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Where might the 'wrong track' lead?

By Alan Hart - posted Tuesday, 22 March 2011

In the early days of the demonstrations of people power on Arab streets it could have been said (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 basis. But...

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.


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.”

IFthe 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 U.S.’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).

Question: Where does the wrong track that Qaddafi, the Saudis, the Bahraini’s 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).

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About the Author

Alan Hart has been engaged with events in the Middle East and their global consequences and terrifying implications for nearly 40 years, starting as a correspondent for ITNs News At Ten and the BBCs Panorama programme (covering wars and conflicts wherever they were taking place in the world). He is the author of Zionism: The real enemy of the Jews

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