Brotherhood Must Not Budge from Non-Violence

In the aftermath of the massacre of pro-democracy protesters in Cairo in the middle of last month, serious questions are being raised about Egypt’s identity, social bonds, ideologies and foreign military aid. The country is divided on multiple fault lines bringing the very nature and the basis of Egypt’s political infrastructure to doubt. The question that now worries the Egypt watchers is whether the country is heading for an atrocious bloodbath.

Egypt’s transitional pains in a post-Arab Spring scenario has brought the state forward to either a major turning point or reverted it back to authoritarianism. The Egyptians want to know just as much as foreign observers whether Egypt should be a liberal secular society or a fundamentalist Islamic state. Is it fair that its majority voters who are supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood should be subjugated by the urban minority elite? Answers to these questions demands that one should look beyond the veils of appeasement and an addiction to exposing the bitter truth, for the political model in Cairo will make a remarkable impact in the entire Middle East and North Africa region. After all, Egypt is the heartbeat of the Arab world and the most important strategic and intellectual piece in the Middle Eastern realpolitik.

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An Egyptian woman tries to stop a military bulldozer during the clashes between the Egyptian security forces and supporters of deposed president Mohamed Morsi in Cairo
The Arab Spring opened the prospect for emergence of a political Islam through the rise of Muslim Brotherhood, which had so far remained elusive due to the heavy handed nature of military strongmen whose strength always rested in the barrel of a loaded gun. Operating via social and charitable projects across North Africa and Arab Levant with hundreds of thousands of followers, Muslim Brotherhood evolved in the last seven decades as the icon of political Islam in the Arab world. It should be noted that most of the Arab world still suffers from localized imperialism of hereditary tribal franchises with hardly any presence of political parties, discourses or diversity of political thoughts. The Brotherhood in contrast has built a deep-rooted support base of average, ordinary people with the help of charitable projects spread across the rural areas in Egypt.

The US and its principal ally Israel are, however, not yet ready to accept the Brotherhood as a reliable partner

on the regional strategic chessboard. Democratic credentials have not helped the Islamic party allay the fear of a rising militant regime challenging the supremacy of Israel. The west, particularly the US, would not mind to see an undemocratic yet liberal pro-Western strongman in Cairo rather than a democratic pan-Islamist political party in power. The ultra conservative regimes in the region qualify for the Western support whereas the elected government of the Brotherhood failed to do that despite repeated assurances to build a culture of reforms through the political process. This explains the resentment amongst the Brotherhood members for what they dub as double standards of the West.

Democracy in Egypt did not receive the welcome it deserved from the socalled defenders of democracy in the liberal West, especially from the US. This is not the first time American government had to shoulder the blame for choosing the wrong side. Helping the Shah of Iran to return to power by overthrowing the popular Mossaddegh government and subsequently taking a position in favor of the ruthless monarch against the rising popularity of Ayatollah Khomeini exposed the superpower’s flawed policies in the Persian Gulf. America’s most important and strategic ally in the Middle East is Israel and the US administration will protect it from any harm from the Arab countries. The Israeli factor in American policy should explain why the Muslim Brotherhood is not a favorite in Washington.

Despite its success at the polls Muslim Brotherhood fell short of winning the real war, which was in the barracks rather than the streets. The military was the real authority in Egypt since the end of colonialism and the overthrow of King Farouk. For six decades the armed forces strengthened their position, consolidated their grip on power and organized the state structure under its strategic command and control. It would be more than naïve to assume a political party could reform the work of the best-organized state machinery by relying on the proverbial “street power” within one year. Muslim Brotherhood also should have known better how to handle the economy and the foreign policy as they have written dozens of theories on them. The recent coup leader general Abdel Fattah El-Sisi exploited the Brotherhood’s real weakness, which is its overall lack of strategic and economic vision for the country. Muslim Brotherhood could not have reformed the country by banking on the administrative policies left behind by Mubarak, and yet, that is exactly what they tried to do.

The Crackdown

It actually began on June 30 as the Tamarrods (the rebels) marched towards Tahrir Square to demonstrate against what they claimed was Morsi’s failure to make an inclusive government. There was the fear of the “Brotherhoodization” of the state organs and turning the country into an Islamic state along the lines of Iran. Muslim Brotherhood having the majority in the parliament could change the liberal framework of the past resulting in the rise of the Islamists and the fall of the old guards from the bureaucracy. Due to high level of unemployment, young men and women were easily convinced that their financial woes were caused by Dr Mohamed Morsi’s fundamentalist background, which negatively impacted on the tourism industry where thousands of young men and women are employed through small businesses.

The youth believed Morsi’s removal would change everything in the economy and make their fortunes shine again. The Tamarrods were of the opinion that one year was enough for the first democratically elected government to turn the country around. After hundreds of thousands of people gathered at Tahrir Square the defence minister of Dr Morsi’s cabinet general El-Sisi made a surprise statement to the nation. He gave an ultimatum of 48 hours to the president: Heed to the people’s call, or else.

El-Sisi moved much too soon with the ultimatum; it looked as if he was waiting for this to happen with eagerness. Secondly, he broke his constitutional oath to be loyal to the president. The general claimed he acted on people’s demands and concerns. People’s demands are strictly political issues and should have been dealt with by political institutions and processes not by the gun. On July 3, 2013 El-Sisi overthrew the democratically elected president of Egypt. Morsi was arrested and taken to a secret location where he is still being held for questioning.

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Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi addressing a public gathering before his ouster
Muslim Brotherhood supporters came out in thousands on the streets of Cairo. They gathered at Al-Nasr City, October 6 Bridge, Giza, and Rabaa al- Adawiya to protest against the coup. The supreme guide of the Muslim Brotherhood Mohammed El Badei gave a rare public appearance at the Nasr City square. The Brotherhood wanted the generals to restore the elected government of Dr Morsi. Pro- Morsi supporters poured out in thousands vowing to show their strength against the Tamarrods. The large turnout of Brotherhood members, however, failed to impress or frighten the generals.

The sit-ins looked like a replay of 2011 Tahrir Square demonstrations. In 2011 Tahrir square gave the united face of a country determined to oust Hosni Mubarak. By 2013 the situation changed, sharply dividing the country between pro- and anti-Brotherhood camps. It exposed the deep bitterness resting in the heart of the nation, which could in the future grow into a massive problem as the one seen in Syria.

As the month of Ramadan started, more and more Brotherhood members joined the sit-in at Nasr City while fasting. In the meanwhile internationally renowned Nobel peace laureate and former chief of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA),

Mohammed El-Baradei, joined the interim government as the vice president “with sweeping powers”. Adly Al-Mansour, a former chief justice, was chosen as the interim president.

The Adly cabinet soon began to take an offence with the peaceful demonstrations by the Brotherhood An ultimatum was issued to the protesters to go home as the “government had run out of patience”. The ultimatum was ignored by the demonstrators. Soon thereafter the interim government ordered a crackdown on them. Security forces fired on the demonstrators, killing many and wounding many times more.

