by Zafar Bangash (Special Reports, Crescent International Vol. 40, No. 9, Dhu al-Hijjah, 1432)
One thing has become clear as a result of the movements for dignity and freedom sweeping the Muslim East (aka the Middle East): the old order has been permanently and irrevocably altered.
One thing has become clear as a result of the movements for dignity and freedom sweeping the Muslim East (aka the Middle East): the old order has been permanently and irrevocably altered. What shape the new dispensation will take is as yet unclear but certain contours can be discerned. The revolutionary Muslim masses have categorically rejected the old oppressive order presided over by Western-backed dictators. Where they want to go is also fairly clear but how they will get there and who will lead them are the crucial questions that need addressing.
The Islamic awakening, however, has aroused deep concern in the capitals of Western predatory powers. This was expected.
The Islamic awakening, however, has aroused deep concern in the capitals of Western predatory powers. This was expected. When two of their favorite puppets — General Zine el-Abidin Ben Ali and Hosni Mubarak — were consigned to the dustbin of history in quick order, it caused panic in Western capitals including Tel Aviv, capital of the illegal Zionist entity. They could see the world order they had crafted in the aftermath of the Second World War crumbling. The most serious — and immediate — threat was to the survival of the Zionist State. The Arabian regimes that in the words of Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben Gurion, were the Zionist State’s first line of defence, were being demolished. If this protective ring could be destroyed, the humpty dumpty of the Zionist State would also come tumbling down. In a secret February 2009 report, the CIA had said that Israel faced the threat of extinction in 20 years’ time. The same message was delivered in even more stark terms by US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta during meetings with Israeli officials early last month.
The West of course has not been idle in the face of Islamic movements sweeping away long-entrenched dictators from power. Furious attempts are underway to shore up the remaining dictators led by the House of Saud, the Khalifa family in Bahrain, Ali Abdullah Saleh in Yemen and King Abdullah in Jordan — while simultaneously working to undermine those seen as challenging, in whatever form, Western hegemony: the now murdered Muammar Qaddafi of Libya and, Bashar al-Assad of Syria, for instance. These developments need elaboration.
The West has not written off Egypt or Tunisia either. It is working to subvert the gains the masses have made. In Egypt, attacks on Coptic churches by agents provocateurs, and the ensuing clashes with police point to this danger. In Tunisia, on the other hand, Salafis tried to attack a private TV station on October 8 that was showing an animated film about the Islamic Revolution overthrowing the Shah’s regime in Iran. In neither country are the masses assured of achieving their objectives, however noble, unless they remain vigilant and on the scene. It seems the masses, especially the youth, are aware of the challenges facing them and a clash with the military in both countries cannot be ruled out. Let us categorize the countries according to their status:
If Tunisia, in the backwaters of North Africa, was considered a freak occurrence, the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak sent shockwaves throughout the region and beyond. The House of Saud went into a frenzy of grief and panic. King Abdullah was visibly upset with US President Barack Obama for “not doing enough” to prevent Mubarak’s fall. It seems “not doing enough” has become a popular refrain. The other Abdullah, in Jordan, was also running scared although the Islamic movement in the Hashemite Kingdom has been slow to grasp the opportunity to press for major changes to secure the peoples’ fundamental rights.
The Saudis mobilized those members of the Arab League that were willing to advance the West’s agenda by betraying their own people.
The House of Saud quickly regained composure and decided to defend itself not in the streets of Riyadh or Jiddah but in the streets of Manama in Bahrain. It was a bold move, at least from the Saudi point of view. It was also a calculated gamble that may yet backfire but for now, the Saudis seem to have gotten away with it. They followed their Bahraini gamble with other moves in Libya but most strikingly in Yemen and Syria.
It is interesting to note that while the Saudis have been anxious to shore up the Khalifas in Bahrain and Ali Abdullah Saleh in Yemen, they were the principal player in paving the way for the dislodging of Qaddafi from power in Libya, a long-time nemesis, and are attempting to undermine Bashar al-Assad in Syria. What is special about the Khalifas and Ali Abdullah Saleh to be saved and why is Bashar al-Assad unacceptable? All these have to do with the Western agenda.
