The Arab Spring: Legit or Not?


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The question of whether or not the Arab Spring is a legitimate movement against corruption and tyranny requires addressing the following assumptions regarding the culture of the Middle East as well as the nature of democracy as a political philosophy; and the credibility of global power like the US, Europe, Russia & China in policing the world and/or crusading for democracy.

Obviously we cannot throw all uprisings in the Middle East into one category because each country is different culturally and circumstantially. The main scene of protest in the Middle East in what would be called the Arab Spring includes Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Syria & Bahrain. It wasn’t much before the Arab Spring when the Lebanese people orchestrated a one-million man protest in Beirut which would eventually force the Syrian government to withdraw completely.

Protests also erupted in neighboring countries of influence and significance, namely Iran & Turkey.

Some might argue the Arab spring inspired movements in Brazil, Venezuela, Cuba & Ukraine where extreme forces are already threatening to take grip — amidst uncertainty and the vulnerable state of a country during a transitional phase of government.

As I stated before each of these countries is different. The type of reforms necessary, the culture of the people, the grievances of the people. They are not all the same. What was common among all participants of the Arab Spring was a sense of discontent with the social, political and economic conditions of the Arab people. But what exactly is the cause of the misery of the Arab people? Is it the tyranny of their own governments, or the tyranny of global powers?

Take a look at Syria for example, where the government has been ruled by a close-knit group of Assad-sympathizers. 75% of the Syrian population is Sunni, which has remained largely unrepresented in the political and economic aspects of Syrian life. The Alawites, a minority religious sect of Shiite Islam, have been largely in control of the political process in Syria, operating from the stronghold of Damascus. Despite disparaties between the elite rich and the impoverished lower classes, largely Sunni, the majority of Syrians were content with their state of affairs. The irony is that it was the Alawites who were disenfranchised from Syrian society before the coup which ushered in the presidency of Hafez al-Assad in 1970. The Alawites were regarded as heretics and second class citizens. It was Assad’s rise to prominence which elevated their social status, seen by many Syrians as their way of avenging their history of oppression. The Correction Movement, initiated by the Assad government, aimed to socialize the Syrian economy and redistribute wealth more fairly so as to guarantee universal prosperity. The outcome? While major advancements were made on a national level in terms of infrastructure and self-sustenance, the economy was largely controlled by the Assad government. How was this different from the Sultan-esque elitist economic model that ruled Syria prior to Assad’s Corrective Movement? Similar efforts were attempted in the realm of Socialism in Egypt and Libya for example, by Gamal Abd Nasser & Muammar al-Gaddafi, respectively. All three of this historic figures were regarded as threats to global hegemonies and the tradition of capitalism which had been the foundation of the international political system for centuries. None of their socialist policies brought openness and prosperity to the economy except for those in power, essentially just fortifying the system of stagnation in place before.

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Assumption: democracy is the universal road to justice; democracy is compatible with Arab & Muslim society; democracy is a guaranteer of social equality; that the global police actually exhibit democracy.

Has there ever been a democracy? Is the US a real democracy? The French Revolution was hijacked too. Instead of ushering in what was supposed to be individual rights we went from tyranny of the pride to tyranny of the revenge. The American Revolution ushered in the first real modern attempt at democracy to ensure the rights of individuals socially, economically and politically. But how could the US be a democracy if it for 200 years deprived all African-Americans of basic, necessary human rights? Today immigrants, gays, muslims, arabs, atheists, jews and still African-Americans, are the subject of unequal treatment.

Even in the far east, in Russia for example, the public attempt to collective reform Russian society was another revolution hijacked by yet another pseudo-science: Communism. Communism merely strengthened the hold of elitism by placing control in the hands of a political party and cult of personality versus a family or royal name as had been before.

Thanks to movements by honorable leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. the US has made great strides towards a more democratic society; however the 21st century has revealed that 200 years of human rights abuses have consequences that are still to be seen. I am referring to the corruption of the justice and prison systems as well as police brutality and disparaging inequalities in income. The 21st century also ushered in the Arab Spring. In the case of Tunisia, I would say the movement succeeded. In the case of Egypt, Libya & Syria, it is not the same. Syria has become the battleground for the war against fundamentalism as well as a proxy war against Israeli expansionism. The rise of Islamic fundamentalism as well as failure on the international community to realize the human rights of the Arab World, most importantly Palestine, contributed to the hijacking of what was supposed to be an Arab Spring towards democracy.

But who is to blame? Assad of Syria? Sisi of Egypt? Gaddafi of Libya? The US? The West? Russia & China? Religious fanaticism? Israeli expansionism? Colonialism?

