Category Archives: Global/World Issues
Now that the world is once again riveted to the Mid-East, it is time to examine the drums of a more sinister conflict that has been beating there for some time now. I am talking of course about the escalating talks about a possible nuclear showdown between Iran and Israel. Let us start with some relatively open facts:
First, despite the hysteria whipped up by Israel to the contrary, Iran does not yet possess a nuclear weapon. However, this does not mean that the international community is too naïve to understand that Iran is actively pursuing that goal even though they have strenuously denied any intention of doing so.
Secondly, even though Israel is officially not counted or recognized as a nuclear state, anyone would be foolhardy to believe they do not have nuclear capability. Decades long military, economic and intelligence co-operation between Israel and the United States guarantees that the Jewish state is properly spoken for when the subject is nukes. Remember, US tax-payers give foreign aid to Israel to the tune of $3 billion every year. That is enough to help significantly boost her military—in fact Israel and Pakistan are the only countries in the region that ostensibly possess nuclear deterrence.
Lastly, in the mad jostle for military superiority in the Mideast, it is useful to remember that the majority of the Sunni Arab countries in the region harbor deep resentment and suspicion for both Israel and Iran. One is seen as an illegal occupier of Muslim lands and a front for Western imperialists; the other is viewed as a rising over-ambitious regional power (bully) and a possible military threat.
It is against this backdrop that one must carefully weigh these escalating calls for war from both sides of the aisle. If we go down memory lane, we realize that in June 1981 Israel unilaterally acted in attacking and destroying the Iraqi Osirak reactor believed at the time to have been put in place to aid Iraq get nuclear weapons. At the time, Israel was roundly rebuked by the UN Security Council, but that surprise attack critically damaged Iraq’s nuclear program and I do not think that they recovered from that blow ever again. When one sees how empty Saddam Hussein’s military boasts turned out to be during the second US-led invasion of Iraq, it would seem that the verdict of history has been that the Israel’s bold preventive strike was not altogether without great merit.
Now, we are entering the season of saber-rattling again. The leaders of both countries have openly entertained the prospect of war, and from their hard stances it is evident that each side believes that not only would their side emerge victorious in any possible military confrontation, a confrontation so specified may very well be nigh inevitable!
Each side has reasons to be super-confident I suppose:
i)Iran in recent years has increased her economic trade relations with Russia and China to the tune of over $3 billion every year. Since Iran is a strategic business and trade partner of these two countries, we have seen that Russia and China as permanent members of the UN Security Council have repeatedly come to the aid and defense of Iran against US-led acts of containment at the UN. It is even possible to imagine that were the US to carelessly wade into an armed conflict against Iran, the US would have to expect Russia and China to get into it. So, we have seen and heard Mahmoud Ahmadinejad cockily dismiss Israeli threats. This however does not mean that Russia and China are not carefully weighing their stance on the whole contentious issue of a nuclear-armed Iran and the possible nuclear race it could spark off in the Middle East.
ii)Israel, rightly or wrongly, believes that her continued existence depends upon Iran never getting a nuclear weapon. Many of the hardline clerics in Iran have openly stated that Israel has no right to exist in the Middle East, and I am sure the Israelis are taking their threats seriously. If we can extrapolate from the sentiments prevalent in Tehran, one might be led to conclude that a nuclear attack against Israel is indubitably in the works whenever Iran finally manages to join the nuclear club.
So, we find ourselves at a nervous impasse. The US does not have formal relations with Iran even though it is determined to see to it that Iran does not enrich uranium to make nuclear weapons. However, the US has been severely weakened militarily from two unfunded and perhaps needless wars in the region; as a matter of fact, she can scarcely afford a third war in the region against Iran in the midst of these current bleak and crippling economic downturns. However, it is easy to imagine that the US can easily wage a proxy war using Israel as her tool. The unfortunate thing for fanatically pro-Israel and neoconservative types who would doubtlessly wish to see that scenario come to pass is that the one man who could easily help to orchestrate this (his name is Obama) is firmly against it. Inasmuch as the Obama administration wants to be seen as friendly to the Jewish state, sources inside the White House have readily confirmed that the relationship between Obama and the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is far from gratuitously warm and cordial. It is perhaps because of Obama’s restraining influence on his Israeli partner, and his administration’s emphasis on sanctions and diplomacy, that the soaring rhetoric of war has not reached a deafening crescendo.
