it was ultimately the result of direct protests and action which led to the resignation of Ben Ali. Thus, referring to Tunisia as a “Twitter Revolution” is disingenuous.

Twitter, WikiLeaks, Facebook, Youtube, forums and blogs did have a part to play. They reflect the ability “to collectively transform the Arab information environment and shatter the ability of authoritarian regimes to control the flow of information, images, ideas and opinions.”[5] [Editors Note: The US based foundation Freedom House was involved in promoting and training some Middle East North Africa Facebook and Twitter bloggers  (See also Freedom House), M. C.].

We must also keep in mind that social media has not only become an important source of mobilization of activism and information at the grassroots level, but it has also become an effective means for governments and various power structures to seek to manipulate the flow of information. This was evident in the 2009 protests in Iran, where social media became an important avenue through which the Western nations were able to advance their strategy of supporting the so-called 'Green Revolution' in destabilizing the Iranian government. Thus, social media has presented a new form of power, neither black nor white, in which it can be used to either advance the process of the 'Awakening' or control its direction.

Whereas America was publicly denouncing Iran for blocking (or attempting to block) social media in the summer of 2009, during the first several weeks of Tunisian protests (which were largely being ignored by Western media), America and the West were silent about censorship.[6] Steven Cook, writing for the elite U.S. think tank, the Council on Foreign Relations, commented on the lack of attention being paid to the Tunisian protests in the early weeks of resistance prior to the resignation of Ben Ali. He explained that while many assume that the Arab “strongmen” regimes will simply maintain power as they always have, this could be mistaken. He stated that, “it may not be the last days of Ben Ali or Mubarak or any other Middle Eastern strongman, but there is clearly something going on in the region.” However, it was the end of Ben Ali, and indeed, “there is clearly something going on in the region.”[7]

France’s President Sarkozy has even had to admit that, “he had underestimated the anger of the Tunisian people and the protest movement that ousted President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali.” During the first few weeks of protests in Tunisia, several French government officials were publicly supporting the dictatorship, with the French Foreign Minister saying that France would lend its police “knowhow” to help Ben Ali in maintaining order.[8]

Days before the ouster of Ben Ali, Hillary Clinton gave an interview in which she explained how America was worried “about the unrest and the instability,” and that, “we are not taking sides, but we are saying we hope that there can be a peaceful resolution. And I hope that the Tunisian Government can bring that about.” Clinton further lamented, “One of my biggest concerns in this entire region are the many young people without economic opportunities in their home countries.”[9] Her concern, of course, does not spur from any humanitarian considerations, but rather from inherent imperial considerations: it is simply harder to control a region of the world erupting in activism, uprisings and revolution.

The Spark Lights a Flame

Tunisia has raised the bar for the people across the Arab world to demand justice, democracy, accountability, economic stability, and freedom. Just as Tunisia’s protests were in full-swing, Algeria was experiencing mass protests, rising up largely as a result of the increasing international food prices, but also in reaction to many of the concerns of the Tunisian protesters, such as democratic accountability, corruption and freedom. A former Algerian diplomat told Al-Jazeera in early January that, “It is a revolt, and probably a revolution, of an oppressed people who have, for 50 years, been waiting for housing, employment, and a proper and decent life in a very rich country.”[10]

In mid-January, similar protests erupted in Jordan, as thousands took to the streets to protest against rising food prices and unemployment, chanting anti-government slogans. Jordan’s King Abdullah II had “set up a special task force in his palace that included military and intelligence officials to try to prevent the unrest from escalating further,” which had tanks surrounding major cities, with barriers and checkpoints established.[11]

In Yemen, the poorest nation in the Arab world, engulfed in a U.S. sponsored war against its own people, ruled by a dictator who has been in power since 1978, thousands of people protested against the government, demanding the dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down. In the capitol city of Sanaa, thousands of students, activists and opposition groups chanted slogans such as, “Get out get out, Ali. Join your friend Ben Ali.”[12] Yemen has been experiencing much turmoil in recent years, with a rebel movement in the North fighting against the government, formed in 2004; as well as a massive secessionist movement in the south, called the “Southern Movement,” fighting for liberation since 2007. As the Financial Times explained:

Many Yemen observers consider the anger and secessionist sentiment now erupting in the south to be a greater threat to the country’s stability than its better publicised struggle with al-Qaeda, and the deteriorating economy is making the tension worse.

Unemployment, particularly among the young, is soaring. Even the government statistics office in Aden puts it at nearly 40 per cent among men aged 20 to 24.[13]

Protest of the Southern Movement in Yemen

On January 21, tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets in Albania, mobilized by the socialist opposition, ending with violent clashes between the police and protesters, leading to the deaths of three demonstrators. The protests have been sporadic in Albania since the widely contested 2009 elections, but took on new levels inspired by Tunisia.[14]

Israeli Vice Prime Minister Silvan Shalom stressed concern over the revolutionary sentiments within the Arab world, saying that, “I fear that we now stand before a new and very critical phase in the Arab world.” He fears Tunisia would “set a precedent that could be repeated in other countries, possibly affecting directly the stability of our system.”[15] Israel’s leadership fears democracy in the Arab world, as they have a security alliance with the major Arab nations, who, along with Israel itself, are American proxy states in the region. Israel maintains civil – if not quiet – relationships with the Arab monarchs and dictators. While the Arab states publicly criticize Israel, behind closed doors they are forced to quietly accept Israel’s militarism and war-mongering, lest they stand up against the superpower, America. Yet, public opinion in the Arab world is extremely anti-Israel, anti-American and pro-Iran.

In July of 2010, the results of a major international poll were released regarding public opinion in the Arab world, polling from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Jordan, Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates. Among some of the notable findings: while Obama was well received upon entering the Presidency, with 51% expressing optimism about U.S. policy in the region in the Spring of 2009, by Summer 2010, 16% were expressing optimism. In 2009, 29% of those polled said a nuclear-armed Iran would be positive for the region; in 2010, that spiked to 57%, reflecting a very different stance from that of their governments.[16]

While America, Israel and the leaders of the Arab nations claim that Iran is the greatest threat to peace and stability in the Middle East, the Arab people do not agree. In an open question asking which two countries pose the greatest threat to the region, 88% responded with Israel, 77% with America, and 10% with Iran.[17]

At the Arab economic summit shortly following the ousting of Ben Ali in Tunisia, who was for the first time absent from the meetings, the Tunisian uprising hung heavy in the air. Arab League leader Amr Moussa said in his opening remarks at the summit, “The Tunisian revolution is not far from us,” and that, “the Arab citizen entered an unprecedented state of anger and frustration,” noting that "the Arab soul is broken by poverty, unemployment and general recession.” The significance of this ‘threat’ to the Arab leaders cannot be understated. Out of roughly 352 million Arabs, 190 million are under the age of 24, with nearly three-quarters of them unemployed. Often, “the education these young people receive doesn't do them any good because there are no jobs in the fields they trained for.”[18]

There was even an article in the Israeli intellectual newspaper, Ha’aretz, which posited that, “Israel may be on the eve of revolution.” Explaining, the author wrote that:

Israeli civil society organizations have amassed considerable power over the years; not only the so-called leftist organizations, but ones dealing with issues like poverty, workers' rights and violence against women and children. All of them were created in order to fill the gaps left by the state, which for its part was all too happy to continue walking away from problems that someone else was there to take on. The neglect is so great that Israel's third sector - NGOs, charities and volunteer organizations - is among the biggest in the world. As such, it has quite a bit of power.[19]

Now the Israeli Knesset and cabinet want that power back; yet, posits the author, they “have chosen to ignore the reasons these groups became powerful,” namely:

The source of their power is the vacuum, the criminal policies of Israel's governments over the last 40 years. The source of their power is a government that is evading its duties to care for all of its citizens and to end the occupation, and a Knesset that supports the government instead of putting it in its place.[20]

The Israeli Knesset opened investigations into the funding of Israeli human rights organizations in a political maneuver against them. However, as one article in Ha’aretz by an Israeli professor explained, these groups actually – inadvertently – play a role in “entrenching the occupation.” As the author explained:

Even if the leftist groups' intention is to ensure upholding Palestinian rights, though, the unintentional result of their activity is preserving the occupation. Moderating and restraining the army's activity gives it a more human and legal facade. Reducing the pressure of international organizations, alongside moderating the Palestinian population's resistance potential, enable the army to continue to maintain this control model over a prolonged period of time.[21]

Thus, if the Israeli Knesset succeeds in getting rid of these powerful NGOs, they sow the seeds for the pressure valve in the occupied territories to be removed. The potential for massive internal protests within Israel from the left, as well as the possibility of another Intifada – uprising – in the occupied territories themselves would seem dramatically increased. Israel and the West have expressed how much distaste they hold for democracy in the region. When Gaza held a democratic election in 2006 and elected Hamas, which was viewed as the ‘wrong’ choice by Israel and America, Israel imposed a ruthless blockade of Gaza. Richard Falk, the former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Inquiry Commission for the Palestinian territories, wrote an article for Al Jazeera in which he explained that the blockade:

unlawfully restricted to subsistence levels, or below, the flow of food, medicine, and fuel. This blockade continues to this day, leaving the entire Gazan population locked within the world's largest open-air prison, and victimized by one of the cruelest forms of belligerent occupation in the history of warfare.[22]

