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.

May 31, 2011

Corruption During the Mubarak Regime


The U.N. Transparency International has been issuing annual reports about corruption worldwide. The Middle East and North Africa have been among the leading regions in the world with high levels of corruptions. At a recent Arab government’ labor ministers’ annual meeting in Cairo (5/15/2011), it was revealed that the cost of corruption in Arab states has been estimated to be around $400 billion annually. Corruption exists at all levels and in both the public and private sectors of Arab society, and it is part of the daily activities. In a recently published book by Dr. A Farouk titled, “The Economic Cost of Corruption in Egypt”, Dr. Farouk provided extensive descriptions and analyses on how corruption takes place at the governmental, public and private levels. He estimated that the government spends around 70 billion Egyptian pounds annually on corruption and provides another 40 billion in various types of commissions on contracts related to the infrastructure of the society.
Despite the fact that the Egyptian Constitution Article 90 prohibits members of parliament and public officials from getting involved in commercial activities while in office, during ex-president Hosni Mubarak’s regime, government elites were actively involved in business activities on a large scale. According to Dr. Farouk, the corruption began to increase with the open door economic policy that began during the last two years of President Sadat’s regime.
Nevertheless, the policy of corruption was enhanced on a wide scale during the Mubarak regime. During the previous three decades and until his removal, high public official ignored the law and abused their authority by misusing public funds so that they and their families could become rich. Since the removal of the Mubarak regime after the January 25th revolution, many high government officials, including Mr. Mubarak and members of his family, have been under investigation. Some of them are under arrest until they appear in court.
Dr. Farouk presented a detailed analysis supported by statistics on the scale of corruption in various sectors of the Egyptian economy, such as contracts for projects in the infrastructure sectors, including roads, schools, hospitals, water and sewage systems, electrical power, permits for imports and exports, loans from banks for fake projects given to corrupt people who were linked to the government, and sales of energy such as gas at a low cost to foreign governments including Israel. The latter caused a loss of revenue to the government, which was estimated to be between $4 and $5 billion a year.
It is of interest to also notice that the corruption was not only limited to the members of the elite groups in government and business, but it also spread to all other levels among people who belong to various socioeconomic strata within the Egyptian society.
Corruption at these various levels takes place in different ways and it is part of the daily routine for the average individual. The common phrased used is the “ikramia”, which means the giving or receiving of extra money to get things done. The root of ikramia is karam, which means “to be generous”. It translates, culturally speaking, into “show me your generosity”.
The ikramia is like a tip or a bribe and regardless of its definition it is an act of corruption. Without paying ikramia, it is difficult for a person to conduct personal business, irrespective of what the task might be. If you want to park your car on a public street, you have to pay ikramia to a person who might claim that the street is his personal domain.
If a person visits a private physician’s office, in most cases to cut the waiting time, he or she has to pay the ikramia. The larger the amount of money put in the hand of the attendant, the faster the person is seen.
These examples are just an illustration to reflect the different types of corruption that people practice without a second thought. This socioeconomic cultural trait (ikramiyya) is attributed to several reasons. First, it is a well-known fact to the public that government officials from the president all the way down to the official leaders demand bribes in order to facilitate all sorts of official tasks. It is rare to find a person in such high governmental positions that will refuse a bribe.
Such conduct encourages other people, who might be in civil services or out in the private sector to expect and/or ask for ikramia. The rationale behind this is that since the head of state or some of his ministers accept bribes, then others should follow the same unethical conduct.
The second rationale that encourages people to pay or ask for ikramia is the result of the continuous increases in the cost of living in relation to the low income. A classic example that shed light on corruption is the common pattern of behavior among many schoolteachers who made it clear to students and their parents that in order for them to succeed, they have to take private lessons.
Private tutoring in Egypt costs families over 16 billion Egyptian pounds per year. As a result of such trends, the majority of schoolteachers hardly exert an effort to do their expected job in a classroom. This will put the students and their parents in a very difficult position: pay for private tutoring or your kids might fail.
The whole system is based on an unethical standard and for that reasons, not only Egypt, but the whole Arab world, has been regressing rather than progressing. The spring revolutions in the Arab world should have started five decades ago. However, the new revolutionary trend looks promising and corruption will hopefully be eliminated in the long run.
It is interesting that the younger generation, who led the revolution, has already circulated written advice to the public as part of their policy of reforms. One point was to stop paying ikramia and that if a government official asks for it, they should be reported to the authorities. Cleaning corruption from society should start even at the lowest levels.

