The Unwanted Arab Spring that’s bad for business

A Point of View, Middle East & North Africa, Politics | | April 3, 2011 at 10:48

Call me a cynic. God knows I’ve tried to be an idealist for the last couple of months. It started with Egypt. I was so moved by the millions of people who braved everything to take to the streets and demand Mubarak step down. Yes! Tunisia was not a fluke. A democratic wave might roll through the autocratic Middle-East and North Africa. There was hope. There was light.

But then Libya happened. I kept right on hoping. It was all so bright in the beginning. The world seemed to cheer the brave Libyans as they fought back against a man and family that everyone agreed was mad and unfit to rule. “Lost legitimacy” was the general consensus. Even the word out of Russia was  “Gaddafi is a dead man walking.”

Uprisings in Yemen, Bahrain, Syria, Kuwait, even Oman. Now it was starting to get scary. Change? Real change in the Mid-East? Hold on. When we were thinking of democracy, we thought along the lines of “Don’t put bloggers in jail and torture them.” We weren’t SERIOUS about real, messy, unpredictable democracy where people actually DECIDE who will govern.

Who knows what kind of crazy elements might seize power? Iran? Al Qaeda? Forward thinking individuals who might not play our international games with set rules?

The “Arab Spring” turns out to be something no one wants – well no one except the millions of Arabs living under autocratic governments. But autocracy is good for business. You can depend on a consistent policy that goes on for years. No mid-term elections to upset the apple cart. Grease the right palms, give the right kickbacks, turn enough blind eyes and the prosperity of the rich will continue smoothly.

Ah-h-h-h. The peace and tranquility of stability. We all like that. When the first bloom went from Libya, when the US, the UK and France stepped back and bowed to EU, Turkish and Arab interests, the charade was exposed.

No government really wants democracy in that part of the world. Turkey used Libya as leverage to cement UK support for entrance into the EU. But Turkey wants two other things: dominance in the Muslim world and continued economic growth. Contracts are much more secure with dictatorships not responsive to a free press or a voting constituency. Turkey won’t alienate the Mid-East autocrats who are struggling with their own push peoples’ for freedom to allow decisive military action and support in Libya. Too risky. Will make too many enemies.

The moment came and went. If the world had really wanted freedom to prevail, it would have demolished Gaddafi’s forces in the first days. How many tanks does he have against the military might of NATO? Please. Stop with the excuses. The jig is up. NATO never wanted to prevail. If they had, it would have been over by now.

My heart bleeds – yes, you can call me a bleeding heart! – for the rightful and legitimate aspirations of all Arabs. They all lost in Libya. WE all lost. Libya was the testing ground of the world’s resolve and the world was found lacking. We will all pay the price for years and years to come.

“Arabs are not ready for democracy.” I think its pretty clear that’s the position the international community has taken. The GCC and Arab League would certainly agree. Sigh. Unfortunately, a lot more people have to die before democracy in that part of the world is finally crushed.

DISCLAIMER: I want to be wrong.  NATO, EU, UN, Turkey, GCC, Arab League, Obama, US Congress – please prove me wrong! I will be so happy to make my apologies for erroneous and cynical analysis.



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