President Obama’s Change in Policy during the Arab Spring to Support Change instead Stability spreads Instability

Posted by PITHOCRATES - February 17th, 2013

Week in Review

Before the Arab Spring there was the Green Revolution in Iran in 2009.  Where thousands used social media to gather in protests over what they claimed were voting irregularities that kept President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in power.  President Obama did not support the Green Revolution.  Despite Iran being a sponsor of terrorism, an enemy of the United States and the greatest threat to regional stability.  President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad suppressed the uprisings.  And jailed some of the opposition.  Where some have made claims of torture and rape.  But as closed a society Iran is these claims have been unsubstantiated.  Though we have the word of the ruling regime that crushed the rebellion that there was no torture or rape.

When the Arab Spring kicked off in Tunisia in 2010 President Obama announced a change in policy.  The U.S. would support change in the Arab world instead of stability.  When the Arab Spring spread to Egypt in 2011 President Obama told Hosni Mubarak that he had to step down from power.  Despite being a stalwart U.S. ally.  An enemy to al Qaeda.  And being the anchor of stability in the Middle East and North Africa.  Now the Muslim Brotherhood is in power there.  Who has close ties with Iran.

When the Arab Spring spread to Libya President Obama supported the opposition based in Benghazi.  Despite Colonel Muammar Gaddafi renouncing terrorism.  And being an ally of America in their War on Terror.  Like Mubarak he oppressed radical Islamists including al Qaeda.  Which explains why al Qaeda was part of the opposition trying to overthrow Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.  They hated him.  And his oppression of anti-western  radical Islamists.  President Obama supported the opposition.  Gave them weapons.  And helped enforce a no-fly zone.  In 2012 Islamists attacked the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.  Killing 4 Americans.  Including the Libyan ambassador.  Chris Stevens.  Perhaps killed with weapons we brought into Libya.

When the Arab Spring spread to Syria President Obama did not support the opposition.  Despite Syria being a sponsor of terrorism.  And a close ally of Iran.  As Syria broke down into civil war al Qaeda joined the opposition.  Making any U.S. support now even more complicated.  However Syria turns out it will be a foreign policy failure.  In fact the foreign policy of President Obama has been to abandon U.S. allies that bring stability to the region.  While not getting involved in uprisings in states hostile to the U.S.  Bringing great instability to the Middle East and Northern Africa.  And beyond (see Police: 7 foreigners kidnapped in north Nigeria by SHEHU SAULAWA and JON GAMBRELL, Associated Press, posted 2/17/2013 on Yahoo! News).

Gunmen attacked a camp for a construction company in rural northern Nigeria, killing a guard and kidnapping seven foreign workers from Britain, Greece, Italy Lebanon and the Philippines, authorities said Sunday, in the biggest kidnapping yet in a region under attack by Islamic extremists…

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the abductions, though Nigeria’s predominantly Muslim north has been under attack by the radical Islamic sect known as Boko Haram in the last year and a half. The country’s weak central government has been unable to stop the group’s bloody guerrilla campaign of shootings and bombings. The sect is blamed for killing at least 792 people in 2012 alone, according to an AP count.

Boko Haram, whose name means “Western education is sacrilege” in the Hausa language of Nigeria’s north, has demanded the release of all its captive members and called for strict Shariah law to be implemented across the entire country. The sect has killed both Christians and Muslims in their attacks, as well as soldiers and security forces…

Foreigners, long abducted by militant groups and criminal gangs for ransom in Nigeria’s oil-rich southern delta, have become increasingly targeted in Nigeria’s north as the violence has grown. However, abductions of foreigners in the north have seen hostages regularly killed…

Foreign embassies in Nigeria have issued travel warnings regarding northern Nigeria for months. Worries about abductions have increased in recent weeks with the French military intervention in Mali, as its troops and Malian soldiers try to root out Islamic fighters who took over that nation’s north in the months following a military coup. Last week, the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, put out a warning following the killings of polio workers in the northern city of Kano and the killing of the North Korean doctors.

President Obama campaigned in 2012 that al Qaeda was on the ropes.  While blaming the death of Ambassador Stevens and three other Americans on a spontaneous uprising because of a YouTube video.  Which if it was it means the average Libyan on the street in Benghazi walks around carrying heavy weapons.  Which is highly unlikely.  Then again, the opposition the U.S. supported in Benghazi included al Qaeda.  So maybe they did walk around the streets of Benghazi with heavy weapons.  Just waiting for dates with symbolic meaning (9/11) to attack Americans.