At this time, it would seem that Bibi Netanyahu and his counterpart Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are simply bidding their time as they wait to see the result of the oncoming US elections. I’d hate to say this, but my impression is that this is far from over. If Romney wins the election, the prospect of a US direct or proxy war against Iran exponentially increases; if Obama wins, the prospect of a nuclear armed Iran exponentially increases.
How best should this issue be handled? We’ll just have to wait and see.
Personally, I do not believe the baseless sexual assault charges thrown up against Julian Assange in order to silence him. Here is a man whose work in revealing some of the secret machinations of some governments, has served to show (in some graphic detail) the shocking extents that some highly placed government officials could go to in conducting their business. Whether the released memos were damning to the respective governments concerned is worthy of consideration, but of even graver concern is the legality or even moral soundness of the various actions secretly hatched and implemented by these affected governments. Wikileaks’ action in releasing hundreds of these classified government memos and the possible threat to national or regional security such actions could precipitate merit passionate debate and discussion, but I do not support the fierce and sustained attempts by shadowy figures to muzzle Julian Assange.
This persecution has to stop; these trumped up charges have to be decried. Having found nothing tangible with which to discredit Julian Assange and Wikileaks, they have resorted to the same well-worn smear tactics i.e sexual molestation and rape. Not surprisingly, two women have appeared out of the woodwork with sexual molestation claims. Suddenly, we are expected to believe that he sexually molested 2 women he had consensual sexual relations with for the ‘crime’ of failing to wear a condom on one occasion when the complainant requested it; and on another occasion for the ‘crime’ of having sex with her while she maintains she was asleep.
Were these women minors? Of course not. Could they have resisted Julian Assange and stopped the sexual intercourse if they really felt like they were being sexually molested? That is, when complainant 1 insisted that Assange should wear a condom and he made no apparent moves to do so, could she have ended that lovemaking session and walked away or else screamed for help? Of course she could; indeed, she would have gone to the authorities the next day to report the incident if she felt sexually violated. As for complainant 2 who claimed that she was sleeping at the time Assange supposedly had sex with her, it makes you wonder how on earth she knew what was going on if she was asleep. It also makes you wonder what sort of horrible rape scenario it really was when the supposed victim was comfortably and sleepily ensconced in her assailant’s bed! It gets ridiculous as you examine these charges. The very woman (complainant 1) who claimed that she was sexually molested on August 14, 2010, which day she claimed that Assange had sex with her without using a condom, happened to have met and had sexual relations with Assange again only 4 days later! On August 18, 2010, this time she maintains she was also sexually molested again somehow when Assange’s erect penis pressed against her body.
It is not surprising that Assange has dismissed these molestation accusations as baseless. But how will public opinion judge him? In western societies where allegations of rape are enough to ruin and discredit any man, how will Assange be viewed or dissected by the wider public? Is it possible that in order to turn the tide of public opinion against a man who has bravely fought titanic government figures and their allies by revealing highly-placed secret government machinations and subterfuge, some women who have had dealings with Assange could be manipulated or paid off to launch baseless accusations?
For months Julian Assange has been fighting extradition to Sweden for these accusations. He believes that the ultimate reason why he is being considered for extradition to Sweden is not really to answer to these allegations but so that he can eventually be handed over to the US authorities. One might consider his thinking paranoid, but given the dangerous nature of his job, especially the depths that could be sunk to punish a public whistleblower, one can appreciate his concern. If you can remember, the US considers Assange’s work in exposing hundreds of diplomatic government cables ‘treasonous’ even though Assange is not a citizen of the United States. However, he has thus far not been successful in completely stopping the extradition proceedings and is therefore due to be sent back to Sweden around the 28th of this month.
