Tuesday, 1 February 2011

US at a loss to deal with new Middle East intifada

By Eric S. Margolis

ARE we looking at a Middle East version of the 1989 uprisings across Eastern Europe that brought down its Communist regimes and the Soviet Union?  

There are certainly strong similarities between the old Soviet East Bloc and the spreading intifada across America’s Middle East Raj. Corrupt, repressive governments; rapacious oligarchies; high youth unemployment and stagnation; widespread feelings of frustration, hopelessness and fury.

But there is also a big difference. The principled Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, and the Communist rulers of Eastern Europe, refused to turn their army’s guns against the rebelling people.

In Tunisia, where the Arab uprising began, the army has so far stayed admirably neutral. But in other Arab states now seething with rebellion – Egypt, Algeria, Yemen, Morocco, Libya – there may be no such reservations. Their ruthless security forces and military could quickly crush the uprisings unless the soldiers refuse to shoot down their own people – as happened in Moscow in 1991.

Washington is watching this growing intifada in its Middle East Raj with alarm and confusion. Ignore the Obama administration’s hypocritical platitudes about Middle East "democracy". All of the authoritarian Arab rulers now under siege by their people have been armed, financed and supported for decades by the US. Only in the Arab Gulf oil states is there real stability and genuine government concern for citizens’ welfare.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urges "restraint" on both sides. One supposes she means those being beaten by clubs, or tortured by electric drills must show proper restraint. Egypt, as this column has long said, is a ticking bomb. Half of 85 million Egyptians subsist below the UN’s US$2 daily poverty level.

Hosni Mubarak has ruled Egypt with an iron fist since 1981. All opposition to his regime has been crushed. But now Mubarak’s time may be running out. Nobel-prize laureate Mohammed al-Baradei has returned to Egypt to challenge Mubarak and his designated successor, son, Gamal. Arab league chief Amr Moussa may also move against Mubarak.

Washington has previously lauded Mubarak for "wise leadership" and "stability". The US pays Egypt over US$2 billion annually not to confront Israel, to jail Islamists, and to keep Hamas in the open air prison of Gaza. The US Congress provides half of Egypt’s food. Since Israel effectively controls the US Congress, Israel exercises extraordinary influence over Egypt.

So far, none of the intifadas across the Arab world have produced effective leadership. But this could soon change.

Now, thanks to the bombshell "Palestinian Papers" leaked to Al-Jazeera, Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority has been exposed as an eager collaborator with Israel and its West Bank occupation. The endless Israeli-Palestinian "peace talks" are shown to be a total fraud. Israel’s Mossad and its Palestinian Quislings have worked closely to destroy the democratically elected Hamas government in Gaza.

We also learn from these papers that in 2008, US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice proposed shipping millions of Palestinian refugees to Latin America. This after Israel, financed by the US, imported one million Russian settlers, many of them not even Jewish. One is reminded of British proposals in the 1930’s to move Germany’s endangered Jews to Kenya.

This was Washington’s modern version of US-taxpayer financed ethnic cleansing of Muslims and Christians.
The "Palestinian Papers" and Wikileaks show the US government often indistinguishable from Israel, and at all times taking Israel’s side. So much for being an honest-broker.

The US-Israeli backed Palestinian Authority has lost its last shreds of credibility. This news will surely fan the flames spreading across the Arab and greater Muslim world as their peoples realise the full extent of the betrayal of the Palestinians.

These dramatic events are poorly understood by most North Americans. The US and Canadian media frame news of the regional intifada in terms of the so-called war on terror, and a false choice between dictatorial "stability" and Islamic political extremism. Much of what’s happening is seen through Israel’s eyes, and is badly distorted.

Platitudes aside, there is little concern in the US about bringing real democracy and modern society in the Arab world. Washington wants obedience, not pluralism, in its Middle East Raj. As with the British Empire, democracy at home is fine but it’s not right for the nations of the Arab world.

Eric S. Margolis is an award-winning, internationally syndicated columnist, writing mainly about the Middle East and South Asia. Comments: letters@thesundaily.com

1 comment:

  1. True, US hegemony wants obedience, not pluralism, in its Middle East Raj. As with the British Empire, democracy at home is fine but it’s not right for the nations of the Arab world.

    Wake up Arab world and change, depend US or British aid is not the solution!