Democracy or Theocracy Movements in the Middle East and Africa?

Posted by PITHOCRATES - February 20th, 2011

A Domino Theory in the Middle East and Africa

You may not know where Bahrain is.  But you’ve probably heard of it.  Long before the protests there.  It’s home to the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet.  We support our operations for Afghanistan and Iraq from Bahrain.  So it’s pretty important to U.S. security.

It’s an island nation off the coast of Saudi Arabia.  Not too far from Kuwait (the nation Saddam Hussein invaded back in 1990).  Bahrain, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia are still friendly to the U.S.  And these Sunni states provide a strategic counter to Shiite Iranian power in the Persian Gulf area.

Protests following the democratic uprising in Tunisia and Egypt got pretty bloody in Bahrain.  But is Bahrain going through a democratic uprising?  Or is it a civil war between Sunni and Shiite (see Saudi Arabia says it’s ready to help Bahrain’s rulers by Janine Zacharia and Michael Birnbaum posted 2/20/2011 on The Washington Post)?

Saudi Arabia on Sunday said it stands ready “with all its capabilities” to shore up Bahrain’s ruling royal family if a standoff with the Shiite-led opposition is not resolved soon, underscoring the kingdom’s deep concern about its neighbor’s ongoing political crisis.

Sunni-led Saudi Arabia props up Bahrain’s al-Khalifa family with cash and has long sought to prevent the tiny Persian Gulf state – with its majority Shiite population – from falling into Iran’s orbit. With dwindling oil resources, Bahrain relies heavily on Saudi Arabia for money and security.

This is what makes any ‘democratic’ uprising in the Middle East complicated.  You see, the Sunnis and Shiites don’t exactly get along.  The 8-year war between Iraq and Iran was a war between Sunni (Iraq) and Shiite (Iran).  They hate each other.  And the only way they appear to live in peaceful coexistence is when one is oppressing the other.

But the more stabilizing force tends to be the Sunnis.  The Sunni nations are typically the more modern nations.  The ones with women’s rights.  The Shiites are more old school.  They want to turn the hands of the clock back when there were no comforts in life but prayer.  And women were little more than chattel.  They’re a bit more radical.  Then again, the Sunnis have their own radicalism.  Let us not forget that Osama bin Laden is a Wahhabi Sunni.  As is Al Qaeda.  But the big destabilizing force in the Middle East is Iran.  And they’re Shiite.  They’re big, powerful and trying to acquire nuclear weapons.  So her neighbors are understandably worried.

Kuwait’s emir, Sheik Sabah Ahmed al-Sabah, also called the Bahraini king on Sunday and stressed that “the security of Bahrain is the security of the region,” reflecting the growing anxiety among gulf monarchies that Bahrain’s troubles could have a spillover effect. In Kuwait, protesters have already taken to the streets demanding more rights.

Talk about a domino theory.  We still don’t know what will rise from the ashes in Tunisia and Egypt.  They could very well go Muslim Brotherhood.  This would be a huge boost to Iranian interests in the area.  Adding Bahrain and Kuwait could very well seal the deal and give Iran the hegemony it so desperately wants in the region.

We need to be careful in urging democracy to break out in the Middle East and Africa.  Because sometimes stability is better than instability.  For there is a good chance that democracy will lose these revolutions in time.  Opening the door to the more radical elements (such as the Muslim Brotherhood).  Who may impose an oppressive theocracy instead.  Like they said they’ve always wanted to in Egypt.  And if they get what they want, say hello to $4/gallon gasoline.  Or more.  Because they will turn back the hands of time.  And cut off our oil.  Shutting down our economies.  And then, if they get their nuclear weapon, they’ll take it up a notch.

It is important to understand something.  They don’t want our land.  They don’t want our industry.  They just want to get rid of us.  The only thing that prevented the Soviets from destroying us was that they needed our food.  And our technology.  Iran wants technology to make their bomb.  But once they use it they’ll be content to go back to living in abject poverty.

Iran Likes Democracy as long as it is in Egypt

These protests are getting contagious.  Libya, Morocco and China.  And, yes, even Iran.  Now if there was ever a democratic movement for the U.S. to stick its nose into it would be in Iran.  This isn’t complicated. The Iranian people have been suffering under the Mahmoud Ahmadinejad regime.  Ahmadinejad is the greatest threat to peace in the region.  He’s working on a nuclear bomb.  And he wants to incinerate Israel.  It doesn’t get simpler than this.  He’s the big bad now.  Osama bin Laden is holed up in a cave.  Kim Jong-il desperately needs western food and energy.  China may be flexing her muscle but she owns so much of our debt that she needs us to prosper if she is to prosper.  Iran, though, has no use for us.  And would be quite happy to see us in the past tense.

And how are the Iranians handling their protesters?  Sounds like they’re not quite as nice as the Egyptians were (see Iran Squelches Protest Attempt in Capital by Liz Robbins posted 2/20/2011 on The New York Times).

