Possible Consequences If Arab Revolutions Are Put Out
by Dictatorial Regimes
By Alan Hart
Redress, Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, March 21, 2011
Where might the “wrong track”
Possible consequences if “Arab spring” becomes “Arab winter”
Alan Hart considers what might happen if repressive Arab regimes,
such as Libya’s Mu’ammar Gaddafi and the Saudi and Bahraini royal families,
succeed in putting out the flames of freedom in their countries.
In the early days of the demonstrations of people power on Arab streets
it could have been said (and some did say) that they were a huge setback for
all the various forces of violent Islamic extremism. This because the
demonstrations, in Egypt especially, seemed to be sending a clear signal
that change could be brought about by peaceful means on a non-sectarian
With Qaddafi at (more or less) one edge of the Arab world
slaughtering his own people and the Saudi regime at the other edge closing
down all possible room for dissent internally and then moving forces into
Bahrain to assist the brutal suppression of those demonstrating for change
there, the signal is not so clear.
Incidentally, I don’t believe
Qaddafi is “mad”. I think he is quite clever and very cunning in a
Zionist-like way, and was always prepared to stop at nothing to keep himself
and his family in power. The single word I’d use to describe him is evil.
I imagine he knew better than anybody else that his statement about his
people loving him and being prepared to die for him was complete and utter
rubbish. (“B.S” as President Carter once said in another context). But I
also imagine Qaddafi calculated that such a statement would cause many
correspondents not only to laugh but to write him off as nuts and therefore
a leader who could be removed without too much more mayhem. And that, he
probably also calculated, would give him more time to organize those of his
army units he could rely on and his mercenaries for a counter-offensive to
crush the rebels for freedom.
“...Saudi Arabia’s rulers made no secret of their
displeasure with Obama for what they regarded as his failure
to use America’s influence with Egypt’s generals to keep
Mubarak in power."
I thought Frank Gardner, the BBC’s security correspondent, was spot on
with his first comments after Saudi Arabia’s reinforcement of Bahrain’s
military. Drawing off four years experience of living in Bahrain, he said:
“The Bahraini royal family has squandered chances for dialogue over many
years. Now it’s too late.”
If the Obama administration is to be believed, it didn’t have
advance notice of the Saudi move. That suggests there might now be some
serious tension in the US’s special relationship with Riyadh. What could be
the real cause of it?
Through officials if not directly, Saudi Arabia’s rulers made no secret
of their displeasure with Obama for what they regarded as his failure to use
America’s influence with Egypt’s generals to keep Mubarak in power. (I
wonder if it bothered Saudi royals that keeping Mubarak in power would have
required Egypt’s generals to do a Qaddafi and slaughter their own people?)
My guess is that the present masters of the House of Saud have said to
themselves something very like the following: “We can’t rely on Obama. He
cut Mubarak loose and he’ll do the same to us if he continues his embrace
with what he calls ‘universal values’. Our survival is now dependent on what
we do, not what Obama wants.”
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
was right when she said in an interview with CBS that the Gulf states were
on the “wrong track” in sending troops to Bahrain. She added: “We find
what's happening in Bahrain alarming. We think there is no security answer
to the aspirations and demands of the demonstrators.” (It’s also true that
there’s no security answer to the aspirations and demands of the occupied
and dispossessed Palestinians.)
“... if corrupt and repressive Arab regimes are prepared
to be brutal enough, and even to commit war crimes against
their own people ... they may buy themselves some more
Question: Where does the wrong track that Qaddafi, the Saudis, the
Bahrainis and other autocratic Arab leaders and regimes are on lead to?
It seems to me there are two possible answers.
One, as Zionism has demonstrated in its own context, is that if corrupt
and repressive Arab regimes are prepared to be brutal enough, and even to
commit war crimes against their own people (as I believe Qaddafi and the
Bahrainis with Saudi complicity are doing), they may buy themselves some
more survival time. But brutal repression will ultimately be
counter-productive and feed the fire of Arab rage. In this scenario the
regimes of a corrupt and repressive Arab order are committing suicide, and
change with a democratic face will come. The Arab peoples will be liberated
from their own tyrants. Arab Spring becomes Arab Summer.
In the other possible scenario, Arab Spring becomes Arab Winter. This
because autocratic and repressive Arab leaders and regimes succeed (with
America’s secret and unspeakable blessing?) in reconstructing the walls of
fear which until the start of this year imprisoned their own peoples. In
this scenario the main beneficiaries are most likely to be Al-Qaeda and Co.
(my shorthand for violent Islamic extremism in all of its forms).
am not suggesting that Arab peoples who have been demonstrating
peacefully for change will give their active allegiance and support in great
numbers to Islamic groups and organizations which preach the need for and
practise violence. I mean only that the re-suppressed rage, despair and loss
of Arab hope for something much better will create environments in which
violent Islamic extremism can take roots and grow. To understand why, it is
necessary to have some idea of the essence of how terrorism can be defeated.
“... re-suppressed rage, despair and loss of Arab hope
for something much better will create environments in which
violent Islamic extremism can take roots and grow.”
Terrorists cannot operate, not
for long, without the cover and the practical, emotional and moral
support of the community of which they are a part. When that community
perceives itself to be the victim of a massive injustice, and if that
injustice is not addressed by political means, the community will cover,
condone and even applaud the activities of those of its own who resort
to terror as the only means of drawing attention to the injustice, to
cause it to be addressed. It follows that the way to defeat terrorism -
the only successful and actually proven way – is by addressing the
genuine and legitimate grievances of the host community. The
community will then withdraw its cover and support for its terrorists;
and if they continue to try to operate, the community will oppose them
by exposing them –- reporting them to the authorities if reasoning
As I go on to say, there are many case studies to support that analysis.
In Northern Ireland, for example, the British Army did not defeat
Provisional IRA terrorism. The terrorists called off their campaign when
they had no choice - because the Catholic host community would not cover and
support them any longer. And that happened only because the British
government summoned up the will, about half a century later than it
should have done, to risk the wrath of militant Protestantism by
insisting that the legitimate grievances of the Catholics of Northern
Ireland be addressed.
Modify and apply that to the Arab world if
autocratic and repressive leaders and regimes manage to cling on to power by
ever more brutal repression and you can understand why Secretary of State
Clinton and her boss are alarmed (they damn well should be!) by what is
A previous article of mine was headlined Could pariah status spell
the end for Zionism? A possible alternative headline for this article
is Could pariah status spell the end for autocratic, corrupt and
repressive Arab leaders and regimes?
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