Inspired by the principles of Malcolm X / Malik El-Hajj Shabazz. A 'Third Worldist' perspective focusing on the increasing pace of south-south co-operation which is challenging and defeating neo-colonial hegemony, and the struggles of those oppressed by neo-colonialism and white supremacy (racism) who fight for their social, political and cultural freedom 'by any means necessary'
Over the past year, the British government have bombed rebels into power
in Libya –and are desperately hoping to do the same in Syria–whilst
simultaneously aiding and abetting the
crushing of rebel forces in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. Some commentators
have called this hypocritical. In fact, there is no contradiction: the
British government is engaged in a vicious, region-wide attack on all
independent, anti-colonial forces in the region, be they states or
opposition movements. Client regimes – in many cases monarchies
originally imposed by the British Empire – have been propped up, and
states outside the orbit of Western control have been targeted for
destruction. The policy, in other words, has been entirely consistent: a
drive towards the total capitulation of the Arab world; and more
specifically the destruction of any potential organised resistance to an
attack on Iran. What is more, it has been planned for a long time.
The Arab spring did not come out of the blue; it was both predictable
and predicted. All demographic, economic and political trends pointed in
the direction of a period of instability and civil unrest across the
region, and especially in Egypt. The combination of growing and youthful
populations, rising unemployment, corruption and unrepresentative
government made some kind of mass manifestation of frustration a virtual
certainty – as was recognised by a far-reaching speech
by MI6-turned-BP operative Mark Allen in February 2009. In August 2010,
Barack Obama issued Presidential Study Directive Number 11, which noted
"evidence of growing citizen discontent with the region's regimes" and
warned that "the region is entering a critical period of transition."
Four months later, Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire in Tunisia,
sparking off the unrest that led to the downfall of President Ben-Ali.
For the world’s imperial powers, wracked by their own economic crises –
Britain, France and the US– it was clear that this unrest would present
both a danger and an opportunity. Whilst it threatened to disrupt the
Gulf monarchies imposed by Britain during the colonial period (Bahrain,
Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait et al), it could also create the ideal cover
for the launching of long-planned proxy wars against old enemies.
Both Libya and Syria have long been considered thorns in the side of
Western world domination. It is not only their policies –from Gaddafi’s
consistent opposition to US and British military bases in Africa to
Assad’s support for Palestinian liberation groups – which riles Western
policy makers, but the mere fact that they have independent governments which are able
to formulate and implement such policies. In the eyes of the world’s
unelected and undeclared ruling elites, for a government of the global
South to be either strong or independent might be just about tolerable - but not both.
Secret Anglo-American plans for the overthrow of the Syrian government -
using proxy forces directed by Western intelligence, and carried out
under the cover of‘internal disturbances’ - have been in place since at least 1957.
More recently, the US has embarked on a policy of funding sectarian
Salafi militias to wage war against the region’s Shi’ites in order to
undermine Iran, destroy the Syrian state and cut off Hezbollah’s supply
lines. This policy was a direct response to the two major setbacks of
the previous year – the massive wave of attacks on Western forces by
Sunni militants in Iraq and Israel’s defeat in its war with Hezbollah.
In a prophetic piece in 2007, Seymour Hersh shows how the US, Israel and
the Saudis hatched a plan to‘redirect’ Sunni militias away from their
fight against the US and towards Syria. As one US government consultant
put it, “it’s not that we don’t want the Salafis to throw bombs; it’s who they throw them at—Hezbollah, Moqtada al-Sadr, Iran, and at the Syrians, if they continue to work with Hezbollah and Iran.”
The coming of the ‘Arab spring’ provided the perfect cover for the
throwing of these bombs – and for the British and US government plans to
be put into effect. They acted quickly; armedattacks
began in both countries within days of the ‘protest movement’ erupting,
carried out by insurgents with longstanding links to British
intelligence and increasingly trained and directed by the SAS and MI6.