An eye witness posted in a blog, “It is almost impossible to describe the sheer intensity and scale of the August 14 security force crackdown on the Nahda and Rabaa al-Adawiya camps, where supporters of the deposed president had gathered for 41 days following the July 3 military coup. Bulldozers, snipers, assault fire, tear gas, pellets and helicopters overhead were all reported at the scene”. Social media sites exposed the pictures of security personnel shooting at unarmed citizens on the streets. This would be the first evidence of gross human rights violation by the El-Sisibacked government of Adly Mansour.

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Armored police vans stand by while tents and debris from the demolished camps belonging to Mosri supporters burn in Cairo
Egyptian state television showed much of Rabaa, a small city, up in flames. A number of journalists compared the scene to a war zone. What occurred there is far from the “gradual dispersal” of protesters designed to minimize carnage that the interim government had promised in the preceding days. Rather, the “dispersal” was an all-out attack. Human rights groups aptly summarized the situation: “Non-peaceful assembly does not justify collective punishment.”

While talk of breaking up the protests had been building for days, marches by Brotherhood supporters to government ministries the day before the crackdown may have spurred the military to action. Cairo and 13 other cities across the country are now under emergency law and curfew. Police have threatened to arrest anyone out after 7:00 pm, leaving Cairo, a city that normally settles after 3:00 am, a puzzling mystery about itself.

There is no independently verified death toll. For now, Egyptian authorities report 638 dead and more than 4,000 injured, while the Brotherhood tallies their dead at some 2,200. Makeshift hospitals and morgues were filled with dead bodies, as families tried to identify their loved ones.

Churches across the country came under attack by reportedly pro-Morsi supporters. The Interior Ministry said that at least seven churches had been vandalized or torched by suspected Islamists on August 14, while unofficial reports cite more than fifty churches and related institutions were attacked. Two deaths have been reported related to sectarian violence.

Most chilling images of the massacre came from Al-Imam mosque in Rabaa, which turned into a make shift morgue and where hundreds of dead bodies were lined up in the prayer hall. Relatives wailed as more dead bodies arrived. Some of the dead were burned beyond recognition. Some of the relatives reported that authorities refused to hand over dead bodies without accepting “suicide” as the cause of death. This was reported through live reports coming out in social networking sites.

Mohamed El-Baradei, the vicepresident for foreign affairs and the liberal veneer of El-Sisi coup, resigned on the day of the crackdown, declaring that he could “not bear the responsibility of a single drop of blood … especially with my faith that we could have avoided it.” He swiftly boarded a plane out of Egypt, witnessed by Brotherhood members who were allegedly coming to Cairo from Europe to lend their support to Morsi supporters.

Return to Mubarak Era

The ouster of Muslim brotherhood brought back the Mubarak era “police state” concept with more bloodshed than before. The liberal elite although divided since the resignation of El-Baradei are siding with the generals, which is quite typical of ambitious technocrats and ex-bureaucrats. Now that the “educated” civil society has blood on their hands they must recognize the fact that if Muslim Brotherhood comes back to power Adly Mansour’s cabinet will be held responsible for the killings on August 14-16. It is in the best interest of the interim government to make sure Muslim Brotherhood is silenced and kept out of the power structure until a new page can be turned providing some form of immunity for the massacres.

Similarly, the new interim government would also like to rest assured that the Brotherhood does not return to power with the same sort of people power as they did in 2012 elections. This is the Mubarak policy all over again to “keep the Brotherhood out” at any cost. The Israelis could not find a better ally than those who implement such a domestic policy, which only bolsters Israel’s security. For all practical purposes current situation is indeed more favorable to Mubarak and his lackeys. Ironically, Mubarak is free (under house arrest until charges are fixed) while Morsi is held in a secret location. Most likely, Muslim Brotherhood will have to remain underground for months, if not years, to come, its members especially the top leadership either taken to jail or gone into hiding until things change.

Egypt Army Targets Brotherhood Leaders’ Children

Ammar Mohamed Badie, 38-yearold son of Mohamed Badie, a murshid (leader) of the Ikhwan al-Muslimoon, was shot and killed during a protest at Al-Fath Mosque in Cairo. Khalid al-Banna, grandson of the founder (Hassan al-Banna) of the Muslim Brotherhood,

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Bodies of Mosri supporters killed during the army crackdown are arrayed in the prayer hall of a mosque in Rabaa Al-Adawiya
was also shot and killed today. These deaths bring the total to eight children of Ikhwan leaders who have been shot and killed by the Egyptian military.

Asmaa, the 17-year-old daughter of Mohamed El-Beltagy, was also shot in the head and killed. She was with the masses in Rabaa al-Adawiya Square when it was attacked without warning. Snipers posted on rooftops kept shooting at unarmed people on the ground killing them without mercy. Journalists—

Muslim as well as Western—confirmed the sniper shooting.

The death toll from the armypolice rampage has now climbed to almost 3,000 and tens of thousands are injured. Many relatives have not been able to bury their loved ones because the Interior Ministry refused to issue death certificates unless the relatives signed a form saying their loved ones died of “natural causes” or “committed suicide.” While some relatives signed so that they could take the bodies of their loved ones away

and buried them, others have refused to accept such demands. They have asked how can someone commit suicide when he/she is shot in the head and chest? And how can people with bullet-riddled bodies be described as having died of “natural causes”?

Sherif Shawki, the military-backed regime spokesman has announced today that the regime was considering the possibility of banning the Ikhwan as a political group. This is nothing new; illegal regimes have always tried to de-legitimize those that have people’s mandate and support. The regime’s aim is to create a legal cover for itself. All signs tell that Egypt has entered a dark period of its history. The crisis is likely to deepen as the military becomes more brutal in killing innocent people.

US Military Aid

The Arab street is convinced US military aid of USD1.3 billion every year is a “reward” to the Egyptian army for signing and honoring the peace treaty with Israel. A popular senior political commentator wrote in his blog, US military aid was being used by both sides as the ultimate bargaining chip. The donor’s interest is to safeguard Israel from its most dangerous adversary Egypt, which is the only country to have ever defeated Israel in a war. No other Arab country is any match for Israel’s superior army. The peace treaty achieves the single most important objective for Israel’s security strategy that is to neutralize the Egyptian armed forces. Many people in Egypt consider the USD1.3 billion as a pittance compared to what it buys in the form of the loyalty of the Egyptian army.

US Aid for the military has reduced the image of the army on the Arab street. El-Sisi wants to boost respect for the forces by going hard on Muslim Brotherhood- the most important and most popular political party in Egypt. He holds the elected president and the head of Muslim Brotherhood under arrest. His forces have killed nearly 1000 and injured several thousand more.

What Happened to Arab Spring?

