I was recently visited by two American diplomats in Education City in Qatar who are interested in the political transformations in the Arab region. We had a long talk about the issues of religion, state, sectarianism, the Arab Spring, and the Arab-American relations.
I tried to explain to my two guests that today the region is facing two contradicting approaches to relations with America, despite the fact that those following either approach have strategic relations with the US. The first approach is making sure that the American interests are aligned with the interests of the nations, and it is followed by Qatar, Turkey, and most political forces seeking reform and change, including the democratic Islamist movements.
The second approach is making sure that the American interests are aligned with the interests of the leaders against their people, and is adopted by the counter-revolution states in the Arab world. It has also been adopted by Iran lately due to its efforts to reconcile with the US at any cost, given its need for power and errors of sectarianism.
The first approach was based on a moral and principle position and is founded on the deep understanding of the transformation experienced by the region since the Arab Spring. The Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu described the Arab Spring as “a natural flow of history”, and this is an accurate description made by an individual who truly understands that what we are witnessing today is an irreversible historical transformation and any American hindrance will only raise the price paid by the people in the form of their blood or money, widen the gap between America and the people, America’s loss of its tyrannical friends, and things will ultimately go in favour of the people.
The second approach is based on clinging onto the old saying by the leaders of international forces, “take care of us and we will keep you from the evil of our people. These people will continue to be hostile towards you, and you are better off if we continue to contain them; we are the containers and you are the leaders.” This equation has been tried by the West and they have been working by it since their military colonisation ended and was replaced by political colonisation fed and protected by local hands. However, nowadays, this equation has become a thing of the past and has no place in the future.
The eruptive state of the Arab world cannot be contained by weak strategic equations now that the people and their dignity will no longer accept them, and now that they are willing to sacrifice for the sake of their freedom, honour and status amongst the nations.
I ended my conversation with the American guests by saying that the US has to choose between the vision of the past based on dependency, which is a vision that has been surpassed by history, and between the vision of the future which is based on camaraderie, which will, in the long-term, serve its interests and ease its reconciliation with the Arab nations from the ocean to the Gulf and the fifth of the world’s population who follow the religion of Islam.
Of course, I do not know if they received my message nor do I know how those two young American diplomats influence decision-making in America regarding the Arab countries, but the American war on the region under the pretext of eliminating the Islamic State (ISIS) is not an indication of the Americans changing their mind about the region.
What is clear is that something has attracted the Americans to militarily invade the region almost every decade, as this current war in late 2014 will be the third in the region within less than 25 years taking into account the second invasion of Iraq in 2003 and its first in 1991. If the same happens in the same conditions, then it would indicate that is has become a phenomenon and a steady state, as our physicists would say.
Unlike the American invasion of Japan and Germany at the end of World War II, which ended in the formulation of a new equation in which the two countries were entered in the world of free and booming nations and were liberated from the chauvinistic nationalism and patriotism that ignited WWII and made them close allies of America and the West, the American wars in the Arab region have always deepened the existing impasse and reinforced the reasons that originally led to war, thus ending in completely counterproductive results. These results neither preserve the American interests in the long run and save the Americans from new wars, nor do they impose some sort of viable balance in the region, instead filling it with destruction, desolation, blood and tears.
I wonder, what is the secret behind this huge gap between the fruits of the American wars in the Arab region, and the fruits of its wars in Germany and Japan?
Certainly, the reason is that America’s wars on Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan were wars against the rulers and political elites and not wars against the people.
The Americans took the German and Japanese people into consideration while it fought their leaders. Despite the atrocities committed by America during the war, the ugliest of which was the use of nuclear weapons in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, America did not seek to control the German and Japanese people after the military defeat, nor did the Americans want to keep them under tyranny or occupation or put them in a state of desperation that was charged with the spirit of revenge. Instead, the Americans helped both nations economically in order to reconstruct their countries and quickly recover from the plight of war, as well as helping them politically in order to establish a democratic system. The invading armies gave the two nations the freedom to choose their leaders and determine their own political fate.