Having lost two favorite clients in quick succession to the rising tide of Islamic awakening, the West decided to project itself as a supporter of the popular mood and thereby take possession of movements before other dictators are overthrown, bringing in changes that would undermine the Western/Zionist agenda. Qaddafi was a soft target. He presided over a country with enormous riches but a tiny population. He could be dislodged fairly easily, according to Western calculations.
The Saudis mobilized those members of the Arab League that were willing to advance the West’s agenda by betraying their own people. Only 12 out of the 22 members attended the hurriedly called meeting in Riyadh on March 16 and of these only nine supported a resolution against Qaddafi. This became the basis for UN Security Council resolution No. 1973 imposing a “no fly zone” on Libya on March 17. Western bombing of Libya started almost immediately followed by their mercenaries joining rebel forces to direct their operations, far exceeding the no-fly-zone mandate — a dubious one to begin with — and pushed Qaddafi into a tiny sliver of territory in Sirte ultimately killing him on October 20. The West has presented itself as the “champion” of the people when in fact Western rulers were quite happy to embrace Qaddafi for decades. He was welcomed in Western capitals — Rome and Paris — and Western leaders — Tony Blair of Britain and Condoleezza Rice of the US, for instance — paid well-publicized visits to the mercurial colonel’s tent in Tripoli. Documents retrieved from his intelligence ministry also reveal how closely Qaddafi had worked with the American CIA and British MI6.
So what turned him into a pariah so quickly? His weak power base sealed his fate despite his notorious son, Saif al-Islam, having cultivated close links with the elites in British and other Western societies. Ultimately, these proved of little help in preventing his father’s downfall and execution-style killing. This is a point the new Western-backed Libyan puppets ought to keep in mind. The West has no permanent friends; the West does not believe in friendship at all. Its only permanent policy is who can be beneficial to its interests at any given time. Once people outlive their usefulness, the West discards them dispassionately. The graveyard is full of the West’s favorite clients. Also, Egypt’s western flank had to be secured from revolutionary fervor, at least of the kind that would have ushered in real change in Libya.
Contrast this with Western/Saudi attempts to protect the Khalifas in Bahrain and Ali Abdullah Saleh in Yemen. What is special about them? The Khalifas are viewed as a bulwark against the growing influence of Islamic Iran that the Saudis see as arival in the region as well as the larger Muslim world. Since the overwhelming majority of Bahrainis are Shi‘i, overthrow of the minority Khalifa family would usher in an order dominated by them that would be a natural ally of Islamic Iran. Although Iran does not promote sectarianism — for instance, it supports the struggle of the Palestinians that are Sunnis — the Saudis and indeed their American masters can see the danger in developments in the region. The US Fifth Fleet is also based in Bahrain from where it controls much of the Persian Gulf. A new, popular-based regime in Bahrain would almost certainly end this relationship.
The situation in Yemen is different but still important for its own reasons. It is not the sectarian nature of the population that is critical although there are Houthi tribesmen in North Yemen bordering Saudi Arabia who are Zaidi Shi‘is. Yemen’s importance lies in its strategic location controlling Bab al-Mandab, at the mouth of the Red Sea. Before the US and their Zionist masters can attack Iran, they would want to make sure that there is a secure outlet for Middle Eastern oil to the outside markets because there is a high probability that in the event of an attack, Iran would immediately block the Strait of Hormuz choking all oil flow. This would have catastrophic impact on Western economies already teetering on the brink of collapse.