The Arab Spring’s birth place is Tunis in Tunisia and its headquarters is in Cairo in Egypt. It is here in Cairo where the sentiments, emotions and strategies of the Arab world converge. It is in the same Cairo that one must now painfully come to terms with the fact that the Arab Spring has failed to achieve its goal. It failed to unite the Arabs, it failed to break the chains of authoritarianism and it failed to bring back justice and liberty to the common people.

Timeline of Muslim Brotherhood’s Rise to Power
1924: The National Assembly of Turkey abolishes the caliphate and crisis ensues in the Islamic world

1928: The primary school teacher, Hassan al-Banna, establishes the Muslim Brotherhood as a youth club, primarily stressing moral and social reform with Islam at its core

1936: Anglo-Egyptian Treaty– The Muslim Brotherhood takes a pro- Arab position and stands by the Palestinians fighting against Zionist settlements in Palestine. This formally initiates the Muslim Brotherhood’s transformation into a political entity

1946: The Muslim Brotherhood claims to have 500,000 active members in 5,000 branches and an additional 500,000 sympathizers

1949: On February 12, Hassan al-Banna is killed near his office in Cairo by Egyptian secret service agents. Sayid Qutub leads the Brotherhood

1953: Gemal Abdal Nasser assumes supreme authority

1956: Israel, Britain and France invaded Egypt and Nasser handles the situation well. His support rises and the Brotherhood’s popularity suffered

1967: The Six-Day Arab-Israel War is a humiliating defeat for the Arabs and a general belief is spread among the people that the defeat was a result of them having turned away from the will of God.

1970: In September Nasser dies. Anwar Sadat accedes to the presidency and promises that Sharia will be implanted as the law of Egypt. Sadat releases all Brotherhood prisoners

1973: October Arab-Israeli War ended as militaristic standoff and Egypt claimed victory

1979: The Brotherhood strongly opposed the peace treaty with Israel

1981: On October 6 president Sadat was assassinated by 4 members of Jama’at Al Jihad

1987: The Brotherhood cooperates with the Socialist Labor Party and the Liberal Socialist Party to form the Islamic Labor Alliance. The alliance won 60 seats, of which 37 were held by Brothers

1990: The Brotherhood boycotts the elections, protesting government controls at the polls

2005: The Muslim Brotherhood is prevented from running for parliamentary elections as a political party. Running as independents, 88 Brotherhood candidates won seats of the total 454, forming the largest opposition group

2011: Muslim Brotherhood was the principal organizer of massive protests in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. However they remained in the background without taking any leading position

2012: Muslim Brotherhood’s political wing Freedom and Justice Party won majority vote in the presidential elections. Dr Mohammed Morsi became the first democratically elected president of Egypt.

2013: Dr Morsi is ousted in a coup, placed under arrest at a secret location. Security forces opened fire on Brotherhood demonstrators killing close to 1000 people in just over 2 days.

Democracy is not the end in itself. Democracy is only a means to achieve an end. Good governance, accountability, rule of law and equality in justice are only some of the basic concepts, which are essential for a just society. The Arab Spring looked at primarily ousting the dictators, which it did. But it failed in the end because it did not offer a complete system to replace the corrupt system left behind.

Regional states can take a sigh of relief to see the Arab Spring crash and burn. Bahrain’s royals were nearly shown the door had it not been for Saudi army’s involvement. An Arab Spring dead for the Arab people forms the fountain of life for their rulers.

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Mohammed Badei
The website (owned by the Royal Islamic strategic Studies Centre, Amman, Jordan) ranks Dr Mohammed Badei as the 4th most influential man in the Islamic world today. Only King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, Recip Tayip Erdogan PM of Turkey and King Mohammed VI of Morocco rank above him.

Mohammed Badie succeeded Mohammad Mahdi Akef as the 8th Supreme Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood in January 2010. Badie is a professor of veterinary pathology at Beni-Suef University in southern Egypt, but has been elected to his position due to his work with various administrative offices, Egypt’s Education Associations, and subsequently, the International Guidance Bureau of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Dr Badie heads the oldest and the largest Muslim social, religious, and political organization in existence. The Muslim Brotherhood forms the leading opposition party in many Muslim countries and has branches in Arab countries outside Egypt. Members of the organization can be found in Bahrain, Syria, Palestine, Israel, Jordan, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Algeria, Sudan, Somalia, Tunisia, and Libya, as well as the United States. In the light of its vast network, Dr Badie is a strong advocate of internal unity within the Muslim Brotherhood as well as between all Muslims. Dr Badei was arrested by Egyptian authorities on August 19, 2013, which has been criticized by all the world powers including the US.

The Muslim Brotherhood has learned a painful lesson from the Arab Spring. Although it is the single largest and the most influential political party in the Arab world it will not be permitted to rule unless it abandons Islamic ambitions in favor of western liberalism. Israel and its allies will not allow another Islamic country to threaten Israel’s security at any cost. The Muslim Brotherhood will need to formulate a new peaceful political strategy to defeat a system controlled by the military drawing its sustenance from foreign aid.

El-Sisi’s “Roadmap”

Whether one supports or opposes ousted president Mohamed Morsi, the military coup early last month has taken the people of Egypt back in time, perhaps by the decades. Like every military strongman, the new Egyptian dictator — and that is what he is even if he put up Adly Mansour from the judiciary as a front man to act as “interim leader” — general Abdel Fattah el-Sisi claimed that he would implement his own “roadmap” to bring about “democracy” in Egypt. Dictators have always spoken fondly of “democracy.” It is possible to maintain such a ludicrous stand because democracy is all things to all people.

The more serious question is, on what authority, apart from the barrel of the gun, does the general claim the right to implement his own roadmap? By abrogating the constitution — he called it “temporary suspension” — the military has once again assumed direct control of political affairs in Egypt. It had never really left the scene even when Morsi was in power but now it has come back to take charge directly. Al-Sisi’s 48-hour ultimatum to Morsi was designed to fail. The opposition refused to talk to Morsi. Instead of going after the opposition, the military threw Morsi out of office.

“In the space of one night we are back 60 years,” said Amr Darrag, a senior Muslim Brotherhood member and a former minister for international co-operation. “All of our leaders are being arrested in the middle of the night. Their houses are being stormed. Their children are being scared. All of our remaining leaders are banned from traveling and this is just the start. Yesterday [July 3] we were part of the government doing what we thought was best for Egypt. Even if you do not agree with us, this has gone too far,” he said a day after the coup.

Did Morsi fail in fulfilling his responsibilities as leader of all Egyptians? The answer is both yes and no. Let us deal with why he did not fail. He was not free to act because he was not really in control of the various organs of the state. These were dominated by remnants of the old regime that were determined to defeat his plans to

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A protester comes to the aid of a wounded man as security forces moved in to disperse demonstrators in Nasr City district of Cairo
stabilize the Egyptian economy and bring some semblance of order in the society. Baltagiyas (thugs) hired by the entrenched remnants were let loose on innocent Egyptians. Entire neighborhoods were turned into war zones with the police and other security forces refusing to provide protection. This was deliberate. The felool (remnants of the old regime), wanted to turn people against Morsi and the Muslim

Brotherhood; they succeeded admirably with the help of the Interior Ministry, the police, the judiciary as well as businessmen that all operated under direct instructions from the military.