So what did a desperate Julian Assange do to forestall this possibility? Yesterday, he entered an Ecuadorian embassy in London, and sought political asylum. He considers himself rightly or wrongly as being persecuted and hounded for his investigative journalism. His actions in breaking pre-arranged protocol and seeking asylum in an Ecuadorian embassy before his court-delayed extradition date of June 28 are now described as ‘breaching bail’ and so, he is likely to be arrested eventually and extradited.
As I write, metropolitan police are camped around the embassy waiting to nab Assange if he ever steps foot outside the building whilst Ecuadorian authorities consider his request for political asylum in Ecuador.
Now, I suspect that in the coming days, following intense diplomatic pressure on Ecuador, they are going to decline Assange’s request for political asylum and then hand him over to the police. At any rate, what sort of drama is going to play out on the mean streets on London if for example Ecuador accepts Assange’s request and decides to whisk him away to Quito? Will we see a Hollywood-style clash of Ecuadorian mercenary forces with London’s metropolitan police as they engage each other in a hail of bullets while Assange, disguised no doubt, is ferried hurriedly to some undisclosed aircraft and hastily extracted out of the UK? One can only wish—but one has to just marvel at the absurdities going on.
Is Assange’s life in danger? If yes, where is the outrage of a concerned public for an individual’s personal freedom and his right to self-expression without being bullied by instruments of state? Where is the concern of fellow journalists that forces beyond Assange’s control might have conspired to silence a member of a supposedly free press? Sure, it is tempting to simply dismiss this with a wave of the hand whilst asking that Assange return to Sweden to clear himself of sexual molestation charges, but is there a bigger fish to fry here? I guess we’ll find out in the coming days……
Ding-dong, the tyrant of Libya is dead. It’s been a long time coming, but finally, the people of Libya can finally put the Gadhafi era behind them.
Longtime dictator of Libya, Muammar Gaddafi, has been killed following the capture of his hometown of Sirte.
There were confusing reports of Gaddafi’s capture and death, and questions remained over exactly how he was killed.
Arab broadcasters showed graphic images of the balding, goateed Gaddafi – wounded, with a bloodied face and shirt – but alive. Later video showed fighters rolling Gaddafi’s lifeless body over on the pavement, stripped to the waist and a pool of blood under his head.
While he was still alive, the fighters drove him around lying on the hood of a truck, perhaps to parade him in public. One fighter held him down, pressing on his thigh with a pair of shoes in a show of contempt.
Standing upright, he is shoved along a Sirte road by fighters who chanted “God is great.”
Gaddafi appears to struggle against them, stumbling and shouting as the fighters push him onto the hood of a pickup truck.
“We want him alive. We want him alive,” one man shouted before Gaddafi is dragged away, some fighters pulling his hair, toward an ambulance.
Most accounts agreed Gaddafi had been holed up with heavily armed supporters in the last few buildings held by regime loyalists in the Mediterranean coastal town, furiously battling revolutionary fighters. The battle for Sirte has been raging for more than a month.
At one point, a convoy tried to flee and was hit by NATO airstrikes, carried out by French warplanes. France’s Defense Minister Gerard Longuet said the 80-vehicle convoy was carrying Gaddafi and was trying to escape the city. The strikes stopped the convoy but did not destroy it, and then revolutionary fighters moved in on the vehicle carrying Gaddafi.
One fighter who said he was at the battle told AP Television News that the final fight took place at an opulent compound. Adel Busamir said the convoy tried to break out but after being hit, it turned back and re-entered the compound. Several hundred fighters attacked.
“We found him there,” Busamir said of Gaddafi. “We saw them beating him (Gaddafi) and someone shot him with a 9mm pistol … then they took him away.”