May 29, 2011

Egypt’s New Policy Regarding the Gaza- Egypt Border

The recent decision made by the Egyptian government to open the border between the Gaza sector and Egypt is a very positive policy that is consistent with international law as well as the U.N.

Furthermore, the Egyptian government removed the steel sheets that were provided by the U.S. government and the heavy equipment that was intended to build an underground wall to prevent the Palestinians from building tunnels to smuggle needed equipment and material for the people in Gaza.

The Israeli embargo that was imposed on 1.5 million people in Gaza with the help of the previous government of Mubarak was a violation of international law. Hosni Mubarak was a puppet for the Israeli government and was also supported by the U.S. The Israeli rationale was that Hamas, who controlled the Gaza sector, is a terrorist organization and poses a threat to Israel. It is unfortunate that the U.S. supports Israeli claims as usual. Hamas never carried out a single attack against the U.S. Their struggle against Israel is in accordance with the Geneva Treaty of 1948, which allows people under foreign occupation to fight the occupying forces by any means under their disposal. The Israeli policy in the occupied Palestinian lands of the West Bank and Gaza is in violation of international law, the U.N. resolutions and the International Court of Justice.

The Israeli invasion of Gaza in 2008, which led to the killings of more than 1400 civilians, including many children, has been condemned by many international human rights organizations. Even the Goldstone report reflects on the Israeli atrocities. Many human rights organizations tried to break the sea embargo imposed on Gaza, which was first led by a Turkish boat that led to the killings of unarmed peaceful advocates by Israeli forces. Such acts were also in violation of International law. Even Israeli human rights organizations have condemned Israeli actions and the embargo against the civilian population in Gaza.

Israel even refused to let construction material enter into Gaza to repair the savage destruction caused by the Israeli invasion of the strip. The embargo was not limited to construction material, but even made it difficult for the population of Gaza to get medication, fuel and other basic necessities.

I will go along with some descriptions of the Israeli government’s treatment of Gaza as a large concentration camp.

Israel has been consistent in its policy toward the Palestinian people since its creation 1948. The major rationale behind the Israeli policy that has been in defiance of international law is attributed to the U.S. government’s blind support of Israel.

The removal of Hosni Mubarak’s regime has restored the credibility of the Egyptian government’s policy regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Israel has already expressed its concern about the opening of the borders between Egypt and Gaza and stated that it will lead to the rise of conflict between both.

May 27, 2011

Israel ‘bites the hand that feeds it’

During the past few days, the president of the United States spoke at the AIPAC meeting. In his speech, he presented a proposal for the settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. That proposal was rejected by Prime Minister B. Netanyahu. In my judgment, President Obama’s proposal was unfair to the Palestinian side and more pro-Israeli. His proposal left out important issues that reflect on the core of the conflict, such as the status of Jerusalem and the refugee problem. He said these problems were to be discussed by both parties later on. The main issue that Obama stressed is the 1967 borders with adjustments to be made by both groups. People who are familiar with his Zionist ideology expected the Prime Minister of Israel’s response. It was anticipated that he would reject President Obama’s proposal, especially because he knows that he can rely on the support of the American congress. That was so clear when Mr. Netanyahu addressed the U.S. congress, where the members of both parties gave him a warm welcome and a standing ovation. The positive response of the American Congress was expected as usual, since it has a long and consistent history of support for Israel. As some ex-members of congress stated clearly, Israel dictates its policy and the U.S. government implements it without questions asked. The impression that the U.S. congress created is that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu is blindly supported over Obama’s proposal. This has been the case since the U.S. created Israel in 1948.

