Oops! Something has gone terribly wrong with
Washington's plans for regime change in the Mideast. Wasn't there
supposed to be a US- and British-engineered revolution against Iran's
mullahs, followed by installation of a cooperative pro-western
government and a bonanza for western oil companies?
The revolution came, all
right, but in the wrong place. The explosion of popular fury in Tunisia
that ousted its dictator of 23-years is sending shock waves across the
Arab world and has alarm bells ringing in Washington.
Pay no attention to President Barack Obama's pious bromides welcoming the revolution in Tunisia. The US, France and their Arab satraps are deeply worried that Tunisia's
popular revolution could spark similar uprising against the
dictatorships or monarchies in other members of America's Mideast
Raj, notably Egypt.
It has come to light that Tunisia's ruling elite had dinners and
wine flown in from Paris at government expense for lavish parties in
their beachside villas. Shades of the Iranian revolution, when women of
the ruling elite in Tehran used to send their dirty laundry to Paris for
hand washing, or fly to Paris to have their hair done for a soiree.
In a zesty bit of irony totally lost on the US media, just as a
people's revolution was ousting Tunisia's brutal US-backed regime,
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was in Qatar piously lecturing local
oil monarchs on good government and the need to promote democracy.
Tunisia has not had much strategic importance since Carthage -- whose ruins and great war harbor lie in a residential suburb of Tunis -- fought Rome in the three Punic Wars. During World War II's North Africa
campaign, Tunisia was battled over by the British, Germans and Italians.
Since then, little Tunisia has been a backwater, known mainly for
sunshine, cheap beach vacations, and as a refuge for Italian crooks.
In 1957, Tunisia "gained" independence from former colonial master,
France. But it was a sham independence. The French put their own
stooge, Habib Bourguiba, in power, who ran the country for France.
After Bourguiba went senile in 1987, the army commander, General
Zine Ben Ali, overthrew him and seized power with the blessing of
Paris. Ben Ali has ruled with an iron first for the ensuing 23 years.
The US and France have always hailed Tunisia as a poster-boy for "moderation, stability, and democracy."
Translation: 1. moderation: following orders from Washington and
making nice to Israel; 2. stability: crushing all opposition,
particularly Islamist-oriented parties, muzzling the media, and paving
the way for US business; 3. democracy: holding fake elections every few
years. The US media soft-soaped Ben Ali and gushed over Tunisia's
"moderate" virtues. They did the same for Egypt's Anwar Sadat.
America's other "moderate" Arab clients, Egypt, Morocco, Algeria,
Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Yemen, Oman and some of the Gulf states,
followed precisely the same model of ersatz elections, ferocious
internal oppression, and absolute obedience to Washington.
Tunisia closely resembled other Arab non-oil states in having very
high unemployment, social and intellectual stagnation, lack of free
speech or expression, and no hope for the future unless one had links to
the rapacious, self-serving, western-backed ruling oligarchy. On top of
this, in most Arab states, over 60% of the population is under 25.
Gen. Ali's extended family and business cronies followed a pattern
of malfeasance, nepotism and plundering public assets common to most
Arab nations. In the Mideast, such oligarchies are commonly
called "mafias." Their secret police are notorious for torture,
murder, mass arrests and sadism. Arab armies are designed to cow their
people, not protect the nation's borders.
After the Bush and Obama administrations felt obliged to make a
token appeal to their Arab clients for the appearance of at least sham
democracy, General Ali obliged by winning his most recent rigged
election in 2009 by "only" a razor-thin 89% victory, rather than his
usual 94% or 95% win.
Tunisians are known as an easy-going, even-tempered people. US and
French aid was supposed to keep a lid on the country and defuse popular
unrest. So just about everyone was caught by surprise when Tunisia went critical.
In a heart-warming finale to Gen. Ben Ali's brutal dictatorship, he
fled to France seeking asylum. France's president, Nicholas Sarkozy,
showing remarkable ingratitude even for this notorious ingrate,
refused this faithful, long-time French servant refuge. Two other former
western plantation overseers who were dying of cancer, Congo's late
Gen. Mobutu and the ousted Shah of Iran, were similarly refused refuge
by their American patrons.
As of this writing, Tunisia is in turmoil. There may be a military takeover, which would greatly please Washington, Paris and Cairo, or further convulsions.
The leader of the most important Islamic-oriented party that was
outlawed, Rashid Gannouchi (not to be confused with the current
figurehead prime minister of the same name), is due to return and is
calling for genuine democratic elections. His party, Nahda,
would likely win any free elections. So would Islamist parties in every
other Arab country, if the west ever allowed them to hold free
elections, which it won't.
In the only two cases in modern Arab history where truly honest
elections were held, moderate Islamists won in Algeria, and the Hamas
movement won in Gaza. The Algerian army, backed by Paris and
Washington, crushed the election and imposed martial law. After Hamas
won the Palestinian election, the US, Israel and Egypt locked up Hamas
under siege in Gaza and sought to overthrow it, using Palestinian
Mainstream Islamist parties in the Mideast have nothing to do with
al-Qaida (which barely exists any more) or anti-Western programs. Their
primary concern is getting rid of the western-backed oligarchies that
keep the Muslim world backwards and in thrall. Their platform is sharing
resource wealth, social welfare, education, uprooting thieving
oligarchies and fighting endemic corruption.
The big question now is -- will Tunisia's dramatic events be a harbinger of other explosions across the volatile Arab world?
All eyes are on Egypt, the home of a third of all Arabs. Egypt's
83-year old military ruler, Husni Mubarak, is a giant version of
Tunisia's Gen. Ben Ali.
Mubarak was engineered into power by the US after the killing of
longtime CIA "asset" Anwar Sadat. Gen. Mubarak has ruled Egypt like a
modern-day pharaoh ever since, crushing both violent extremist and
legitimate political opposition. Mubarak's rigged elections, winked at by Washington, are every bit as egregious as Tunisia's.
So could the flames of Tunisia's revolution spread to Egypt?
Mubarak's regime is tottering. Egyptians are as restive and disgusted
as their Tunisian neighbors. Egyptians, too, are a famously passive,
amiable lot, but Egypt's repression, grinding poverty and rapacious
western-aligned elite have enraged most ordinary people.
Tunisia's neighbors -- Libya, Algeria and Morocco -- are similarly
unstable and racked by unemployment, a high birth rate, and ferocious
repression by their regimes. Col. Khadaffi's oil-rich Libya is
particularly fertile ground for a major convulsion after five decades of
All these authoritarian regimes have crushed opposition, leaving
only underground revolutionaries to replace them when revolution
inevitably comes. Islamists will be the last men standing. By
encouraging repression and thwarting the emergence of democracy in the
Arab world, the US has sown the dragon's teeth of further violence
We are now seeing what the "stability" and "moderation" so beloved of Washington in the Arab world really brings. The mighty American Raj is built on such euphemisms that really mean dictatorship, corruption, torture, and subservience.
If Washington really wants to foster the democracy that it
preaches, then it should help Tunisia's people create a truly democratic
government rather than engineering yet another cooperative general and
his grasping family into power as it has done so often since the 1950's.