Morsi’s opponents blamed him for not improving the economy but as Ben Hubbard and David D Kirkpatrick have pointed out in their New York Times article, fuel and food shortages were deliberately created to cause maximum discomfort to people. The endless rounds of protests kept tourists away from the country further undermining the economy. Tourists are not the bravest of people in the world; they want to have fun, not face howl

ing mobs of angry and hungry men and women. Why should they come to an Egypt in turmoil when they could go some place a lot more peaceful? Besides, the media, still dominated by Mubarak-era cronies, created an environment of uncertainty by playing on people’s fears and by spreading rumors. Morsi and his supportive media could not compete with this onslaught.

Future of Political Islam

Where Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood colleagues failed, and failed badly, lies in their judgment. They showed an incredible degree of naivety by assuming that if they gave a free hand to the military, the latter would allow them to rule unhindered. Morsi also committed a serious strategic blunder by aligning himself and his government with the Salafis hoping this would give him some space visà- vis the felool onslaught. The Salafis betrayed him the moment the military struck; they joined the military rather than standing up with their political allies. The Salafis are competing for the same constituency and it is unrealistic to have assumed that they would come to the Brotherhood’s rescue.

Even Morsi’s joining the sectarian war — a destructive approach that has serious repercussions for the future of the Ummah — did not save his skin. The Saudis did not help him; besides, the Saudis were very upset with the West for allowing the overthrow of Mubarak in February 2011. They felt an important pillar of the regional order had been demolished.

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General Gemal Abdel Fatteh el-Sisi
Army chief general Abdel Fattah el-Sisi right now is the most powerful man in Egypt. Officially he is the defence minister in a government formed after the coup, but the world knows his is the hand that controls Egypt’s politics from behind the scene. He presents himself and the army as “the guardians of the people’s will” and using colloquial speeches, Sisi has earned the admiration of many, despite daily bloodshed carried out by his security forces.

In his first comments to the public since the dispersals, general el-Sisi said that the army’s intervention was an obligation, not a choice, because the people’s demands had gone unheeded by Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhoodbacked government. “I swear to God, we were told by an official that they came to rule for 500 years. But how could they?” he said.

Morsi’s appointment of general el-Sisi one year ago to replace field marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi was praised by revolutionaries, who later pitted the young army leader against his president. Known to be religious, the general was accused of being too close to the Muslim Brotherhood. But like many Egyptian army officers, he was also a fervent admirer of Egypt’s nationalist president Gamal Abdel Nasser. Born in Cairo in November 1954, el-Sisi graduated from an Egyptian military academy in 1977 with a diploma in military sciences. He continued to train in the UK Joint Services Command and Staff College in 1992, and received a master’s degree at the US Army War College in Pennsylvania in 2006.

El-Sisi, who does not have combat experience, served as a military attaché in Saudi Arabia during Mubarak’s regime. He then became chief of staff to the commander of the northern military zone. When the military council took power after the revolution, he was appointed as the head of military intelligence in February 2011.

The army chief is also known for his close relationship with the US military. It is believed that this close relationship is why the US has not cut the USD1.3 billion in annual aid it supplies to the Egyptian military in the wake of the July coup and the violent dispersals of the pro-Morsi sit-ins, though the US has cancelled joint military training exercises scheduled for September.

Morsi was fighting on a number of fronts simultaneously and he thought he could outsmart the military. His reliance on the very institutions that were created to support and maintain the old order displayed an incredible degree of simplicity for which Morsi and the Brotherhood have paid a heavy price.

What Morsi’s plight shows yet again is that elections are not the route to establish an Islamic state, even a mild version of it. The secularists will not allow any such development. The Brotherhood did not learn from the Algerian experience and they certainly did not take any notice of the Islamic movement in Iran in 1979. The only factor that has worked very well for the Brotherhood, and they should not move away from, is their rejection of violence, militancy and radicalism.

The maturity of the Brotherhood is in its ability to organize a political movement through a “political” process without resorting to any armed struggle. For this reason, it is widely believed, the Muslim Brotherhood is the world leader as a political party with Islamic motivation and objective. Muslim Brotherhood spokesman Gemal al-Haddad expressed the organization’s commitment to peaceful movements for restoring freedom and democracy reassuring Brotherhood’s determination not to be led into the path of violence and militancy. Meanwhile, it looks like the people of Egypt are in a long haul for their quest for an Islamic state or democracy or both.■

Syria and the Arab Spring – one year later

Arab Spring blew away the long overdue dictatorial regimes of Ben Ali, Husni Mubarak, Ali Abdallah Saleh and Muamar Ghadafi leaving behind ashes of their brutal legacies. After tasting victory the winds of change sadly failed to remove a trained doctor and the current president of secular socialist (Baathist) Syria Bashar Al Assad. A man whose regime is credited with killing over 31,000 till date since the uprising began in 2011.

Syria is more complicated than Tunisia, Libya, Egypt or Yemen in all aspects. It is the central point of that complex political web from where the regional balance of power is anchored in the middle-east. This fact was best known to former empires, Umayads, Abbasids, Ottomans, French and the Soviet Union, all of whom controlled their middle-eastern holdings from Damascus.

Turkish retaliation against Syrian forces recently in the southern border area is a grave danger to the entire region which stands to drag international powers in a direct confrontation risking further divisions in the volatile geography. Turkey also understands any unilateral full scale war would mean playing right into the hands of separatist Kurdish groups’ desire for carving out an independent territory called Kurdistan out of southern Turkey. Opening two war fronts is surely not in Turkey’s best interest. Better not to make the same mistake made by Saddam Hussein who supposedly attacked Iran on others’ behalf only to bleed in a devastating 8 year war.

Iran has been a supporter of the Syrian Baathist regime since the Islamic revolution overthrew the Shah in 1979. These two countries, Iran and Syria, are the alleged financiers and friends of Hamas, Hizbullah and Islamic Jihad, all of whom call for an armed struggle against Israel. Through its ally in Damascus and the loyalty of paramilitary groups based there Teheran keeps its levers on the wheels of power and influence in middle-eastern politics.

Arab kingdoms are eager to see the back of president Bashar Al Assad and with that an end to the Iran-Syria backed threat of domestic revolt against their monarchies. Assad’s departure they hope will change the direction in the sphere of influence away from a pro Russian-Iran camp to a pro US-Gulf camp which should be friendly to Arab monarchs. The reward for making this strategic shift could be billions of dollars in aid packages for reconstruction and development work.

Russia and China have taken a strong position against any NATO intervention in Syria. For international powers Damascus is the central point for projecting their superpower ambitions. Syrian port city Tartous hosts the Russian naval fleet in the middle-east from the Soviet era and Putin will put every pressure to protect his only regional base in the Mediterranean. China is also not ready to lose its strategic future in the region through another regime change. With two permanent UNSC members against military action NATO will most likely back off from immediate armed confrontation.