Acting under the cover of the Arab spring also proved a winning formula
for Western governments to mobilise support for ‘humanitarian
intervention’ – the twenty-first century white man’s burden. Bush and
Blair had given Western warmongering in the Middle East a bad name, but
by implementing proxy wars –and aerial blitzkrieg - under the guise of
‘support for popular uprisings’, it was possible to ensure that liberals
and ‘socialists’ by and large fell in line (albeit with some tactical
differences on occasion). Frustrated Western radicals, desperate to
vicariously experience the ‘revolution’ they know they would never – and
let’s face it, would never want to – actually be involved in,
lapped up the imagery of the‘people versus the dictator’. These ‘useful
idiots’ all helpfully provided a veneer of credibility to the new wars
that was clearly lacking in the case of Iraq.
The method of ‘proxy war’ – using militias recruited from the local
population to fight for imperial interests – has long been the favoured
policy of British policy planners – in contrast to the more ‘gung-ho’
boots on the ground methods of the US.
The war against Libya gave the ‘Arabists’ who dominate the British
Foreign Office (the FCO) a chance to show the Americans how it is done.
They have always preferred to cultivate local allies on the ground to do
the fighting and dying – it’s cheaper, less unpopular at home, and so
much more subtle than the blunt, blundering and cretinous approach of
the Bushblair posse. Indeed, the FCO opposed the Iraq warfor
precisely this reason – there was no moral, nor even strategic,
disagreement – but a tactical one. The perceived failure and cost (in
both blood and treasure) of Iraq thus allowed the ‘Arabists’ to gain the
upper hand for the next round of colonial war that is now unfolding.
Meanwhile, client regimes – those monarchies established by Britain in
the dying days of Ottoman control of the region – were given all the
help they needed to drown their own uprisings in blood. Britain sold
Saudi Arabia no less than £1.75 billion worth of arms last year –
arms that are now being used against protesters in both Saudi Arabia
and Bahrain, where the Saudis invaded last autumn to crush the growing
democratic revolt, as well as to arm the militias fighting in Syria.
Qatar under the absolute rule of the Al-Thani family – chosen by Britain
to run the country in the mid-nineteenth century – has also been
crucial in fomenting the new imperial wars. The Al- Jazeera TV channel,
which plays such an important role in the colonisers’ propaganda war –
is run from Qatar and essentially took over the role of the BBC Arabic
service when it closed operations in 1996. Qatar has also been at the
forefront of the co-ordination, training and arming of the paramilitary
proxy forces in Libya and Syria.
To ascertain the British government’s attitude towards an uprising in a
state in the Middle East, one simply has to ask: is this a state created
by Britain, or one built on an independent support base? Countries in
the latter category get attacked, whilst those in the former are aided
in consolidating their power and crushing the opposition.
Egypt, however, does not fit so neatly into either category. Egypt under
Mubarak was neither a total stooge regime nor fully independent;
neither a Libya nor a Qatar. Although the country had freed itself from
its’ British-imposed king in 1952, since the Israeli peace accord of
1979, it had been widely viewed as a client state of the US and a key
ally of Israel. Mubarak’s standing in the Arab world reached a nadir
during the Israeli onslaught against Gaza in 2008-9, which even became
known as the ‘Mubarak massacre’ for his refusal to open the border to
fleeing Palestinians. Nevertheless, imposing regime change on Libya was
going to be difficult for the West with Mubarak in charge next door. He
had developed a friendly relationshipwith Gaddafi over the years, and seemed to be moving closer to Iran. A UN report in 2006even
accused him of training the Islamic Courts Union – the Somali
government which the US were working so hard to destroy – and he, along
with Gaddafi, had opposed the expansion of AFRICOM
– the US military’s ‘Africa Command’ – on the continent. A client who
thinks he can conduct his own foreign policy is clearly missing the
point. Removing Mubarak whilst keeping intact rule of his country by a
military in hoc to the US may have come to be seen as the preferred
option in London and Washington –especially if this option were to
divide the revolutionary movement and take the wind out of its sails.
Recent events in Egypt – such as the Egyptian airforce strike on‘Islamic militants’ in the Sinai, and the closure of the tunnels
to Gaza – a lifeline for Palestinians to which Mubarak had to some
extent turned a blind eye – suggest that the new government in Egypt is
more than happy to do the bidding of the neo-colonisers.