The situation in the occupied territories is made increasingly tense with the recent leaking of the “Palestinian Papers,” which consist of two decades of secret Israeli-Palestinian accords, revealing the weak negotiating position of the Palestinian Authority. The documents consist largely of major concessions the Palestinian Authority was willing to make “on the issues of the right of return of Palestinian refugees, territorial concessions, and the recognition of Israel.” Among the leaks, Palestinian negotiators secretly agreed to concede nearly all of East Jerusalem to Israel. Further, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (favoured by Israel and America over Hamas), was personally informed by a senior Israeli official the night before Operation Cast Lead, the December 2008 and January 2009 Israeli assault on Gaza, resulting in the deaths of over 1,000 Palestinians: “Israeli and Palestinian officials reportedly discussed targeted assassinations of Hamas and Islamic Jihad activists in Gaza.”[23]

Hamas has subsequently called on Palestinian refugees to protest over the concessions regarding the ‘right of return’ for refugees, of which the negotiators conceded to allowing only 100,000 of 5 million to return to Israel.[24] A former U.S. Ambassador to Israel and Egypt lamented that, “The concern will be that this might cause further problems in moving forward.”[25] However, while being blamed for possibly preventing the “peace process” from moving forward, what the papers reveal is that the “peace process” itself is a joke. The Palestinian Authority’s power is derivative of the power Israel allows it to have, and was propped up as a method of dealing with an internal Palestinian elite, thus doing what all colonial powers have done. The papers, then, reveal how the so-called Palestinian ‘Authority’ does not truly speak or work for the interests of the Palestinian people. And while this certainly will divide the PA from Hamas, they were already deeply divided as it was. Certainly, this will pose problems for the “peace process,” but that’s assuming it is a ‘peaceful’ process in the first part.

Is Egypt on the Edge of Revolution?

Unrest is even spreading to Egypt, personal playground of U.S.-supported and armed dictator, Hosni Mubarak, in power since 1981. Egypt is the main U.S. ally in North Africa, and has for centuries been one of the most important imperial jewels first for the Ottomans, then the British, and later for the Americans. With a population of 80 million, 60% of which are under the age of 30, who make up 90% of Egypt’s unemployed, the conditions are ripe for a repeat in Egypt of what happened in Tunisia.[26]

On January 25, 2011, Egypt experienced its “day of wrath,” in which tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets to protest against rising food prices, corruption, and the oppression of living under a 30-year dictatorship. The demonstrations were organized through the use of social media such as Twitter and Facebook. When the protests emerged, the government closed access to these social media sites, just as the Tunisian government did in the early days of the protests that led to the collapse of the dictatorship. As one commentator wrote in the Guardian:

Egypt is not Tunisia. It’s much bigger. Eighty million people, compared with 10 million. Geographically, politically, strategically, it's in a different league – the Arab world's natural leader and its most populous nation. But many of the grievances on the street are the same. Tunis and Cairo differ only in size. If Egypt explodes, the explosion will be much bigger, too.[27]

In Egypt, “an ad hoc coalition of students, unemployed youths, industrial workers, intellectuals, football fans and women, connected by social media such as Twitter and Facebook, instigated a series of fast-moving, rapidly shifting demos across half a dozen or more Egyptian cities.” The police responded with violence, and three protesters were killed. With tens of thousands of protesters taking to the streets, Egypt saw the largest protests in decades, if not under the entire 30-year reign of President Mubarak. Is Egypt on the verge of revolution? It seems too soon to tell. Egypt, it must be remembered, is the second major recipient of U.S. military assistance in the world (following Israel), and thus, its police state and military apparatus are far more advanced and secure than Tunisia’s. Clearly, however, something is stirring. As Hilary Clinton said on the night of the protests, “Our assessment is that the Egyptian government is stable and is looking for ways to respond to the legitimate needs and interests of the Egyptian people.”[28] In other words: “We continue to support tyranny and dictatorship over democracy and liberation.” So what else is new?

Egyptian Protest, 25 January 2011

According to some estimates, as many as 50,000 protesters turned out in Cairo, Alexandria, Suez and other Egyptian cities.[29] The protests were met with the usual brutality: beating protesters, firing tear gas and using water cannons to attempt to disperse the protesters. As images and videos started emerging out of Egypt, “television footage showed demonstrators chasing police down side streets. One protester climbed into a fire engine and drove it away.”[30] Late on the night of the protests, rumours and unconfirmed reports were spreading that the first lady of Egypt, Suzanne Mubarak, may have fled Egypt to London, following on the heels of rumours that Mubarak’s son, and presumed successor, had also fled to London.[31]

Are We Headed for a Global Revolution?

During the first phase of the global economic crisis in December of 2008, the IMF warned governments of the prospect of “violent unrest on the streets.” The head of the IMF warned that, “violent protests could break out in countries worldwide if the financial system was not restructured to benefit everyone rather than a small elite.”[32]

In January of 2009, Obama’s then-Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair, told the Senate Intelligence Committee that the greatest threat to the National Security of the U.S. was not terrorism, but the global economic crisis:

I’d like to begin with the global economic crisis, because it already looms as the most serious one in decades, if not in centuries ... Economic crises increase the risk of regime-threatening instability if they are prolonged for a one- or two-year period... And instability can loosen the fragile hold that many developing countries have on law and order, which can spill out in dangerous ways into the international community.[33]

In 2007, a British Defence Ministry report was released assessing global trends in the world over the next 30 years. In assessing “Global Inequality”, the report stated that over the next 30 years:

[T]he gap between rich and poor will probably increase and absolute poverty will remain a global challenge... Disparities in wealth and advantage will therefore become more obvious, with their associated grievances and resentments, even among the growing numbers of people who are likely to be materially more prosperous than their parents and grandparents.  Absolute poverty and comparative disadvantage will fuel perceptions of injustice among those whose expectations are not met, increasing tension and instability, both within and between societies and resulting in expressions of violence such as disorder, criminality, terrorism and insurgency. They may also lead to the resurgence of not only anti-capitalist ideologies, possibly linked to religious, anarchist or nihilist movements, but also to populism and the revival of Marxism.[34]

Further, the report warned of the dangers to the established powers of a revolution emerging from the disgruntled middle classes:

The middle classes could become a revolutionary class, taking the role envisaged for the proletariat by Marx.  The globalization of labour markets and reducing levels of national welfare provision and employment could reduce peoples’ attachment to particular states.  The growing gap between themselves and a small number of highly visible super-rich individuals might fuel disillusion with meritocracy, while the growing urban under-classes are likely to pose an increasing threat to social order and stability, as the burden of acquired debt and the failure of pension provision begins to bite.  Faced by these twin challenges, the world’s middle-classes might unite, using access to knowledge, resources and skills to shape transnational processes in their own class interest.[35]

We have now reached the point where the global economic crisis has continued beyond the two-year mark. The social repercussions are starting to be felt – globally – as a result of the crisis and the coordinated responses to it. Since the global economic crisis hit the ‘Third World’ the hardest, the social and political ramifications will be felt there first. In the context of the current record-breaking hikes in the cost of food, food riots will spread around the world as they did in 2007 and 2008, just prior to the outbreak of the economic crisis. This time, however, things are much worse economically, much more desperate socially, and much more oppressive politically.

This rising discontent will spread from the developing world to the comfort of our own homes in the West. Once the harsh realization sets in that the economy is not in ‘recovery,’ but rather in a Depression, and once our governments in the West continue on their path of closing down the democratic façade and continue dismantling rights and freedoms, increasing surveillance and ‘control,’ while pushing increasingly militaristic and war-mongering foreign policies around the world (mostly in an effort to quell or crush the global awakening being experienced around the world), we in the West will come to realize that ‘We are all Tunisians.’

In 1967, Martin Luther King, Jr., said in his famous speech “Beyond Vietnam”:

I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a "thing-oriented" society to a "person-oriented" society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.[36]

RE: Authoritarianism and Dictatorship - Admin - 02-12-2011

North Africa and the Global Political Awakening, Part 2
Andrew Gavin Marshall


In Part 1 of this series, I analyzed the changing nature of the Arab world, in experiencing an uprising as a result of the ‘Global Political Awakening.’ Ultimately, I assessed that these could potentially be the birth pangs of a global revolution; however, the situation is more complicated than it appears on the surface.

While the uprisings spreading across the Arab world have surprised many observers, the same could not be said for the American foreign policy and strategic establishment. A popular backlash against American-supported dictatorships and repressive regimes has been anticipated for a number of years, with arch-hawk geopolitical strategist Zbigniew Brzezinski articulating a broad conception of a ‘Global Political Awakening’ taking place, in which the masses of the world (predominantly the educated, exploited and impoverished youth of the ‘Third World’) have become acutely aware of their subjugation, inequality, exploitation and oppression. This ‘Awakening’ is largely driven by the revolution in information, technology and communication, including radio, television, but most especially the Internet and social media. Brzezinski had accurately identified this ‘Awakening’ as the greatest threat to elite interests regionally, but also internationally, with America sitting on top of the global hierarchy.

