The benefit of hindsight is that it has a perfect 20-20 vision. The neo-con and the conservative lobby who claimed that an invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan in 2003 shall ensure a tsunami of democracy have got it terribly incorrect with huge costs: Trillions down the drain, thousands of soldiers dead and millions displaced and killed. The Arab Spring with Mohammaed Bouzizi’s immolation and the historic events at Maidan Al Tahrir to Pearl Square, Manama to Globe Roundabout in Sohar has lead to a democratic transition of sorts but with the wrong revolutionary actors in place. The Muslim Brotherhood and the Al Nur Salafist block have sidelined the liberals like Amr Moosa and have lead to further persecution of two millennia old Copts in Cairo. Hosni Mubarak was a secular, army led dictator who safeguarded the interests of Christians. The Evangelical Right drove the neo con agenda in 2003 saying the liberal and democratic values were needed in the Middle East. They got their premonitions wrong.
Ideas have Consequences, as it is said as it drives decisions. The Wrong ideas can have cataclysmic outcomes. The neocon experiment has shown aptly.
The brothers from Bible belt in the mid western United States were simply ignorantly aiding the detractors of Christians in the Middle East say the Brotherhood to make the transition from the underground to the presidential palace. The Cultural Context of the Middle East was not understood by the neo con establishment. A steak eating mid westerner from Ames, who has not even travelled to the east coast of the US, cannot comprehend the subtlety and complexity of the social forces at play in Allepo.
The similar story is underway in Syria. The Assads as did fellow Baathists in Baghdad always had a friendly relationship with the progressive, liberal Christian community in the Middle East. Saddam Al Tikriti’s Spokesperson was a certain Mr. Tareq Aziz, a Roman Catholic with excellent links to the Vatican. Basher Assad the Ophthalmologist from London is a secular, western man. The Alawaites are Shia-ites but they have held excellent historical ties with the Druuze and Maronite ethnic Christian Communities unlike the Salafist Sunnis. I recently saw the desecration of an ancient Orthodox Church on BBC World, in a report by Lyse Doucet in Allepo, Syria by the so call ‘Free Syrian Army’. The persecution of Christians in the post Arab Spring Middle East is intense. As the Christians sided with the dictators in the pre 2003 era, the Salafist opposition backed by Gulf States, newly Islamized Turkey and the ignorant Western Leadership are on a witch hunt to eliminate any symbol relevant to Middle Eastern Christianity.
Syria has turn into a metaphor not only for the Arab Spring but for Shia-Sunni divide for geo-political control. It is not a Syrian Control but the war threatens to suck the neighbors in too. Hezbollah, Sunni Jihadis, Gulf Petro Dollars and Western attempts to marginalize Iran all count for an explosive Molotov cocktail with a nuclear Israel along the fringes. The revolutions in Yemen, Bahrain, and Morocco and to a limited extent Oman have yielded to insignificant changes although reforms have been kick started.
The successes of the Arab Spring are surely Tunisia and Libya. The Success Story also ends there. Teksim Square is a blip on the radar. Shahbhag is an ongoing ideological battle. A Revolution which had showed great promise but faded out in the cacophony of various actors.
The Arab Spring is dead. We surely need to resolve Syria now to prevent more damage. My appeal to the United States is to not get involved in Damascus by supporting the rebels. Remember, the CIA created ‘the Base’ (Al Qaeda) of the Islamic Terror Movement indirectly via arming the Mujahidin in Afghanistan?
History has many lessons to offer, if we pay an attentive ear.