“Arab Spring” Delusions
By David Bukay
Friday, December 20th, 2013 @ 12:04AM
In the Arab-Islamic Political Culture rumors are an integral part of social activity that quickly become absolute truth that cannot be challenged. It has to do with exaggerations, flights of fancy and especially, in a society that believes in conspiracies… every date is important, remembering everything and forgiving nothing. This is a society wherein the lie is an essential component of behavior and lying is endorsed by religious sage.
Yet, from the beginning of the uprisings in the Middle East, the media has disseminated the idea — as if the internet, Facebook, and Twitter have produced a new situation — of a young Arab generation that adopts Western ideals and yearns for democratic values, civil rights, and freedoms. The code name for this phenomenon that has become known worldwide is the “Arab Spring,” an analogy of the “Spring of Nations” in the Europe of 1948. The question is whether these hopes and aspirations are true, and the Middle East has really been transformed according to the will of the people, or perhaps this is just another wishful thinking, a mirror image, a cultural ignorance of Western leaders?
From the outset, it is a false definition and a mistaken conception, as in fact it was a “Dark Anarchic Islamic Winter,” symbolizing the demise of the Arab state and the retreat towards primordialism. It is not progression forward towards democracy and open modern societies, but a huge retreat to stagnation and Islamism.
The US has been endorsing the uprisings with an active policy of support that can be summed up by various slogans: the ancient regime must step down; it is time for the people to determine their fate; democracy and freedom are just around the corner. Moreover, the United States considers itself to have a responsibility to protect the interests of peoples vulnerable to violence by their own governments.
Consider President Obama’s declarations on Egypt, its closest Arab ally calling on President Mubarak to ‘step down.’
“It’s a moment where the people of Egypt can no longer contain themselves and are screaming out for freedom… Now, ultimately the future of Egypt will be determined by the Egyptian people. And I believe that the Egyptian people want the same things that we all want — a better life for ourselves and our children, and a government that is fair and just and responsive.”
With glorification of the myth was the declaration: “The word ‘Tahrir’ means liberation. It is a word that speaks to that something in our souls that cries out for freedom.”
Likewise in Libya, Obama urged Qaddafi to step down, and accept the will of the people. Libya is “coming to an end;” therefore, Qaddafi must step down. After Qaddafi’s demise, Obama in a press conference said: “The dark shadow of tyranny has been lifted… The rule of an iron fist inevitably comes to an end… The Libyan people have won their revolution and have the opportunity to determine its destiny… to build a tolerant and democratic Libya.
In Yemen, Obama called on President Abdallah al-Salih to listen to the will of his people,” and offered support for Yemen’s vice president, who was expected to become president. As for Syria, Obama declared: “The future of Syria must be determined by its people… the Syrian President must step down.” “President Assad must lead a democratic transition or get out of the way… For the sake of the Syrian people, the time has come for President Assad to step aside.”
Others echoed the president’s misconception of the Arab Spring. Senator John McCain argued that “the Arab Street wants political freedom, economic opportunity, and equal justice and rights…” while Senator Joseph Lieberman summarized the Arab Spring as a struggle for “democracy, dignity, economic opportunity, and involvement in the modern world,” calling on the US to provide direct assistance to the Syrian people.
The misperception of an “Arab Spring”
Contrary to what Western leaders very much wish to believe, the Middle East is not undergoing political revolution, democratization, liberal reform, freedom, or any other such label. There are many indicators to prove that Western conceptions have falsely adapted events in the Middle East to fit their own paradigms and ideals. It is bewildering how Western experts, politicians, public opinion makers, and the media get the Middle East wrong, with eyes wide shut. Despite all evidence, they still believe that the masses marching in Arab states are striving for democracy and freedom, that they are in search of a transparent law-abiding regime and accountable leaders, and that the Muslim Brotherhood groups are “moderates” that can be integrated into a democratic government.
However, to truly understand the Middle East, one must consider the following:
a) The first is the state versus the tribe and the clan. The Arab state, being the product of Western imperialism and lien to Arab-Islamic political culture, is a weak political institution compared to the tribe, the clan, and the communal groups. This is an important and oft-revealed fact of Arab politics; that the political process does not lead to political development, but rather to political decay. It is routinely demonstrated that in times of crisis, the people retreat from counting on the state in favor of the recognized and reliable primordial groups. The tribal and communal identities are still the main focus in these populations.
