Thursday, February 17, 2011

Middle East: How to 'Iran-ise Egypt . . . and Others'

By Fareed Mahdy*
IDN-InDepth NewsViewpoint

ISTANBUL (IDN) - The recipe for pushing Egyptians and Arabs toward extremism is simple and has been tasted for decades. Its ingredients are easy to prepare and digest; they are already pre-cooked and the kitchens of both Western mainstream media and foreign ministries are full of them. No problem.

Just pick up the old menu of the "free world against communist devil". It has three main dishes:

-- Starters elaborated with a climax of obsession (taking away the sweet dreams of politicians and media lords, and inducing stressed citizens to panic), against the dangers of those communist monsters that eat children;

-- First course made of political hyperactivity, "summits" included, to save humanity from communists lurking everywhere, and whose only reason for being is to destroy the free world. This course is accompanied by tasty "informative" campaigns, which do not explain anything about such evils nor their threat, but avidly justify the urgent need to be alert --and well-armed-- to avoid the coming of the communist reckoning day;

-- Second course prepared with a mix of newly elaborated wars against terrorism, military mobilisations, invasions and arms sales.

-- Iraqi, Afghan, Pakistani, Palestinian and Lebanese homemade desserts.

Then take this menu and change the names of the dishes ("communist" with "Islamist") and you will understand such an alarm -- and readiness for action -- against "Islamism." The computer can do this job for you.

The U.S. has already done so: the chair of the influential House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, Florida Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, said on February 11, 2011 that the Brotherhood should be excluded from the process, according to an IPS report by Jim Lobe.

<< "We must … urge the unequivocal rejection of any involvement by the Muslim Brotherhood and other extremists who may seek to exploit and hijack these events to gain power, oppress the Egyptian people, and do great harm to Egypt's relationship with the United States, Israel, and other free nations," << she said in a statement.

Similarly, in his weekly op-ed in the Washington Post (also on February 11), Charles Krauthammer, a neo-conservative hard-liner who coined the phrase "the Unipolar Moment" in celebration of Washington's global hegemony after the Soviet Union's collapse, warned that "Islamism" had taken the place of Communism in the "long twilight struggle" for freedom.

<<"Therefore, just as during the Cold War the United States helped keep European communist parties out of power (to see them ultimately wither away)," he wrote, "it will be U.S. policy to oppose the inclusion of totalitarian parties – the Muslim Brotherhood or, for that matter, communists -- in any government, whether provisional or elected, in newly liberated Arab states." <<

European politicians and media immediately hung the 'corrected' menu cooked in Washington.

Think what you like, of course. Repeat to yourself and to the others, if you wish, all the 'arguments' that you have been reading, hearing and watching on television lastly about the eventual ‘terrifying Muslim threat’ that might hypothetically come from Egypt--it is your legitimate right to do so.

But first, you may wish to know that the Muslim Brothers have been repeating, over and over again after Mubarak's departure -- and even on the pages of the Washington Post and New York Times-- that they do not pretend to present any candidate to the transitional government nor the upcoming presidential elections.

Please also note that a first survey carried out among Egyptian demonstrators in Tahrir Square immediately after Mubarak was removed from power, revealed that the Muslim Brothers would get 18% of the vote. U.S. analysts raised the forecast to 30%.

This does not mean that the Muslim Brothers cannot eventually obtain, sooner or later, more electoral margins. For now, the Egyptians have demonstrated exemplary citizenship and wisdom.

They know that an "Islamist" regime would bring to them the wrath of the 'free world'.

They remember when in1992 the Algerians -- under external pressure -- held free elections, choosing the Islamic Salvation Front to rule their country. And that the world's immediate response was blunt: "Yes, but you have not chosen what we wanted you to choose!"

Of course, the results of the Algerian free choice were annulled and a civil war claimed the lives of 150,000 'wrong' voters,

The Egyptians know that in the 2006 Palestinian elections, which were monitored and certified as clean and transparent by observers from the U.S., the EU and the UN, the Palestinians chose HAMAS by majority. And that the world's immediate response was identical: "Yes, but you have not chosen what we wanted you to chose!."

The free world lives with a mounting, hysterical obsession with the "islamist enemy." Sociologists will have much to say and to asses whether too much emphasis conditioning people on whom they should or should not choose to rule their countries, could have a reverse effect.

Moreover, the Arab peoples are fully aware that their oppressive dictatorships have been immortalised thanks to the formidable support of that very same free world that now dictates whom they should choose or not choose as their own rulers.

Another psychological pressure that risks pushing the peoples to desperation is to compare their spontaneous uprising for their legitimate claims, with the "Islamic revolution" in Iran.

A comparison rather difficult, very difficult to digest! Just consider that the Iranian revolution was all organised and implemented by to religious leadership, which is not what happened in Tunisia or Egypt.

Also please remember that Iranian "Islamic revolution" was seized by U.S. and allies to come closer to the then Soviet-occupied Afghanistan, and to celebrate a war of mutual annihilation between Iran and Iraq.

Still, new "Irans" will always be welcome by the Western world because of their high commercial and electoral returns.

Easy to understand: further tensions in the oil-producing area would serve to reinforce the “wars on terrorism"; endow giant multinationals with strong profit margins thanks to a more expensive oil -- and high priced petrol would help weaken the "petro-dependent" economies of China, Europe and Japan, thus opening more doors to the U.S., the biggest economy on earth.

Tensions would also help justify military interventions and revive the "free world's" side wars against "axis of devil", such as Syria, Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas, in addition to fetching other political and trade benefits.

The U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton indeed did not need to speak about a "perfect storm" to come in the wake of the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions. The Middle East will witness strong waves of change that will end up being exploited by the 'free world' at the service of the famous “crusade” launched by George W. Bush and the "creative chaos" doctrine, which was coined in his era.)

Note that the simple stirring of the Iranian nuclear ghost helped the U.S. to sell to Saudi Arabia a military arsenal of 60,000 million dollars to defend themselves . . . from whom? The oil-Gulf is more than defended by Western military bases and U.S. nuclear umbrella. Can you imagine how many weapons deals would be sealed with new "Irans"?

There are abundant reasons for the 'free world' to welcome more and more "Irans". Isn't that so?

*Fareed Mahdy, Middle East and Noth of Africa analyst.