Despite a steady rain, large crowds of protesters gathered throughout Tehran, the capital, from the main thoroughfare to city squares, according to opposition Web sites and witnesses. Those sites and witnesses reported that ambulances were being driven into crowds and officers were making arrests. Security forces, some on motorcycles, deployed tear gas to disperse crowds near Valiasr Square. A hazy cloud of tear gas hung over Vanak Square.

Plainclothes officers randomly stopped and frisked people on the streets and removed people from vehicles, witnesses said. There were reports of police officers firing on the crowds, although that could not be immediately verified because foreign journalists were largely not allowed to report in Iran.

And this from the government that praised the people of Egypt of going after what they deserved.  Democracy.  It’s funny how they can praise democracy that can destabilize a nation friendly with the West but attack it within its own borders.  It almost makes one think that Iran has other motives in the region.

It was unclear how many people joined the demonstrations in Tehran on Sunday. Witnesses estimated that more than 20,000 people attended demonstrations on Feb. 14, making them the largest opposition protests since the aftermath of the 2009 disputed election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

During the 2008 presidential campaign, president Obama said he would speak with Ahmadinejad.  To address our differences.  And find common ground.  He thought he could reason with him. Then came the Apology Tour.  And the Cairo speech.  He called for more democracy in the Muslim world.  Then came the Iranian election.  There appeared to be massive fraud.  And then the uprising.  Iranians trying to get some of that democracy that Obama spoke of.  And what did Obama do?  Acted timidly.  He didn’t attack Ahmadinejad.  He treated him with far more respect than he gave Hosni Mubarak.  And Mubarak was our ally.  And now the people of Iran are rising up again.  And the Iranian regime is fighting back against the forces of democracy.

The government, however, appeared to limit the electronic voice of the protesters on Sunday. Witnesses in Iran reported that the Internet was working very slowly, cell phone service was shut down in areas where people were demonstrating and satellite television, including Persian BBC, was jammed.

Out on the streets, the police in Tehran appeared to be recruiting teenagers to quell the protests on Sunday. Witnesses observed packs of young boys armed with batons, and wearing helmets and army fatigues.

A witness told the International Campaign for Human Rights that security forces on Mirdamad Street in Tehran had used live ammunition against protesters, and one person is believed to have been killed there, but that could not be verified.

There’s a difference between Ahmadinejad and Mubarak.  Ahmadinejad oppresses his people, supports terrorism, wants to incinerate Israel and seeks to disrupt peace throughout the Middle East.  Mubarak only oppressed his people.  Other than that Egypt was a stabilizing force in the region.  And yet look who’s still in power.

Time for a New Strategy

Instability in every nation other than Iran in the Middle East and Africa is cause for concern.  The one country where it can’t get any worse is Iran.  If their regime collapses anything that replaces it will be closer to democracy.  And if we support all of those democratic uprisings everywhere else, we should support the hell out of it in Iran.  Why, then, has our response there been so lukewarm?

I guess it goes back to the Cairo speech.  And the apology tour.  It would appear that our national security strategy is to get people who have a deep-seated hatred for us to like us. To believe that rolling over and showing our soft underbelly can get our enemies to forget tradition, custom and religion.  But after two years look what it has gotten us.  An emboldened enemy.  And fallen and threatened allies.

I think it’s time for a new strategy.

www.PITHOCRATES.com

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Egypt Drifting away from Israel and towards Iran?

Posted by PITHOCRATES - February 16th, 2011

Islamic Fundamentalists Hated Hosni Mubarak

Egypt had problems.  High unemployment.  Some bad poverty.  And a pretty oppressive police state.  That said, one thing Egypt didn’t have was extreme Islamic Fundamentalism.  Partly because of that oppressive police state.  So this Middle Eastern nation was relatively safe for westerners.  And they flocked there to see the treasures of ancient Egyptian culture. 

Islamic Fundamentalist elements throughout the Middle East did not like this Western intrusion into their lands.  And they did not like Hosni Mubarak for letting it happen.  Or for being too Western.  Or for maintaining peace with their archenemy.  Israel.  No, that part of the Middle East, the Islamic Fundamentalist part, hated Mubarak and his policies that were far too Western.  Too U.S. friendly.  And, especially, too ‘Jew’ friendly. 

So there is some trepidation over who will take over power in Egypt.  The Muslim Brotherhood?  Who wants to right all these past wrongs?  It’s a possibility.  And if they do and Egypt falls under Islamic Fundamentalism, the region may never be the same.  Especially for Israel.  Who will be surrounded further still.  Syria to the north.  Hezbollah on its borders in the north and along the Gaza Strip.  And, of course, Iran.  What do all of these powers have in common?  They all seek the destruction of Israel.  And anything Jewish.  Including the United States.