While Ali Abdullah Saleh is not necessarily liked by the West, he has managed to hoodwink the Americans into believing that he is a bulwark against al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. The September 30 US drone attack killing the American-born Anwar al-Awlaki and another American citizen Samir Khan, is part of this plan. The US is engaged in a full-scale war in Yemen that Saleh has claimed as his own. There is also the danger of Yemen splitting again into North and South that would naturally cause instability. The Saudis fear that Yemeni instability would spill over into the kingdom sparking an uprising that they may not be able to control. With fires burning along its borders, it will not be long before these engulf the House of Saud as well. Neither the Saudis nor the Americans are particularly wedded to Saleh. They want to ensure that power in Yemen is transferred to a safe pair of hands that would do their bidding.
This brings us to the situation in Syria. Bashar al-Assad is no democrat. Nobody should have any illusions on that score. But he enjoys considerable support at home and the uprising against his regime in not entirely indigenous. There is clear evidence of foreign hands — with the Saudis working in conjunction with the Americans and the Israelis — financing the uprising. Even the king of Jordan is part of this destabilization plan together with pro-Zionist Syrian and Lebanese opposition figures. The plot to launch an uprising was hatched in February of 2011 in Paris at which Saudi security advisor to the king, Bandar bin Sultan, former US ambassador to Lebanon Jeffrey Feltman and currently US undersecretary of state, as well as representatives of the Syrian and Lebanese opposition figures were present. They agreed to launch an armed insurrection against Bashar al-Assad’s regime with weapons smuggled in from Jordan.
Syria’s importance to Muslim East politics cannot be overemphasized. Together with Islamic Iran, Hizbullah and Hamas, it is part of the resistance front against Zionist Israel. Take Syria out of the equation, and a serious blow would be dealt to the resistance. Further, Syria would fall into the hands of groups that are beholden to the Saudis. A vicious internal power struggle would ensue that would open Syria to even greater foreign manipulation. Regardless of which group emerges in power it would not be part of an alliance against Israel. After all, Saudi Arabia is part of the US-Israeli nexus against Islamic self-determination whether in Palestine, Lebanon or anywhere else in the Muslim East. Also, the worst kind of sectarianism would be unleashed, a favorite tool of the obscurantist Saudis who never miss an opportunity to stoke sectarian conflict in the Ummah, as witnessed in Pakistan.
The fall of the Western-installed and supported monarchy in Jordan would also be a blow to US-Israeli designs. It would open another front against the Zionist State and also expose the Saudis to further pressure. The Saudis are pumping in some $1.5 billion annually to shore up the Jordanian monarchy.
Among the peripheral states — Algeria, Morocco, Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) — none is democratic. They are either tribal monarchies or military-backed regimes with a democratic façade. What is common to all of them is that they are beholden to the West and have cordial relations, albeit under the table, with the Zionist regime. The loss of any to the rising tide of Islamic awakening would deliver painful blows to the West. Already, the US has lost immense prestige as a result of the duplicitous policies of President Barack Obama. People in the Muslim East have finally seen through the lies he spun in Cairo on June 4, 2009 when he mesmerized them with his rhetoric and quotations from the Qur’an. His betrayal of the Palestinians has only added fuel to the fire. With the US mired in deep financial woes and its economy in tailspin, it has little clout left to effect change elsewhere.
Washington is banking on subverting the pace of change in places like Egypt while simultaneously trying to overthrow the regime in Syria to recoup some of its losses. It is also working hard to prevent the fall of other client regimes. These moves are not lost on the people in the region. Three countries are crucial to this game plan: Egypt, Syria and Saudi Arabia. The ultimate objective is to protect the Zionist state of Israel.
Time may be running out for Uncle Sam and the illegitimate Zionist entity of Israel. The power of the people will be difficult to contain especially when they are charged with Islamic spirit and are prepared to make every sacrifice to achieve their noble goals.
The Islamic awakening sweeping the region will not only blow away the decrepit and corrupt regimes but also demolish the colonial imposed order that has kept people in bondage for so long. The desert is about to blossom and with it there will emerge a new Muslim East that is free of oppression, tyranny and exploitation. In time, their example will be emulated by other people around the world. We are already witnessing its effects in the Occupy Wall Street Movement in the US itself.
Welcome to the New World Order but this one will not be manufactured in Washington, London, Paris or Tel Aviv.