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Irreversible disintegration of the Arab World?

The events of the Arab Spring revolutions, which started in Tunisia on 17 December 2010 and culminated in ousting the regime of Zein el Abidine Ben Ali on the 14 January 2011, had unmistakable reverberations not only in the region but also around the world. The Tunisia effect rapidly spread during 2011 and 2012 to Egypt, Libya, Yemen and Syria, and inaugurated a new chapter of the political and social history of those countries. However, the anti-revolution forces, aided by external powers, have turned people’s longing for freedom, democracy and other hopes from their revolutions into total nightmares.

It has become no secret that Western powers were taken aback by the speedy social movements during 2011. That is why the response from the US, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and other powers was that of bewilderment and waiting. However, the plan soon turned into an attempt to reverse the democratic change. In the case of the French and American foreign policy this soon started in earnest.

Democratically elected governments have long awaited external support but instead they received only ambiguous responses and evident apathy. The story could have ended there. However the worst was yet to come since external powers took it in turns to intervene in different places and by various means. The great Western powers have never been interested in spreading democracy in the Arab world. If any, it is a brand of rule that extends their interests and influence in the region. Democracy which brings free elections, rule of the law, political stability, and economic prosperity is not what has been promoted so far.

The plan now is to further split the Arab countries into smaller entities based on ethnic and sectarian groupings. It seems that there are attempts to split Iraq into three states: Shia state in the south, Kurdish state in the North and a Sunni in the West. A similar aim appears to be to split Syria into a Sunni state in the North, Alawite state in the Syrian Coastal Mountains and a Druze state in the South. Part of the aim of this, it seems, that Israel will emerge as a strong power, politically and militarily superior that of any other country in the region. The Expansion to make a Greater Israel as is their aim, will therefore become a greater possibility.

A few hints of this plan were leaked by former US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, in 2006 with the title ‘New Middle East’. In fact maps redrawing the World and what is known as Middle East have kept appearing since the late 1980s, the most interesting of which are the ones attributed to the British-American orientalist Bernard Lewis.

Bernard Lewis, who wrote extensively about the Arab region, proposed that the Arab World cannot unite under one rule because of its diverse ethnic and sectarian divisions. He therefore argued that the West should take advantage of this diversity to further dominate the region.

Also Lewis proposed in 1992, after the Operation Desert Storm, that the Arab region will witness a Lebanisation type of civil wars. In Foreign Affairs he wrote at that time:

“The eclipse of pan-Arabism has left Islamic fundamentalism as the most attractive alternative to all those who feel that there has to be something better, truer and more hopeful than the inept tyrannies of their rulers and the bankrupt ideologies foisted on them from outside… The more oppressive the regime, the greater the help it gives to fundamentalists by eliminating competing oppositionists. If the central power is sufficiently weakened, there is no real civil society to hold the polity together, no real sense of common national identity or overriding allegiance to the nation-state. The state then disintegrates as happened in Lebanon into a chaos of squabbling, feuding, fighting sects, tribes, regions and parties.”

Is this not an echo of the current turmoil in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Libya? All of these countries had been living peacefully with mutual tolerance between religions and sects for hundreds of years, until the Iran Iraq War, Gulf War and The War on Terror, all of which were characterized by Western interference and involvement. In 2013 the New York Times revealed a map that redrew five Arab countries into new fourteen ones. These countries were: Saudi Arabia, Libya, Yemen, Iraq and Syria.

The current plan to redraw the map of the Arab region is a continuation of the unfinished business of T.E. Lawrence (also known as Laurence of Arabia), who was a key advisor to Lord Cecil, Lord Curzon, Lord Balfour, General Smuts, and Mark Sykes of the British Foreign Office. Thanks to his advice, the map of the region was redrawn. In the infamous Sykes-Picot agreement of May 19, 1916, a deal between Britain and France was made to divide up the Arab territories of the former Ottoman Empire into spheres of influence’, to cause ‘the disintegration of the Ottoman Caliphate’. The current plan to divide five major Arab countries into fourteen could therefore be called the ‘Sykes-Picot 2 of 2016’.

Iran has been recently complicit in this partition plan too, due to its agenda since 2003 to spread its influence within many countries, resulting in sectarian identities and divides that previously did not exist and consequential instability.

In light of the above partition plan, it becomes easier to comprehend the current developments in the whole region, from the invasion of Iraq, to the responses of Western powers vis-à-vis the current war in Syria, the powerlessness of the UN and reluctance to support democratic transition in the Arab Spring countries such as Tunisia.

It is foolish to argue that no plan is underway to slice these countries into small states on ethnic and religious grounds: into Shia, Sunni, Alawite, Druze, Christians, and Kurds… i.e. divide and conquer for the benefit of ‘Greater Israel’. However, it is obviously unwise to argue that the disintegration of Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Libya into little enclaves is imminent. The GCC, Arab league and influential countries in the region such as Saudi Arabia and Turkey will now be, we hope, instrumental in reversing this tide of a devastating, externally-driven destruction of the region.

The writer is Professor of Media and Communication. He can be reached via e-mail: nmiladi@hotmail.com. This article was first published by thepeninsulaqatar.com

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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