The Palestinians in particular and the Arab world in general have been chasing a mirage that will lead them nowhere. The U.S. government and congress is run by lobbyists and AIPAC and other Jewish Zionist organizations, in addition to Christian Zionist groups that will continue to dominate American foreign policy in support of Israel. In the past, the Arab states failed to use the right approach to pressure the American Congress to be more non-aligned and focused on the American national interest, instead of that of Israel. This happened briefly during the early 1970s, when Saudi Arabia imposed an oil embargo against the U.S. The American business sector is the most powerful lobby that can stand up to the Jewish lobby in the U.S. As the late Senator Fulbright put it once, the American national interest should supersede any other interests.

As was frequently pointed out in previous posts, the U.N. gave Israel its birth certificate in 1948 and is the only international organization that can impose a solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, provided that the U.S. will stop using its veto power to put an end to the conflict. The UN General Assembly is the proper organization to deal wit the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

On the other hand, the fanatic Zionist politicians of Israel need to reckon with the fact that there are nearly 4 million Palestinians who are living in the occupied lands. They need either to be set free or to be incorporated into Israel with the lands the Israelis are trying to seize. Actually, this would be a better solution for the Palestinians than to create non-viable state.

May 23, 2011

Unemployment in the Arab World

Recently, Arab ministers of labor met in Cairo (5/15/2011) to discuss their agenda in light of the spring revolutions in the Arab world.

The main item on their agenda was how to fight corruption, which is deep-rooted in the Arab states in both public and private sectors of their societies.

The participants in the conference have revealed that corruption in the Arab world has been estimated at $400 billion, according to International estimates.

The ministers have advocated the development of a new Arab social political contract to fight and eliminate corruption at all levels. Furthermore, the participants urged support for an Arab economic development, the creation of an Arab economic market and the free movement of labor from on state to another. The objective behind the strategy is to create a united economic region similar to what has been taking place in many regions worldwide.

In order to expedite the success of the proposed agenda, the participants in the conference called on governments in the Arab world to assume their responsibility in supporting the development of their infrastructures. Emphasis should be placed on improving the quality of education and overcoming the high rates of illiteracy, transportation, communications, electrical power and fresh water availability. In addition, the minsters of labor emphasized the importance of developing small industrial projects to create the opportunity for more employment.

The recommendations of the labor ministers in the conclusion of the 38th annual meeting sounded very good. However, to what extent the governments of Arab states will go to implement the recommendations is unknown.

I do not want to sound pessimistic, but I have heard such recommendations for more than sixty years but government officials remain corrupt.

The idea of an Arab Common Market was proposed in 1947 and politicians keep rehashing the same topic over and over.

The idea of the European Common Market was proposed in 1957. It has been implemented and the European Common Market membership has now reached 27.

The basic problem in the Arab world is that the political leadership has been in a deep sleep. The end result is people revolting against the corrupt leadership in the Arab world. Hopefully, this might open a new chapter in the political, economic and social history of the Arab world. It is time for Arab political leadership to start investing some of their trillions of dollars in the Arab world instead of other regions worldwide. Employment of the young generation is the most important factor for the stability of the region.

May 22, 2011

The Positive and Negative Aspects of President Obama’s Speech

President Obama’s speech regarding the spring revolutions in the Arab world contained both positive and negative remarks. In his speech, he supported the young people’s uprising, which started in Tunisia and a few weeks later in Egypt. People in the region are still fighting to regain their freedom and self-respect, which was suppressed by authoritarian regimes. Furthermore, he also supported people in Yemen who are fighting to replace President Saleh’s corrupt regime. He called on Mr. Saleh to surrender his authority. Similar remarks were also made about Libya and the days of Gadhafi’s reign are limited. He also supported the Syrian people’s protests and advised President Assad to start political reforms or surrender his authority. President Obama emphasized that people in the Arab world have the right to express their views and their demands for political reforms without being killed or jailed. In his reference to Bahrain, he noted that the Shiaa majority’s demands should have been addressed and those who are in power should not practice religious discrimination. Furthermore, President Obama emphasized that the U.S. and other western governments should extend economic aid and support to both the Tunisian and Egyptian governments so they can make the transition to democracy successfully. These are the positive highlights of the president’s speech regarding the Arab world’s spring revolutions.