President Obama got what he wanted.  Change instead of stability.  For there is little stability in the Middle East or North Africa.  And now in West Africa.  Where Islamists and al Qaeda affiliates are reaching into Algeria.  Mali.  And Nigeria.  Radical Islamists are spreading their reach throughout the Middle East and Africa and in other parts of the world.  Fueled by the decline of U.S. influence.  And a rise in Iranian influence.  The winner in the Arab Spring?  It would appear that it is the radical Islamists that are benefitting most from the Arab Spring.  While the people in these countries go from a somewhat western culture of liberty (especially for women) towards oppressive theocracies.  Just as the Iranian people did during the Iranian Revolution in 1979.  No doubt the Iranian women who protested the Shah of Iran rue the day they ever joined that protest movement.  For they have none of the liberties they enjoyed under the Shah.

Guess this is what happens when you abandon your friends and help your enemies.  Your friends suffer while your enemies grow stronger.  And the world grows a more dangerous place.

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Sad Times for Egyptian Women as Islamic Shariah Law is coming to Egypt instead of Democracy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - November 3rd, 2012

Week in Review

George W. Bush was criticized severely for nation building and trying to spread democracy.  Those who criticized Bush praise President Obama for bringing democracy to Egypt.  Of course, it’s not quite the same democracy Bush was trying to spread in Iraq.  He wanted a democracy that wouldn’t vote in a theocracy like they did in Iran.  Some 30 years on Iran still does not have a democracy because of that oppressive theocracy they voted in.  Now Egypt appears to be heading down the Iranian road (see Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood says new constitution must be based on Islamic Shariah law by Associated Press posted 10/31/2012 on The Washington Post).

Egypt’s powerful Muslim Brotherhood says Islamic Shariah law must be the basis of Egypt’s new constitution, and legislation must be based on Islamic penal code.

The Brotherhood said in a statement Wednesday that a country ruled by Shariah would not become a theocracy. President Mohammed Morsi comes from the Brotherhood.

This is not good for the US.  It will be good for Iran.  But is sure won’t be good for the US.  Or Egyptian women.  Just ask the Iranian women.

Given the choice between oppression under Hosni Mubarak or oppression under a theocracy I think most democracy-loving people would choose the Mubarak oppression.  For few will argue that life for women in Mubarak Egypt was far better than it was/is in theocratic Iran.

Democracy fails when the wrong people rise to power and vote it away.  Which is what happened in Iran.  And looks like it may happen in Egypt.  And with the al Qaeda-trouble in Benghazi it may be well underway there.  Ultimately it may turn out that the Arab Spring was not good for democracy.  It just threw out the dictators who oppressed those who wanted to make their countries even more oppressive.  And the biggest losers in all of this?  The women in the Middle East.  Who yearn for the freedom and values they enjoy in the West.  Like they enjoyed under the 8 years of George W. Bush, the 4 your years under George H.W. Bush and the 8 years under Ronald Reagan.  Something these women would gladly trade for every chance they got.

You want to talk about a war on women?  I give you the Arab Spring.  And the march towards Iranian theocracy.  Something the policies of the Obama administration have helped along with their foreign policy decisions in Egypt and Libya.  And their snubs to Israel.  The country with by far the greatest women’s rights in the Middle East.  A country that already had a woman, Golda Meir, serve as the leader of their country.  Perhaps if the women of the Middle East were demanding birth control and access to abortion (women’s rights American style) the Obama administration would not advance policy that is so detrimental to women there.  Such as helping to make the way clear for a theocracy in Egypt.  But as these women want things that are not vagina-centered (freedom of speech, escape from second-class status, the right not to be beaten or murdered for not behaving, to be able to go to school, get a job, etc.) this war on women is not heard here by the Obama administration.  And these women will probably soon have the same fate the Iranian women had.  Another country where a poor foreign policy decision (not to support the Green Revolution) has condemned women to further oppression there.  While making the world a less safe place.  As the Iranians are moving closer to having a nuclear weapon.

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Political Unrest in the Middle East and North Africa: Democracy in Action or an Extension of the Iranian Revolution?