This spurred on the development of an American strategy in the Arab world, modeled on similar strategies pursued in recent decades in other parts of the world, in promoting “democratization,” by developing close contacts with ‘civil society’ organizations, opposition leaders, media sources, and student organizations. The aim is not to promote an organic Arab democracy ‘of the people, and for the people,’ but rather to promote an evolutionary “democratization” in which the old despots of American strategic support are removed in favour of a neoliberal democratic system, in which the outward visible institutions of democracy are present (multi-party elections, private media, parliaments, constitutions, active civil society, etc); yet, the power-holders within that domestic political system remain subservient to U.S. economic and strategic interests, continuing to follow the dictates of the IMF and World Bank, supporting America’s military hegemony in the region, and “opening up” the Arab economies to be “integrated” into the world economy. Thus, “democratization” becomes an incredibly valuable strategy for maintaining hegemony; a modern re-hash of “Let them eat cake!” Give the people the ‘image’ of democracy and establish and maintain a co-dependent relationship with the new elite. Thus, democracy for the people becomes an exercise in futility, where people’s ‘participation’ becomes about voting between rival factions of elites, who all ultimately follow the orders of Washington.

This strategy also has its benefit for the maintenance of American power in the region. While dictators have their uses in geopolitical strategy, they can often become too independent of the imperial power and seek to determine the course of their country separate from U.S. interests, and are subsequently much more challenging to remove from power (i.e., Saddam Hussein). With a “democratized” system, changing ruling parties and leaders becomes much easier, by simply calling elections and supporting opposition parties. Bringing down a dictator is always a more precarious situation than “changing the guard” in a liberal democratic system.

However, again, the situation in the Arab world is still more complicated than this brief overview, and American strategic concerns must take other potentialities into consideration. While American strategists were well aware of the growing threat to stability in the region, and the rising discontent among the majority of the population, the strategists tended to identify the aim as “democratization” through evolution, not revolution. In this sense, the uprisings across the Arab world pose a major strategic challenge for America. While ties have been made with civil society and other organizations, they haven’t all necessarily had the ability to be firmly entrenched, organized and mobilized. In short, it would appear that America was perhaps unprepared for uprisings to take place this soon. The sheer scale and rapid growth of the protests and uprisings makes the situation all the more complicated, since they are not dealing with one nation alone, but rather an entire region (arguably one of, if not the most strategically important region in the world), and yet they must assess and engage the situation on a country-by-country basis.

One danger arises in a repeat in the Arab world of the trends advanced in Latin America over the past decade: namely, the growth of populist democracy. The protests have brought together a wide array of society – civil society, students, the poor, Islamists, opposition leaders, etc. – and so America, with ties to many of these sectors (overtly and covertly), must now make many choices in regards of who to support.

Another incredibly important factor to take into consideration is military intervention. America has firmly established ties with the militaries in this region, and it appears evident that America is influencing military actions in Tunisia. Often, the reflex position of imperial power is to support the military, facilitate a coup, or employ repression. Again, this strategy would be determined on a country-by-country basis. With a popular uprising, military oppression will have the likely effect of exacerbating popular discontent and resistance, so strategic use of military influence is required.

This also leaves us with the potential for the ‘Yemen option’: war and destabilization. While presenting its own potential for negative repercussions (namely, in instigating a much larger and more radical uprising), engaging in overt or covert warfare, destabilizing countries or regions, is not taboo in American strategic circles. In fact, this is the strategy that has been deployed in Yemen since the emergence of the Southern Movement in 2007, a liberation movement seeking secession from the U.S.-supported dictatorship. Shortly after the emergence of the Southern Movement, al-Qaeda appeared in Yemen, prompting U.S. military intervention. The Yemeni military, armed, trained and funded by the United States, has been using its military might to attempt to crush the Southern Movement as well as a rebel movement in the North.

In short, the ‘Arab Awakening’ presents possibly the greatest strategic challenge to American hegemony in decades. The likely result will be a congruence of multiple simultaneously employed strategies including: “democratization,” oppression, military intervention and destabilization. Again, it could be a mistake to assume one strategy for the whole region, but rather to assess it on a country-by-country basis, based upon continuing developments and progress in the ‘Awakening’.

Interview with Andrew Gavin Marshall and Adrienne Pine, Russia Today

The Council on Foreign Relations Strategy to “Democratize” the Arab World

The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) is the premier U.S. foreign policy think tank in the United States, and is one of the central institutions for socializing American elites from all major sectors of society (media, banking, academia, military, intelligence, diplomacy, corporations, NGOs, civil society, etc.), where they work together to construct a consensus on major issues related to American imperial interests around the world. As such, the CFR often sets the strategy for American policy, and wields enormous influence within policy circles, where key players often and almost always come from the rank and file of the CFR itself.

In 2005, the CFR published a Task Force Report on a new American strategy for the Arab world entitled, “In Support of Arab Democracy: Why and How.” The Task Force was co-chaired by Madeleine Albright and Vin Weber. Albright was the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations for the first term of President Bill Clinton’s administration, and was U.S. Secretary of State for his second term. As such, she played crucial roles in the lead up and responses to the dismantling of Yugoslavia and the Rwandan genocide and subsequent civil war and genocide in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and she also oversaw the UN imposed sanctions on Iraq. In a 1996 interview with 60 Minutes, when asked about the sanctions resulting in the deaths of over 500,000 Iraqi children under the age of five, Albright replied, “we think the price is worth it.”[1]

Albright got her start at Columbia University, where she studied under Zbigniew Brzezinski, her professor who supervised her dissertation. Brzezinski, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. co-founded the Trilateral Commission with banker David Rockefeller in 1973. When Jimmy Carter became President in 1977, he brought with him over two dozen members of the Trilateral Commission into his administration, including himself, but also Brzezinski as his National Security Adviser. Brzezinski then offered Madeline Albright a job on his National Security Council staff.[2] Brzezinski also had several other key officials on his Council staff, including Samuel Huntington and Robert Gates, who later became Deputy National Security Adviser, CIA Director, and today is the Secretary of Defense in the Obama administration. As David Rothkopf, former National Security Council staff member wrote in his book on the history of the NSC, “Brzezinski’s NSC staffers are, to this day, very loyal to their former boss.”[3] Today, Albright serves on the board of directors of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Board of Trustees for the Aspen Institute, as well as chairing the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, an organization dedicated to promoting and funding US-supported “democracy” around the world. Recently, she chaired a NATO committee which developed NATO’s new “strategic concept” over the next decade.

The other co-chair of the CFR Task Force report on Arab democracy is Vin Weber, former U.S. Congressman, who has served on the board of the CFR, and is also a member of the board of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), the premier U.S. organization dedicated to “democratic regime change” around the world in advancing U.S. strategic interests. Other members of the Task Force Report include individuals with past or present affiliations to Human Rights Watch, First National Bank of Chicago, Occidental Petroleum, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the World Bank, the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI), the Brookings Institution, the Hoover Institution, the National Endowment for Democracy, the U.S. State Department, National Security Council, National Intelligence Council, Goldman Sachs Group, the American Enterprise Institute, AOL Time Warner, and the IMF.[4]

It is very clear that this is a highly influential and active group of individuals and interests which is proposing a new strategy for America in the Arab world, which makes their recommendations not simply ‘advisory’ to policy, but integral to policy formulation and implementation. So what did the CFR report have to say about democracy in the Arab world?

The report stated that, “Washington has a chance to help shape a more democratic Middle East. Whereas emphasis on stability was once the hallmark of U.S. Middle East policy, democracy and freedom have become a priority.” The report posed two central questions which it explored:

First, does a policy of promoting democracy in the Middle East serve U.S. interests and foreign policy goals? Second, if so, how should the United States implement such a policy, taking into account the full range of its interests?[5]

The answer to the first question was inevitably, “yes,” promoting democracy serves U.S. interests and foreign policy goals in the Middle East. The report elaborated, “Although democracy entails certain inherent risks, the denial of freedom carries much more significant long-term dangers. If Arab citizens are able to express grievances freely and peacefully, they will be less likely to turn to more extreme measures.”[6] However, the CFR report was very cautious about the process of democratic change, and recognized the potential instability and problems it could pose for American interests:

[T]he United States should promote the development of democratic institutions and practices over the long term, mindful that democracy cannot be imposed from the outside and that sudden, traumatic change is neither necessary nor desirable. America’s goal in the Middle East should be to encourage democratic evolution, not revolution.[7] [Emphasis added]

Further, they acknowledged that democracy promotion in the Middle East “requires a country-by-country strategy,”[8] meaning that it cannot be a ‘one-size-fits-all’ strategy, ultimately making the process all the more complicated and potentially unstable. The process is a delicate balancing act, where the report identified that if America’s democracy promotion is too “superficial,” it could “further damage relations between the United States and Arab populations,” or, if the United States pushes reform too hard and too fast, “this could create instability and undermine U.S. interests.” Thus, explained the report, they favour “a view toward evolutionary, not revolutionary, change. The dangers that accompany rapid change will still be present, but so will the opportunity to create a new and more balanced foundation for Arab stability, and a deeper and stronger basis for friendship between Americans and Arabs.”[9] In American diplomatic language, “friendship” should be read as “dependence,” thus we understand this strategy as aiming at promoting a more reliable dependency between Americans and Arabs.

