Is Saudi Arabia Next?


Smoke_rising_from_the_Grand_Mosque,_Mecca,_1979.JPG

The Gulf countries, to some extent, initiated quick reforms to avoid the domino effect of the Arab Spring.

Reminiscent of the Age of Metternich in Europe, when serious efforts to revolutionize the continent were being suppressed.

Revolution often has little idea of the future, but this weakness is exploited by existing orders to maintain the “status quo”. The divisions between revolutionaries, usually ideologically, lead to fragmentation. Sometimes, revolutions become themselves suppressive, as with far left or far right ideologies in Europe, the Far East and Latin America.

Ironically, the Arab Spring affected only the nations with little economic influence in the region. If the Arab World has a list of grievances, it would be safe to assume that economic misery is atop the list, along with cultural and political factors. Involvement by foreign countries further complicates the dynamic.

How could the Arab Spring miss the Gulf countries? Why did it not sweep Lebanon? Why were the results overturned quickly in Egypt?

All of these are important questions. Many of the leaders that were overthrown in the Arab World over the last two decades, including Saddam, Gaddafi, Mubarak and Morsi deserved their fate, perhaps. But two forces plague the Middle East – robust capitalism in the Gulf and authoritarianism and sectarianism in the Levant and North Africa. This dynamic of persistent monarchism and militarized statism have together, produced disaster. But how can such polarized forces, like the two aforementioned, which are ideologically diametrically opposed, share the feature of tyranny? This forces analysis to focus on external factors.

The most crucial piece of the Arab political puzzle is the Gulf region, because economically, it preserves the economic capacity necessary for sustaining and developing the entire Middle East. Patronage and nepotism have disenfranchised the average person from the political and thus, economic processes. Religious and family bonds infiltrate policy, and result in corruption and economic misery.

The Gulf is aptly supported by America. Israel too.

Is it possible that both economic, social and political development are lagging then not only as a result of Arab tyranny, but the American involvement which secures it?

Placing the blame on external forces is an easy and common trend, particularly in the Middle East where a factual history of foreign conspiracies confirmed societal paranoias towards the US and Europe.

Both the conflicts in Iraq and Syria were US-led initiatives, really. But genuine reform in the Middle East cannot take place without reform in the crux of the puzzle – the Gulf. If violent insurgencies persist, will they eventually realize their greatest obstacle is not the enemy of the US, Assad and Iran, but rather, the enemy of the Arab World, which is the greediness which permeates the Gulf?

Nationalism in the Middle East: Iran, Syria, and the West


In the days of President Harry Truman, relations between the United States and the Middle East weren’t so sour.

In 1952, everything changed.

The United Kingdom was planning to depose the newly democratically elected prime minister of Iran: Prime Minister Mossadegh. He is the man seated in the photograph above.

Mossadegh had quickly become the archenemy of the UK.

Tensions worsened when he began making calls for the nationalization of Iranian oil.  For so long, foreign nations, or colonialists, as they were called, had been exploiting the Iran’s vast oil wealth, leaving the majority of the population extremely impoverished (All the Shah’s Men, Kinzer).

Through the sly tactics of English government officials,  the United Kingdom convinced the Americans to tag along. The key word was communism, which was all the Americans needed to hear.

After the Cold War however, it became increasingly clear that communism was not the threat. It was a much deeper issue.

For centuries, the West exploited countries for their resources. Nations like Iran, Syria, and countries outside the Middle East like Venezuela and Cuba, did not embrace communism simply to spite the West. On the contrary, they were doing the exact opposite. Iranians and Syrians alike began making the same demands that their American counterparts made in their early history – that they be granted the right to collect the fruits of their labor and to profit off the wealth of their natural resources. Both of these demands are fundamental principles of free market economics.

Ironically though, the U.K., with the help of the U.S., did what ever they could to prevent these countries from doing just that. They did this by conducting covert coup d’etats and assassinations. They financed monarchies and even bribed foreigners to stir uprisings in their own countries (All the Shah’s Men, Kinzer).

What is even more ironic is that the countries stirring these uprisings, namely the U.K. and the U.S., tout Western principles of freedom and democracy, while, simultaneously, investing in movements led by Islamic fundamentalists and tyrannical monarchies abroad.

In Iran, for example, one Islamic cleric turned against the popularly elected leader Prime Minister Mossadegh. A day later he received $10,000 from the CIA.

Incidents like these are scattered throughout the twentieth century. They only serve to illuminate the truth behind the politics of the Middle East. Even more so, they force me to question the current chaos gripping the Middle East today.

I ask myself questions like, who is behind these Arab protests? Are they really genuine? And why are countries like Saudi Arabia not being scrutinized for their brutal suppression of pro-democracy protests in Bahrain?

Perhaps it is for the same reason that the U.K. orchestrated the coup d’etat against Prime Minister Mossadegh in 1952 – to preserve their grasp on the oil wealth of the Middle East.

Syria vs. the Arab League


A League of despots, clerics, and Kings has taken it upon itself to be the harbinger of justice in the Middle East.

According to a New York Times article by Neil MacFarquhar and Nada Bakri, the Arab League made the claim that it does not intend to depose the Assad Regime.

Instead, the Arab League hopes that by implementing economic sanctions against Syria, the Assad Regime will falter, more soldiers will defect, and the elite business class will distance itself further from the government.

The article also suggests that the Arab League does not support foreign intervention in Syria.

In a quote taken from the NY Times article, a Lebanese analyst stated:

“In the war against Syria, the economic will take the place of the limited possibility of military intervention.”

In direct contradiction of that proposition, however, Qatari minister Sheik Hamad said that if the international community does not take the Arab League’s initiative seriously, he cannot promise that there will be no foreign interference.

Keep in mind that the Arab League endorsed a full fledged invasion of Libya by NATO forces.

Furthermore, the Arab League believes that economic sanctions are in the interests of the Syrian people, for whom it suddenly cares, as opposed the Bahrainis who are apparently a few degrees below human.

But the following line from the New York Times article suggests otherwise:

“I think it is time the world realized that economic sanctions are not affecting anyone but the Syrian people,” said a 23-year old Damascus resident who did not want to be identified for fear of reprisal. “Those who couldn’t afford buying bread, now can’t afford even smelling bread.”

The questions posing us now are, what are the interests of the Arab League? Why do they suddenly want to be directly involved in altruistic endeavors? Furthermore, why have we not heard more on the brutal massacre of Bahraini protesters by the Saudi-backed Bahraini royal family?

Contradictions, hypocrisy, religion, and money – sounds like a perfect recipe for Middle Eastern chaos to me.

—————————————————————————————————————–

In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own.

-Thomas Jefferson, letter to Horatio G. Spafford, March 17, 1814