Islamic Fundamentalists Hate Israel and Jews

Most of American media is portraying the Egyptian revolt as a democratic movement.  They’re crediting Barak Obama for getting peace there after only 18 days.  And they’re quick to dismiss any concerns about the Muslim Brotherhood.  It’s a bit puzzling to say the least.  Few, if any, revolutions start and end in 18 days.  Democracy just doesn’t work like that.  Not when there are mobs on the street.  Mobs can unite to oppose a common enemy.  But there is rarely anything else that a mob can agree on.

Islamic Fundamentalists hated Mubarak.  Because Mubarak oppressed them.  Now that Mubarak is no longer oppressing them, it is likely that they will become active.  And they’re not really ‘democracy’ people.  They’re more ‘Sharia law‘ people.  With a lot of friends in nearby places (Iran, Syria, Gaza Strip, etc.) who think like they do.  Have weapons.  And hate Jews as much as they do.

Which brings us to this story in The Daily Caller about the horrible sexual assault on CBS Reporter Lara Logan.  We haven’t seen other reports on this and it is difficult to verify.  So bear that in mind.  However, we quote it here because it’s a story that doesn’t fit the media template for this ‘democratic’ movement in Egypt (see Egyptian attackers shouted ‘Jew! Jew!’ while sexually assaulting CBS reporter Lara Logan by Laura Donovan posted 2/16/2011 on The Daily Caller).

CBS and other sources said Tuesday that the network’s chief foreign correspondent, Lara Logan was repeatedly sexually assaulted by thugs yelling, “Jew! Jew!” in Egypt, according to the New York Post.

As we noted above, Israel is not a popular nation in the Middle East.  And Mubarak was hated for being too ‘Jew’ friendly.  Because a lot of people in the Middle East hate Israel.  And Jews.  Next to Israel itself, the United States is number 2 on their hate list.  For its support of Israel.  And the ‘American Jewish bankers’ that are supposedly running the world.  So it is not unbelievable that they would attack and rape an American woman and call her a Jew.  Because rape is a tactic used in conflict (see Video of the Week: Stop Rape in Conflict (UN Women)).  Incidentally, it was the army that saved Logan.  Which appears to be the stabilizing force in Egypt.  So far.

Is Iran Exploiting or Inciting the Egyptian Unrest?

This may have just been an angry mob.  As a percentage of the population, this one event was statistically insignificant.  Except to Logan, of course.  But if the mob did shout ‘Jew’ at this CBS news reporter during the attack, that should concern a lot of people.  Because that’s pretty inflammatory.  And you don’t shout that out unless you feel most of the people around you won’t attack you for it.  You only do something like that when you feel safe.  When you feel the people around you feel the same way.

So should Israel be worried?  Are there powers exploiting the political unrest in Egypt?  Perhaps (see Iran warships ‘sailing into Mediterranean’ posted 2/17/2011 in The Telegraph).

Two Iranian warships planned to sail through the Suez Canal en route to Syria on Wednesday, Israel’s foreign minister said, describing the move as a “provocation” by Tehran…

Israel’s Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper described the Iranian ships as a MK-5 frigate and a supply vessel.

And how often to Iranian warships pass through the Suez Canal?

According to the daily, no Iranian naval vessels have passed through Suez since the Islamic Republic was established in 1979, causing a bitter rift between Tehran and Cairo.

“Tonight, two Iranian warships are meant to pass through the Suez Canal to the Mediterranean Sea and reach Syria, something that has not happened in many years,” Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said in a Jerusalem speech distributed by his office.

Mubarak would have not allowed the Iranians to move a warship through the Suez Canal.  Now that Mubarak is gone, the Iranians are wasting no time in testing the waters.  Will the Egyptian military permit this?  Or will they block the Iranians?  Can they block the Iranians?  Or are there already too many pro-Iranian elements within Egypt?  If so, it would appear the Egyptian Revolution was less of a democracy movement and more of an Islamic revolution.  Despite what our media and our administration are saying.  So what’s next?

“To my regret, the international community is not showing readiness to deal with the recurring Iranian provocations. The international community must understand that Israel cannot forever ignore these provocations.”

Israel sees a major threat in Iran’s nuclear programme and calls for its elimination, but the countries’ geographical distance has kept them from open confrontation. Syria is one of Israel’s neighbouring foes and an ally of Tehran.

An Iran working towards a nuclear weapon that wants to remove Israel from the map.  An Israel that wants to remain on that map.  And now an Egypt that has some elements that are friendlier to Iran than Israel.  What does this mean? 

It’s a tinderbox.  Should Iran attack Israel it will pull the Western World into war.  A world war.  Because if Iran controls the area, they will shut off the oil supply to the West.  Cripple us in a recession worse than the Great Depression.  While they establish a new Caliphate.  Impose Shari a law.  And bring back the glory days when they stepped into the void of the Roman Empire and controlled most of the civilized world.

Or it could really be a democratic movement.  Time will tell. 

www.PITHOCRATES.com

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