The report, however, acknowledged the deep divisions within U.S. policy circles on the promotion of democracy in the Middle East, with several viewing it as potentially too risky, fearing it “may place U.S. interests in jeopardy,” or that it “could lead to ethnic conflict or the emergence of Islamist governments opposed to the United States and the West in general.” Further, “if Washington pushes Arab leaders too hard on reform, contributing to the collapse of friendly Arab governments, this would likely have a deleterious effect on regional stability, peace, and counterterrorism operations.” There is also the risk that with America actively promoting democratic change among Arab civil society and opposition groups, this could potentially damage “the credibility of indigenous groups promoting democratic reform,” or, alternatively, “Arab leaders could dig in their heels and actively oppose U.S. policies in the region across the board.”[10] The latter scenario could be referred to as ‘the Saddam option’, referring, of course, to America’s once-close ally and suddenly-new enemy, Saddam Hussein, who was armed and supported by America. But once he started to become too autonomous of American power, America turned on him and cast him as a “new Hitler.” The case of Saddam Hussein also shows that when a dictator “digs in his heels,” it can often take a very long time to be rid of him.

So while clearly there are a number of potentially disastrous consequences for U.S. interests in promoting democracy in the Arab world, the CFR made their position clear:

While transitions to democracy can lead to instability in the short term, the Task Force finds that a policy geared toward maintaining the authoritarian status quo in the Middle East poses greater risks to U.S. interests and foreign policy goals... If Arabs are allowed to participate freely and peacefully in the political process, they are less likely to turn to radical measures. If they understand that the United States supports their exercise of liberty, they are less likely to sustain hostile attitudes toward the United States... The overwhelming empirical evidence clearly indicates that the best kind of stability is democratic stability.[11]

One pivotal area through which the CFR report advocated implementing the “democratization” of the Arab world was through the Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI), established in 2002 by the Bush administration “with the express purpose of coordinating and managing the U.S. government’s reform agenda in the area of economics, politics, education, and women’s issues.” Much of this work had previously been done through the United State Agency for International Development (USAID); however, “while USAID’s work has focused to some extent on creating constituencies within Arab governments for change, the rationale for MEPI was to work with independent and indigenous NGOs and civil-society groups, as well as with governments.”[12]

Another avenue was the Broader Middle East Initiative (also known as the Partnership for Progress), which emerged from a 2004 G8 summit, of which a main priority was the “Forum for the Future,” which is “designed to foster communication on reform-related issues.” It held sessions that brought together civil society activists, business leaders, emphasizing economic development and job growth. The Partnership for Progress also established the “Democracy Assistance Dialogue,” which brings together development institutions in the Middle East, foundations, international financial institutions (the World Bank and IMF), “to coordinate the use of resources to support political and economic change.”[13] In other words, it is a process through which America is seeking to ensure that democratic “transition” in the Arab world maintains American and Western political and economic hegemony. In effect, a change of ‘structure’ without a change of ‘substance,’ where the image of the state alters, but the power and purpose remains the same.

However, further problems for the democratization strategy were presented in the unwillingness of European nations to support it or take it seriously. As the Task Force report explained, “European reluctance undermines the potential efficacy of pursuing reform.” The report further explained the importance of having Europe as a partner in the project:

Despite a history of European colonial domination, the perception of Europe in the Arab world is better than that of the United States. Consequently, it may be helpful for the European Union to take the lead in promoting human rights in the Arab world.[14]

The Task Force recommended that it would be best if funding for Arab civil society organizations did not come directly from U.S. government institutions, but rather funneled through U.S. democracy-promotion groups like the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), as “many Middle eastern NGOs are reluctant to accept direct transfers from an arm of the U.S. government, fearing that this would taint these organizations in the eyes of their constituencies.”[15] In the conclusion, the report stated that:

Although a policy predicated on political, economic, and social change in the Arab world may present some short-term risks to Washington’s interests, these risks are worth taking. The long-run benefits of a more democratic and economically developed Middle East outweigh the potential challenges Washington might confront in the foreseeable future.[16]

We must acknowledge, however, that this strategy is not aimed at promoting democracy for the sake of democracy and freedom, but rather that it is acknowledging the reality that is the ‘Global Political Awakening,’ and taking efforts to address and manipulate this ‘Awakening’ in such a way that serves U.S. interests. Thus, it amounts to a scenario akin to saying, “Let them eat cake!” If the Arab world screams out for democracy and freedom, give them the American-sponsored brand of democracy and freedom, and therefore America is able to undermine and co-opt the ever-increasing desires and forces for change in the region. As a result – if successful – it would have the effect of pacifying resistance to America’s hegemony in the region, legitimizing the new puppet governments as “democratic” and “representative” of the people, thus creating a more stable and secure environment for American interests. In short, this is a coordinated strategy to confront, manipulate and pacify the emergence of the Global Political Awakening in the Arab world; an assault against the ‘Arab Awakening.’

In my last essay on the subject, I identified these protests as an organic growth, a rallying cry for freedom from the Arab world which must not be simply discarded as a covert U.S. plot to install new regimes. However, the situation requires a much more nuanced and detailed examination, not to frame it in either a black or white context, but rather seek to explain the realities, challenges and opportunities of the ‘Awakening’ and the ‘uprisings’.

Conceptualizing the ‘Arab Awakening’

For years, arch-hawk American imperial geostrategist Zbigniew Brzezinski, an intellectual architect of ‘globalization’, has been warning elites across the Western world, and in particular in America, of the emergence and pressing reality of the ‘Global Political Awakening.’ He explains the ‘Awakening’ as essentially the greatest historical challenge to not only American, but global power structures and interests. He explained that, “For the first time in human history almost all of humanity is politically activated, politically conscious and politically interactive.” Further, “the worldwide yearning for human dignity is the central challenge inherent in the phenomenon of global political awakening... That awakening is socially massive and politically radicalizing.” As Brzezinski emphasizes, “These energies transcend sovereign borders and pose a challenge both to existing states as well as to the existing global hierarchy, on top of which America still perches.” Brzezinski and others (as evidenced by the Council on Foreign Relations report) are intent upon developing strategies for ‘managing’ and ‘pacifying’ this ‘Awakening’ in such a way that maintains and secures American imperial interests and global power structures. Thus, the need to ‘control’ the Awakening is the most prescient problem in American foreign policy. However, as Brzezinski elaborated, it is not a challenge that can be dealt with easily:

[The] major world powers, new and old, also face a novel reality: while the lethality of their military might is greater than ever, their capacity to impose control over the politically awakened masses of the world is at a historic low. To put it bluntly: in earlier times, it was easier to control one million people than to physically kill one million people; today, it is infinitely easier to kill one million people than to control one million people.[17]

In a 2008 article in the New York Times, Brzezinski emphasized a multi-faceted strategy for dealing with this ‘threat’ to elite structures and interests, explaining that, “the monumental task facing the new president is to regain U.S. global legitimacy by spearheading a collective effort for a more inclusive system of global management.” Thus, Brzezinski’s strategy rests on better securing and institutionally expanding the process of ‘globalization’ into the evolution of ‘global governance,’ or as he termed it, “global management.” Brzezinski unveiled a four-point strategy of response: “unify, enlarge, engage and pacify.”[18]

The response to ‘unify’ refers “to the effort to re-establish a shared sense of purpose between America and Europe,” a point that the CFR report acknowledged. To ‘enlarge’ refers to “a deliberate effort to nurture a wider coalition committed to the principle of interdependence and prepared to play a significant role in promoting more effective global management.”[19] He identified the G8 as having “outlived its function,” and proposed a widening of it, which ultimately manifested itself in 2009 in the form of the G20. The G20 has subsequently become “the prime group for global economic governance at the level of ministers, governors and heads of state or government.”[20] Herman von Rompuy, the President of the European Union, referred to 2009 as “the first year of global governance.”[21] So, these elites are intent upon advancing “global management,” which is the exact strategy Brzezinski also identifies as being the “solution” to managing the ‘Global Political Awakening.’

The next point in Brzezinski’s strategy – ‘engage’ – refers to “the cultivation of top officials through informal talks among key powers, specifically the U.S., the European Triad, China, Japan, Russia and possibly India,” in particular between the United States and China, as “without China, many of the problems we face collectively cannot be laid to rest.” In the final point – ‘pacify’ – Brzezinski referred to the requirements of “a deliberate U.S. effort to avoid becoming bogged down in the vast area ranging from Suez to India.” In particular, he advised moving forward on the Israel-Palestine issue, Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. Brzezinski explained that, “in this dynamically changing world, the crisis of American leadership could become the crisis of global stability.” Thus, from Brzezinski’s point of view, “The only alternative to a constructive American role is global chaos.”[22]

So, “control” is key to this strategy, with “global management” being the ultimate solution. However, as Brzezinski himself identified, which is important to keep in mind when assessing the nature, spread and mobilization of the ‘Awakening’: “To put it bluntly: in earlier times, it was easier to control one million people than to physically kill one million people; today, it is infinitely easier to kill one million people than to control one million people.”[23] Thus, while attempting to engineer, co-opt and ‘control’ the ‘Awakening,’ it is important to acknowledge that the United States is playing with fire, and while attempting to light a controlled fire to manipulate as it so chooses, the fire can spread and get out of hand. In such a situation, the “lethality” of America’s “military might” could potentially be employed. He said it himself, “the only alternative to a constructive American role is global chaos.”[24] The age-old imperial tactic of divide and conquer is never off the table of options. If it cannot be “managed transition” then it often becomes “managed chaos.” Where ‘diplomacy’ fails to overcome barriers, war destroys them (and everything else in the process).