Other parts of his speech reflect the cons, such as the fact that he made no reference whatsoever to the fact that the Saudi government helped Bahrain to suppress the protestors movement by sending 2,000 Saudi soldiers. Also, he did not make any remarks about the Saudi government’s suppression of the few attempts by young Saudis who were demanding political reforms. This is one of the basic shortcomings of American foreign policy: the double standard that is always used and that contributes to its lack of credibility.

Saudi Arabia’s government is the most authoritarian and oppressive regime in the Middle East. Ignoring what the Saudi government does to appease the regime is nothing but a mistake. The whole world is aware that Saudi Arabia is the biggest exporter of oil, but this does not justify Obama’s policy toward the Saudi government. When he declared openly that the people in the Arab world are entitled to freedom, free expression and democracy, this should have also included the Saudi people. For that reason and others, his speech did not enhance the image of the U.S. in the region.

Another negative remark in President Obama’s speech is his reference to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The content of that part seemed as if it was written for him by AIPAC, especially when he pointed out that the declaration of a Palestinian state through the United Nations will not work. The Palestinians and Israelis should get together and work to overcome their differences to create a Palestinian state side by side with the Jewish state. Such remarks have been repeated over and over during the past forty years by several American presidents and it led nowhere.

People who are well versed in the conflict can tell you that the U.N. created the state of Israel and only the U.N. can impose a solution that the whole world will support. Internationalizing the conflict is the only solution to this problem. It is very logical that when the two feuding parties are not of an equal strength, the powerful one will always impose its policies and conditions on the weaker one. In this case, Israeli is the more powerful party, and it is even referred to as the 5th or 6th most powerful military state in the world. The Palestinians, whose military power is zero, are not in a position to negotiate from a position of strength. Furthermore, the Israeli Zionists do not want a settlement to bring an end to the conflict. Many of them are firm believers in the creation of “Eretz Israel”: “Greater Israel”. So far, they have been successful in grabbing more and more Palestinian land by force, under the protection of the United States government, which has used its veto power at the U.N. to protect Israel repeatedly. President Obama’s speech regarding the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is not credible. After all, the president wants to be elected for a second term and he cannot afford to go against Israel and their supports in the U.S, the Christian Zionist Evangelicals whose number exceeds 50 million.
In conclusion, President Obama’s speech did not create a positive reaction in the region.

May 20, 2011

Blackwater in the Emirates

The NYT reported on May 15, 2011 that the United Arab Emirates had hired Black Water to build a foreign mercenary battalion for the Emirati government. The battalion will consist of 800 mercenaries from Latin American and South Africa at a cost of $529 million. Its main function is to provide security for the Emirates skyscrapers, the oil lines and the nuclear sites to protect them from attacks. The Black Water foreign battalion’s major function will be to protect the Emirates from internal and external attacks, including any attempts by local Emirates citizens to protest. It is of interest that the Emirates provided military help in recent conflicts to Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan, which reflect its defense capability.

For the U.A.E. to rely on Black Water for such important defense functions leads to puzzling questions. First of all, Black Water military activities in Iraq leaves so much to be desired. Its forces have killed Iraqi unarmed citizens and the firm is being sued in the U.S. for the crimes committed in Iraq. This is one of the reasons among others that Black Water moved from the U.S. and that its headquarters are now located in the U.A.E.

Second, the 800 foreign mercenaries (which is a small number) are not going to make too much of a difference in the security of the U.A.E.

It will not be that difficult for the Emirates to recruit and train even a large number of their own people to perform the same task. If the ruling family can’t trust their own people to perform such a task, then why not hire some of the military experts, especially from Egypt or Jordan, to perform the same functions. Is it really a matter of trust? Are Arab recruits not to be trusted? There are millions of young Arabs who are college graduates and unemployed who would be an excellent source to recruit and train to perform the required task.

It seems to me that Arab heads of state have failed to learn a lesson from the turn of events that have been taking place all over the Arab world. They are short sighted and have failed to see beyond their noses. The major problems in the Arab world are low income, poverty and unemployment. These are the reasons behind the ongoing uprisings.

The $529 million that Black Water will get from the Emirates could be of some help for the unemployed young men in the Arab world. In any country, where no democratic institutions prevail, sometimes decision are made by one or a few who control the country, and they dispose of the state’s wealth as if it is their own. However, at the end, they will be the losers.

