R.F. Wilson reports from Cairo: As the civil war in Syria continues, with the Western powers now waiting for the Syrian chemical weapons to be destroyed, so that they can launch an invasion without fear of retribution, most of the dictators who make up the Arab League are thanking their lucky stars that it’s President al Assad who is on the receiving end of the ‘international community’s’ anger and not them. You know, regimes like the ones in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Sudan and others.
When the late Colonel Gaddafi of Libya was targeted by the West, a sigh of collective relief passed through the corridors of power in the Middle East and North Africa, with the despots and their cronies exchanging high fives in celebration of the wisdom of the infidels. As long as it’s not us, the thinking went amongst the dictators then in the Arab League, it doesn’t really matter.
Dictators in the Arab League made it look as if they were absolutely appalled by the ‘barbaric treatment’ of the Libyan people by Gaddafi, who was no worse than most of them, of course, but failed to understand that denying oil contracts to Western companies and demanding that Western banks account for the losses of Libyan money might backfire on him at some point. Which it did.
But after Gaddafi was finally whacked by a bunch of freedom-loving fighters, anxiety in certain capitals in the Middle East did hang in the air for a while. Who will be next? was the question the dictators were asking. But when the West decided that it was Syria’s turn to become a democracy, another collective sigh of relief passed through the palaces and lavish villas in the region. Members of the Arab League stood as one, expressing their revulsion at the nasty President Bashar al-Assad and accusing him of denying the people of Syria basic freedoms.
It is easy to imagine how strongly the rulers in Saudi Arabia, for example, feel about the ruthless suppression of the opposition in Syria. The Saudi royals had responded to their people’s demands with some serious retribution themselves back in the days of the Arab Spring, with the blessing of Washington. Have you heard about any protests in Saudi Arabia in recent times? Of course you haven’t. And you know why? Because the opposition has been crushed.
The beauty of the situation with Syria for the despots in the Arab League is that the crisis promises to drag on for a while, until all the chemical weapons are eliminated. And then it would take another year or so to oust Assad and his people. And then, if the despots play their cards right, Iran will be next on the West’s hit list.
So the future is looking good for tyrants in the Arab League. And that means they can enjoy the trappings of their despotism in style.
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