Beetlejuice's picture

    Arab Spring => Caveat Emptor

    Here's an interesting read on the NYTimes web-page ...


    If the Arab Spring Turns Ugly


    In the past, I've been a big nay-sayer about the Arab Spring here. In my opinion, this essay brings out the subtle issues in the Middle East that are buried beneath the sands of time so the casual observer misses the essential dynamics that drives the people and politics of the region.

    There are two dominate, regional powers fighting for supremacy over the arab world ... Sunnis and Shiites. Every country within the arabian sphere are pawns being used by Saudia Arabia (Sunnis) and Iran (Shiites) to advance their religious ideology over the region.

    For example, when the US invaded Iraq and tossed the Sunnis out of both the government and military in favor of the Shiites, it threw open the doors for Iran to exert their influence on the Shiite Iraqi leaders and government officials. In short, we helped turn a mere pawn in the game into a more powerful piece for Iran to use against the interest of Saudia Arabia, the Sunnis and ourselves.

    Another way of saying it is ... we tipped the scales to our disadvantage. Saddam, for all his trespasses was a linchpin in the region ... he presented Iraq as a powerful piece on the chessboard of political intrigue that kept Iran's ambitions in the region in check. Once we proved Saddam was all bluster and bluff and not the threat he amplified ... just a mere pawn masquerading as a Queen, Iran was free to begin positioning their pawns to present civil and political strife in the buffer regions between them and the Saudis.

    And since the regional politics are religious, the Kurds are nothing more than the stray dog everyone wants to kick ... they're not recognized as legitimate and both Shiite and Sunni would set aside their differences to take out their frustrations on them. Sorry if that sounds rude, but that's the Middle East. The Kurds are a common sore point for both. As I've said in the past, the Kurds missed the opportunity to use the shield the US provided for them since the end of Gulf War I to massage the political and religious powers in the region to accept their presence as legitimate instead of a threat. Their plight is like that of the migrant Mexican worker in the US ... some people accept their presence and some don't. Those that don't are making their life miserable just because they can and the migrant workers aren't able to stand their ground and ask for the debate to be civil and respectful. The only difference is in the Middle East there are bullets and bombs to dodge.

    What I really find interesting in the article is how well the talking points mirror the political intransigence of our political process today. Think of the religious right/tea party wing of the GOPer party pitting their religious values against the god-less liberals. There's a lot of share dynamics especially when one looks closely at the Dominionism that reeks from the GOP nominee hopefuls ... Bachmann and Perry.




    Nasr's depiction of the sectarian divisions in the region accurately reflects the environment in which any political change will necessarily happen as a result of these many different uprisings. But he makes no mention of the Arab Spring as a new political self-awareness of people who are rejecting authoritarian states because they are authoritarian states.

    There is an element of self determination happening of the kind many said is impossible in Islamic society. The courage of these people to demonstrate publicly again and again despite the force brought to bear against them shows people who are taking their lives into their own hands, with or without outside help.

    The anti-colonial struggle Nasr refers to was not only expressed as nationalism but as a search for an alternative to the choice between authoritarian states and "Islamist" rule. 

    Moat, you're correct Nasr's essay isn't about the Arab Spring. That was me making a tie between the essence of the peoples in the region to take a political step forward and the religious forces that are tying their hands and feet to stifle their yearnings. While the people have taken steps towards a political structure that services their wants, needs and desires, the religious faction ... Sunnis and Shiites ... are battling each other to gain control over specific areas in the region ... like pawns on a chessboard outlining the territory under your control.

    I believe the one thing missing from his essay is the fact that religious factions are use to absolute control over the people under their jurisdiction. Whereas as government elected and serving the public is more responsive to the people. If the people succeed in putting a representative government in power, the religious faction's grip will be weakened. So it's to their advantage to subtly influence the political process to steer the public into electing the people they need to carry out their agenda. Notice in Egypt the Muslim Brotherhood is making astounding gains in public support.

    So the caveat emptor of my post is the people of the Arab region never thought first what they wanted to replace the regime/government they tossed out. They created a political void which is drawing in factions more intent on controlling the public rather than the public controlling themselves. And as Nasr points out, the Sunnis and Shiites are in a fierce turf battle over land mass in the region under a specific religious faction... the people are nothing more than the religious serfs tied to it.