Arab Dictatorship and Western Colonialism

Thomas Friedman’s article in the N.Y.T. (May 14, 2011) titled “I am a Man” is an excellent and analytical description of Arab uprising. Mr. Friedman observed a Libyan protestor’s sign that said “Ana rajul”, which translates to “I am a Man”. From Mr. Friedman’s point of view, the uprisings in the Arab world are the result of Arab regimes’ authoritarian rules, which has caused the suppression of their people and deprived the people of their basic democratic rights. He is correct when he points out that the people have been stripped of their dignity and self-respect. The people were not allowed to develop their full potential and were regressing while the world around them was progressing. The Arab world is viewed as the least developed by comparison to other regions around the globe.

Suddenly, the younger generation in the Arab world has realized how backwards their region is, and this led them to feel humiliated. Mr. Friedman is totally correct when he points out that the Arab protestors are demanding to regain their dignity, values, freedom and aspirations, like other people around the world.

It is regretful to say that Mr. Friedman only referred to authoritarian rules of Arab regimes as the major reasons behind the Arab spring revolutions. Mr. Friedman should have also looked at the other side of the coin and shed light on the negative role that western colonialism has played and continues to play in support of authoritarian corrupt regimes in the Arab world. This has been going on during the past two centuries at least and until the present time. Let me illustrate this point for the benefit of the readers. Mohamed Ali, the ruler of modern Egypt, built and developed an impressive Egyptian society physically, industrially, educationally and economically. During the 18th and 19th centuries, Egypt was more advanced than many European countries. What happened since the French and British invasion of Egypt? Britain dismantled the Egyptian industries, especially the textile ones, in order to export the raw cotton to Britain and re-export the manufactured textile back to the region. During British colonialist rule, Egypt regressed instead of progressed. Another example of the negative impact of Western colonialism is the fragmentation of the Arab world by Britain and France after World War I. Divide and rule was the western strategy. Another example was the creation of the Zionist state in 1948 by the U.S., disregarding the more than 80% of its Arab population’s views. A major colonialist blunder that turned the region into a continuously conflicted and unstable area. There has been almost 63 years of political turmoil in the region.

Another example that reflects the blunder of American colonialist strategy is its policy toward the oil producing countries in the region. President Eisenhower stated publicly that the end of British and French colonialism in the Middle East created a vacuum that the U.S. needs to fulfill. IN the early 1950s, his administration dismantled the freely elected government of Iran because Prime Minister Musadaq nationalized Iranian oil companies. The Iranian government had promised to compensate the oil companies. That blunder led to the rise of Islamic movements, which began to spread all over the region. Also, the nationalization of oil companies in Iraq during the 1970s was not accepted by the U.S. government, who imposed an oil export embargo on Iraq for more than two years. It was lifted afterward, but that action by the Iraqis led to other Arab oil producing countries to nationalize their oil.

The Iraqi action was never forgotten by policy makers in the U.S. The 2003 invasion of Iraq by the U.S. was based on false political strategies to mislead the American people to believe Iraq posed a threat to the U.S. No weapons of mass destruction were ever found. The purpose of the invasion was the removal of Saddam Hussein and the control of Iraqi oil. President Bush and the neocons got away with the crime they committed.

I would say without a second thought that western foreign policy in the Middle East was the major factor that led to the rise of terrorism.

Finally, some of the remarks made by American politicians in regard to the spring revolution in the Arab world is that they were aware of the absence of democratic institutions in the Arab world but they have opted for political stability in the region over democracy. The truth should be revealed, that the west never care to see or push for the institutionalization of democracy in the Arab world. They went out of their way to support and protect those political dictatorships as long as they implemented their western agendas.

Such important points should have been referred to by Mr. Friedman, in addition to the Arab dictatorships that suppressed progress in the Arab world.

May 18, 2011

The Revolt for Freedom is a Risky Endeavor

The spring uprising in the Arab world is at risk. Repressive governments are fighting back to stop those who are revolting to gain their freedom and free elections. The governments of Yemen, Libya, Syria and Bahrain are using all sorts of violent tactics such as live bullets, tear gas and jailing large numbers of protesters.

