THE BLOG

When an Arab Spring Is Neither

When it comes to religion and politics, the Western mind understandably shifts to a high pitch of anxiety and fear of theocracy. The theocentric Muslim East, on the other hand, has no experience of theocracies and is thus astounded by the West's overreaction to the role of religion in socio-political discourse and perceives Western agenda as anti-Islamic. Misconceptions and projections across this cultural divide have been as true in colonial times as they have become evident in the Arab Spring.

The zephyr and sirocco bore the tidings of the advent of an Arab Spring, where the garden democracy would rival the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, where constitutions would be drafted to model the Cyrus Cylinder, and new governments would replicate the pluralism of the first Republic of Medina. A year and a half later the prospects of that vernal efflorescence seem grim at best.

The West's fear of political Islam harkens to colonial times when popular resistance in the Muslim world often morphed into religious struggles against 'the new Crusaders.' The West still resents political Islam as a unifying force where their interests are in conflict, as it projects its fears onto the politics of every country in turmoil, directly and through local power brokers, denying the legitimate demands of the people of the Arab Middle East at every turn.

EGYPT
An Arab Spring is neither Arab nor a spring when the thunderous call in Cairo's Tahrir Square demands an end to six decades of political suppression, and Washington 'recommends' a slow and gradual transition. When Mubarak fell, Omar Suleiman, the CIA's top man in Cairo took command of the Egyptian military that remained in charge.

The fallen dictator's shadow lingered on as his cronies tried to undermine the revolution and at the behest of the West provoked fear of religious strife and extremism in an attempt to implicate the Muslim Brotherhood in a complicity. The Muslim Brotherhood didn't take the bait and stayed on the sideline in the initial stage of the revolution, but won the majority of seats in the parliamentary elections.

Mubarak's cronies in the military supreme council and the supreme constitutional court continued to intervene in the political process under the mantle of authority by arbitrarily disqualifying presidential candidates who would not do their bidding. The last remaining candidate of the Muslim Brotherhood, however, still managed to finish in the top in the first round of presidential elections nonetheless.

This latest shenanigans by the Egyptians military dissolved the democratically elected parliament leaving Egypt without a parliament and without a constitution that could counterbalance the military and keep it in check. This 'coup with a legal framework' has been a desperate last minute attempt to deny the Muslim Brotherhood a presidential victory in addition to their parliamentary majority.

When militarists become the architects of democracy, something is seriously awry.

YEMEN
When the call for an end to the three decades of nepotism and corruption in Yemen turns into an armed struggle, but when the dictator president Saleh who is wounded, the Saudis and the U.S. come to his rescue rather than the peoples.' The dictator is rehabilitated and re-imposed on the people of Yemen and was replaced only as a last ditch effort by his right hand man Al-Hadi as the new president in February 2012 when the U.S. ambassador, Gerald Feierstein, attending 'the transition' commented, "I think anyone sitting here today knows that real change happened."

The U.S. maintains the status quo because the corrupt regime labels the legitimate opposition as Al Qaeda triggering U.S. drone strikes causing more and more Yemenis to hate America and join radical militants. As Robert Grenier, the former head of the C.I.A.'s counterterrorism center recently told Ibrahim Mothana that the American drone program in Yemen risks turning the country into a safe haven for Al Qaeda: "But rather than winning the hearts and minds of Yemeni civilians, America is alienating them by killing their relatives and friends. Indeed, the drone program is leading to the Talibanization of vast tribal areas and the radicalization of people who could otherwise be America's allies in the fight against terrorism in Yemen."

The Yemenis pay the price so that President Obama can deflect the Republican soft-on-defense charge. Obama is obsessively engaged in creating more enemies abroad than creating jobs at home -- a replay of "It's the economy, Stupid."

LIBYA
An Arab Spring is neither when the four decades of suppression in Libya boils over and France denies Gaddafi a peaceful exit and instead calls for his prosecution by the International Criminal Court because Sarkozy wants to avenge Gaddafi's cancellation of a 6-billion dollar arms deal with France. With his back to the wall, Gaddafi vows to fight to the end. On the insistence of Paris and Washington, NATO intervenes turning a legitimate revolution into a lingering civil war.

BAHRAIN
When Bahrain's revolution of the suppressed majority was crushed by an outright Saudi military intervention, the crackdown included the prosecution and torture of peaceful protestors. The government's claim that the legitimate protest was a sectarian rebellion supported by Iran was enough to draw the U.S. to its side. The government in Manama targeted its Shi'i citizens for punishment by destroying their places of worship.

The sham of reforms that were announced were never implemented. Human Rights First and other international human rights organizations were expelled so that the government could arraign the opposition with impunity. The government even prosecuted some 20 Bahraini medics for treating the injured protestors sentencing them to terms of up to five years in prison -- never mind the principle of the Hippocratic Oath. The government in Bahrain refuses to listen to international calls for reform and has ignored the a-nod-and-a-wink U.S. demand of a fair trial.

SYRIA
An Arab Spring is neither when due to the West's complacency in the Libyan crisis, sympathizers of another suppressed majority in Syria are holding back their support for fear that a Western military intervention will scuttle another legitimate revolution.

James P. Rubin addresses the possibility of a U.S. intervention in Syria, in Foreign Policy that has been summed up by Michel Chossudovsky in Global Research: "Coming to the rescue of the Syrian people" under a fake "humanitarian" R2P (responsibility to protect) mandate is intended to destabilize Syria, weaken Iran and enable Israel to exert greater political control and influence over neighboring Arab states including Lebanon and Syria."

Stalling the Arab Spring is a recipe for disaster. Instead of projecting fears of a popular uprising simply because they are theocentric, the West as the beacon of democracy should side with the people precisely because Islamist parties are participating in the political process. If we deny them the opportunity for legitimate political participation in government, they are more likely to come to power through violence. If they couldn't run a government effectively and efficiently, they will be voted out of office, just like the dictators who were overthrown in spite of the U.S. support.

U.S. opposition to democratic change during the critical junctures of the Arab Spring flies in the face of President Obama's call on the Arab Middle East to democratize from within, rather than through the neo-con's regime change interventionism. This conflict of interest robs the Arab revolutions of their legitimacy turning the Arab Spring into a fall of fallacy.

Subscribe to the World Post email.