Free Markets, Free People
Yes sir, that Arab Spring is really what we all wanted, isn’t it? So much so that the US and NATO helped this particular one along. In Libya:
While the elections for a 200-member National Congress is unlikely to grant a majority to any one faction, the Muslim Brotherhood and its Islamist allies are confident they can join their counterparts in Tunisia and Egypt at the helm of leadership.
Negotiations between the Muslim Brotherhood and a secular-based political movement led by former interim prime minister Mahmoud Jibril have focused on forming a post-election government as soon as the result is known.
An adviser to Mr Jibril said the former prime minister was likely to take the post of figurehead president with Mustafa Abu Shagour, currently interim deputy prime minister of the Muslim Brotherhood, taking the prime minister’s slot as head of government.
The Muslim Brotherhood would dominate the ministries.
And what pan-Islamist faction is positioned in Syria along with its militant al Qaeda brothers to take the reigns there when the current government eventually falls?
Why the same Muslim Brotherhood now ascendant in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya.
All good, right?
Exactly what we expected and wanted, right?
Foreign policy success, right?
Caliphate? What Caliphate?
Michael J. Totten brings us up to date on Tunisia which is credited with starting “Arab Spring”. Guess who the new enemy of freedom is there?
“People here think the United States is cooperating with Ennahda,” said local journalist Ashraf Ayadi, referring to the Islamists who won 42 percent of the vote in the election last October. Even though a majority of Tunisians voted against them, they still got more votes than any of the other various parties, so they got to choose the prime minister.
“People here are against the United States helping Ennahda,” Ayadi continued. “All Americans who come here are against the Islamists, but the American government is supporting them. I wish we had a good, modern, respectful Islamic party. I’m a Muslim and I’m proud of it, but I’m not proud of this party.”
Now this may be no fault of the US – elections, winner, etc. However, it is perceived that the US is supporting an Islamist party by establishing diplomatic relations with them. Meh, you say? They’re wrong, that’s what governments do.
Well, okay, but you have to ask why the US (and Qatar for some reason) is being singled out as a supporter of an Islamist government? Doesn’t matter … perception is reality and the majority of Tunisia believe the US is enabling an Islamist regime. And, by the way, those complaining are the “liberal” and “secular” portions of the population. Ironic.
Meanwhile in Libya, a mess continues to grow messier. Western intervention has left a country in chaos:
Libya is now effectively ruled by the militias that ousted Gadhafi, and some militias run parts of the country as their own fiefdoms independent of any national authority. The most powerful militias in the western cities of Zintan and Misrata have refused the government’s calls to disarm. These militias believe that remaining armed allows them to retain political influence in the new order that they fought to create.
Amnesty International has documented numerous cases of abuse and torture of detainees by local militias, and there have been many reports of reprisals against civilians living in perceived pro-Gadhafi areas. Militia rule is made possible by the weakness of the NTC, which never had real control over armed rebel forces during the war, and still does not. Plus, the council’s opacity and corruption have been rapidly de-legitimizing it in the eyes of Libyans.
So much for “saving the civilians”. And, as it turns out, the overthrow of the Gadhafi government has had a negative spillover effect in the area:
But the Libyan war’s worst impact may have occurred outside of Libya. The neighboring country of Mali, which also happens to support U.S. counter-terrorist efforts in western Africa, has been roiled by a new Tuareg insurgency fueled by the influx of men and weapons after Gadhafi’s defeat, providing the Tuareg rebels with much more sophisticated weaponry than they had before. This new upheaval benefits al Qaeda in the Maghreb (AQIM), and the Tuareg uprising threatens the territorial integrity of Mali. The rebellion has also displaced nearly 200,000 civilians in a region that is already at risk of famine, and refugees from Mali are beginning to strain local resources in Niger, where most of them have fled. "Success" in Libya is creating a political and humanitarian disaster in Mali and Niger.
Brilliant. I’m sure that was all thought through and considered before the first attack sortie was approved.
Finally, and hopefully, it has shown the doctrine of R2P to be a sham:
Paradoxically, the Libyan war and its aftermath have had the unintended consequence of undermining the doctrine of "responsibility to protect" (R2P) that was originally used to justify the intervention. Many advocates of intervention believed Western involvement would strengthen the norm that sovereignty may be limited to protect a civilian population from large-scale loss of life. Instead, the Libyan intervention helped discredit that idea.
A key requirement of the "responsibility to protect" is that intervening governments assume the "responsibility to rebuild" in the wake of military action, but this was a responsibility that the intervening governments never wanted and haven’t accepted. All of this has proven to skeptical governments, including emerging democratic powers such as Brazil and India, that the doctrine can and will be abused to legitimize military intervention while ignoring its other requirements. The Libyan experience has soured many major governments around the world on R2P, and without their support in the future, it will become little more than a façade for the preferred policies of Western governments.
And that’s exactly what the intervention in Libya has provided. But hey, it’s “Arab Spring”. It’s all good.
Hello out there …
Is this thing on?