    I'd guess that the religious factions also include and respond to the local movers and shakers. What I didn't see in the OpEd was any mention of the food price spike that sparked a lot of the protests.

    Maybe lots of people in the "Arab region" realized that waiting to act until they had some solution to their problems was never going to happen. Consider that the revolt of the greens in Iran doesn't show up in Nasr's map. If we are trying to pan out to take a larger view of regional dynamics, how does that sort of development not show up as a factor?

    On the matter of spheres of influence, Saudi Arabia has more to fear from the Muslim Brotherhood coming into power than anything Iran wishes it could do from its bunker. Remember, Al Qaeda is the teaming up of two groups that were rejected by both the Crown and the Brotherhood. No view of these groups can avoid looking at the alliances of double negatives that evolved in resistance to the established powers. They are just as subject to the co-option of agenda as those who are pushing for some kind of alternative on the basis of civil law.

    It would be a mistake, in my view, to look at the cold shoulder Saudi Arabia throws toward Syria as primarily a Sunni fist pump. The Kingdom had no problem with the Alawites mowing down the Brotherhood several decades ago. 

    I think Nasr has played too much Risk, or maybe not enough.....

    Sorry to join the discussion late, Beetle, but it is important to give sectarian divisions in the Muslim world their proper weight. George Bush, out of sheer ignorance, discounted them, leading to hundreds of thousands of Iraqi deaths. (Members of the Iraqi exile community who met him in the run-up to the war reported incredulously that he was unaware the Shia-Sunni split even existed.)

    But it's equally wrong to treat the religious divide as underpinning all current events in the Islamic world. The conflicts that are going on right now are between states, not religious ideologies. Yes, many of those states are trying to stir up religious divisions for strategic purposes (sometimes very successfully) but it is regional politics that are driving sectarian tensions, not the other way around.

    You cannot, just because Germany is mostly Lutheran and France historically Catholic, ascribe World Wars I and II to religious rivalry. The Shia-Sunni split occurred even further back in time than the Reformation, and the two strains have coexisted fairly peaceably (with lots of intermarriage) ever since.

    I think it was Vali Nasr who very appropriately mentioned Gertrude Bell. Much of the sectarian violence we see today is the residue not of centuries-old hatreds but of decisions made by European colonial powers in the past 100 years, such as joining previously separate entities into brand-new states, and picking particular ethnic or religious groups to rule them.

    Finally, you seem to have bought into the notion of Iran as an expansionist state. There is zero evidence for that. Iran has always had strong cultural ties and influence with majority-Shiite countries like Iraq and Lebanon (Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, for example, speaks better Persian than Arabic).

    But it's wrong to interpret that as territorial ambitions. The only war Iran has fought in living memory was with Iraq over the Shatt al-Arab waterway -- and that only occurred after Saddam tore up a border agreement he himself had negotiated. In fact, the entire Iran-Iraq war was a proxy campaign egged on and funded by the U.S., Saudi Arabia and their Gulf allies.

    While we're at it, why do you assume that the Sunnis are the good guys and the Shia are the bad guys? Osama bin Laden and all his spinoffs and wannabes are all hard-line Sunnis. There's no comparable group of Shiites roaming the world trying to kill westerners.

    ... he presented Iraq as a powerful piece on the chessboard of political intrigue that kept Iran's ambitions in the region in check.

    I think it was Heidigger who posited philosophically that when one even attempts to look at a process, he affects that process.

    The good ole USA does not just monitor some foreign country's activities but goes to war against that country or at least attempt to assassinate its leaders.

    But there were reasons that the repubs armed Sadaam. ha

    And then the 17 (I believe) came up with a new neocon philosophy that we should shake things up.

    If there is one thing I agree with the Pauls, it is that intervention only fucks things up!


    And the real war crimes involved not torture (we have always tortured and always will because we are a country of human beings) it involved lies that led us into this hell; this hell of continuous wars. We start a war and we kill people and then we say that we must stay in the war because we sent soldiers into that war who were killed because we were at war.

    the end


    You confuse Heisenberg with Heidegger, perhaps for artistic reasons.



