The West Has No Idea How To Handle The Arab Spring. Better That It Stays Out

July 14, 2011

Dan Majestic writes from Washington: Spare a thought for Syrian President Bashar al Assad. The tyrant has been given a serious talking to by no other than US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton herself. It can only mean going downwards for Mr al Assad from now on. His chances of clinging to power are getting close to zero.

In case you missed it, having been fixated on the phone hacking scandal that seems to be spreading from Britain to America now, a couple of days ago the US embassy in Damascus got trashed by a bunch of fanatics who took offence to the fact that the US ambassador to Syria went to meet anti-government protesters in the city of Hama, offering them American support, and after his visit things got really hot there. The US diplomat was accompanied on that fateful trip by the French ambassador. Need I tell you that the French embassy was trashed as well? OK, consider that I told you that.

If you ask me, it wasn’t really a great idea for the US ambassador to stir up trouble in Hama. Even if he felt strongly about the anti-government protests and wanted to cheer up the opposition. In fact, I’d even go as far as saying that it was a very stupid thing to do. And the French ambassador was rather foolish in joining his American colleague. Foreign ambassadors, you see, are not supposed to encourage people to overthrow their governments, even if they are not properly elected, like it is in Britain for example. Imagine the Syrian ambassador to London meeting some Muslim fanatics in Bradford and telling them that he understands their strong desire to turn Britain into a Khalifat. That wouldn’t go down well in Whitehall, now would it?

Anyway, after the US embassy in Damascus was attacked, Mrs Clinton felt that she needed to inform President al Assad that his days were numbered. So she made a statement, telling the world that the Syrian tyrant had lost his legitimacy to rule. President Assad is ‘not indispensible’, Mrs Clinton said, adding that from her perspective he has failed to deliver on the promises he’s made and accepted aid from the Iranians in repressing his own people.

Was it a good idea to send Mr al Assad a message that he is looking at the prospect of meeting the same fate as Saddam Hussein? No, it was a very bad idea. Should Mrs Clinton have used a different sort of language? Yep, that sure made sense. Does anyone in Washington have any idea how to deal with the Arab Spring? Nope, no idea at all.

The West has made a huge mess out of its role in the Middle East and North Africa, having failed to foresee the uprisings there and, even more depressingly, having contributed to the turmoil by launching a disastrous war in Libya. That war, by the way, has already turned Tunisia into a hotbed of Islamic extremism as this once prosperous country relied heavily on trade with Tripoli.

The most remarkable thing of all is that it was crystal clear from the start of the Arab Spring that any interference by the West would boost the standing of fundamentalists in all the respective countries. Did it happen? Yep, it did. Whatever you may think of the tyrants that run things in the Middle East and North Africa the one thing they did was to keep the extremists at bay. But not any longer. Just look at what has happened in Tunisia: from a once stable and relatively prosperous country it turned into a wreck, where crazy men with long beards roam the streets in search of infidels whom they can beat to death.

So what I’m saying here in my usual subtle way is that the West should really stop meddling in affairs of the Middle East and North Africa. If it doesn’t want to create even more problems than there are already.

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