As for the American wars in the Arab region, they are wars on the people, not their leaders, and therefore, the results were the exact opposite to the results of its wars on Germany and Japan. Despite the fact that Saddam Hussein ended up being hung, the Iraqi people are the ones who paid the price for the two American wars on Iraq. They endured a suffocating economic blockade that killed half a million innocent Iraqi children while the dictator remained in power after the first invasion. Then the Iraqi army was dissolved and chaos spread across the country after the second invasion. This was followed by the fragmentation of the Iraqi community and authority was put in the hands of sectarian forces driven by historical hatred that was more concerned with revenge and settling scores than reconciliation and reconstruction.
The Americans hung the man who persecuted the Shias and replaced him with a man who has permitted the bloodshed of the Sunnis. They also killed the man who used chemical weapons against the Kurds but he was replaced with a man who bombed the Sunnis with explosive barrels. Imagine, just for the sake of comparison, that America appointed a new chauvinistic dictator like Hitler after defeating Germany, but a ruler who works for the CIA, or that it appointed a Japanese military dictator that reports to the US Secretary of State, just as Al-Sisi does today. What would the reactions of the Germans and Japanese be? Would WWII have really ended?
The American wars in the Arab countries are endless because they are wars on the people, not the leaders, while its wars on Germany and Japan were wars on leaders, not people, and therefore, the wars ended smoothly and it was impossible to hold grudges once solid friendships were formed.
When the Arab Spring started, which was a popular revolution with purely internal demands and fair political aspirations, the people in these countries never antagonised anyone other than the dictators oppressing the people. However, America immediately enforced the strategy of obstruction and hindering, supporting the revolutions in words but fighting them in actions. It also mobilised all the forces it is associated with in the region in its war on the freedom of the Arab people, including the military officer that is a pawn in the hands of the US, the loyal dictator, the cosy scholar, the cowardly dervish and hypocritical media.
Even when the revolution was against a military official who opposed American policies, such as Gaddafi, America sought to replace him with Major General Khalifa Haftar, a man who openly admits he worked for the CIA for over two decades, as if the blood shed by the Libyans was merely a red carpet laid out for spies and those with no conscience.
The same could be said about Egypt, the revolution which America turned into a mere transfer of power from an old dictatorship loyal to America to a younger murderer who is even more loyal to the US at the expense of the Egyptian people’s blood, money, hopes, dreams, dignity and the status of their state among the nations. America then sought to change the course of all the Arab revolutions in the region in which they have no replacement, such as Syria, into a hell and eternal war where there are no winners or losers. Now Sanaa has become another Arab Spring capital that has fallen under America’s allies who pulled the plug on the Yemeni revolution before it completed its natural growth, throwing the pre-mature revolution into the hands of the Houthis and Iran.
Despite the ugliness and ignorance of the Russian position regarding the Arab Spring, it was still easier for the Arab revolutions to endure the American position. America’s words contradict its actions while dealing with the revolutions of the Arab people. Meanwhile, Russia’s arrogance has saved it from hypocrisy, and it openly declared its position against the freedom of the Arab people.
Thus, the Arab peoples rebelling against injustice and tyranny are facing an obvious enemy in Russia and a disguised enemy in America, and it is the disguised enemy that is the most dangerous because of its influence, ability to manoeuvre and use of internal tools. Therefore, the American investment in the Egyptian army led to bloodshed and burned bodies in the Rabaa Al-Adawiya Square and its mosque and killed the dream of the free Egyptian people and its youth, just as Khalifa Haftar’s relationship with the CIA led to the destruction of Libya, the bloodshed of its people, and the depletion of its revolution and wealth.
As for Syria, the US adopted the Israeli vision that was explicitly expressed by the American strategic thinker with a passion for Zionism, Edward Luttwak. On August 24, 2013, he published an article in The New York Times entitled “In Syria, America Loses if Either Side Wins”, in which he says: “At this point, a prolonged stalemate is the only outcome that would not be damaging to American interests.”