Military spokesman Col. Ahmed Bani in Tripoli told Al-Jazeera TV that a wounded Gaddafi “tried to resist (revolutionary forces) so they took him down.”
Fathi Bashaga, spokesman for the Misrata military council, whose forces were involved in the battle, said fighters encircled the convoy and exchanged fire. In one vehicle, they found Gaddafi, wounded in the neck, and took him to an ambulance. “What do you want?” Gaddafi asked the approaching revolutionaries, Bashaga said, citing witnesses.
Gaddafi bled to death from his wounds a half-hour later, he said. Fighters said he died in the ambulance en route to Misrata, 120 miles from Sirte.
Abdel-Jalil Abdel-Aziz, a doctor who accompanied the body in the ambulance and examined it, said Gaddafi died from two bullet wounds – to the head and chest.
“You can’t imagine my happiness today. I can’t describe my happiness,” he told The Associated Press. “The tyranny is gone. Now the Libyan people can rest.”
In the United States, President Obama addressed the death of Gaddafi in a press conference. “The Transitional National Council informed the United States of Gaddafi’s death shortly before Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril’s announcement to his nation that the moment so many had waited for had come, a U.S. official said. The White House and State Department were expected to release official responses later Thursday,” Obama said, according to the Associated Press. “You have won your revolution,” he continued, “One of the world’s longest-serving dictators is no more.”
In Tripoli, celebrations are already underway with gunfire and honking. “We’ve heard quite a lot of celebratory gunfire,” Caroline Hawley reports for the BBC.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton visited Libya on Tuesday to offer a new aid package. She told students during a gathering in Tripoli, “We hope [Gaddafi] can be captured or killed soon so that you don’t have to fear him any longer.”
Gaddafi was ousted from power in August, and his whereabouts have been unknown for months. The Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, accused Libya’s former ruler of crimes against humanity.
Reuters is also reporting that an official from the National Transitional Council, Libya’s interim government, has confirmed the death of Abu Bakr Yunis Jabr, Gaddafi’s Minister of Defense.
Earlier this year, I was involved in a lengthy discussion about the Libyan uprising and the fate of Muammar Gadhafi the long ruling leader of this North African country. At the time, not too many people who discussed with me saw the wisdom in getting rid of this despot. The US was bitterly blamed for meddling in Libya in what was at the time expected to be another protracted war against a Muslim country.
It is now five months since that discussion, and it appears that at long last the rebels (the civilians), are on the verge of reclaiming Libya for the Libyan people. Indeed, it seems like we are now seeing the beginning of the end for Colonel Muammar Gadhafi. Videos and clips from Libyan streets show a great number of excited youths rejoicing over the prospects of Gadhafi’s fall and departure from Libyan politics. Boy, is 42 years a long time for one man and his family to rule over a country? Who upon reading this thinks that Gadhafi ought to be given at least 8 more years to rule before the people of Libya get a representative government?
It seems that Gadhafi has decided to die in Libya rather than relinquish his grip on power. As at this time, his sons have been reportedly captured but he is nowhere to be found. The rebels are already in Tripoli the capital, and it won’t be long before the last vestiges of the pro-Gadhafi forces are routed and his ignominious government terminated. If he were wise, he would have taken the counsel I offered to him months ago when this uprising was just beginning; he should realize that the gig is up. He should take the much he has looted and saved so far and disappear to Venezuela where he would be treated with utmost respect and care and live out the rest of his days in relative obscurity enjoying the fruits of his dictatorial control over Libya’s vast oil economy. At any rate, if he has chosen to die in Libya, then die he must because there is no indication that the people of Libya are disposed to treat him now with any bit of deference.
On a related note, the Syrian strongman Bashar Al-Assad should be very worried because he could be next in this wave of Arab uprisings.
Read a previous discussion on this issue here.
Another country emerges:
JUBA, South Sudan — South Sudan celebrated its first day as an independent nation Saturday, raising its flag before tens of thousands of cheering citizens elated to reach the end of a 50-year struggle.