Despite the various governments’ tactics, the young people continue their fight and struggle for freedom. Their determination to succeed is reflected also in their technological skills to outflank governments’ strategies and continue communicating with each other. They also use social networks to transmit pictures of government abuses of protestors.

Yemen, Libya, Syria and Bahrain have determined to stop the protestors uprising for several reasons. The first and major one is reflected in the fact of what happened to the political leadership of the disposed regimes in Tunisia and Egypt. In Egypt, ex-president Hosni Mubarak, his family members and many others are being investigated and are under arrest. They are being charged with many violations such as corruption, misuse of public wealth and the deaths of many people. Such charges will lead to the indictments of these officials. Similar trends are taking place In Tunisia.

The dictators and heads of governments of Yemen, Libya, Syria and Bahrain will not surrender their authority to face prosecution, imprisonment and/or death for the crimes they have committed.

Therefore, and as long as their military forces continue to support them, they will use all sorts of methods to bring the protestors movements to an end.

In Bahrain, the government requested military support from Saudi Arabia, which sent 2,000 soldiers and crushed the uprising there. Many of the leadership of the uprising are in jail and some others have been killed.

In Syria, it has been reported that more than 850 people have been killed and more than 10,000 are in prison. Members of President Bashar Assad’s close family, who occupy important positions, control the Syrian government. For example, the president’s brother is the head of the Republican Military Guard, which is the strongest military division in the Syrian army. The army has been used to stop the protestors. Members of the Alawite group who are associated with the regime occupy other military high positions. How long the regime will continue to resist a question that is hard to answer.

In Yemen, the situation there is no different form the Syrian one. The uprising has been going on for nearly three months. Hundreds of people have been killed and thousands injured in many cities in Yemen. The son of President Ali Saleh is head of the Republican Guard, which is providing security for the regime. Members of Saleh’s tribe and/or friends also occupy many high governmental positions. Despite the large numbers of Yemenis who are opposed to the regime, there is some tribal support for Saleh, but on a lesser scale.

The governments of the Gulf Council initiated an offer to end the rule of President Saleh with immunity for him and members of his family from prosecution. The offer was rejected by the young people, who want to prosecute the president for crimes and corruption. The mediation has failed despite President Saleh’s acceptance of it. The fight will go on and it will be difficult to predict the outcome as long as part of the army continues to support the regime.

In Libya, the situation is the worst and the civil war will continue as long as Gadhafi and his sons are alive and have cash money to pay their mercenary soldiers who are fighting the war on their behalf. However, the end of the war will stop when the Gadhafi family perishes.

May 17, 2011

The Consequences of Arab Revolutions

The Spring Revolution in the Arab world has led to the development of four models of uprising.

1 – The less violent and successful type were the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions, which led to the removal of authoritarian and corrupt regimes in both countries. It took only a few weeks of continuous mass protests that generated enough pressure to the collapse both governments, which were replaced with transitional ones until democratic elections take place.

In both Tunisia and Egypt, the army was supportive of the protestors and this led to the success of the protests. Also, the uprising was supported by large masses of people.

2 – The second type of uprising reflects the opposite result, as is the case in Bahrain. During the first couple weeks of the protestors’’ uprising, the Bahraini security forces were unable to control the uprising. They called on the Saudi government for help. They sent 2,000 Saudi soldiers and crushed the revolt. The rationale used was that the Bahraini protestors were connected to the Iranian regime, which posed a threat to the security of the Gulf region. This was not true, and the protestors in Bahrain were demanding an end to the discrimination of the Sunni ruling minority against the Shiaa majority. Many of the leadership of the Shiaa segment of Bahrain were jailed. This brought an end to the uprising, at least for the time being.

3 – The third type of rebellion is totally the opposite of the first one, as is reflected in Yemen, Libya and recently in Syria. In the three states, the army turned its guns against the protestors in total support of the regimes in Libya and Syria. In Yemen, the army is almost split. The Republican Guards are headed by President Ali Saleh’s son and are not only protecting the regime, but have turned their guns on the protestors. The other part of the Yemeni army has been neutral. For that reason and others, such as a tribal affiliation, which provided support for the regime, civil uprising has been prolonged for three months. The uprising will continue and it is supported by millions of Yemeni people. At the end, Ali Saleh’s regime will come to an end.

