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Wednesday, October 4, 2023


America dithers in the Middle East

On Feb. 11, the Egyptian people achieved what no expert thought possible: A popular revolution was able to force the Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak to step down after 30 years in power. People all over the region rejoiced at the second successful uprising in a mere two months. Other countries began to plan their own days of protest, including Algeria, Libya, Yemen and Bahrain. If the Tunisians and Egyptians could gain their freedom, then Arabs everywhere were determined to achieve the same for themselves.

Unfortunately, the brutal security forces in these countries have been quick to react. Over 70 people have died in Libya during protests thus far, targeted by the thugs of the dictator, Muammar al-Gaddafi. In Manama, Bahrain, nonviolent protestors (including women and children) were viciously attacked and massacred by the police on behalf of the corrupt monarchy.

Internet and other forms of communication have been cut off in both countries, so we can only imagine what these governments hope to achieve hidden away from public scrutiny.

As usual, the American response to the uprisings in the Arab world has been positively shameful. Just as the Obama administration made no move to support the protests in Tunisia and Egypt until after their success, the recent calls for stability and affirmations of US support are just disgraceful attempts to “ride out” the wave of restlessness. Only when the regime is on our list of belligerents will the US outright condemn the violence against peaceful demonstrators.

Otherwise, ambiguity or open support of dictatorship is all the Arab people can expect. Bahrain’s geographical location makes it perfect for harassing Iran, which is why we have a Naval base there — along with no intention of changing the status quo.

The US has historically supported authoritarian regimes in the Middle East against the democratic will of their people. When pan-Arabism erupted across the Middle East in the 1950s and ’60s, the United States did its best to encourage anti-democratic sentiment by allying with the Saudi regime and buying off strongmen like Saddam Hussein. After Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser’s death (considered the icon of pan-Arabism), we helped prop up the cruel Anwar Sadat in Egypt.

Today’s uprisings represent a resurgence of pan-Arabism, with the same themes of self-determination, dignity and freedom. However, the protestors today understand the mistakes of the past. Social justice is the ultimate goal.

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