The country which should benefit the most from regime change in Syria is its arch rival Israel. Syria with a sizable army of its own has a long list of die hard paramilitary groups experienced in combating Israeli defense forces. A pro US-Gulf regime in Damascus should make the situation more favorable to Israel’s long term objectives in the Arab world.

Syria today looks like former Baathist Iraq wherein a sunni minority controlled a shiite majority population until their leader Saddam Hussein was caught and hanged after Gulf War II. End of Saddam also spelled the end of the Baath rule in Baghdad. The Baathists of Damascus know that their survival too depends directly on Bashar al Asad’s survival and Bashar’s regime in turn depends on the minority Alawites’ majority control of the armed forces. The shite Alawites and secular Baathist control of Damascus are inter-connected which means the conflict against the secular Baathist regime ironically and sadly holds a certain religious element to it.

In this situation should the international community support war in Syria or should they accept the oppressive regime of Bashar Al Assad?

What do the Alawites believe?

The major divide in Islam is between Shiite and Sunni Muslims, who initially split over who was supposed to succeed the prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Alawites identify as Shiite Muslims, but the sect carried over older beliefs that predate Islam. For instance, Alawites celebrate some Christian and Zoroastrian holidays.

There are a few other things that distinguish Alawites. Although most Muslims have five pillars of faith, the Alawites have seven. They believe in the divinity of Ali, the cousin and son-in-law of Muhammad (pbuh); other Shiites revere Ali but do not believe he was divine.

Like Jews, Alawites also are seen sometimes as more of a cultural group than a strictly religious one. “Many Alawites nowadays consider themselves outright atheists but are still within the cultural sphere of Alawis and are accepted into the sect and treated like any other (myself, included),” wrote Yazan Badran, a Syrian blogger in Japan who comes from an Alawite family.


How do the Alawites fit into Syria?

In Syria, most of the population is Sunni. Alawites are a minority, believed to make up 12% to 15% of the population. The Assad family, which has ruled Syria for more than 40 years, is Alawite. The religious group also dominates the Syrian security forces.

If the Alawites are such a small sect, how did they come to dominate the Syrian military?

It might seem logical that the Assads put them there, but it was actually the other way around. After World War I, French colonial officials tried to make Syria more inclusive by encouraging minorities to fill government positions. The Alawites ended up finding their place in the military.

As Alawites were recruited to the military, wealthier Sunni urbanites often shunned the military as a career path for their children. “Nobody else would go,” said Camille Otrakji, a Syrian analyst now living in Canada. “The rich in Damascus weren’t interested.”

That led to the military becoming heavily Alawite. Ultimately, the Syrian military was the springboard from which Alawite air force officer Hafez Assad staged his 1970 coup, beginning the Assad regime.


Why does it matter that the Assads are Alawites?

Alawites have been persecuted throughout their history, perhaps because their religious identity is confusing to the authorities. The Assad regime has played on Alawite fears to help it stay in power.

When Syrians began to protest against Assad, Alawites were fearful that “the fall of the regime would bring disaster for their community,” wrote a Middle East researcher in New Zealand. Some Alawites fear that other Syrians might want to take revenge against them for the 1982 massacre in Hama, where human rights activists say thousands of Sunnis were slain — and a big statue of Hafez Assad was erected as an unsubtle message.

But Assad is not guaranteed Alawite support. Some do not see Assad as truly Alawite, considering he married a Sunni woman and grew up in Damascus, not the rural areas other Alawites come from. The Assad family has also repressed dissent from Alawites just as it has other Syrians.

Alawites and the uprising

After the 1963 coup that brought the Baath Party to power, Alawites began consolidating their presence in the government and armed forces. When Hafez Assad took power in a 1970 coup, he stacked key military posts with Alawites, ensuring army loyalty.

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His son Bashar, who succeeded him in 2000, continued the policy. A U.N. report estimated last year that Alawites make up the majority of the officer corps of the armed forces, the Republican Guard and the feared 4th Division, commanded by Assad’s brother Maher.

This disproportionate power has bred resentment among Sunnis, who make up most of Syria’s 22 million people and are the base of the opposition. Some Alawites have joined the revolt against Assad. But like other Syrian minorities, they have stood largely by him for fear of what might befall them in case a hardline Sunni regime takes over. It is understood that the shite Alawite regime keeps a close relationship with shite Iran whereas the sunni majority have theirs with neighboring Turkish sunni muslims dating back to Ottoman era.

Ottoman-Safavid historic connection with Syria

(Jamal Pasha, Ottoman Governor of Syria inspecting his troops left. Pasha with sheriff Ali Hayder)

Turkey for 5 centuries was the center of sunni muslims’ political and military supremacy. Teheran on the other hand became the shiite capital after the 1979 revolution which brought the shite vilayete faqih (rule of the jurists) to power. The Grand Ayatollah of the Islamic Republic is considered as the global religious leader of shite muslims. Former sultans in the Ottoman empire enjoyed that same status in the sunni world before the abolishment of the caliphate in 1924.

In the age of empires Turkish Ottomans and Persian Safavids rivalry for supremacy continued in the larger Islamic empire that stretched from Morocco to Indonesia. Their last war was the Ottoman–Safavid War of 1623–1639 as the last of a series of conflicts over control of Mesopotamia (modern Iraq and Syria). After initial Persian success in capturing Baghdad and most of modern Iraq, the war became a stalemate, as the Persians were unable to press further into the Ottoman Empire, and the Ottomans themselves were distracted by wars in Europe and weakened by internal turmoil. Eventually, the Ottomans were able to recover Baghdad, and the signing of the Treaty of Zuhab ended the war in an Ottoman victory, with Mesopotamia remaining thenceforth in Ottoman hands, until lost in the aftermath of World War I.

Syria-Turkey relations

9 people have so far been killed in clashes in southeast Turkey. Syrian rockets fired into Turkish territory killing 4 people triggering a volley of Turkish wrath as a result. Fighting remained limited on both sides though  knowing that an all out war would be suicidal and war with Syria is considered as a “worst case scenario” by the Turkish government. Damascus-Istanbul relationship go back in history as the Turkish Ottoman provincial capital was located in Damascus which they lost in large part due to the Arab revolt in WWI.

The Arab Revolt

Until the end of WWI Syria, Iraq, Hejaz (Saudi Arabia), Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon and most of North Africa were under the Ottoman rule. The Arab revolt which started in the Hejaz went against time honored Islamic tradition as muslim Arabs joined hands with non muslim Allied forces to fight against their co-religionists the Ottoman of Turkey. On the night of September 30, 1918 Allied forces led by General Edmund Allenby marched into Damascus as Turkish authorities abandoned the city.