Now turning our attention to the ‘Arab Awakening’ and uprisings, we must examine the range of strategies that are and could be employed. The preferred route for American power is “democratization,” but the scope, velocity and rapidity of recent developments in the Arab world present an incredibly unstable situation for American strategy. While ties with civil society and opposition groups have been or are in the process of being well established (varying on a country-by-country basis), the rapidity and confluence of these uprisings taking place has American power stretched thin.

Engineering, co-opting and controlling revolutionary movements or “democratic regime change” is not a new tactic in the American strategic circles; however, it has in the past been largely relegated to specific pockets and nations, often with significant time in between in order to allow for a more delicate, coordinated and controlled undertaking. This was the case with the U.S.-sponsored ‘colour revolutions’ throughout Eastern Europe and Central Asia, starting with Serbia in 2000, Georgia in 2003, Ukraine in 2004, and Kyrgyzstan in 2005, where America’s premier democracy promotion organizations (the National Endowment for Democracy, the National Democratic Institute, the International Republican Institute, USAID, Freedom House, the Albert Einstein Institute, as well as major American philanthropic foundations) were able to more securely establish themselves and their strategies for “democratic regime change.” Further, all the incidents of democratic “regime change” listed above took place in the context of a contested election within the country, giving the organizations and foundations involved a precise timeline for managing the process of organization and mobilization. This required a focused and nuanced approach which remains absent from the current context in the Middle East and North Africa.

[See: Andrew Gavin Marshall, Colour-Coded Revolutions and the Origins of World War III, Global Research, 3 November 2009:]

Further, a similar strategy was undertaken in Iran for the summer of 2009, in which the ‘Green Movement’ arose in response to the contested Presidential elections. This was, in fact, an attempt at a highly coordinated and organized effort on the part of a covert American strategy of “democratization” to install a U.S.-friendly (i.e., ‘client’) regime in Iran. The strategy was developed in 2006, largely organized covertly by the CIA, at a cost of approximately $400 million, and involved the State Department coordinating efforts with social media such as Twitter, Facebook and Youtube. However, as posterity shows, the strategy did not ultimately succeed in imposing “regime change.” At the time, Zbigniew Brzezinski explained that the strategy would require “patience, intelligent manipulation, moral support, but no political interference.”

[See: Andrew Gavin Marshall, A New World War for a New World Order, Global Research, 17 December 2009:]

So we can see that even with $400 million and a highly coordinated attempt at “intelligent manipulation,” the strategy did not succeed. However, it must be acknowledged that the U.S. could not overtly fund opposition and civil society organizations in Iran as it could in Eastern Europe. In the Arab world, while America has and continues to engage with opposition groups and civil society organizations, these efforts have been consistently thwarted and hampered by the domestic Arab regimes, which are well aware of the threat to their own power this could pose. Managing such a strategy in countries run by authoritarian regimes that are very suspicious of civil society and opposition groups presents an incredibly challenging scenario for American strategy. Further, authoritarian regimes generally do not hold elections, unless it is simply a sham election in which the leader wins by a margin of 97%, presenting a difficult scenario in which to mobilize opposition forces. Moreover, the ‘colour revolutions’ throughout Eastern Europe were largely organized through a strategy of bringing together all the opposition groups to stand behind one leader, to make the effort much more coordinated and cohesive. No such strategy seems to have emerged in the Arab world, and has appeared as a patched-up effort of attempting to promote particular opposition figures, but nothing that is evidently well-organized and pre-planned. While many opposition groups are working closely together to oppose the regimes, they are not necessarily being mobilized around any clear and absolute leaders, thus presenting the potential for a power vacuum to open up, making the situation all the more dangerous for American interests.

Another major problem inherent in this strategy in the Arab world is the role being played by the domestic militaries. The militaries within the authoritarian Arab regimes are largely supported, funded, trained and armed by America, and have become powerful political, social and economic actors in their own right (more so in Egypt than Tunisia). Thus, America must balance the process of supporting civil society and opposition groups with that of continuing to support and secure the military structures. If the militaries feel that their position is insecure or threatened, they may simply overtake the entire process and engineer a coup, which is ultimately counter-productive to the American strategy in the region, especially since it is widely known that America is the principle sponsor of these military structures. This implies that America must undertake a delicate balancing act between the military, civil society and opposition groups in coordinating the removal of the entrenched despots. This strategy seems to be materializing itself in the form of constructing “transitional governments,” which the militaries in both Tunisia and Egypt are supporting.

The situation is intensely complicated and conflicting, presenting America with one of its greatest challenges in recent history. While the obvious intent and even the means of organizing “democratic regime change” in the Arab world are present, I believe the rapidity in which the protest movements and uprisings have emerged could have taken America somewhat off-guard. No doubt, from the beginnings of the Tunisian protests in December of 2010, America was paying detailed attention to the situation, attempting to influence the outcome. However, Western media coverage of the first four weeks of protests was minimal, if not altogether absent. This is an important point to address.

For all the other organized efforts at “democratic regime change” and “colour revolutions,” Western media played a critical role. From the moments protests began in these countries, Western media outlets were covering the events extensively, espousing the righteousness of the aims of “democratization” and “freedom,” in full and active support of the demonstrators. This was absent in Tunisia, until of course, the President fled to Saudi Arabia, when suddenly Western media cynically proclaimed a monumental achievement for democracy, and started warning the rest of the Arab world of the potential for this to spread to their countries (thus, applying public pressure to promote “reforms” in line with their strategy of “evolution, not revolution.”). This could imply that America was trying to quietly manage the protests in Tunisia, which did not arise in a pre-coordinated and previously established timeline, but rather sprung up as a rapid response to a suicide of a young man in a personal protest against the government. The spark was lit, and America advanced on Tunisia in an attempt to control its growth and direction. Meanwhile, however, sparks ignited across many nations in the Arab world, including Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Jordan and Yemen.  

Subsequently, America took advantage of these sparks to ignite the process in a direction it would seek to control. For the first few days and even weeks of protests in many of the other nations, appearing by and large to be organic reactions to events in Tunisia and within their own countries, a more coordinated response was undertaken, with the massive organized protests emerging suddenly. Yet, America is potentially stretching itself very thin, possibly risking as much or more than it has to gain. Like a cornered animal, America is simultaneously incredibly vulnerable and incredibly dangerous. Remembering Brzezinski’s words regarding the problem of ‘control’ is an important factor to take into consideration: “in earlier times, it was easier to control one million people than to physically kill one million people; today, it is infinitely easier to kill one million people than to control one million people.”[25] This could potentially be referred to as the ‘Yemen Option,’ in which the strategy entails an effort to promote destabilization, military intervention, covert and overt warfare. In such a scenario, it is essential for America to maintain and, in fact, strengthen its contacts and relationships with domestic military structures.

So, clearly the situation is not and should not be addressed in a black-and-white analysis. It is intensely complicated, multi-faceted and potentially disastrous. No outcome is preordained or absolute: thus, while acknowledging and examining the evidence for America’s deep involvement in the evolution and direction of the protests and opposition, we must keep this analysis within the context of the ‘Global Political Awakening.’ I argued in Part 1 of this essay that it does, in fact, seem as if we are seeing the emergence of a global revolution; yet, this is likely a process that will stretch out certainly over the next one, if not several, decades. We cannot simply dismiss these protests as American machinations and covert operations, but rather as an effort for America to control the ‘Awakening’. As the Council on Foreign Relations Task Force Report emphasized, “America’s goal in the Middle East should be to encourage democratic evolution, not revolution.”[26] It seems as if this strategy either changed in the intermittent years, or America has been thrown out of its incremental strategy of “evolution” and into the strategy of being forced to respond to and seek to direct “revolution.” This makes the situation all the more dangerous for American interests. Thus, we cannot dismiss the uprisings as entirely “orchestrated,” but instead understand them in the context of the ‘Global Awakening.’

Taking the position that everything is organized from on high in the corridors of power is a flawed analysis. Alternatively, taking the position that America was caught entirely unaware of this situation is naïve and the evidence does not support this assessment. However, we must not see this as an either-or development, but rather a congruence of over-lapping and inter-twining developments. Society, after all, while being directed from above, must react to the responses and developments from below; and thus, society itself and the direction it takes is a highly complex interaction of different, opposing, and conflicting social processes. The claim that the uprisings are the lone result of American strategy neglects the reasons behind the development of this strategy in the first place. The “democratization” strategy did not emerge due to any humanitarian qualms on the part of the U.S. elite for the people living under authoritarian regimes, but rather that the strategy was developed in response to the emergence and growth of the ‘Arab Awakening’ itself. Indeed, in this context, this does mark the beginnings of a global revolution (which has been a long time coming); however, it also marks the active American strategy to control the process and development of the ‘revolution.’

Historically, revolutions are never the product of a one-sided development. That is, revolutions predominantly do not come about through the actions of one segment of society, often polarized as either an elite-driven or people-driven revolution, but rather they come about through a complex interaction and balancing of various social groups. The context and conditions for a revolution often do not emerge without the awareness of the upper classes, therefore, the upper social strata always or often seek to mitigate, control, repress, influence or co-opt and control the process of revolution. In this context, we cannot dismiss revolutions simply as a top-down or bottom-up process, but rather a mitigation and interaction between the two approaches.