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I am sure all of these forces contributed. But as stated before each country is different. In Syria, the people are not as upset with their government as they are with the international community’s silence of the crimes of colonial entities such as Israel. Perhaps this is why Assad has yet to dissolve his government; perhaps his claim that the Syrian people remain united has some validity. It is true, that neither Syria, Libya nor Egypt have progressed towards democracy economically, politically or socially…but to place the blame entirely on Arab leaders is misguided. Furthermore, it is a way of stereotyping…typecasting all Arab national grievances as similar in motive. The West was keen on insisting that Assad leave early on in the conflict. The tone has changed.

Perhaps the Arab Spring did not die. Perhaps the Arab Spring is still alive; but, despite what the media might suggest; that the revolution has in fact another target — not our own Arab leaders — but the dismantling of the expansionist, colonialist apartheid regime of Israel, which has occupied Palestine and destabilized the Middle East for a half-century now, spurring the rise of terrorism and instability in the region.

As pro-Western Arab allies like the King of Jordan and the new Saudi King Salman scurry to improve their reputations; other Arab nations are more keen are continuing the initiative that was begun by the earliest of Arab independence movements that unfolded in the mid-twentieth century against the colonial powers of France and the UK.

Democracy is certainly the end goal of all nations. But the irony which surrounded America’s non democratic history forces us to realize the possibility (and likely reality) that the Arabs are victims of non-democratic tyranny, largely supported and facilitated by Western governments, in the interests of none other than the apartheid regime of Israel, the supposed only ‘democracy in the Middle East’. How can an apartheid government, a theocracy, serve as a role model for democracy? How can a country which tortures men women and children, razes homes, propagates religious extremism and exclusivity, encourages conformity, suppress individuality and human rights, be considered a beacon of democracy?

The real Arab Spring is a continuation of the more genuine revolutionary initiative of the earlier Arab independence movements of the twentieth century. We cannot allow our dignity and revolutionary spirit to be easily hijacked by extremists and elitists. Let us remember who the occupying and oppressive power really is, and the techniques of mainstream media outlets in distorting reality and history.

The miserable conditions of Arab States cannot be addressed or solved until the cause is exposed and removed. Let us not compromise our dignity, loyalty, community and humility for the sake of the instant gratification of temporary and illusory solutions.

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AIPAC’s grip on US – tightening or loosening?


AIPAC’s grip on US – tightening or loosening?


Politics is so disturbing. I just watched a video of what is the alleged assassination of a politically active religious figure in Syria and it disturbed me. I am still uncomfortable. How could such things be perpetrated without justification? Murder and crime are being perpetrated by so many forces in the world and everybody responsible, every person or faction or force that is responsible is always painting pictures to justify it. Why is there injustice in the world, and how is it so well covered up?


Imposing democracy is not only an oxymoron; it doesn’t work, and it usually stems from an underlying conspiracy of colonial ambitions.

when all the stars align


it’s perfect.

 

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.

Iran & the West: The Showdown Continues Part II


Recently, a close friend of mine sent me an article about Iran and its deteriorating relationship with the West. The following is an excerpt from that article.

Notwithstanding these setbacks, Khamenei remains steadfast. Preserving the ideological order of the Islamic Republic is more important for the supreme leader than crossing the nuclear Rubicon. For a leader who, in the words of John Milton, prefers “to reign in hell than serve in heaven,” surrender is political suicide. In the eyes of this custodian of political Islam, surrounded by a culture of complacency and mendacity, a Pyrrhic victory is divine providence.

Against this backdrop, Washington’s belief in the ability of sanctions to curtail Tehran’s atomic ambitions proves credulous. Iran’s nuclear defiance is ideological and thus cannot be resolved by coercion. Rather than repeating the failed policy of pushing the supreme leader into a corner, the Obama administration should aim for piecemeal solutions that would allow for a face-saving compromise. The goal should be to decelerate Iran’s perilous nuclear activities and put it under rigorous international monitoring until cooler heads prevail in Tehran.

In response, I said the following:

 Very interesting. I think this approach is better than what a Republican approach would be. Still, I fear that sanctions will exacerbate things. I think fear is still being used to convince people that Iran is a threat, the same way the public was convinced that Iraq was a threat. To be honest, I think that if a country threatens U.S. Corporate interests – not government interests; those are very different – it automatically becomes categorized as a “nuclear” threat. This is the only way to garner enough public support to ensure that a foreign endeavor is not met with public outrage.

What are your thoughts?

Is Iran really a direct threat to the U.S., or is Modern Iran simply responding to centuries of imperialism that took the country back to the Middle Ages?