U.S. President Barack Obama called the day a new dawn after the darkness of war, while visiting dignitaries offered both congratulations and prodding for South Sudan and its former ruler, Sudan, to avoid a return to conflict over serious and unresolved disagreements.
“The eyes of the world are now on us,” said South Sudan President Salva Kiir, who was inaugurated during a scorching midday ceremony. Kiir stressed that the people of South Sudan must advance their country together, and unite as countrymen first, casting aside allegiances to the dozens of tribes that reside here.
Saturday meant that South Sudan and its black tribesmen would for the first time be linked politically with sub-Saharan Africa. Kenya and Uganda are already laying strong economic ties with their northern neighbor, an oil-rich country that may one day ship its oil to a Kenyan port, instead of through the pipelines controlled by Khartoum.
“From today our identity is southern and African, not Arabic and Muslim,” read a hand-painted sign that one man carried as he walked through the crowds.
South Sudan first celebrated its new status with a a raucous street party at midnight. At a packed midday ceremony, the speaker of parliament read a proclamation of independence as the flag of Sudan was lowered and the flag of South Sudan was raised, sparking wild cheers from a crowd tens of thousands strong.
“Hallelujah!” one resident yelled, as other onlookers wiped away tears.
The U.S. and Britain, among others, announced their recognition of South Sudan as a sovereign nation.
“A proud flag flies over Juba and the map of the world has been redrawn,” Obama said in a statement. “These symbols speak to the blood that has been spilled, the tears that have been shed, the ballots that have been cast, and the hopes that have been realized by so many millions of people.”
South Sudan’s story is particularly touching when you consider the senseless loss of millions of lives for an issue that could have been decided as simply and as peacefully as it eventually was. In the end, it all paid off. Those lives, in a way, have not been lost in vain.
There is a lesson here for other maltreated, bullied, shackled and impoverished but vocal ethnic minorities in many African countries. The lesson to pick here is that the tyrannical ruling majority ethnic group will never give you the much sought-after economic emancipation nor the political freedom that you crave as long as the prevailing status quo continues to disproportionately favor the ruling class or as the case may be, the dominant ethnic group. To achieve economic and political freedom from the oppressive clutches of the ruling majority, and to exercise your right to self-determination, divested of the shackles of the prevailing European imperial contraptions, which were so inelegantly forged in the dark past, your kinsmen must be ready to shed their blood and lay down their lives for it. Only a sustained struggle against the tyrannical impulses of a close-minded majority would suffice to induce a rethink of their hardened positions.
After 50 years of struggle, on July 9, 2011, you now have your freedom and your own country South Sudan. I salute you all but this is just the beginning. Hopefully, with your oil-wealth, you will set upon the task of an aggressive nation-building with the requisite degree of urgency that it demands. One only hopes that what would eventually emerge would have the semblance of democracy, and that the long-suffering people of South Sudan will not once again find themselves under the jackboots of consanguineous overlords.
Relax folks, the world is not going end tomorrow. Forget the charlatans running all over the place proclaiming Judgment day. This is not the first time that people have sought to whip up mass hysteria by talking about the end of the world—and it is not going to be the last either.
You know, I was quite surprised that a lot of people seem to be genuinely apprehensive and fearful regarding the possibility that the world would end tomorrow. I have tried to understand why but I sincerely cannot fathom a reason why any sane person would choose to believe that the world would unaccountably be destroyed tomorrow.
Why indeed would the world end dramatically tomorrow? What cogent reasons inform that wild speculation? Do you know—does anyone know?
Please, let’s stop the mass hysteria. Nothing is going to happen. Many people may die all from many different reasons all over the globe, but this little blue ball will continue to float around the sun tomorrow, and for a long time. Deal with it.