Posted by PITHOCRATES - February 26th, 2011

Democracy Movements Sow the Seeds of Shariah Law

The Arab world is ablaze with democracy movements.  Which is creating disorder and chaos.  A most fertile ground for Shariah law to take root and grow (see AP’s Al-Qaida calls for revolt against Arab rulers posted 2/26/2011 on myway).

Al-Qaida’s offshoot in Yemen urged Muslims to revolt against Arab rulers and establish governments based on Islamic law, according to an audio tape posted Saturday on militant websites…

He also said toppling longtime rulers is not enough and that new governments must be established based on Islamic religious law, or Shariah.

“One tyrant goes, only to be replaced another who may fix for the people some of their worldly issues by offering job opportunities and increasing their income, but the greater problem remains,” al-Rubeish said, according to a translation provided by SITE.

This is how the Iranian Revolution ended in a rigid theocracy.  Nothing at all what those female college students wanted when protesting against the Shah.  But this is the danger of revolution.  Disorder and chaos tend to favor the less savory types.  People with ulterior motives.  Who never let a good crisis go to waste.

Big Trouble in Little Bahrain

Bahrain is ripe for chaos.  A majority Shiite population ruled by a Sunni minority.  Home to an American naval fleet.  Supported by Saudi Arabia who is seen as too friendly to the United States.  And now an exile returns home (see Key Shi’ite opposition leader returns to Bahrain by Adam Schreck, Associated Press, posted 2/26/2011 on The Washington Times).

A prominent Bahraini opposition leader returned home from exile Saturday and urged the Gulf kingdom’s rulers to back up promises of political reform with action.

The return of Hassan Mushaima, a senior Shi’ite figure, could mark a new phase for an anti-government movement in the tiny nation which is strategically important for the U.S. because it hosts the U.S. Navy‘s 5th Fleet.

Mr. Mushaima heads a Shi’ite group known as Haq, which is considered more hard-line than the main Shi’ite political bloc that has led two weeks of protests. Mr. Mushaima returned Saturday from several months of voluntary exile in London, with a stop in Lebanon.

A more hard-line Shiite?  Sort of like in Iran?  This reminds me of someone.  I seem to recall another opposition leader in exile who returned to Iran following that democratic revolution.  What was his name?  It’s on the tip of my tongue.  Who was that?  Oh, yes.  Now I remember.  Ayatollah Khomeini.  In exile he wanted but one thing.  For the Shah of Iran and his government to be overthrown.  (And he wanted to impose Shariah law but he didn’t tell the people about that.  He would surprise them with that one later.  After he seized power.)  Surely Mr. Mushaima wasn’t in exile for anything like this.

Mr. Mushaima had been among a group of Shi’ite activists accused of plotting to overthrow Bahrain‘s rulers.

Then again he could have been in exile for exactly the same thing.  But is this any cause for concern?

Bahrain is the first Gulf state to be thrown into turmoil by the Arab world’s wave of change. The unrest is highly significant for Washington because Bahrain is home to the U.S. Navy‘s 5th Fleet, which is the Pentagon’s main counterweight against Iran’s widening military ambitions.

Well, as long as we have nothing to fear from Iran, there should be no problem.  And what has Iran been doing lately that should worry us?

Iran Working on the Ingredients to Build an Atomic Bomb

Iran has been trying to build an atomic bomb.  They deny this but they have begun enriching uranium.  And enriched uranium is an ingredient of an atomic bomb.  But we can take Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, for his word, can’t we?  Sure, he denies the Holocaust.  And he wants to wipe Israel from the face of the planet.  And he oppresses his people.  Locks up dissidents.  But despite all that, then candidate Barack Obama said he would sit down with this man and talk with him.  So that must mean he’s a reasonable man.

Well, that.  Or Obama is woefully naive and ignorant of Middle East history.  Ahmadinejad is a threat and a loose cannon in the Middle East.  Everyone should be worried about him.  And not trust a single word he says (he supported the democracy movement in Egypt while cracking down on dissidents in Iran).  He’s up to something.  And a bad something, no doubt.  Others know this.  And have taken action to delay his atomic bomb making ability.  Many believe that these people launched the Stuxnet computer virus with the objective of interrupting the Iranian nuclear program.  This malware spun some of their uranium-enrichment centrifuges out of control, damaging them.  It would appear they are unloading the uranium fuel to make repairs, further delaying their ability to make an atomic bomb.

