The Arab Spring may yet turn out to be just a shifting of power elites, but who knows? Those of us who have ‘taught’ in security and other roles tend to have little faith in the peoples of the Middle East – it’s not that long since the Greeks had the vile rule of the colonels. Whilst I’ve had to dodge mobs in the area, they show remarkable courage getting on the street against the dictators, and we should remember that we aren’t managing to do the same or really even spot who the tyrants are. My hat’s off in recognition of the courage.
What’s behind the ‘revolution’ it is impossible to be sure. Friends and colleagues across the area say things about the tyrants like ‘they are eating us from the inside-out – soon even to our skins’ – this from ordinary blokes and women. Others say of the tyrants, ‘at least they keep the mullahs off our backs’ and everyone has some notion of the ‘wasta’ system of influence, much as of the Mafias in some parts of Italy. Some would welcome moves to more modern, western society, but all share distaste for it in some measure – a distaste many of us share.
The rebels have had unusual support in terms of air supremacy that has broken the main superiority in arms of the governments and in Libya in particular it looks as though we are repeating old tactics – much as if the Mayfair Group is back in business. Television reporting is crude, with images of ‘war reporters’ in hard hats and body-armour but never under fire and familiar scenes of locals shooting in the air. ‘Men in pink shirts’ are spotted as former Special Forces, but the action is always ‘nearby’ – something that makes little sense to anyone who has seen street fighting (where about the last place you want to be is on the open street – which is where you die). Little we get to see could not be staged on a film set and the actually unarrested favoured son pops up with his own claque to prove the point.
The vile dictators of the Middle East are falling – one has to hope Saudi, other Gulf Cooperation countries and Syria will not miss out. We presumably planned to do this back in 1956 through the Suez Crisis, in collusion with France. One can re-write 20th century history quite convincingly with the British invasion of Iraq in 1913 as the start of WW1. The big question is whether malign western interests want the current destabilization in order to find new groups to put in power and exploit at higher percentages than possible under the old regimes. We have shown no interest in supporting previously elected governments in the area
To the Libyan crying freedom I tilt my hat (not that I own one), but I suspect a western financial system looking to hide massive fraud is looking for cash cow assets to milk, bought at fire-sale prices. Greece has been broken to this without any military intervention. My guess is the Arab Spring has nowhere to go because we need spring cleaning in our own ‘democracy’. Our own GDP figures show we have been eaten from the inside-out too. Our regime is better hidden than Qaddafi. Do you remember voting for a transfer of money from poor to rich, for investment in India and China instead of in jobs here or for the influx of migrant labour?
The manifestos of our political parties remind me of bank balance sheets – written to avoid telling the truth and look like something they are not – a way for an outsider or voter to work out the true state of what is being said. I can point to all the gimmicks used in either, but it all comes down to false claims that detailed investigation and leg-work can reveal as meaningless guff. We have legitimated the kind of lying crooks do as our cultural norm.
The Libyans will forget how Qaddafi was received as a savior 42 years ago and will thus be prone to the next. I suspect our rituals are the same without the shooting in the air.