    Most probably.

    To my embarrassment. Not that I have not been embarrassed before. ha as you well know. Nothing like confusing a NAZI who was a Roman Catholic with a White Jew. hahahaha

    At any rate...we stick our nose into things that have nothing to do with us but only to do with the interests of international corporations and the entire fucking world blows up...

    Well there you have it.

    Kinda rambling there aren't you Dick? Unbecoming of you, unless you're polishing off an excellent aged bottle of scotch that was begging to be drunk.

    Anyway, Nasr points out the US upset the apple cart in the Middle East when they threw out the Sunni's and allowed the Shiite's to take over Iraq. The Sunni's had been in power over Iraq ever since the days of Gertrude Bell after WWI. She noted the country would be in better hands if the Sunni's, the minority, were holding power because the Shiites had known tendencies to let religious law trump secular law. In other words, they would allow the religious leaders to decide the fate and course of government actions. Too bad Bu$h didn't give a rat's ass about nuance.

    And he furthered the problem by allowing the Kurds to stake out an expensive piece of real estate in Iraq's rich oil area.

    If anything, our involvement has given Iran the go-ahead to move full-speed ahead ... Bu$h took out he only thing keeping them in check - Saddam. Which has given the both Sunni and Shiite religious leaders of the region the necessary incentive to capture as much territory up for grabs once the Arab Spring takes hold of the public and leave their government apparatus open for pilfering.

    the migrant workers aren't able to stand their ground and ask for the debate to be civil and respectful.

    It becomes uncivil...... because the illegals won’t accept NO.  

    NO, you are not entitled to stay beyond what the law prescribes.

    NO, you are not entitled to undercut the gains, the American worker has fought to extract as concessions, to protect US from greedy employers and the government they buy.

    NO, we the people are not going to return to; Free or Slave States. that debate has already been deliberated.  Res Judicata

    NO, there will not be another bite at the apple, by those wanting cheap labor.

    I suspect you're not cognizant of what you're arguing for or against.

    Your response actually gives the paragraph in which the segment you have highlighted the substance of proof the situation of Kurds and migrant Mexican workers is common to both.

    As stated ... the Kurds are nothing more than the stray dog everyone wants to kick ... they're not recognized as legitimate and both Shiite and Sunni would set aside their differences to take out their frustrations on them ... can easily be applied to migrant Mexican workers too.

    In the case of the Kurds, it's based on religious factions fighting to force their religious values on the people by influencing and controlling the politics of the region.

    In the case of America, it's based on religious factions fighting to force their religious values on the people by influencing and controlling the politics of the region.

    Interesting similarity, isn't it?

    By the way, why did you use ... you ... so frequently in your response? And why did you refer to  .... we ... as frequently as well? Sounded as if you were attacking me as if I were a migrant mexican worker and you were the true-blue American. Trying to  ... put me in my place? My family line dates back to the US pre-revoluntary war period. I'll bet you're family line is a European immigrant of the 19th century.

    I suspect the you/we thing is more just of a copy/paste feature from where s/he has posted this elsewhere and just refers to the usual tribalism and wasn't meant specifically against you. However, I personally am surprised you're not an alien, given your user name...

    “I have killed many Mexicans; I do not know how many, for frequently I did not count them. Some of them were not worth counting. It has been a long time since then, but still I have no love for the Mexicans. With me they were always treacherous and malicious.   —-Geronimo, My Life: The Autobiography of Geronimo, 1905

    Massacre at Casa Grande

    In 1873 the Mexicans once again attacked the Apache. After months of fighting in the mountains, the Apaches and Mexicans decided upon a peace treaty at Casa Grande.

     After terms were agreed upon, the Mexican gave mescal to the Apache and while they were intoxicated, the Mexican troops attacked and killed twenty Apaches and captured many more. The Apache were forced to retreat into the mountains once again.

    Why didn't you Europeans and Mexicans, go back to your own homes, instead of stealing ours?

    I'm assuming this means that you have no European or Mexican ancestry?

    Trying to  ... put me in my place?

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