Epidemic of turmoil in Arab world
These days history has taken such a sharp turn in the Arab World that it was the least expected and all explanations as to what caused this change like a one play drama will at present be nothing but guesses. I am reminded of what Khawaja Shahbuddin, then Ambassador to Saudi Arabia had written in one of his reports “ The scene in Arab world changes like sand dunes in the desert. However, the Arab world would never be the same again No one could foresee that it was coming, so suddenly and the leadership in most of Arab world would collapse like a house of cards, leaving a vacuum in leadership . What has happened, are foreign forces behind this historic collapse , or has it happened partly itself and partly by foreign machinations ? These are many questions which remain to be answered, may be at some time in future.
However, it seems to be an oversimplification that all this turmoil is caused by a wave of democracy sweeping through the Arab world. It could be much more complex what led to this “revolution”. Three internal causes for the “revolution” in the Arab World are: one that the long reining rulers had become highly unpopular for different reasons but not that suddenly one day the Arab masses discovered the virtues of democracy like on one call they woke up demanding democracy.
Two, the corruption or habit to amassing wealth of rulers which has become a common feature of Muslim ruling elite. Imagine the wealth they amassed runs into huge two figure billions of dollars. They forgot the old lesson for rulers taught by Aristotle, Plato and even Arab political writers that Rulers should not become businessmen; thirdly rulers’ total subservience to America and pro-Israel policies had for example had made Mubarak highly unpopular among the masses. And his brutal suppression of Ikhwan, and rigging of elections against this new wave in Egypt.
The turmoil started with Tunisia. Tunisia is the dyed in wool Francophone country Presiden Zeinel Abadin’s corrupt regime in terms of bribe and money making had earned the notoriety that surfaced too suddenly. In addition, Tunisians were too much dubbed in French values and culture. Perhaps in Tunisia’s low middle classes it was being resented that Islamic values were being pushed into the background taking a secondary place to French-ness. Perhaps there was an assertive tiny remnant of Islamic values in the lower classes, while middle class had ceased to be Islamic. One does not know to what extent there was a competition between Islamic values and French culture in Tunisia. Perhaps the Islamist were against westernization of their society. There could be rival claims in Tunisia between Reformists and Islamists under the surface.
Anyway this is the golden opportunity for many a modern Lawrences of Arabia. Western powers are openly supporting the turmoil in the Arab World , for example in Egypt the Americans openly supported ouster of Hosni Mubarak although he was a totally pliant to American wishes and bend to Israeli requirements Perhaps the American wanted that a new rule replace Hosni Mubark before the Ikhwan take to the streets againt him. But these two personalities mentioned as likely candidates to be new Egypt’s Presidents are Amr Mousa at present Arab League’s secretary general, a moderate Arabist-as I knew him during my ambassadorship in Cairo , when he was Director of International Organisations in the Egyptian Foreign Ministry, and Baraderi the former IAEA boss. Nonetheless it must be said that Egypt is a highly evolved society and it would be next to impossible to turn it into a client state.
Its highly learned and expert leadership, and the pride of six thousand year old civilizational heritage do not make Egypt a pliant state. Leadership of the Arab world finally rests with Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Prince Abdullah Al-Saud is a great leader and Saudi Arabia is considerably responsive to the economic needs of its people. Revising the ruling system can create stability in Saudi Arabia.
Egypt and Saudi Arabia are two countries which could still provide social and intellectual leadership to the Arab world in its present state of affairs.
Was this coup on Arab history planned or happened accidentally? It seems most unusual if t happened unplanned, although many questions remain unanswered if it happened sui generis However, the western world is trying its best and would try its best to control or direct the turmoil to channels which would change if wishes were horses the Arab world by first toppling any Arab leader of whom they wish to throw in the dustbin. US and France are blatantly going after Ghaddafi’s blood. There can be much truth in Ghaddafi’s claim that France has imported Niger and Chadian soldiers to fight against him. The correct course in the situation in Libya would have been to let the Libyan decide the fate of their Ghaddafi led rule. But US and now France have in violation of international law and customs moved directly to topple Ghaddafi. The modern Lawrences of Arabia are busy in chisslng out a new Arab world as they wish. A much bigger character than the old Lawrence, like Sarkozi and the infamous neo-imperialist caucus the NATO are involved in Libya openly and surreptitiously in the Arab world.
The Western world, US and NATO in particular have now two objectives in view in chiseling the new Arab World. One that the Arab League emerge as a Western tool in their hands. The old assertive Arab League was a pain in their neck. This hope is not likely to materialize even if in the interim period a softer Arab League may take shape but it would be only for an interim period. The Arab issues which under Hosni Mubarak had been pushed under the rug are bound to resurface as new forces might be more assertive “under a democratic system” . The Arab issues remain unresolved particularly the Palestinian problem and the place of Israel in the Arab world in post Mubarak period. Emergence of Israel as a “super Power” in the Middle East after 1973 War is an issue and might not be pushed back again. Ikhwan and Islamist forces are likely to emerge stronger under “democratic” system.
US –NATO would wish Islamic forces to be suppressed by their progenies in the new Arab leadership. This might take place in the immediate future in interim period only but this issue is not likely to remain dormant as the Arab masses recover from the turmoil.
What will happen in the next couple of years will determine the shape of new Arab World. It is not easy to predict what shape it will take place, more if Arab world is ruled by democratic systems. Possibly the client rules are likely to come to an end.