(General Allenby and King Feisal I)

That night, Turkish authorities fled the city in anticipation of the Allied occupation, ending hundreds of years of Ottoman rule in Damascus. Allenby’s forces were aided in their campaign in Syria by a force of Arab nationalists, led by Faisal, the son of Sharif Hussein of Mecca. Since 1916, Hussein and his sons, encouraged by British contacts such as T.E. Lawrence—the famous “Lawrence of Arabia”—had given their support to the Allies backstabbing their co-religionists. When the Allies occupied Damascus, Arab riflemen fired their guns in the air to celebrate the fall of the Turks in that city. Barely a month later, Turkey sued for peace, signing an armistice with the Allies on October 30, 1918. Turkey without its caliphate could be compared to a Great Britain without its monarchy.

(General Allenby entering Jerusalem on foot)


Modern Turkish Model

Dictators who took over from former colonial governors were experts at suppressing the thoughts, emotions and opinions of their citizens. Use of secret police (mukhabarat) for spying on opposition, rights activists and free thinking writers marked the high points of their tyrannical career. Freedom and liberty of people were crushed in exchange for financial aid which mostly ended up in the elites’ pockets suggests the Arab revolutionaries.

Turkey on the other hand has built a pluralistic republic without totally abandoning its Islamic history, culture and civilization. It is more open to criticism, modern ideas, science, technology and progress in general. There may be issues concerning governance or economic development from time to time as is the case with any administration anywhere in the world but the Turkish system stands out shining in a region where the dark forces reigned in Stalinist police state models.

Arab youths want a better future for themselves, they deserve a better future, like their Turkish brothers and sisters. They would like to see an open, pluralistic, democratic and liberal society built on the principles of Justice and Freedom. This is the model AKP ruling party of Turkey has been advocating for its people which Arabs want so badly. And hence the “Turkish model” has become their spiritual inspiration silently shaping the youths’ mindset in North Africa and the Levant, former Turkish ottoman provinces.

Revolutionaries during the height of protests at Tahrir Square very clearly expressed their dreams to fashion their society along the favored Turkish model. One Egyptian newspaper ran a headline “lend us Erdogan for a month” echoing the Turkish spirit solemnly whispering amongst the people at that time. In 2011 Arabs revolted against hoping to bring in the Turkish Model in Arab lands. Successive elections point towards that cherished goal as parties thought to be related to the Muslim Brotherhood adopted the Turkish principles in their election motto.

Turkey wants to avoid war

Syrian forces shelled its northern border area where the rebel fighters are said to be headquartered. Fighters are apparently receiving ammo from there and naturally Syrian forces pounded those sites in order to cut off the vital link for the arms supply. However, shelling the rebels also meant firing on Turkish lands. Turkey responded in kind but stopped short of a full blown ground assault.

Bashar Al Assad has his hands full fighting a civil war, and Turkish prime minister Recep Erdogan would presumably like to avoid war. His administration suggested this weekend that Syria’s vice president would be acceptable as the leader of a transitional government. It’s a frantic effort to avoid war which may not be avoidable in the future.

But wars are often fought by countries whose leaders didn’t really want them. (See World War I.) A common reason is that neither regime feels it can afford to be seen by its people as backing down. But perhaps more important are some other dynamics pushing these countries toward war:

[1] Turkey could decide before long that war is preferable to the alternatives. Many of Syria’s Kurds hope to use the civil war as an opportunity to carve out an autonomous or even sovereign Kurdish region in Syria, and Turkey fears that this could prove contagious, emboldening Kurdish separatists in Turkey and energizing longstanding dreams of a new Kurdish nation that comprises parts of Turkey, Iraq, Syria, and Iran.

[2] NATO: The fact that a Turkish-Syrian war could draw America into the conflict will make such a war more attractive to some backers of American intervention. That includes presumably leaders of some Arab states.

[3] The Syrian regime is fighting for its life, and along the Turkish-Syrian border lies the lifeline of its enemy. The rebels are being supplied with weapons via Turkey and are seizing control of border crossings inside Syria, and their goal is to build, from there, an expanding zone of control. It would be in the loyalists’ best interest to keep control of border crossings and disrupt the rebels’ supply of arms and ammunition near the point of origin. It means shelling along the border will not stop any time soon.

“Those who attempt to test Turkey’s deterrence, its decisiveness, its capacity, I say here, they are making a fatal mistake,” Mr Erdogan said. “We are not interested in war, but we’re not far from war either. This nation is where it is today having gone through inter-continental wars.”

By going to war Turkey could risk its own trajectory of power and supremacy in world politics risking many of the economic and social achievements it has worked so hard for. Turkey cant fall into another fatal war where its territorial unity could come under the scanner. But can Turkey back down from its superior moral position as the leading muslim state in the world having the ability to save the Syrian people from Bashar Al Assad?


Syria-Iran connection

Iran did not export the Islamic revolution to Syria and neither did the Baathists export aetheism to Iran and yet they look like they are joined in the hip. Something other than religion has brought these two dissimilar countries together. A brief about Iran-Syria relations:

Since 1979, the alliance between Syria and Iran has had significant impact in both shaping Middle East politics.

Syria and Iran are the two parties most responsible according to US analysts for spoiling U.S.-backed peace efforts between the Arabs and Israel in order to promote their own Arab and Islamic interests. For the United States, they were also the most troublesome countries during the U.S. intervention in Iraq because they aided, abetted or armed insurgents.

The two regimes share common traits. They are both defiantly independent, even at a political or economic cost. Iran is predominantly Shiite. Although Syria is predominantly Sunni Muslim, its ruling family is Alawite, a Shiite sect.

Syria’s Baa’thist ideology is strictly secular and socialist. Iran’s ideology is rigidly religious and, in principle, opposed to atheist communism and its offshoots. Yet their common strategic goals have held the alliance together for three decades, despite repeated attempts to rend them apart.



The Iran-Syria alliance grew out of common cause—and common enemies. Since Iran’s 1979 revolution, these two countries combined their will and intelligence to build a network of surrogate militias and frustrate the plans of opponents. Together they ensured Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, which bordered both countries, would not become the predominant regional power. They forced U.S. peacekeepers out of Lebanon in 1984, and thwarted Israel’s effort to bring Lebanon into its orbit during an 18-year occupation that finally ended in Israel’s unilateral withdrawal in 2000.

Together they also stand a better chance of achieving their long-term goals. Syria wants to regain the strategic Golan Heights, lost to Israel in the 1967 War, and keep its veto power over Lebanese politics. Iran wants to be the preeminent regional player in the Persian Gulf and ensure its allies rule in Iraq.

The height of Syrian-Iranian power    1982-1985

After Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon and rout of Syrian forces there, Syrian President Hafez Assad enlisted Iran’s influence among the Lebanese Shiites to wage a campaign of attacks against their mutual opponents in Lebanon.

Common enemy Saddam Hussein’s Iraq        1988-1991

Cooperation focused on checking Iraqi power and crushing President Michel Aoun’s anti-Syrian revolt in Lebanon in 1988-1989. During the 1990-1991 Gulf War against Iraq, Syria contributed troops to the U.S.-led coalition and Iran remained neutral.