The news reaching me, and which has doubtlessly reached you by now, is that Osama Bin Laden is dead. Who does not know who Osama Bin Laden is, and why the news of his death would generate worldwide headlines? Well, in case you are not very sure, Osama Bin Laden is a Saudi Arabian terrorist and head of the terrorist organization called Al Qaeda. He and his cohorts were responsible for the World Trade Center bombings by 2 air planes nearly 10 years ago. Ever since that fateful September morning, when two hijacked planes slammed into the World Trade Center killing around 3,000 innocent souls, there has been an intense, no-expenses-spared, multilateral and international campaign to capture or kill Osama, the visible architect of so much destruction. As a matter of fact, they came very close a number of times and would have succeeded if not for some other slight issue like an unneeded delay resulting from the normal bureaucratic shufflings that typically attend these matters.
After a while, people began to suspect that he may already be dead; not that his absence or his possible death did anything to dissuade other would-be terrorists from actively plotting against or indeed attacking the US. But today,without any shred of doubt, Osama is dead—dead as a door nail after Obama gave the secret authorization, upon his examination of some very urgent intel, for him to be caught or killed. And that was precisely what happened. He was spotted somewhere deep in Pakistan (mind you, not Afghanistan where the US is currently wasting vast resources), the authorization was secured from the President and as soon as he was spotted he was killed. I imagine that his body was forensically analyzed in addition, to confirm his identity beyond any reasonable doubt.
In the coming days, expect to see some symbolic acts in the Muslim world seeking to demonstrate solidarity with Osama and with whatever jumbled idea of “liberation” or “resistance” he sought to represent. He may be dead, but no one is deceived into thinking that this has put a final nail in the coffin of Al Qaeda. If anything, you should expect that this bearded, vile and slithery brute would be considered a martyr for the cause. The attendant consequence would be some supercharged emotional outburst against the United States and her allies. One hopes however that some real Muslims would stand up and be counted to defend the cause of freedom and common sense whenever the orgy of violence starts rocking the Middle East.
Wherever Gaddafi is, he should be very worried. He has wittingly attracted the sore displeasure of Obama and other Western powers. At the rate he is carrying on with this exaggerated sense of his own invincibility, it won’t be too long before he suffers the same fate as the multitudes that have had to die as a result of his actions.
This is a good way to start the new month: Carpe Diem!
The issue in Libya is gaining so much steam now and is being covered everywhere. Well here is our facebook discussion on the matter. After watching the clip below, a few people had something to say.
He speaks the truth you know
Aero Max says:
this is a non bias truth in a transparent form… i subscribe to this all the way, those people lack nothing, if nigerianz enjoys half of what libyans are enjoying from their goverment, i am very sure non of us will complain even if they stay for the whole generation.. the funny thing is that even at its worst .we are not doing anything about it.. who gives a damn about DEMOCRACY ? when it cannot deliver basic amenities. ALL we need is A Government that can deliver to its people what their basic needs are. who cares if it is AUTOCRACY or WHATEVER.
Aero I am damn with u…If Nigeria a democratic country where the government is been change every four or five years they dont enjoy up to half of wht the Libyans are enjoying in their country,then they call Gaddafi tyrant. Equatorial Guinea,formerly Spanish Guinea.In that country they make money from oil just like in Kuwaite, the population there is not up to one million,they dont have hospitals there,no good schools,last week my friend that went there on an ong works say they weren’t there eggs to buy.their president Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo assumed office 3 august 1979,I am sure the Eu and United States dont know that country exists,but they buy oil from them.
I mean what is this business of America to the world? This country is going through a lot already. This man is a man of truth. I sometimes get buttered by his words, because at one point I fall into it. Why is Obama allowing these people to push him. Obama should be smart enough to know to get this statement that Hillary Clinton said and I coauthor ” I will not be a secretary of state any more if Obama wins”. now you are invading Libya, what for? I was saying on buni the other time that, the people of Libya are very stupid… and I will say it blank here, Qaddafi is trying to unit the whole of Africa and he is moving in the right direction. And this is a treat to the western world. When the conference was held in Ghana, almost a common conclusion came into agreement, until ivory coast opted to send a concern letter to it’s allied to before they could do something. What happened? Aint they into tribal war over governance? Until when shall the black man learn. But I am telling you, this is all a aim at Saudi Arabia…but if America wants, they should try and see… it’s very sad… but God is our helper… Long Live Africa, Long live Ghana.
