Welcome to the Middle East Today

The Middle East has traditionally been important for the world economy. The Middle East situation today has an impact on all aspects of life in America and much of the world.

Only by understanding the motivations of the various factions in the Middle East can we hope to understand how to promote peace and national security for Middle Eastern nations, Europe, and the United States.

Mar 25, 2011

Continuance of Political Upheavals in the Arab World

The protesters movements are still going on in Libya, Yemen, Bahrain, Jordan, Iraq, Syria and Morocco.

In many of these states, the people are paying a heavy price to secure their freedom and establish new democratic institutions to end corruption and authoritarian rule.

In Yemen, it has been reported that during the past few days more than 70 people have been killed and more than 617 have been injured. The International Human Rights Organization has condemned the Yemeni government for its excessive use of force. More and more members of the diplomatic corp are declaring their support of the revolutionary movements. Also, some high-ranking Yemeni military officers have joined the protestors’ movements in addition to other tribal groups.

In the meantime, President Saleh has dissolved his cabinet and declared emergency laws. The Yemeni Defense Minister and many foreign governments are urging Saleh to stop the use of force to disperse the protestors’ movements. The Yemeni population supports the protestors’ movements in all Yemeni cities. It seems to the observer that Saleh’s support is declining even among his tribe members. The International Human Rights Organization is critical of Saleh’s use of force that led to many deaths and injuries.

The latest report revealed that more than 60 high ranking military officers joined the protestors and demanded the resignation of the president. Saleh offered to step down at the end of the year (2011). His offer was rejected. It looks like President Saleh wants to die in office.

In Libya, the Gadhafi military forces are still attacking the revolutionary forces despite the U.N. resolution that called on the Libyan government to stop attacking the protestors and declare a cease-fire. The Gadhafi government declared publicly that they will abide by the cease-fire resolution, but continued its attacks. Prior to the implementation of the U.N. resolution, it was reported that Bengazi was attacked from the air and by tanks that led to the deaths of 92 people and many injuries. Gadhafi troops are also attacking the revolutionary forces in Misrata, where more than 40 people have died. They also destroyed the water supply system as well as the electrical power in Misrata. It was reported that his forces were using civilians as shields during their attacks on the protestors.

Some foreign states are criticizing the NATO members (U.S., Britain, France and Canada) for the bombing of Libya. Also, I was surprised to hear that Amr Mousa, the director of the Arab League, was critical of the NATO bombing. To start with, he was among the first to call on the U.N. to interfere and stop the slaughter of the Libya people. It is unfortunate that Amr Mousa is speaking from both sides of his mouth. He declared that he is going to run for the position of Egypt’s president. He is trying to appease certain groups, but in the end he will not be a winner. Kuwait and Jordan have provided logistical services to the Libyan revolutionary group, and in addition Qatar sent four planes to join the NATO forces.

It is clear that the Libyan situation at the present reflects a civil war occurring between the revolutionary forces, who are poorly armed, and Gadhafi’s troops, who are heavily armed and supported by tanks another heavy military equipment. Gadhafi’s forces need to be stopped and his headquarters in Bab-il-iziziah should be bombed. He is a madman and the only way to stop his slaughter of innocent civilians is by eliminating him and his sons.

The situation in Bahrain is getting worse due to the Saudi military interference. It was reported that 2,000 soldiers are backing the Bahraini government, which is using force to disperse the protestors from Pearl Square. Also, it was reported that eight people were killed and many others were injured.

The Saudi interference in their neighbor’s internal affairs is the result of the impact of the protestors’ movements on their internal affairs. The Saudi government has used its brutal forces to suppress any protestors’ movements in the country. I wonder if the Saudi interference in Bahrain will be similar to the interference of Syria in Lebanon during the 1970s civil war. The Saudi Arabian policy of helping the ruling royal family in Bahrain by suppressing the protestors’’ movement in Bahrain was a big mistake. The Saudi government’s blunder is attributed to their irrational strategy to get a message across to their own young people, which is that they will not tolerate any attempts to start a protest movement in Saudi Arabia.

In Syria, the protestors’ movement has spread from Damascus to other cities. It was reported that the Syrian security police killed more than one hundred people in Dirra city. At the same time, the supporters of the regime have started their own movement to challenge those who are opposing the regime. In the meantime, it was reported that the protestors’ movements have spread to other cities in Syria, calling for political reforms and an end to corruption. President Bashaar el Asad promised the protesters political reforms such as freedom of expression, lifting emergency law and allowing political parties to participate in future elections. Meanwhile a counter demonstration spread in Syrian cities in support of the president. However, I doubt that the protesters will be appeased by the promises for political reforms made by the president.

In Iraq, the protestors movement has been occurring on and off for the past several weeks. They have spread to all governates. As usual, the protestors are critical of Malik’s government and the newly elected members of the Iraqi parliament. Corruption is still going on at all governmental levels and the economic situation is getting worse. The basic infrastructure reflects no improvements. High unemployment, shortages of electrical power, shortages of drinking water and poor security for the public are among the problems. Many people are yearning for the previous days of Saddam Hussein.

In Morocco, the protestors’ movements are still going on in many cities. They are demanding political reforms and an end to corruption and abuses of their freedom. King Muhammad the sixth responded to their demands by declaring that there will be constitutional reforms and parliamentary elections. However, he did not respond to one of the basic demands, which is to turn the monarchy into a constitutional one. I doubt that he will go that far. King Muhammad the 6th, like the rest of the Arab heads of state, is obsessed with absolute power. Many of them will die in office, resisting such reforms.

In Jordan the younger generation of March 24 are protesting and demanding quick political reforms and an end to corruption. They are further requesting the abolition of the Jordanian secret service, which is suppressing all political activities. It was reported that more than 1,000 protesters are setting tents in Jamal Abdel Nasser Square in Amman and insisting to remain in the square until their demands are fulfilled. There was however a counter-demonstration conducted by nearly 300 people who were shouting, “Long live King Abdullah.” Both groups clashed and security interfered causing injuries on both sides.

Nevertheless, the young Arab generation has removed the barriers of fear to challenge their political leaders and will maintained this until they get what they have been demanding: freedom and an end to political corruption and dictatorship.

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