Alliance cooperation in the post-Cold War period   1991-2003

As the Cold War ended and the United States became the world’s dominant power, Tehran and Damascus grew increasingly important to each other. They collaborated in arming and abetting Hezbollah and Hamas to pressure Israel, as well as to influence events in Lebanon and the Palestinian Authority. Their aid was instrumental in enabling Hezbollah to wage a guerrilla campaign throughout the 1990s against Israel, which withdrew in 2000.

 Alliance after the 2003 Iraq war

Cooperation between Iran and Syria increased markedly after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. Both countries welcomed the ouster of Saddam Hussein, their mutual foe. But the speed of the U.S. military victory also initially raised fears that either Iran or Syria might be the next target in the Bush administration’s “War on Terror.”

An enduring alliance

The Syria-Iran alliance has survived in part because it has been primarily defensive in nature. For three decades, it has been aimed largely at neutralizing Iraqi and Israeli capabilities and preventing American encroachment in the Middle East. Defensive alliances which have fixed and limited objectives are often more durable.

Their distinctive ideological differences, ironically, have also helped the relationship endure. Syria and Iraq were intense political rivals, and often came close to military blows, because they shared the same Baa’thist ideology. The political elites in Tehran and Damascus were never competing.

Iran has vied for leadership of the Islamist bloc in the Middle East and beyond, a role in which secular Syria has no interest. Syria has long sought to be “the beating heart of Arabism,” a role in which Iran, a non-Arab country, has no interest. Except for a brief period of rival ambitions in Lebanon, the two countries have never been in competition—ideologically, economically or militarily. Neither has tried to upstage the other.


Syria, Egypt Israel and the Middle-East

Syria’s importance in Middle East politics sky rocketed after the peace treaty was signed between Egypt and Israel in 1979 which neutralized the most militarily powerful Arab country Egypt against Israel.

(Sadat, carter and Begin at Camp David after signing the peace treaty)

Anwar Sadat was more pragmatic than his predecessor. He used Egypt’s advances in the Yom Kippur war to negotiate land for peace. He recovered Egypt’s lost territory from Israel in an attack that surprised the entire world. After that came the ground breaking treaty and his fatal visit to Israel as a state guest. The Arabs were shocked at what they termed betrayal of the Palestinian and Arab cause. Anwar Sadat was branded as a traitor by islamist groups who on the 8th anniversary of the Yom Kippur war assassinated him at a parade.

(Sadat’s assassination on the 8th anniversary of Yom Kippur war)

Following the peace treaty Egypt was dismembered from the Arab League which was created by mostly Egyptian diplomacy and headquartered in Cairo. Syria ended up assuming Egypt’s place as the last Arab country to oppose Israel militarily. As such countries not belonging to the pro US-Gulf block would be naturally inclined towards the Syrian regime.

(Husni Mubarak next to Anwar Sadat)




Balance of Power

In the age of republics Turkey and Iran have transformed their old political structures bringing in a new dimension for acquiring greater influence in the muslim world. The race now is between two republics instead of two empires.

The difference between the two republics is that while Turkey is secular and democratic with a soft Islam approach Iran claims it is Islamic and democratic leaning towards hardliners. It is also observed that Turkey is the only muslim member state of NATO and is generally not considered to be anti US whilst Iran is pro Russia and has no diplomatic relations with the US.

The ruling elite and the common people don’t always share the same vision for allies and friends. For eg, Baathist rulers of Damascus are closer to the Islamic republic more than they ever were with Iraqi Baathists in Baghdad. During the US war in Iraq refugees flooded Iraq’s western border where they were quite well received by Syrians. Again, as the civil war currently rages refugees from Syria are flooding the Turkish and Iraqi borders. Syrians commonly will be more comfortable in Turkish or Iraqi lands rather than of Iran.

Between the people of contiguous countries there exists a logical cultural, religious and linguistic sharing which would be the natural basis for state relationships. Middle-eastern countries’ policies however are often questioned whether they truly reflect the peoples’ collective desire for bonding or are they acting as proxies for foreign powers. It is often the case that a country in the US camp is generally not hostile towards Israel and vice versa. A regime change carries the hope that Syria would move away from the Russian camp and into the US camp making Israel more secure.

In the Arab Spring 2011 the Al-Khalifah family, Bahraini ruling dynasty, was nearly overthrown by an uprising had it not been for Saudi forces which came to rescue the royalty from its citizens. The massacres in Bahrain were no different from the one in Syria today except that the international community had sided with the ruling dynasty instead of the people. Bahrain has also been a naval base for the US Navy’s 5th fleet.

The fact that the revolution in Bahrain failed does not, and should not, imply that Bahrainis have forgotten the bloodshed and are now happy to be once again under the old royals. The horror of massacres lives in a nation’s memory for generations as repeatedly seen in the history of nations.

The burning issue for Gulf Arabs is the possibility of uprisings and revolts against the ruling dynasties. The possibility of monarchs’ fall raises the prospect of a radically anti western government taking over and fundamentally altering the balance of power in the region. That should also be Israel’s biggest concern also.

The promoter of change in the current balance of power is Iran the shite choice of majority population in many Arab countries. Iran and its partner Syria are obvious targets for the current power holding monarchs who wish to avoid a fate similar to Libya’s Ghaddafi.

The only muslim country and NATO member with a powerful army which can set things right for the continuation of the existing balance of power is Turkey. Military intervention in Syria will most probably drag in Iran, Russia, NATO and possibly Israel and China into the conflict and therefore makes Turkish entry in such a war more and more unlikely.

The balance of power in the region can’t change unless the Iran-Russia alliance shifts away from Syria, or vice versa. That will not be expected unless the top brass of the Baathist regime in Syria have been replaced by a popular government relying on the peoples’ desire to be liberated.

Justice and Freedom

In the Persian Gulf it looks like the fear of another country falling into the Iranian camp is more dangerous than supporting a popular struggle for freedom and justice. On that premise there are three broad groups with regard to the Syrian uprising.

Firstly, there is the pro interventionist group which are clustered close to each other in the Persian Gulf. Their worst nightmare is the rising power of Iranian ideology amongst their shite citizens which can one day dislodge them from power. These states are against any change in their own societies whilst they advocate for external intervention to change Syria. Interestingly, these states do not move when Palestinian blood is shed but are deeply touched by the cleansing in Syria. They are also important US-NATO partners in the regional strategy.

Then there is the pro Assad group all of whom have fixed their regional ambitions in Syria the heart of Arab modernism. They don’t want regime change and will oppose any western intention to intervene militarily. These countries are also non NATO countries.

The third group comes from the Arab street. They don’t want war and they definitely don’t have any sympathy for dictators like Assad. War, they say, will probably split the country into 2 or 3 separate independent states which will be a permanent source for future conflicts.

Alawite, Sunni and Kurdish Syrias would be catastrophic in terms of unity and strength for the most strategic Arab country. Earlier, Iraq was practically divided into 2 states, a shjite-sunni Iraq and a semi autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan following Gulf War I and II. The victor in these divisions is often the evil concept of sectarianism and racism.