The Libyan situation reflects a civil war and it will only stop when Mr. Gadhafi dies. In the meantime, his mercenary soldiers will continue to fight as long as they are well paid. The Syrian situation shares a common element with the other two regimes. As long as the army continues to support Bashar Assad’s government, he will continue to control the country. It is important to mention that the head of the Republican Guard is the president’s own brother who command the most powerful army division.

4 – The fourth type of uprising is reflected in the states where monarchs are the absolute power holders, such as in Morocco and Jordan. Both monarchs have promised political reforms, which have pacified the protestors in some ways. How far the political reforms will go is to be seen. In my judgment, the final authority will continue to be in the hands of the kings. A constitutional monarchy is not going to be attained in the near future.

The case for Saudi Arabia is totally different from Jordan and Morocco. The Saudi Royal family is deeply entrenched in all governmental high positions, including the army. In addition, the Wahhabi religious order is strongly supportive of the royal regime. They have already issued a fatwa prohibiting the protestors’ movement and called it an act against Islam. A few attempts of protestors gathering were prevented and a few of those who called for it were arrested. How long this situation in Saudi Arabia will last is hard to predict.

The Manipulation of Islam by Thugs

The Egyptian Revolution of January 25th, 2011, which led to the collapse of Hosni Mubarak’s government, ahs been recognized worldwide as a model for a peaceful revolution. The success of that uprising is attributed to the support of tens of millions of different socioeconomic backgrounds and people of different religious affiliations. The support of the Egyptian military forces contributed to the success of the revolution.

It is regretful that the past few days there have been reports of clashes between Muslims and Christians, which led to the deaths of 15 people, the injury of more than 90 and the burning of two churches in Imbaba, a low income residential area of Cairo.

It was also reported that the Egyptian military forces have arrested 190 suspects who will be prosecuted by military courts. If the suspects are found guilty, I hope they will get the maximum sentence, which is “death”, in order to set a standard so the other thugs will not initiate more religious confrontation in the future.

Nevertheless, in certain countries, when drastic changes taken place, such as what happened in Egypt, some of those who have lost their influence and privileges will attempt to start a counter-revolution by creating instability to discredit the new, transitional government. Such attempts are usually instigated by some national groups who hope to regain what influence they lost. Other groups who were politically suppressed by the previous regime want to reflect their influence in the new democratic setting. The latest reported clashes against Christians were investigated by a Salafi Muslim group. They are religious fanatics. This group is not going to achieve their goal, because they are not supported by the majority of the Egyptian population.

There is another type of national group who is manipulated by foreign powers who want the disposed regime back. The previous regime facilitated and implemented their agendas and national interests. A clear example of this is the Israeli and American governments previous relationships with ex-President Hosni Mubarak, who facilitated and implemented their political agendas, which was not in the national interest of Egypt. As a matter of fact, both governments have already expressed concern about the newly merging Egyptian foreign policy. During the previous four to five decades, the Israeli government tried, through its American Jewish Zionist supporters, to manipulate some American Egyptian Copts to accuse the Egyptian government of discrimination against Christians in Egypt. One of the basic reasons behind this negative propaganda was the continuous pressure on the previous Egyptian government to let them know that they are under their observation. It is not unusual that foreign powers in many cases tried to play on the religious or ethnic factors to apply pressure on foreign governments when their policy required it to implement their foreign agenda.

Nevertheless, what took place, especially in Egypt, will not provide the opportunistic foreign interferences. The reason behind that is the massive population support of their government. The impact of the Arab spring revolutions will ultimately bring an end to Western domination and it will usher in a new democratic trend in the Middle East region.