HANS, I started nodding my head while reading your post and I continued nodding it till I reached a certain point. Please Sir, how is Ghadaffi trying to unite all Africa and how is that a threat to the Western world? This man has been in power for 42 years and has not united anything. Now that his overthrow is imminent, you tell me he is trying to unite the world?
AEROMAXX, I agree with you. It began an argument yesterday where I told them that it is better for your country to return to military rule. It seems the other side of the fence (civilians) are not better either.
By now, you would have heard about the earthquake that has devastated Japan. A massive 8.9 earthquake followed by a massive tsunami has hit Japan leaving over a thousand people dead and wreaking billions of dollars worth of damage. This natural disaster has caused tsunami warnings to be issued in surrounding areas like Hawaii and the entire west coast of the United States.
Our hearts and prayers go out to the Japanese people at this trying time.
- More Dramatic Video from the Earthquake and Tsunami in Japan (VIDEOS) (blippitt.com)
- What is a tsunami? Earthquake, tsunami rock Japan, head to Hawaii and U.S. West Coast (facebeyond.wordpress.com)
For the past few days, the mass media has been awash with reports of the current civil unrest going on in Egypt. Despite the undemocratic actions of Hosni Mubarak’s government in shutting down the internet as well as the telecommunications sector, Egyptians have found ways, and are still finding ways to convey the scenes and events going on in Egypt to a captivated global audience. The clip above is just one of the videos filtering out of Cairo showing what appears to be a massive populist uprising against Mubarak and his government.
When Obama gave his speech, in Cairo, to the Arab world, shortly after assuming office, there were many people who underestimated the power and import of that speech. I remember that when I saw the passionate, rousing and warm welcome he received from the youths gathered in that auditorium, that Obama may have unwittingly ignited fires that would soon capture the hearts and minds of the Arab world. It was just the perfect message to the Arab world—tired and discontented as they were with Bush’s unilateralist interventionism. The skeptical wing of American punditocracy mocked Obama’s speech and his efforts. How indeed could he hope to reverse decades of misrule, governmental non-transparency, and a generalized distrust of the US with one overly-optimistic speech? Well, the chicken has come home to roost.
If you can remember, it wasn’t long ago that the world witnessed another populist revolution in Tunisia. The masses revolted and overthrew their government. I’ll also invite you to cast your mind back to 2009 when there was another powerful people-backed uprising in Iran against the rule of Iran’s Shiite clerics. The seasonal clashes between Israel and the Palestinians seem to have toned down in favor of a more peaceful path towards the solution. Here and there, you read about the increasing boldness of pro-democracy opposition groups throughout most parts of the Arab world including Saudi Arabia. I’ll make bold to say, (some may well write it off as an immature or wishful analysis) that there seems to be a crystallizing narrative in the world of Arab politics: we are beginning to witness an increasing and more determined push by Arab people for transparency and accountability in government; a sustained demand for a pro-citizen government that would show by their actions a real commitment and dedication to alleviate the problems and injustices suffered by the average Arab at the hands of a corrupt and sometimes dictatorial elite class.
So, here we are, watching amazing scenes from Egypt as thousands of protesters take to the streets to demand the ouster of Hosni Mubarak’s government. How should all peace-loving citizens of the world situate and analyze these current happenings? More importantly, what should the Obama administration be doing with regards to these events? Needless to say, Egypt is a critical force to reckon with in Arab geopolitics, and so the statements of the US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, as well as that of other Western diplomats would be examined carefully. What message could the Obama administration (after full consultation with her Middle East allies) give so as to de-escalate the tensions there?