Arabs were not destined to be ruled by iron fists. Their culture tells any reader of history how fiercely independent they always have been. Arabs now believe they can make a change and they need every help they can get for liberating their societies.

People don’t want war politicians do, goes the saying. In case of war the greatest casualty will be the loss of innocent lives which had nothing to do with any of this regional strategic game. But freedom and liberty comes at a price. Are the Syrians collectively prepared to pay that price?

However the only way for changing Syria is by prevailing the collective will of the people over dictatorships. The armed struggle, may be argued, came too early too fast in Damascus. The revolution has to be fully home grown and non militant if it wants victory.

One prince out, another one in, but no change

Can’t expect anything to change rapidly in saudi arabia. The house of sauds know only too well where the real source of their power lies, and its not in Jiddah or Riyadh. Whether the new prince hates Iran or likes Iraq is not a matter to be considered. What matters is whether he can please his master efficiently or not.

The most important job for the prince now will be to keep his countrymen away from the Arab awakening. His royal highness must first ensure that saudis remain politically thoughtless and intellectually void about the need for removing puppet dictators. The Arab Spring must not be allowed entry into the kingdom.

But the prince will have one hell of a time freezing the winds of change from entering his country. Once Assad is gone, Sauds will probably be next in line. Their wishful thinking will hardly change anything in the natural course of civilization, which always looks for a better solution.

For the short while, the revolutions seem to be coming under heavy threats. Muslim Brotherhood was dislodged from the parliament giving the military and Mubarak’s ex prime minister an upper hand which could very welll mummify the revolution. In Syria, the Assad regime looks all set to bulldoze its way out of the Arab Spring. They killed 14,000 people already and there is no sign of any letting up. Saudis could use these quick failures to show the needlessness of such foolish behaviours.

The house of sauds can as always fall back upon the religious establishment to help them inject the medicine of inaction into the population. Their extremist official wahabist sect will use religious verdicts to support the government against public demands. Due to their respectable positions in masjids and scholarly institutions shaykhs will be obeyed and their comments will be the last word in the socio-religious-cultural life. Religion plus state controlled media has helped the Mukhabarat based governments in the muslim world to control the sentiments and emotions of the people. The age of Mukhabarat may have survived the minister but it may not be able to survive another spring.

Arab Spring for an Israeli Islamist winter

Arab Muslims cant fumble on this simple logic anymore. Israel does not want to risk a truly representative democratic Arab state with humanitarian or Islamic ideals in the Arab world. Israel prefers to have neighbours similar to Mubarak’s Egypt, Basher’s Syria, salafist Saudis, weakiling Jordan and liberalist Lebanon.

One must not be fooled by the Arab dictators’ theatrics as they blast the “jews” promising to “free” palestine and to pray at al-Aqsa mosque very soon. These are like drugs for the poor bloody Arabs and muslims, who love to hear a clown beat the hell out of zionist Israelis in public, especially if in international media. Behind the drama we would see a debauched drunk willing to sell his mother to feed his goat.

To have a democratic state represented by muslim majority population can mean only one thing for Israel, hostility. What good would democracy in the Arab world achieve, if it only legitimately brought hatred to the jewish doorstep? That is not the intention of uplifting Arabs from its current status. What then is the real goal of Middle East policy?

Israel’s first goal should be to keep her safe from an Arab attack to liberate Palestine from its occupation. At any cost, Israel cant loose to Arab muslims, especially not to an Islamist regime. That is not why the western countries established Israel. Secondly, Arabs must be taught to live with a sense of defeat. They cant be allowed to remember their past when they ruled the world, as a power amongst powers. Arabs must believe they are weak, incapable and unprepared to fight against Israel. Arabs must also believe that without America their kingdoms will sink fast in a quicksand.

Before the Arab Spring Israel had perfectly laid out its strategy following the peace treaty with Sadat. It is only now that Israel feels threatened by changes in the region. After Egypt, Israel cant afford to see another transition towards a populist regime in Syria. Israel must now be looking at funding Mubarak loyalists with all their economic might. While in Syria they better be helping Assad keep his grip on power. For the zionists Arab Spring is no spring at all, its a real threat to the occupation of Arab land.


The Right-Wing Israeli Case That the Arab Spring Is Good for Israel – The Atlantic.

Social Networking Revolution

Governments panic at the sound of facebook, especially if the government is despotic and corrupt like Egypt under Mubarak, or Syria under Assad. Governments want to believe that they are popular and more importantly they desperately want to be the sole recipients of peoples’ love, sympathy and admiration. Mass people, governments hope, should not have any alternative power source in control of their affairs. That would mark the end of any government’s legitimacy.

In 1971, there was only one ruler in East Pakistan, and it was’nt Yahya. Someone had captured the hearts and minds of the common man and held their attention in his powerful grip. He could order them to do anything. One man had mesmerized and hypnotized an entire nation. Generals just never understood the power of mass popularity.

Mubarak, like Yahya, fell in that same trap. He too thought he could bulldoze his compatriots to surrender to his will. He thought he could control Egypt from his headquarters in Heliopless. Mubarak was deaf, dumb and blind. He did not see Tahrir Square as the heart of Egypt which controlled his country. It happened that way because that’s where all the emotions and thoughts and feelings of the people converged. Mubarak was cut off from the people. Tahrir Square represented the people. How was this brilliant revolution being organized?

The Arab Spring starting from Tunisia down to Yemen is being organized and lead from cyber space by social networking sites. Facebook, twitter, blogs and other such sites are the fuel for the engine of new revolution. Facebook and twitter on mobiles is a more accurate definition of this fuel.

Arab societies are under brutal dictatorships, although the age of secret police is over, they are still not yet free from tyranny. Without a device to encrypt and send messages secretly there would have been no Arab Spring to start with. The burning of BouAziza was recorded and posted on facebook. That post got sent around the network bringing angry youth to secretly gather at Tunis for a showdown with Ben Ali’s forces. The corrupt secret police of Ben Ali could not track the organizers because they were using internet based technology and always changing their locations in anticipation of a crackdown.

Wael Ghonim used facebook accounts to spread police torture and killing of an Egyptian called Khaled. Egyptian youth learned the trick very quickly from Tunisia. They used facebook and twitter to organize the youth into one massive movement that galvanized at Tahrir Square astonishing the whole world. The power of revolutions through internet had just begun. Mubarak, Ben Ali, Ghaddafi, Ali Abdallah Saleh and now Assad can owe their disgraceful end partly to social networking sites.

It is very well expected that despots and dictators would like to ban social networking from their countries. But why is the British government thinking about draconian laws to limit facebook and other social sites?

Last summer in the wake of the London riots, British Prime Minister David Cameron insisted that the government should have the power to censor social media and “stop [alleged rioters] from communicating via these websites”. That sounded more like Mubarak than Cameroon