May 15, 2011

Bin Laden's Death

The recent American military adventure in Pakistan, which led to the killing of the world’s leading terrorist, Osama bin Laden, brought good news and relief to many people worldwide, in particular, the American people. The 9/11 terrorist attacks by al-Qaeda, which killed more than 3,000 people, was a big human tragedy. All those who perished were innocent people, who were not involved in any way in American foreign policy. Bin Laden’s terrorist, jihadist strategy was totally misguided under the false shield of Islam. Bin Laden presented himself and al-Qaeda as the protectors of Muslims. In reality, he enhanced the prevailing negative image of Islam and provided anti-Islam people with the best opportunity to enhance their negative campaign against Islam. The neo-con architect of the Iraqi invasion, Paul Wolfowitz, said he was hoping that something drastic would happen to the U.S., like “Pearl Harbor, that would justify the invasion of Iraq. Bin Laden fulfilled Wolfowitz’s dream and this led to the invasion of Iraq in 2003 under false and misguided rationale. The invasion led to the killing of more than 1.25 million Iraqis. This is more than 400 times the number of casualties in the 9/11 attacks. Both attacks should be condemned, because they led to the killing of innocent people on both sides.

Bin Laden’s terrorist activities under the false pretense of Islamic jihad did a great deal of damage to Islam. Many groups, especially in Western societies, have cultivated such situations to attack Islam as a religion of terrorism. Bin Laden and his al-Qaeda provided the excuse for some ignorant and fanatic Christian Zionists, such as the so-called Reverend Terry Jones and others like him, to attack Islam as a religion of the devil and not bin Laden as a terrorist.

Furthermore, bin Laden provided the Israeli government and their supporters with the best opportunity to attack Islamic terrorism and create a wedge between Christians and Muslims for the benefit of Zionists and Israel. Bin Laden even opened the door for economic gain to the Israelis who were referred to as the number one experts on terrorism. This led many western nations, especially the U.S., to hire Israeli terrorist experts to provide the know-how to prevent terrorist activities from taking place.

Israel’s terrorist prevention skills and know-how were implemented, especially in airports, in many countries. This situation provided the Israelis with the opportunity for positive publicity and economic gain.

Bin Laden, who declared war against the Jews and the Crusaders, failed to carry out a single attack against Israel and its interests abroad. He was not a smart man; he was an ignorant and misguided person. The few who expressed negative feelings about his assassination should wake up and realize that his death was a benefit for Islam and peace loving people.

Furthermore, his death will not bring an end to terrorism, either. It was a simple punishment for a man who opened the door wider for the fanatic and ignorant to attack the third basic monotheistic religion, Islam. On final note, let us not forget that Bin Laden was the product of American foreign policy.

May 2, 2011

Palestinian Reconciliation

The recent negotiations between Fateh and Hamas have ended their disagreements and hostilities toward each other, which have been going on for the last five years.

The Egyptian government has played a major role as a mediator between both groups who are supposed to meet in Cairo in a few days to sign the agreement. This will lead to the formation of a unity transitional government. After that, the leadership of both groups will set a time for the election of a new president and members of parliament within one year at the most.

The reaction to this surprising and unexpected agreement by the Israeli and U.S. governments was negative.

The Israeli Prime Minister B. Netanyahu stated publicly “the Palestinian Authority should decide and choose to have peace with Israel or with Hamas”. While the U.S government reaction to the Fateh and Hamas reconciliation was without enthusiasm, the White House made some remarks that more information is needed about the details of the agreement, since Hamas is classified as a “terrorist organization”. (almasry-alyoum.com, 4/29/2011).

The reaction of the White House didn’t come as a surprise, since President Obama has been humiliated and snubbed by the Israeli Prime minister, who rejected President Obama’s effort’s to mediate the Palestinian-Israeli conflict to achieve peace in the region. Mr. Obama’s promises to the Arab and Islamic world, which he made at the University of Cairo, have been nothing but hot air. As long as Israel continues to control the American Congress, the president of the U.S. will not be able to play a constructive role, regardless of what is its impact on the national interest of the U.S.

President Obama’s priority is to win another term in 2012 and without the support of AIPAC and other Jewish American organizations, it will be a difficult task for him. ON the other side, the turn of events in the Arab world has already begun to change the political balance in the region. Puppet regimes like that of the deposed Egyptian ex-president Hosni Mubarak used to implement the American-Israeli agenda without question. The reaction on the streets of Arab countries to both the U.S. and Israel has been very negative and the Arab world’s foreign policy should not be taken for granted anymore.

Furthermore, I hope that the Palestinian leadership has learned a lesson. It seems to me that the fight for Palestinian leadership since the mid-1930s has taken priority over saving Palestine from the Zionist state.