Some will object to this interference into a sovereign nation.  And some have criticized those in the West.  Who are we to say who can and cannot have a nuclear program?  Well, the West has never started a nuclear war.  It would appear that we can’t get the same kind of assurance out of Iran (see Iran nuclear plans: Bushehr fuel to be unloaded posted 2/26/2011 on BBC News Middle East).

The IAEA report – obtained by the BBC and made available online by the Institute for Science and International Security (Isis) – says Iran is “not implementing a number of its obligations.”

These include “clarification of the remaining outstanding issues which give rise to concerns about possible military dimensions to its nuclear programme”.

Six world powers are negotiating with Iran over its nuclear programme, and the country is subject to United Nations Security Council sanctions over its refusal to halt uranium enrichment.

Enriched uranium can be used for civilian nuclear purposes, but also to build atomic bombs.

The United States has been a nuclear power since 1945.  Who in the world today is worried about a U.S. nuclear first strike?  No one.  It’s not who we are.  And our history of being a nuclear power proves it.  Now who thinks Iran can be trusted with nuclear weapons like the U.S.?  Only those who see the world through the same prism as Iran.  Those people who want to see Israel and the United States destroyed.  Other, rational people know the world will be a more dangerous place with a nuclear Iran.

Saudi Arabia on the Right Side of Soviet Communism and Iranian Hegemony

And we come back to Bahrain.  Which can be the fuse to the tinderbox growing in the Middle East and North Africa (see Could the next Mideast uprising happen in Saudi Arabia? by Rachel Bronson posted 2/25/2011 on The Washington Post).

The unrest in Egypt, Jordan, Bahrain and Yemen (to the kingdom’s west, east and south) plays on the Saudis’ greatest fear: encirclement. The Saudis aligned with the United States instead of colonial Britain in the early 20th century in part to defend against creeping British hegemony. During the Cold War the monarchy hunkered down against its Soviet-backed neighbors out of fear of being surrounded by communist regimes. And since the end of the Cold War, the overarching goal of Saudi foreign policy has been countering the spread of Iranian influence in all directions – Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, the Palestinian territories and Yemen…

Sunni-ruled Bahrain, less than 20 miles from Saudi Arabia’s oil- and Shiite-rich Eastern Province, has been a longtime recipient of Saudi aid. It has also been a focus of Iranian interests.

The Saudis are “concerned about the events unfolding in Bahrain and throughout the region.”  And they weren’t too happy with President Obama on Egypt.  They were “reportedly furious that the Obama administration ultimately supported regime change in Egypt, because of the precedent it could set.”  And for good reason.  The Saudis have always been on our side.  I mean, they’re not perfect, but it doesn’t get much better in the Muslim Middle East.

The United States has a great deal at stake in Saudi Arabia, though Americans often look at the Saudis with distaste. As one senior Saudi government official once asked me: “What does the United States share with a country where women can’t drive, the Koran is the constitution and beheadings are commonplace?” It’s a tough question, but the answer, quite simply, is geopolitics – and that we know and like Saudi’s U.S.-educated liberal elites.

The Saudis have been helpful to us. They are reasonably peaceful stalwarts. They don’t attack their neighbors, although they do try to influence them, often by funding allies in local competitions for power. They are generally committed to reasonable oil prices. For example, although their oil is not a direct substitute for Libyan sweet crude, the Saudis have offered to increase their supply to offset any reduction in Libyan production due to the violence there. We work closely with them on counterterrorism operations. And the Saudis are a counterbalance to Iran. We disagree on the Israel-Palestinian issue, but we don’t let it get in the way of other key interests.

Saudi Arabia is not in as bad economic conditions as the other nations falling into unrest.  It may not fall.  But if Bahrain falls under hard-line Shiite control, that’s not going to help the Saudis.  The Middle East.  The United States.  Or world peace.  Before that happens, we should consider treating our friends better than our enemies.

Will Democracy Win the Day for Oppressive, Authoritarian Rule?

As volatile regions go, they don’t come much more volatile than the Middle East.  And, like it or not, many of the world’s economies are dependent on their oil.  We know this.  They know it.  And our enemies know it.

As chaos spreads opportunity knocks.  And it’s clear who is knocking.  Iran.  We have kept this oppressive, authoritarian regime’s ambitions in check so far.  It’s rather ironic, then, that it’s greatest enemy may be the key for her success.  Democracy.  In other countries.  That will cause chaos that Iran can exploit.  Much like they did during the Iranian Revolution. 

History does have a funny way of repeating itself, doesn’t it?

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