Â Think back to December of 2010 when the Tunisian Rebellion against its despotic ruler managed to spark a youthful Arab street in five different countries. Those were the good days because all signs were indicative of an organic social Rebellion based on self-empowerment to attain economic parity and freedom.Â
Forward to today’s political landscape across many of the Arab countries and you will discover that from an organic social Rebellion seeking freedom and economic justice we are instead at the receiving end of an unhealthy dose of religious extremism or the status quo of Arab corrupt tyrants.
Tyranny or extremism when the Rebellion was about freedom and economic justice. How did we get from there to here?
The first reason, I believe, contributing to this dismal present-day result is the direction the US is taking in regard to its influence on the world stage. As Arab youths advanced with ideas of freedom, the US is abandoning, for the first time in its modern history, its freedom agenda to concentrate on its domestic affairs. This explains the US relying more heavily on the Turkish government for regional solutions.
But what about Tunisia and Egypt and Libya you might ask?
Those Revolutions took the US by surprise. Obama had to react until the White House collects itself and responds to the situation. I keep coming back to the ex-CIA Director Leon Panetta visiting Turkey for five days between April 12 and April 17, which I believe was crucial in setting-in-motion the first stages of today’s policy.Â
Obama’s reaction, however, handed over to the Muslim Brotherhood the fate of over 100 million Muslims so far and counting. He transferred the power to the MB either out of ignorance or by listening to the wrong advisors his administration hand-picked for this job. We all remember how Ayatollah Khomeini came to power.
I am calling it a handover because elections held before democratic values are rooted in the society will lead to an Islamist takeover given how Arab tyrants have been ruling their countries.Â
Besides shelving the freedom agenda in the Middle East, we are facing a White House daunted by the Assad on-going killing spree but realistic enough to mitigate any risks during an election year. If I was David Plouffe, the last I want is for the President to act in ways any failure, no matter how minute the risks are, could put his re-election campaign in jeopardy.
Even though the liberation of Syria by the Free Syrian Army would yield results totally different from the outcome we witnessed in Egypt and Libya (With at least 30% minorities and another 25% of Muslims against Islamization, the MB cannot win in any election a majority chokehold), and even though a free Syria would weaken the Mullahs in Iran to the point of surrender, thus eradicating radicalism on two fronts, Obama’s foreign policy team is not about to risk the President’s campaign efforts by involving the White House in a military operation.
What is left then is the Syrian National Council, which represents the second reason. The SNC is an Arab League fabrication with one purpose: To share power with Assad, which make its criticism not only a duty but a necessity.
This strategy though has failed. Assad in his last speech buried it by saying: “..we haven”™t closed the doors to any solution or proposal; and we shall never close the door to any Arab endeavor as long as it respects our sovereignty, the independence of our decision and the unity of our people.”
The SNC itself is an impediment for change in Syria. Besides the disproportionate Muslim Brotherhood influence within the SNC many Syrians and countries seem to disagree over, inside the dark SNC all cats are grey.
For example, why would nations fighting the terror of Hezbollah agree to a Syrian opposition planted with operatives from its sister organization the Amal Movement? Getting rid of Assad in return for a united front by the Muslim Brotherhood and Hezbollah Lite? No thank you Emir of Qatar.
PM Erdogan and Emir al-Thani believed their formula is comestible and following their success in working with the Libyan Transitional Council, they posit the SNC would provide the best process for them by merging a dictatorship with Syrian oppositionists, some as extreme as Assad. But Libya is not Syria in every sense of the word. Our fabric is rich and colorful and our history is steeped in deep and abundant soil; totally misunderstood by the minds behind twisted Skyscrapers.
I believe Emir al-Thani and PM Erdogan are realizing their miscalculations. However, Qatar is keeping the SNC afloat but has no answers to the dilemma the SNC leadership faces with regard to its unpopularity inside Syria and its aimless mission. In fact, the longer Qatar is connected to the SNC the more damage it will sow for itself in some corners in the west and in the Syrian street. No matter what this US administration thinks or does, which is little in this election year, the SNC has reached its dead end to befuddle and to bamboozle.
The Muslim Brotherhood and the Amal Movement? Two western enemies? Did Qatar really imagine it could manage such a dangerous mixture just because an imbecile advisor in the Obama administration recommended it? Europe supported the SNC for one reason only: Hoping to quell the violence by pressuring Assad.
The configuration of the SNC shows how little the al-Thanis of Qatar understand institutionalized democracies or distinguish between forcing a mix (two extremist and competing religious sects) in today’s volatile environment of Syria or letting the mix come together in a safe and conducive environment out of its own free will and conviction. The SNC constitution would have ignited a civil war the same way the Arab league observers ignited more violence.Â Â Â
As far as Turkey is concerned, PM Erdogan’s health is not in the best of shapes. Furthermore, the Turkish economy is teetering (During the last 12 months, the XU100 representing the largest 100 Turkish companies declined 14443 points or 21.88 %) and its GDP to debt ratio has become a major concern for the international community because of Turkey’s NATO status.
PM Erdogan understands he needs to turn his attention to his economy, which explains his disappearance of late from high visibility public events or from making too many foreign policy statements. But Qatar has yet to grasp the folly of its action.
And no, a 60-Minutes appearance to parade al-Jazeera won’t get the Emir any Kermit stickers.