Friday, February 18, 2011

Western hypocrisy with pro-democracy movement in the Muslim world

Qantara.de is an Internet site dedicated to promoting understanding between the western world and the Muslim world. In one of its most recent editorials, The West and the Protests in the Arab World-Leaving the Freedom Movement in the Lurch, Bettina Marx hit the bull's eye with her concluding remarks where she complained about the apparent silence of the western government for the cause of democracy. She wrote: "It is equivalent to an admission of failure that Western governments lack clear words of support for the democracy movement in Egypt. It is doubly shameful that Europe's citizens have also held back, that western capitals have seen no mass demonstrations, no shows of solidarity with the people in the Arab world – the people who are, after all, our neighbours."

Bettina is right. However, the Muslim world is not surprised by the less than lukewarm support, or more correctly their overt silence or covert opposition, to the change for democracy from the western governments. To many keen observers like me, the profound and almost prophetic statement of the late Shaykh Fadhlallah of Lebanon still rings bell and fills the gap in our understanding of the western attitude. He said some 30 years ago that when the West spoke about democracy, freedom, equality, human rights, etc. all these higher values were for them, and the people in the East, esp. those in the Muslim world, never counted in that equation.

Bush and many of the bigots can promote Natan Sharansky's book, but just like the author himself -- a despicable hypocrite (which I must add), when push comes to shove all their real ugly selves are unmasked. That is why, all the Israeli leaders and their so-called democratic voice wanted to see a prolongation of the hated undemocratic Mubarak regime. And regrettably so did all our western leaders.

In his recent essay on Egypt, while advocating a consistent policy from the West Sharansky still does not like to see a repeat of the 2006 election in Gaza. This kind of pre-condition, more like the call from the western leaders in the dying days of the fallen regime for a smooth transition of the government duties to Mubarak’s hand-picked successor – approved by the CIA and the Mossad -- without untying knots of the dictatorship is surely not conducive to democracy. This is the same selfish mindset that destroyed any chance of seeding true democracy in the Occupied Territories of Palestine. Instead of giving the nascent democracy a chance to take roots, the West and Israel tried to unseat Hamas by every means possible, including starvation of the people of Gaza. They, of course, enlisted Egypt’s Mubarak to become a partner in that crime. As long as Mubarak was in the helm of affairs, looking out for the joint American-EU-Israeli interest, democracy, let alone regime change in Egypt, was not part of their vocabulary.

When the fall of Mubarak did really happen, some of these hypocrites tried to welcome the change, just like president Obama, because not doing so would look so bizarre. But then conspiracy against the Muslim world, let alone the Egyptian people, still goes on behind the curtain of those policy makers on the Middle East. They want to ensure that the greatest opposition to the regime for all these past 60 years, i.e., the Muslim Brotherhood, doesn't come to power. Even the latter's promise not to put its presidential candidate in the next election is not sufficient to allay their suspicion.

For all these years, the pro-western puppets ruling the vast territories of the Arab world were able to successfully exploit the bogeyman of this Islamic threat to justify their dictatorial ways and even extract concessions. So the stability of these regimes, including that of Asad’s Syria, fit well into the regional strategy of their masters. Asad, more like Gaddafi of Libya, were treated more like irritants than any real threats to western hegemony and interest. Even the Zionist regime would rather see the continuation of these autocratic regimes than democratic ones emerging with the support of the people. They would rather live next door to a toothless and paw-less tiger than a concerned human being who tries to correct its wrong deeds. It is these hypocritical governments that fear people and their potential power to change the paradigm that had served their interest so well all these years.

As I have noted many times, hypocrisy has always been the major component of western values, esp. how their governments perform. They were loud in talking, and never cared about walking the talk, especially on matters that affected the Muslim world. The rules and standards were different and self-serving. The interest of the ordinary people was not there.

Bahrain is now bleeding with spontaneous protests. The island nation is home to American Navy’s Fifth Fleet. It is ruled by an unpopular monarch King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa, a Sunni minority government against a Shiite majority in the strategic island state in the Persian Gulf. He has been a puppet ruler to preserve western interest all these years. Just two months ago in a town-hall-style meeting in Bahrain, Secretary of State Clinton got a pointed question from a member of Bahrain’s Parliament: was the United States letting Bahrain off the hook for a string of arrests of lawyers and human rights activists? In her reply she said, “I see the glass as half full,” pointing to Bahrain’s recent elections. “I think the changes that are happening in Bahrain are much greater than what I see in many other countries in the region and beyond.” Well, there have we have it again just like we heard about Egypt before the fall of Mubarak.

On Saturday thousands of joyous Bahrainis retook a major square in the heart of Manama, the island nation's capital, in a dramatic turn of events two days after security forces ousted demonstrators from the spot in a deadly attack that killed nearly half a dozen unarmed protesters while they were sleeping at night. Now the ruling family wants to open a dialogue with the citizens.
Secretary Clinton’s rosy assessment just a mere two months ago seems so absurd in light of the army’s bloody crackdown on protesters, illustrating once again how the U.S. government has overlooked recent complaints about human rights abuses in a kingdom that is an economic and military hub in the Persian Gulf. As WikiLeaks made public the U.S. diplomatic cables, the Bush and Obama administrations repeatedly characterized Bahrain as more open and reform-minded than its neighbors, and pushed back when human rights groups criticized the government.

Even with Obama in the White House, the U.S. policy on the Middle East essentially remained the same. As recently as January of 2010 the American Embassy in Bahrain criticized the human rights group Freedom House for downgrading Bahrain’s rating from “partly free” to “not free” in its global survey of political rights and civil liberties. The diplomatic cable asserted that Freedom House had been successfully lobbied by a radical Shiite movement, known as Haq, which rejects the government’s reform efforts. As is clear, you can’t teach new tricks to an old bitch!

In Yemen protests appeared to grow larger and more violent in the city of Taiz, 130 miles south of the capital, where thousands of protesters called for the ouster of President Ali Abdullah Saleh and clashed with government supporters. Saleh has been a U.S. ally in the region to curb influence of the al-Qaeda. Afraid of a fate similar to those Zine and Mubarak, he declared not to seek presidency in the coming election. But that announcement has not been able to dampen protests against his puppet regime.

Across the Gulf of Aden in the tiny African nation of Djibouti thousands of demonstrators gathered on Friday to demand that the country’s president step down, after a series of smaller demonstrations seeking to capitalize on the wave of unrest. Like Bahrain, Djibouti, a former French colony, is a strong ally of the United States. It plays host to an American military base, the only one in Africa.

Clashes between pro- and antigovernment demonstrators were also reported in Amman, the capital of Jordan, where the king Abdullah II is another western puppet. Again mindful of the changing political landscape in Egypt and Tunisia, he sacked his government. But such half-hearted measures have not been able to derail popular unrest against his regime.

Would America come to the aid of these suffering and persecuted majority who is calling for a regime change? No.

It is actually better that way. Let the people rely on their innate strength for simply being on the right side of history and trust in God to better their conditions. And victory would InshaAllah come on their way. No western mendacity and collaboration with the hated regimes would be able to choke people’s genuine aspirations for freedom and liberty, at least for not too long.

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