Hosni Mubarak, and his government, it must be pointed out, enjoy the support of the United States and Israel. This was because Mubarak chose to continue and maintain the peace treaty that his predecessor President Anwar Sadat signed with the Israelis—a move that much infuriated the rest of the Arab World, and one for which Egypt was temporarily suspended from the Arab League. It should also be recalled that when the US sought allies in the Middle East for the Gulf War of 1991, Hosni’s Egypt was there.
From the foregoing, you might be led to think that since successive US presidents and their administrations have dealt favorably with Hosni Mubarak, there must be something respectable or even mildly democratic about the government of Mr. Mubarak. Think about it: Egypt receives billions of dollars in aid every year from the United States. The bilateral relation between the two countries is in such good shape that the US also routinely sells arms or military technology to Mubarak’s Egypt. Thirty years of diplomatic relations with Israel is enough to convince many Israelis of Hosni’s commitment to that treaty—so, it really cannot be overemphasized how necessary it was for the US and Israel to have Mr. Mubarak cling tenaciously to power.
Nevertheless, it has become imperative to dispassionately assess Mr. Mubarak and his government; it has become of utmost importance to read the handwriting on the wall. Egypt, contrary to what you might have expected, from its coddling by Western powers, is very far from being a democratic state. A dispassionate analysis would indict the Egyptian government of gross negligence with respect to human and civil rights; it would decry the repressive police state and its penchant for marshalling the state’s instruments of force and aggression against pro-democracy activists as well as Islamic opposition forces; it would castigate the government’s shambolic efforts at boosting the Egyptian economy despite the massive influx of US dollars in aid or the nullification of around $20 billion-worth of debt; it would excoriate the government’s unwillingness to usher in democratic reforms; and finally lambaste Mr. Mubarak for his corrupt meddling with the electoral process and his abject refusal to relinquish power. This is exactly the way the average Egyptian sees this government—an incompetent, repressive, anti-democratic lackey for foreign interests. It is therefore hardly surprising to witness the vehemence and doggedness of this nascent revolution.
At any rate, anyone can see that the US and her allies in the region, while recognizing the democratic aspirations of the Egyptian people, are not too eager to call for the resignation of Mubarak. Mr. ElBaradei, a Nobel Laureate and many opposition groups have clearly called for a regime change. Their wishes are unmistakable—they want a regime change by all means necessary. They want Mubarak gone and fresh elections to determine the future government of Egypt. However, the US and her friends in the region are wary of a scenario in which honoring the wishes of the masses results in an Islamic hard-line, perhaps extremist faction of Mubarak’s opposition to gain prominence or to snatch the seat of power. A delicate international situation thus begins to unfold.
It is not clear that Mubarak plans on vacating his office any time soon; also it doesn’t appear that this popular uprising is losing steam—at least, as far as I can tell, the army and the police have not yet been instructed to forcefully beat back the protestors. Washington wants a scenario where demonstrations would be non-violent; where Mubarak would conduct free and fair elections or to cosmetically brush up and change aspects of his regime. If that proves impossible, Washington wants a scenario where Mubarak could be persuaded to step aside only if the US could reasonably influence the process so as not to facilitate the ascension into power of anti-Western, anti-Israeli, and anti-American hardliners.
Will the democratic yearnings of the Egyptian people to be free of the repressive boots of Mubarak’s government eventually triumph? Will Mubarak’s 30-year rule come to an end? That remains to be seen. It is the height of hypocrisy to sing the praises and merits of democracy to the Arab world and then turn away if there are indications that such transparent obedience to the true aspirations of sections of the Arab world would germinate leadership that is intransigently opposed to America’s self-interests. All genuine lovers of freedom and democracy should stand shoulder to shoulder with the Egyptian people at this time at this time. If the Egyptians succeed in divesting themselves of the shackles of a corrupt and repressive government, it will significantly mark the birth pangs of democracy; yes it will usher in a wave of progressive hysteria and a populist government which will be copied in other parts of the Middle East.