American strategic objectives are aimed at ultimately repressing and co-opting the organic revolutionary uprisings in the Arab world. For the past six years or so, America has been developing and starting to implement a strategy to manage to ‘Arab Awakening’ by promoting “democratization” in a process of “evolution, not revolution.” However, the evolution was evidently not fast enough for the people living under the Arab regimes, and revolution is in the air. America, naturally, is desperately attempting to manage the situation and repress a true revolution from spreading across the region, instead promoting an “orderly transition” as Hillary Clinton and President Obama have stressed. Thus, America has been extensively involved in the processes of organizing and establishing “transitional governments” or “unity governments.” If the revolution took its own course, and sought true change, populist democracy and ultimate freedom, it would ultimately be forced to challenge the role and influence of America and the West in the region. As such, military “aid” would need to end (a prospect the domestic militaries are not willing to accept), American influence over and contact with civil society and opposition groups would need to be openly challenged and discussed, the IMF and World Bank would need to be kicked out, international debts would need to be declared “odious” and cancelled, and the people would have to control their own country and become active, engaged and informed citizens. The true revolution will have to be not simply political, but economic, social, cultural, psychological, intellectual and ultimately, global.

The protesters must challenge not simply their despotic governments, but must ultimately remove American and Western control over their nations. They must also be very cautious of opposition groups and proposed leaders who are thrust to the front lines and into the government, as they are likely co-opted. The true new leaders should come from the people, and should earn their leadership, not simply be crowned as ‘leaders.’ The best possible short-to-medium-term scenario would be to see the emergence of Arab populist democracies, reflecting the trend seen across Latin America (although, not necessarily imposing the same ideologies). The trouble with this scenario is that it is also the most unlikely. If there is one thing that American power despises, it is populist democracy. Since the beginnings of the Cold War until present day, America has actively overthrown, orchestrated coups, imposed dictatorships, crushed, invaded and occupied, bombed and destabilized or implemented “democratic regime change” in populist democracies. Democratic governments that are accountable to the people and seek to help the poor and oppressed make themselves quick enemies of American power. Over the past 60 years, America has repressed or supported the repression of democracies, liberation struggles and attempts at autonomy all over the world: Iran in 1953, Guatemala in 1954, Haiti in 1959, the Congo in 1960, Ecuador in 1961, Algeria, Peru, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Chile, Argentina, Afghanistan, Indonesia, South Africa, Palestine, Iraq, Venezuela, Lebanon, Yemen and on and on and on.

The situation is a dangerous and difficult one for the protesters, just as the struggle for freedom and democracy is and has always been. There is a large constituency which have an interest in preventing the emergence of a populist democracy, including many of the pro-democracy organizations and opposition leaders themselves, the great nations of the world – East and West, the World Bank and IMF, international corporations and banks, neighbouring Arab regimes, Israel, and of course, America. It is a monumental challenge, but it would be a great disservice to cast aside the protests as controlled and totally co-opted. If that were the case, they would have ceased with the formation of transition and unity governments, which of course they have not. While the outcome is ultimately unknown, what is clear is that a spark has been lit in the Arab world as the ‘Global Political Awakening’ marches on, and this will be a very difficult flame to control.

RE: Authoritarianism and Dictatorship - Admin - 02-12-2011


F. William Engdahl, author Full Spectrum Dominance: Totalitarian Democracy in the New World Order *

Fast on the heels of the regime change in Tunisia came a popular-based protest movement launched on January 25 against the entrenched order of Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak. Contrary to the carefully-cultivated impression that the Obama Administration is trying to retain the present regime of Mubarak , Washington in fact is orchestrating the Egyptian as well as other regional regime changes from Syria to Yemen to Jordan and well beyond in a process some refer to as “creative destruction.”

The template for such covert regime change has been developed by the Pentagon, US intelligence agenciesand various think-tanks such as RAND Corporation over decades, beginning with the May 1968 destabilization of the de Gaulle presidency in France . This is the first time since the US-backed regime changes in Eastern Europe some two decades back that Washington has initiated simultaneous operations in many countries in a region. It is a strategy born of a certain desperation and one not without significant risk for the Pentagon and for the long-term Wall Street agenda. What the outcome will be for the peoples of the region and for the world is as yet unclear.

Yet while the ultimate outcome of defiant street protests in Cairo and across Egypt and the Islamic world remains unclear, the broad outlines of a US covert strategy are already clear.

No one can dispute the genuine grievances motivating millions to take to the streets at risk of life. No one can defend atrocities of the Mubarak regime and its torture and repression of dissent. No one can dispute the explosive rise in food prices as Chicago and Wall Street commodity speculators, and the conversion of American farmland to the insane cultivation of corn for ethanol fuel drive grain prices through the roof. Egypt is the world’s largest wheat importer, much of it from the USA . Chicago wheat futures rose by a staggering 74% between June and November 2010 leading to an Egyptian food price inflation of some 30% despite government subsidies.

What is widely ignored in the CNN and BBC and other Western media coverage of the Egypt events is the fact that whatever his excesses at home, Egypt ’s Mubarak represented a major obstacle within the region to the larger US agenda.

To say relations between Obama and Mubarak were ice cold from the outset would be no exaggeration. Mubarak was staunchly opposed to Obama policies on Iran and how to deal with its nuclear program, on Obama policies towards the Persian Gulf states, to Syria and to Lebanon as well as to the Palestinians. He was a formidable thorn in the larger Washington agenda for the entire region, Washington ’s Greater Middle East Project, more recently redubbed the milder-sounding “New Middle East.”

As real as the factors are that are driving millions into the streets across North Africa and the Middle East, what cannot be ignored is the fact that Washington is deciding the timing and as they see it, trying to shape the ultimate outcome of comprehensive regime change destabilizations across the Islamic world. The day of the remarkably well-coordinated popular demonstrations demanding Mubarak step down, key members of the Egyptian military command including Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. Sami Hafez Enan were all in Washington as guests of the Pentagon. That conveniently neutralized the decisive force of the Army to stop the anti-Mubarak protests from growing in the critical early days.

The strategy had been in various State Department and Pentagon files since at least a decade or longer. After George W. Bush declared a War on Terror in 2001 it was called the Greater Middle East Project. Today it is known as the less threatening-sounding “New Middle East” project. It is a strategy to break open the states of the region from Morocco to Afghanistan , the region defined by David Rockefeller’s friend Samuel Huntington in his infamous Clash of Civilizations essay in Foreign Affairs.

Egypt rising?

The current Pentagon scenario for Egypt reads like a Cecil B. DeMille Hollywood spectacular, only this one with a cast of millions of Twitter-savvy well-trained youth, networks of Muslim Brotherhood operatives, working with a US-trained military. In the starring role of the new production at the moment is none other than a Nobel Peace Prize winner who conveniently appears to pull all the threads of opposition to the ancien regime into what appears as a seamless transition into a New Egypt under a self-proclaimed liberal democratic revolution.

Some background on the actors on the ground is useful before looking at what Washington’s long-term strategic plan might be for the Islamic world from North Africa to the Persian Gulf and ultimately into the Islamic populations of Central Asia, to the borders of China and Russia.

Washington ‘soft’ revolutions

The protests that led to the abrupt firing of the entire Egyptian government by President Mubarak on the heels of the panicked flight of Tunisia’s Ben Ali into a Saudi exile are not at all as “spontaneous” as the Obama White House, Clinton State Department or CNN, BBC and other major media in the West make them to be.

They are being organized in a Ukrainian-style high-tech electronic fashion with large internet-linked networks of youth tied to Mohammed ElBaradei and the banned and murky secret Muslim Brotherhood, whose links to British and American intelligence and freemasonry are widely reported.

At this point the anti-Mubarak movement looks like anything but a threat to US influence in the region, quite the opposite. It has all the footprints of another US-backed regime change along the model of the 2003-2004 Color Revolutions in Georgia and Ukraine and the failed Green Revolution against Iran ’s Ahmedinejad in 2009.

The call for an Egyptian general strike and a January 25 Day of Anger that sparked the mass protests demanding Mubarak resign was issued by a Facebook-based organization calling itself the April 6 Movement. The protests were so substantial and well-organized that it forced Mubarak to ask his cabinet to resign and appoint a new vice president, Gen. Omar Suleiman, former Minister of Intelligence.

April 6 is headed by one Ahmed Maher Ibrahim, a 29-year-old civil engineer, who set up the Facebook site to support a workers’ call for a strike on April 6, 2008.

According to a New York Times account from 2009, some 800,000 Egyptians, most youth, were already then Facebook or Twitter members. In an interview with the Washington-based Carnegie Endowment, April 6 Movement head Maher stated, “Being the first youth movement in Egypt to use internet-based modes of communication like Facebook and Twitter, we aim to promote democracy by encouraging public involvement in the political process.”

Maher also announced that his April 6 Movement backs former UN International Atomic Energy Aagency (IAEA) head and declared Egyptian Presidential candidate, ElBaradei along with ElBaradei’s National Association for Change (NAC) coalition. The NAC includes among others George Ishak, a leader in Kefaya Movement, and Mohamed Saad El-Katatni, president of the parliamentary bloc of the controversial Ikhwan or Muslim Brotherhood.

Today Kefaya is at the center of the unfolding Egyptian events. Not far in the background is the more discreet Muslim Brotherhood.

