Power of mass protests & Western Strategy
Posted on March 3rd, 2011

Shenali Waduge

Countries of the Middle East have taken center stage. Tunisia, Egypt, Algeria, Jordan, Yemen, Morooco, Bahrain, Syria & Libya are said to be facing uprising and we are suddenly told that people of these countries are demanding “democratization” of their country & the ouster of their “despotic” leaders. All these rulers have ruled these nations for over 2 decades & did the US, the western allies & even the UN not know that these rulers were “despicable dictators”? They did but these leaders were ruling nations rich in oil, these nations were located in a strategic region and these leaders were buying arms that the West were manufacturing so the US, the West & even the UN ignored their “human rights violations” until now”¦the question is why?   Clearly what is happening in the Middle East is an eye opener for all of us.

From the protestors point of view their fate will definitely be far worse than what they had been experiencing. Take a look at the countries that military intervention have taken place, where NATO presence prevails, countries that have been suddenly given “independent” status”¦these people are suffering far more than we know. To understand this it is necessary to look back at the manner in which the Middle East had been functioning as chosen friends of the US & Western allies.  

We all know the importance of US having a foothold in the Middle East not only for its military requirements but also the need for oil & other natural resources. Egypt likewise has been an important ally of the US in view of the trade route through the Suez Canal. Mubarak must today be wondering what he has done to deserve the US administrations admonition! Similar fate is likely to result for all others who feel comfortable in the present knowing they are on good terms with the US administrations. Egypt is the 4th largest recipient of military aid (Iraq, Afghanistan & Israel being the other) by the US & Hosni Mubarak has been a key American ally throughout his 40 year rule & so America cannot be unaware of public sentiment against Mubarak. That America chose to allow Mubarak regime to prevail should make Egyptian public think twice before allowing US to again interfere in its internal affairs.  

There is also unrest in Yemen where its leader has been ruling for 32 years. President Saleh was a one time ally of the US covering up US military strikes and offering an “open door” for US attacks and does it not seem strange that President Saleh too is being ousted. These incidents are no coincidences.

Oman, Turkmenistan & Equatorial Guniea are also allies of the US and these countries too are ruled by dictatorships despite these countries being tagged as “corrupt, poverty stricken & repressed” as well as engaging in tortures & arbitrary detentions. The reason for US interests in Turkmenistan is that it borders Afghanistan and has helped US transport arms & supplies. Why does the US ignore horrendous records of Turkmenistans repressive record where severe restrictions prevail on freedom, religion, press, torture & detention of political prisoners.   Over the years the US has been associated with arming a host of other “dictators” – the Shah of Iran, President Suharto of Indonesia, President Marcos of Philippines, President Noriega of Panama & scores of generals & colonels in Central America & even President Saddam of Iraq. Declassified documents will provide details of how President Bush in 1989 signed a presidential directive increasing financial & military conventional weapons to Iraq. If many of the arms shipments & bank loans to Iraq have been illegal so too have the dealings with Muammer Gaddafi. Why else would Gaddafi’s son describe former British Prime Minister Blair as a “personal family friend”. In the light of any International Court rulings many of these backroom deals with western nations will become exposed therefore it is clear what Gaddafi’s fate is likely to be. The Libyan leader has come back sharp against the west claiming to close US firms operating in oil-rich Libya & to offer these to Chinese & Indian firms. It explains why the US will reconsider its options in Libya.   The US has also been supporting the former Belgian colony of Zaire & its ruler Mobutu.

The word “kleptocracy” was invented to describe Mobutu’s reign with the US providing more than $1billion US economic aids, US arms. Today the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is the biggest benefactor of US arms and it is surprising that no pro-democracy movement has risen thus far is Saudi Arabia. Similarly, it is the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia & its royal family that has allowed US to gain foothold in the Middle East since 1974. Saudi Arabia is indisputably an authoritarian regime and why has the US & Western allies remained silent about the status quo of “democracy” in Saudi Arabia? There is no elected Parliament, public protests are banned & the media is controlled by the State and it remains a surprise that the people of Saudi have not felt the need to rise against the Saudi monarchy if “democracy” is what people desire!  

 Can the US deny that these “dictators” were customers of US defense contracts? Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Morocco & Egypt were the largest purchasers of US weapons in 2008 value of which is over $2.2billion (US Congress)  Teargas, crowd control ammunitions being presently used in Libya are those that had been purchased from British arms suppliers. Night vision equipment & helicopters were purchased by Libya from Netherlands. Electronic jammers used to hamper communications with the outside world were brought from German suppliers. It is estimated that Gaddafi spent $474million since 2004 to purchase military equipment from Europe.  

It is strange that the US, its allies or the UN would not have known about Ben Ali’s 23 rule where he is accused of stifling opposition, corruption and nepotism. But then Ben Ali had also kept close relations with Western Europe & the US. France was its biggest trade partner. Why did the Tunisian army disobey Ben Ali’s orders & connecting these to the released wikileaks cables where US, UK & Germany agreed on a political pressure over Italy & France to change the situation in Tunisia is key to the uprising. These factors certainly determined the changes that took place in Egypt, Algeria, Jordan & Sudan.

 It behoves the public of these Middle East countries as well as all other countries that any calls for “democratic” protests to start think how far these protests are being fuelled by foreign interests and sensationalized by media who desire only to sell their stories. The US & Western allies are interested only in securing oil, maintaining a strategic foothold in the region and ensuring bases for their militaries. President Eisenhower described the Middle East as the most “strategically important area in the world”. Supporting despotic oligarchies in the Middle East took little effort and it was easier to enable US & Western companies to run oil companies in these countries and so it served these countries well to have the people of these nations suppressed.