Tunisia, cited by the “Arab Spring” crowd as the democratic and secular example to which all Arab countries should aspire has suddenly begun showing distinct Islamic tendencies:
Secular Tunisians are expressing concerns after a leader of the country’s Islamist Al-Nahda movement said Tunisia’s emerging government marks "the Sixth Righteous Caliphate."
The fifth caliphate, an Islamic imperial governing system, was abolished by Turkish secular Kemal Ataturk in 1924. In a speech posted on YouTube Sunday, Hamadi Jbeli also pledged that "we shall set forth with God’s help to conquer Jerusalem, if Allah wills… From here is conquest with the help of Allah Almighty."
Somehow this tendency to go in the Islamist religious direction has been discounted by those in the West who were sure that countries with no democratic traditions and intuitions and cultural and religious biases against both would suddenly flower into model representative democracies.
Those who had serious doubts for the reasons stated were dismissed as cynical and not able to understand the new world as it was forming, apparently driven by Twitter. Pointing out that the most ruthless best organized usually prevail in any sort of revolution and that those traits were enjoyed mostly by Islamists was waved away as overly pessimistic and indicative of a fundamental misunderstanding of the power of the technologically driven secular youth movements taking the lead in each of these countries.
And one by one those movement have foundered and Islamists, in one guise or another, have emerged to take control. Tunisia, though, where it all began, was held out as the one example of where the wished for model was working.
Yeah, not so much. 6th Caliphate? Conquer Jerusalem? Sounds like secular democracy to me, how about you?
Jbeli’s party, Al-Nahda, won 98 of 217 parliamentary seats in Tunisia’s first election. And naturally, he was hailed by the usual suspects as being a “moderate”:
The group’s electoral success won international praise as a "moderate" movement promoting a democratic form of political Islam. Headlines in mainstream media outlets like the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and CNN called Al-Nahda moderate.
Read that quote again. Is that what is considered moderate in the Arab world? In any world?
Tunisians certainly don’t:
Leading secularist party Ettakatol suspended its participation in committees to form a governing coalition. "We do not accept this statement," said Khemais Ksila, an executive committee member of Ettakatol. "We thought we were going to build a second republic with our partner, not a sixth caliphate." Issam Chelbi of the secular PDP party called the speech "very dangerous."
"This is what we feared," Chelbi said.
Tunisian women’s groups also have been skeptical of Al-Nahda’s moderation, saying there has been an increase in verbal and physical abuse since President Zine Abidine Ben Ali resigned in the wake of a popular uprising.
This is like an Arab “Ground Hog Day” – the same story repeated in country after country where “Arab Spring” has occurred.
The party leader and ideologue is a piece of work too:
The Arab Spring "will achieve positive results on the path to the Palestinian cause and threaten the extinction of Israel," Party leader and ideologue Rashid Ghannouchi said in a May interview with the Al Arab Qatari website. "The liberation of Palestine from Israeli occupation represents the biggest challenge facing the Umma [Muslim nation] and the Umma cannot have existence in light of the Israeli occupation."
Further, in the same interview, Ghannouchi said: "I give you the good news that the Arab region will get rid of the bacillus [bacteria] of Israel. Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, the leader of Hamas, said that Israel will disappear by the year 2027. I say that this date may be too far away, and Israel may disappear before this."
Ghannouchi has also given his support to specific types of terror carried out by Hamas, including rocket attacks against Israeli civilians and "martyrdom operations."
In June 2001, Ghannouchi appeared in an al-Jazeerah panel discussion in which heblessed the mothers of Palestinian suicide bombers:
"I would like to send my blessings to the mothers of those youth, those men who succeeded in creating a new balance of power…I bless the mothers who planted in the blessed land of Palestine the amazing seeds of these youths, who taught the international system and the Israel (sic) arrogance, supported by the US, an important lesson. The Palestinian woman, mother of the Shahids (martyrs), is a martyr herself, and she has created a new model of woman."
Ghannouchi has even gone beyond rhetoric, calling for Muslims to fund and provide logistical support for Hamas. He signed the controversial "Istanbul Declaration," issued by Muslim clerics in support of Hamas after Israel’s January 2009 war in Gaza. The declaration stated that there was an "obligation of the Islamic nation to open the crossings – all crossings – in and out of Palestine permanently" to provide supplies and weapons to Hamas to "perform the jihad in the way of Allah Almighty."
This is Tunisia’s elected majority party. This is the party which will form the government and name the Prime Minister. This is the party which has the following stated goals:
Ghannouchi’s statements are consistent with Al-Nahda’s platform, which declares that the party "struggles to achieve the following goals … To struggle for the liberation of Palestine and consider it as a central mission and a duty required by the need to challenge the Zionist colonial attack. The platform also refers to Israel as an "alien entity planted in the heart of the homeland, which constitutes an obstacle to unity and reflects the image of the conflict between our civilization and its enemies."
In September, the organization stated that it "supports the struggle of peoples seeking liberation and justice and encourages world peace and aims to promote cooperation and collaboration and unity especially among Arab and Islamic countries and considers the Palestinian struggle for liberation to be a central cause and stands against normalization."
Peace? Democracy? Tunisia first? Secularism?
Is this the moderate, secular “Arab Spring” that the supporters imagined?