ElBaradei at this point is being projected as the central figure in a future Egyptian parliamentary democratic change. Curiously, though he has not lived in Egypt for the past thirty years, he has won the backing of every imaginable part of the Egyptian political spectrum from communists to Muslim Brotherhood to Kefaya and April 6 young activists. Judging from the calm demeanour ElBaradei presents these days to CNN interviewers, he also likely has the backing of leading Egyptian generals opposed to the Mubarak rule for whatever reasons as well as some very influential persons in Washington.

Kefaya-Pentagon ‘non-violent warfare’

Kefaya is at the heart of mobilizing the Egyptian protest demonstrations that back ElBaradei’s candidacy. The word Kefaya translates to “enough!”

Curiously, the planners at the Washington National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and related color revolution NGOs apparently were bereft of creative new catchy names for their Egyptian Color Revolution. In their November 2003 Rose Revolution in Georgia , the US-financed NGOs chose the catch word, Kmara! In order to identify the youth-based regime change movement. Kmara in Georgian also means “enough!”

Like Kefaya, Kmara in Georgia was also built by the Washington-financed trainers from the NED and other groups such as Gene Sharp’s misleadingly-named Albert Einstein Institution which uses what Sharp once identified as “non-violence as a method of warfare.”

The various youth networks in Georgia as in Kefaya were carefully trained as a loose, decentralized network of cells, deliberately avoiding a central organization that could be broken and could have brought the movement to a halt. Training of activists in techniques of non-violent resistance was done at sports facilities, making it appear innocuous. Activists were also given training in political marketing, media relations, mobilization and recruiting skills.

The formal name of Kefaya is Egyptian Movement for Change. It was founded in 2004 by select Egyptian intellectuals at the home of Abu ‘l-Ala Madi, leader of the al-Wasat party, a party reportedly created by the Muslim Brotherhood. Kefaya was created as a coalition movement united only by the call for an end Mubarak’s rule.

Kefaya as part of the amorphous April 6 Movement capitalized early on new social media and digital technology as its main means of mobilization. In particular, political blogging, posting uncensored youtube shorts and photographic images were skillfully and extremely professionally used. At a rally already back in December 2009 Kefaya had announced support for the candidacy of Mohammed ElBaradei for the 2011 Egyptian elections.

RAND and Kefaya

No less a US defense establishment think-tank than the RAND Corporation has conducted a detailed study of Kefaya. The Kefaya study as RAND themselves note, was “sponsored by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, the Unified Combatant Commands, the Department of the Navy, the Marine Corps, the defense agencies, and the defense Intelligence Community.”

A nicer bunch of democratically-oriented gentlemen and women could hardly be found.

In their 2008 report to the Pentagon, the RAND researchers noted the following in relation to Egypt ’s Kefaya:

“The United States has professed an interest in greater democratization in the Arab world, particularly since the September 2001 attacks by terrorists from Saudi Arabia , the United Arab Emirates , Egypt , and Lebanon . This interest has been part of an effort to reduce destabilizing political violence and terrorism. As President George W. Bush noted in a 2003 address to the National Endowment for Democracy, “As long as the Middle East remains a place where freedom does not flourish, it will remain a place of stagnation, resentment, and violence ready for export” (The White House, 2003). The United States has used varying means to pursue democratization, including a military intervention that, though launched for other reasons, had the installation of a democratic government as one of its end goals.

However, indigenous reform movements are best positioned to advance democratization in their own country.”

RAND researchers have spent years perfecting techniques of unconventional regime change under the name “swarming,” the method of deploying mass mobs of digitally-linked youth in hit-and-run protest formations moving like swarms of bees.

Washington and the stable of “human rights” and “democracy” and “non-violence” NGOs it oversees, over the past decade or more has increasingly relied on sophisticated “spontaneous” nurturing of local indigenous protest movements to create pro-Washington regime change and to advance the Pentagon agenda of global Full Spectrum Dominance. As the RAND study of Kefaya states in its concluding recommendations to the Pentagon:

“The US government already supports reform efforts through organizations such as the US Agency for International Development and the United Nations Development Programme. Given the current negative popular standing of the United States in the region, US support for reform initiatives is best carried out through nongovernmental and non-profit institutions.”

The RAND 2008 study was even more concrete about future US Government support for Egyptian and other “reform” movements:

“The US government should encourage nongovernmental organizations to offer training to reformers, including guidance on coalition building and how to deal with internal differences in pursuit of democratic reform. Academic institutions (or even nongovernmental organizations associated with US political parties, such as the International Republican Institute or the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs) could carry out such training, which would equip reform leaders to reconcile their differences peacefully and democratically.

“Fourth, the United States should help reformers obtain and use information technology, perhaps by offering incentives for US companies to invest in the region’s communications infrastructure and information technology. US information technology companies could also help ensure that the Web sites of reformers can remain in operation and could invest in technologies such as anonymizers that could offer some shelter from government scrutiny. This could also be accomplished by employing technological safeguards to prevent regimes from sabotaging the Web sites of reformers. “

As their Kefaya monograph states, it was prepared in 2008 by the “RAND National Security Research Division’s Alternative Strategy Initiative, sponsored by the Rapid Reaction Technology Office in the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics.

The Alternative Strategy Initiative, just to underscore the point, includes “research on creative use of the media, radicalization of youth, civic involvement to stem sectarian violence, the provision of social services to mobilize aggrieved sectors of indigenous populations, and the topic of this volume, alternative movements.”

In May 2009 just before Obama’s Cairo trip to meet Mubarak , US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hosted a number of the young Egyptian activists in Washington under the auspices of Freedom House, another “human rights” Washington-based NGO with a long history of involvement in US-sponsored regime change from Serbia to Georgia to Ukraine and other Color Revolutions. Clinton and Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey Feltman met the sixteen activists at the end of a two-month “fellowship” organized by Freedom House’s New Generation program.

Freedom House and Washington ’s government-funded regime change NGO, National Endowment for Democracy (NED) are at the heart of the uprisings now sweeping across the Islamic world. They fit the geographic context of what George W. Bush proclaimed after 2001 as his Greater Middle East Project to bring “democracy” and “liberal free market” economic reform to the Islamic countries from Afghanistan to Morocco . When Washington talks about introducing “liberal free market reform” people should watch out. It is little more than code for bringing those economies under the yoke of the dollar system and all that implies.

Washington’s NED in a larger agenda

If we make a list of the countries in the region which are undergoing mass-based protest movements since the Tunisian and Egyptian events and overlay them onto a map, we find an almost perfect convergence between the protest countries today and the original map of the Washington Greater Middle East Project that was first unveiled during the George W. Bush Presidency after 2001.

Washington ’s NED has been quietly engaged in preparing a wave of regime destabilizations across North Africa and the Middle East since the 2001-2003 US military invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq . The list of where the NED is active is revealing. Its website lists Tunisia , Egypt , Jordan , Kuwait , Libya , Syria , Yemen and Sudan as well, interestingly, as Israel . Coincidentally these countries are almost all today subject to “spontaneous” popular regime-change uprisings.

The International Republican Institute and the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs mentioned by the RAND document study of Kefaya are subsidiary organizations of the Washington-based and US Congress-financed National Endowment for Democracy.

The NED is the coordinating Washington agency for regime destabilization and change. It is active from Tibet to Ukraine , from Venezuela to Tunisia , from Kuwait to Morocco in reshaping the world after the collapse of the Soviet Union into what George H.W. Bush in a 1991 speech to Congress proclaimed triumphantly as the dawn of a New World Order.

As the architect and first head of the NED, Allen Weinstein told the Washington Post in 1991 that, “a lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA”

The NED Board of Directors includes or has included former Defense Secretary and CIA Deputy head, Frank Carlucci of the Carlyle Group; retired General Wesley Clark of NATO; neo-conservative warhawk Zalmay Khalilzad who was architect of George W. Bush’s Afghan invasion and later ambassador to Afghanistan as well as to occupied Iraq. Another NED board member, Vin Weber, co-chaired a major independent task force on US Policy toward Reform in the Arab World with former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and was a founding member of the ultra-hawkish Project for a New American Century think-tank with Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld, which advocated forced regime change in Iraq as early as 1998.

The NED is supposedly a private, non-government, non-profit foundation, but it receives a yearly appropriation for its international work from the US Congress. The National Endowment for Democracy is dependent on the US taxpayer for funding, but because NED is not a government agency, it is not subject to normal Congressional oversight.

NED money is channelled into target countries through four “core foundations”-the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, linked to the Democratic Party; the International Republican Institute tied to the Republican Party; the American Center for International Labor Solidarity linked to the AFL-CIO US labor federation as well as the US State Department; and the Center for International Private Enterprise linked to the free-market US Chamber of Commerce.

The late political analyst Barbara Conry noted that:

“NED has taken advantage of its alleged private status to influence foreign elections, an activity that is beyond the scope of AID or USIA and would otherwise be possible only through a CIA covert operation. Such activities, it may also be worth noting, would be illegal for foreign groups operating in the United States .”

Significantly the NED details its various projects today in Islamic countries, including in addition to Egypt , in Tunisia , Yemen , Jordan , Algeria , Morocco , Kuwait , Lebanon , Libya , Syria , Iran and Afghanistan . In short, most every country which is presently feeling the earthquake effects of the reform protests sweeping across the Middle East and North Africa is a target of NED.