 The people of the Middle East has to be aware that the US & western allies have been supporting oppressive & harsh governments. Democracy does not equate to mean countries should function how the US & West want these countries to be run!

 What do the protestors want? Democratiization they say. In these countries where they are supposed to have led “suppressed” lives it is interesting to wonder what they actually mean by “democratization” of their nation. We all agree that 30 years is certainly too long for one ruler to rule given that the governance is characterized by corruption.

 It is difficult to pin point common factors for uprising in the present countries where uprisings have taken place. International media has not helped in allowing us to understand the actual reasons. That international media is owned by powerful lobbies interested in its own agendas leaves little hope for us to understand what is actually taking place. How many of us are able to balance the versions & be intelligent enough to understand the real situation. It was only by talking with the civilians in the North did I come to realize that the LTTE had created chaos by implying the Sri Lanka armed forces were approaching to kill them & that is why over 200,000 Tamil civilians ended up being human shields of the LTTE during the final battle. Similarly, we need to wonder what would have inspired the protests in the Middle East.  

 In Egypt the high cost of living was what made the majority of middle class unemployed protestors all below 30 years to take to the streets. Even amongst protestors the demands vary and it is important that we understand that any Government cannot cater to everybody’s grievance. Nevertheless, a Government especially those that are elected are accountable for ensuring that taxes are spent on common needs and these taxes are spent wisely and this is where Sri Lanka also needs to introspect and be careful and to use the Middle East as a good example that people are watching their governance. Mubarak before leaving Egypt reprimanded his son saying it was him & his mother that was responsible for denying him a place in Egypts history”¦.it is good for our own people to understand the deeper meaning in this.

 The surge in protests seen across the Middle East is clearly orchestrated by an outside influence that would have been operating for a long time. While, we may blame these foreign influences it behoves any Government to understand that it is the actions or inactions of a Government that enables these outside influencers to poison the minds of the people.

 What is slightly different from the status quo in Sri Lanka is the fact that the middle class has been wise to disassociate itself from political protests over the years given that most of these onlookers cheering for politicians are those being paid or transported from their electorates. The JVP is attempting to create similar environment in Sri Lanka & all those who have a clear memory of JVP record in Sri Lanka should be advised to look back at the horrors that manifested during their reign & ask whether the people would like to endure such horrors again.   

 Given that foreign influence has played a role in galvanizing people against the leaders of the Middle East it behoves to wonder how far these protestors can be controlled. This is certainly a dangerous precedent for most of these protests have climaxed in looting, stealing & complete anarchy leaving the people worse off than how they started. The people of Sri Lanka know exactly what happened in 1983 and they have certainly not allowed to be intimidated thereafter.

 With population rising, possible shift of economic power to the East there is a scurry to secure oil & natural resources. Much of the present crisis that prevails in countries has nothing to do with internal conflicts but everything to do with staged conflicts to secure the presence of foreign agents & foreign interests. It is wise for the East to be vigilant at all times for the West has become a powerhouse today purely as a result of draining the countries of the East & Africa of their natural resources and none of these countries have been compensated thus far.

 We are told that the US & its allies are considering different options even arming civilian groups inside the countries of the Middle East. This is how these countries strategize to evade their own military personnel from becoming victims. Again it is the divide & rule policy that is being strategized. Yet, the dangers loom if protests really do get out of control. Neither would these “dictators” be able to control nor would these foreign nations”¦then what is likely to happen to these countries & its people? Obviously, neither the West nor these “dictators” would desire that to occur”¦let us watch and see how they end up balancing the situation. The people need to understand that they will always end up on the loosing side.

 If we look back on the world it has always been a handful of leaders that have made the world into what it is today”¦if terror exists denying us peace of mind it is because a handful of leaders have created terrorist groups, armed terrorists, allowed these terror organizations to exist, trained them and allowed them to roam the world. If problems related to climate exist it is purely because developed countries have ignored the many calls for protecting the climate, if nuclear dangers exist, it is purely because a handful of nations have been manufacturing nuclear arsenal for their own supremacy”¦.it is these handful of selfish people that are responsible for the present state of affairs in this world.

2 Responses to “Power of mass protests & Western Strategy”

  1. Nanda Says:

    In the country called Saudi Arabia rulers are murderers. They stone people to death in public, behead in public. Why are the US and allies silent ?
    Part of Libiya has now been taken over by AlQuaida.

  2. Ratanapala Says:

    Rajapakse Presidency better take note of the “Mother and Sons syndrome”. It happened in the Philippines with the Marcos, in Indonesia with Suhartos and now in Egypt with the Mubarak’s. There is much to learn from history. Sri Lankan President should do well to think how he would be remembered 50 years from now. We do remember the Choura Ragina who is still with us. He must think of the country before family.

    He has done marvelously with respect to the Tamil Racist war. He and his brothers have done a fantastic job. We only hope he will continue to do the right thing by the nation and mainly those who supported him to win the war and the presidency. Some of his party stalwarts did not have a clear policy with respect to the Tiger Terrorist demands. It was the Sinhala Buddhist nation who stood thick and thin to see the war to a finish.

    Getting close to the Catholic Church is not the right way to go. Those who play with fire end up getting burnt!

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