He ended his article with a piece of advice to the American decision-makers, saying: “And the only possible method for achieving this is to arm the rebels when it seems that Mr Assad’s forces are ascendant and to stop supplying the rebels if they actually seem to be winning.”
The upcoming American war on ISIS will not deviate from this evil equation, and will only seek to complete the counter-revolution cycle through Damascus, thus depriving the Syrian people from reaping the fruits of their enormous sacrifices for the sake of freedom and human dignity.
ISIS is only one superficial symptom out of all the deep structural disease that plagues the Arab society. This disease is political despotism and its international backing. The core of the issue is not the ability to destroy an insignificant group like ISIS that may fade after a few days of American bombing, just as Al-Qaeda faded in the Islamic Maghreb after being bombed by the French. The core of the issue is for America to lift its hands from the region and stop toying with the fate of its people and controlling its strategic decisions. It must accept a relationship of camaraderie with the Arabs rather than a relationship of dependency which are prevalent today, and that way, the Arab societies bursting with hope and vitality can get rid of tyranny, overcome its chronic structural contradictions, and achieve dignity and prestige for itself among the nations of the world.
It is not true that America is unable to do anything to tip the balances in favour of liberty over tyranny. The Arab countries are competing to join the American campaign against ISIS and this reveals the extent to which America’s options are dependent on the region and the depth of the American strategic penetration into the region.
The truth is that America can do a lot in the region, and it is doing a lot, both directly and indirectly, but it chose the morally and strategically wrong choice. It chose to continue to toy with the fate of Arab and Islamic peoples, hit the Arab and Muslims’ points of physical and moral strength, and deprive them from the two most important shields for sovereignty in modern nations, i.e. liberty and arms.
For its evil equation, America uses Arab politicians who still believe in the logic of leaders of caravans and 19th Century ideas of colonialism. They are like “a groups of pirates and bandits intercepting colonial caravans in their countries and offering them their services”, as described by Dr Azmi Bishara in his recent article published in Al-Araby Al-Jadeed newspaper.
The United States can continue to tamper with the fate of our people through its military intervention every decade or so, it can hinder the Arab Spring for a few years and force our people to pay a heavy price for it in the form of their blood and money, and achieve some situational and deceptive tactical gains from all of this, but its selective policies that lack any sense of morals or humanity will have painful consequences sooner or later. America will not be spared from the effects of the Arab volcano, and its hands will be burned by the fire it continues to fuel in our countries every day.
At the end of the day, America will not be able to stop “the natural flow of history” as described by Ahmet Davutoglu, nor can it control the volcanic state reached by the Arab societies.
As for the Arab leaders of the counter-revolution who are in America’s orbit, they will remain ignorant until they pay the price for their political selfishness and failure to take into consideration the consequences of their actions. They have severed all religious, national and human ties, and their wishful thinking for America had led them to betray the people of Syria and Libya and plot against the Yemeni people.
In his book Longitudes and Attitudes: Exploring the World After September 11, American journalist Thomas Friedman describes America’s relationship with the Arab oil producing countries, saying that it treats these countries as if they are “a big gas station to be pumped and defended but never to be taken seriously as a society”.
This is an accurate description, but a new development has occurred recently; America began to burn the big gas station after it replaced their oil with shale oil. America will become the largest shale oil producer in the world in 2017. Everything America is doing today is aiming to quickly drain and waste the oil and gas of the Arab states before it is eaten by the flames.
The kings of sectarianism and leaders of the caravans cannot see the fire surrounding them from all sides and they will not see it until after it hits them and engulfs their tents. Will the Arab people remain silent in the face of these injustices, or will they revolt against their leaders who America is using as gloves to wear on their hands while they mess with the fate of the people?
Translated from Al Jazeera net, 23 September, 2014
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.