In 2005 US President George W. Bush made a speech to the NED. In a long, rambling discourse which equated “Islamic radicalism” with the evils of communism as the new enemy, and using a deliberately softer term “broader Middle East” for the term Greater Middle East that had aroused much distruct in the Islamic world, Bush stated,

“The fifth element of our strategy in the war on terror is to deny the militants future recruits by replacing hatred and resentment with democracy and hope across the broader Middle East. This is a difficult and long-term project, yet there’s no alternative to it. Our future and the future of that region are linked. If the broader Middle East is left to grow in bitterness, if countries remain in misery, while radicals stir the resentments of millions, then that part of the world will be a source of endless conflict and mounting danger, and for our generation and the next. If the peoples of that region are permitted to choose their own destiny, and advance by their own energy and by their participation as free men and women, then the extremists will be marginalized, and the flow of violent radicalism to the rest of the world will slow, and eventually end…We’re encouraging our friends in the Middle East, including Egypt and Saudi Arabia, to take the path of reform, to strengthen their own societies in the fight against terror by respecting the rights and choices of their own people. We’re standing with dissidents and exiles against oppressive regimes, because we know that the dissidents of today will be the democratic leaders of tomorrow…”

The US Project for a ‘Greater Middle East’

The spreading regime change operations Washington from Tunisia to Sudan, from Yemen to Egypt to Syria are best viewed in the context of a long-standing Pentagon and State Department strategy for the entire Islamic world from Kabul in Afghanistan to Rabat in Morocco.

The rough outlines of the Washington strategy, based in part on their successful regime change operations in the former Warsaw Pact communist bloc of Eastern Europe, were drawn up by former Pentagon consultant and neo-conservative, Richard Perle and later Bush official Douglas Feith in a white paper they drew up for the then-new Israeli Likud regime of Benjamin Netanyahu in 1996.

That policy recommendation was titled A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm. It was the first Washington think-tank paper to openly call for removing Saddam Hussein in Iraq , for an aggressive military stance toward the Palestinians, striking Syria and Syrian targets in Lebanon . Reportedly, the Netanyahu government at that time buried the Perle-Feith report, as being far too risky.

By the time of the events of September 11, 2001 and the return to Washington of the arch-warhawk-neoconservatives around Perle and others, the Bush Administration put highest priority on an expanded version of the Perle-Feith paper, calling it their Greater Middle East Project. Feith was named Bush’s Under Secretary of Defense.

Behind the facade of proclaiming democratic reforms of autocratic regimes in the entire region, the Greater Middle East was and is a blueprint to extend US military control and to break open the statist economies in the entire span of states from Morocco to the borders of China and Russia .

In May 2009, before the rubble from the US bombing of Baghdad had cleared, George W. Bush, a President not remembered as a great friend of democracy, proclaimed a policy of “spreading democracy” to the entire region and explicitly noted that that meant “the establishment of a US-Middle East free trade area within a decade.”

Prior to the June 2004 G8 Summit on Sea Island , Georgia , Washington issued a working paper, “G8-Greater Middle East Partnership.” Under the section titled Economic Opportunities was Washington ’s dramatic call for “an economic transformation similar in magnitude to that undertaken by the formerly communist countries of Central and Eastern Europe .”

The US paper said that the key to this would be the strengthening of the private sector as the way to prosperity and democracy. It misleadingly claimed it would be done via the miracle of microfinance where as the paper put it, “a mere $100 million a year for five years will lift 1.2 million entrepreneurs (750,000 of them women) out of poverty, through $400 loans to each.”

The US plan envisioned takeover of regional banking and financial affairs by new institutions ostensibly international but, like World Bank and IMF, de facto controlled by Washington , including WTO. The goal of Washington ’s long-term project is to completely control the oil, to completely control the oil revenue flows, to completely control the entire economies of the region, from Morocco to the borders of China and all in between. It is a project as bold as it is desperate.

Once the G8 US paper was leaked in 2004 in the Arabic Al-Hayat, opposition to it spread widely across the region, with a major protest to the US definition of the Greater Middle East. As an article in the French Le Monde Diplomatique in April 2004 noted, “besides the Arab countries, it covers Afghanistan , Iran , Pakistan , Turkey and Israel , whose only common denominator is that they lie in the zone where hostility to the US is strongest, in which Islamic fundamentalism in its anti-Western form is most rife.” It should be noted that the NED is also active inside Israel with a number of programs.

Notably, in 2004 it was vehement opposition from two Middle East leaders-Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and the King of Saudi Arabia -that forced the ideological zealots of the Bush Administration to temporarily put the Project for the Greater Middle East on a back burner.

Will it work?

At this writing it is unclear what the ultimate upshot of the latest US-led destabilizations across the Islamic world will bring. It is not clear what will result for Washington and the advocates of a US-dominated New World Order. Their agenda is clearly one of creating a Greater Middle East under firm US grip as a major control of the capital flows and energy flows of a future China , Russia and a European Union that might one day entertain thoughts of drifting away from that American order.

It has huge potential implications for the future of Israel as well. As one US commentator put it, “The Israeli calculation today is that if ‘Mubarak goes’ (which is usually stated as ‘If America lets Mubarak go’), Egypt goes. If Tunisia goes (same elaboration), Morocco and Algeria go. Turkey has already gone (for which the Israelis have only themselves to blame). Syria is gone (in part because Israel wanted to cut it off from Sea of Galilee water access). Gaza has gone to Hamas, and the Palestine Authority might soon be gone too (to Hamas?). That leaves Israel amid the ruins of a policy of military domination of the region.”

The Washington strategy of “creative destruction” is clearly causing sleepless nights not only in the Islamic world but also reportedly in Tel Aviv, and ultimately by now also in Beijing and Moscow and across Central Asia .

* F. William Engdahl is author of Full Spectrum Dominance: Totalitarian Democracy in the New World Order. His book, A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order has just been reissued in a new edition. He may be contacted via his website, HYPERLINK “ .


DEBKA, Mubarak believes a US-backed Egyptian military faction plotted his ouster, February 4, 2011, accessed in HYPERLINK “ . DEBKA is open about its good ties to Israeli intelligence and security agencies. While its writings must be read with that in mind, certain reports they publish often contain interesting leads for further investigation.


The Center for Grassroots Oversight, 1954-1970: CIA and the Muslim Brotherhood ally to oppose Egyptian President Nasser, HYPERLINK “
western_support_for_islamic_militancy_202700&scale=0″ . According to the late Miles Copeland, a CIA official stationed in Egypt during the Nasser era, the CIA allied with the Muslim Brotherhood which was opposed to Nasser ’s secular regime as well as his nationalist opposition to brotherhood pan-Islamic ideology.

Jijo Jacob, What is Egypt ’s April 6 Movement?, February 1, 2011, accessed in HYPERLINK “


Janine Zacharia, Opposition groups rally around Mohamed ElBaradei, Washington Post, January 31, 2011, accessed in HYPERLINK “

National Endowment for Democracy, Middle East and North Africa Program Highlights 2009, accessed in HYPERLINK “ .

Amitabh Pal, Gene Sharp: The Progressive Interview, The Progressive, March 1, 2007.

Emmanuel Sivan, Why Radical Muslims Aren’t Taking over Governments, Middle East Quarterly, December 1997,

pp. 3-9

Carnegie Endowment, The Egyptian Movement for Change (Kifaya), accessed in HYPERLINK “

Nadia Oweidat, et al, The Kefaya Movement: A Case Study of a Grassroots Reform Initiative, Prepared for the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Santa Monica, Ca., RAND_778.pdf, 2008, p. iv.


For a more detailed discussion of the RAND “swarming” techniques see F. William Engdahl, Full Spectrum Dominance: Totalitarian Democracy in the New World Order, edition.engdahl, 2009, pp. 34-41.

Nadia Oweidat et al, op. cit., p. 48.

Ibid., p. 50.

Ibid., p. iii.

Michel Chossudovsky, The Protest Movement in Egypt: “Dictators” do not Dictate, They Obey Orders, January 29, 2011, accessed in HYPERLINK “ ″

George Herbert Walker Bush, State of the Union Address to Congress, 29 January 1991. In the speech Bush at one point declared in a triumphant air of celebration of the collapse of the Sovoiet Union, “What is at stake is more than one small country, it is a big idea-a new world order…”

Allen Weinstein, quoted in David Ignatius, Openness is the Secret to Democracy, Washington Post National Weekly Edition, 30 September 1991, pp. 24-25.

National Endowment for Democracy, Board of Directors, accessed in HYPERLINK “

Barbara Conry, Loose Cannon: The National Endowment for Democracy, Cato Foreign Policy Briefing No. 27, November 8, 1993, accessed in HYPERLINK “ .

National Endowment for Democracy, 2009 Annual Report, Middle East and North Africa , accessed in HYPERLINK “ .

George W. Bush, Speech at the National Endowment for Democracy, Washington , DC , October 6, 2005, accessed in HYPERLINK “ .

Richard Perle, Douglas Feith et al, A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm, 1996, Washington and Tel Aviv, The Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies, accessed in HYPERLINK “

George W. Bush, Remarks by the President in Commencement Address at the University of South Carolina, White House, 9 May 2003.

Gilbert Achcar, Fantasy of a Region that Doesn’t Exist: Greater Middle East, the US plan, Le Monde Diplomatique, April 4, 2004, accessed in HYPERLINK “


William Pfaff, American-Israel Policy Tested by Arab Uprisings, accessed in HYPERLINK “