Another aspect of the weakness of the state is the social-economic one as the Arab state has failed to support and sustain the masses and their basic needs. This evidenced by the stunning fact that despite Arab oil wealth, the per capita GDP for all the Arab states grew by less than 0.5 percent annually from 1980 to 2004. As for industrialization, Arab countries were less industrialized in 2007 than in 1970, and unemployment among the young, which is over 60 percent for those under the age of 25, is among the highest in the world. The overall poverty rate is almost 50 percent.
One of the foundations of state stability is trust, which is almost nonexistent in the Middle East society there is torn apart into adversary religious, ethnic, and tribal factions that lead to failed states. When politics gets down to the streets, it has nothing to do with political order and trust, but everything to do with chaos. And when chaos reigns, it means that the state has lost its ability to govern. Arab countries are an example of failed states — by the lack of personal and public security; by failure in advancing public goods; by lack of accountability and rule of law; and by the existence of conflictual societies without regulating devices.
b) The second factor in the Middle East is the central role played by the strong coercive leader, as exemplified by Arab-Islamic political culture. Decision-making processes are kept within the elite, and the masses are barred from any political influence. Order is achieved and maintained by the violent arbitrary force of the leader, who withholds all power from the peoples. While in democracies the socio-political institutions are the center, and their durability, institutionalization, and effective strength are considered to be the utmost importance, they are almost non-existent in the Middle East. The ultimate authority is the patrimonial ruler, who operates by subordinating the people, corrupting resource distribution, and institutionalizing nepotism. The main role of the leader is always to harness the centrifugal social forces of anarchy and chaos so as to maintain a stable centripetal political system through force and intimidation.
c) The third factor is the military versus other groupings. In contemporary ME politics, the military is the most important political institution and a critical basis for regime stability. It appears in two configurations: one, as a direct military regime, and the other as the guardian and center of gravity of the monarchical regime. The importance of the military vis-à-vis. the regime is exemplified by the following events: In Iran in 1979, it was only when the military declared its neutrality that the Shah’s regime immediately collapsed. In Iraq after the Gulf War in 1991, the Iraqi army’s support of Saddam Hussein allowed him to confidently stay in power despite military defeat. In Tunisia, it was the request of the military Chief of Staff to President Bin Ali to abdicate the presidency that triggered the revolutionary spirit in the Middle East. In Egypt, it was an internal coup d’état by Tantawi to remove Mubarak from the Presidency. In Libya, as in Syria, the split among the military caused the civil war and the mass killing of civilians.
Despite this pattern, the US, as other Western countries still maintains its naïve attitudes and wishful thinking, as if removing a dictator is any kind of a guarantee that freedom and democracy will prevail. They continue in their failures to learn from previous lessons, and their delusionary attempts to remake the Middle East in their own mirror image, and values, while ignoring the Arab Islamic political culture.
The misperception of the coming democracy and freedom
This misconception of the coming democracy and freedom is derived from Western terminology, as if the processes in the Middle East will lead from authoritarianism to democracy, and as if the masses are eager to implement Western democratic institutions. However, democracy, civil rights and freedoms cannot be established, since they are not the result of elections alone, or the existence of parliaments, or political parties. Democracy is much more, and in legal-institutional terms is defined by the following ingredients: individual freedoms and civil liberties (the uppermost is freedom of expression); prevalence of the rule of law (including the separation and balance of powers); sovereignty and citizenship empowered by the people; the centrality of stable political institutions and the existence of civil society; vertical and horizontal accountability, operated by eligibility, responsiveness, and transparency of the ruling systems; mobility, political participation, equality of opportunity, and multiple mature and effective political parties.
Europe reached democracy after 500 years of authoritarianism and monarchical rule, and only after religion lost its central role. In the ME, it might take even a-longer. As Larbi Sadiki observed the way in which parties, elections, and parliaments are conducted among the Arab states, precludes any true democracy. One of the main reasons for this failure to adopt democracy is Islam itself. In Islam, the source of authority, sovereignty, and the rule of law is Allah alone. Everything stems from Allah and his will, and the believer acts out of absolute submission, surrender, and devotion to Allah. There is no citizenship and no sovereignty, as Allah is at the center and submission to him is the focus. Islam and democracy are mutually exclusive, since accepting Western values and ideals are tantamount to apostasy.
Democracy is totally something apart from what the Middle East exhibits and practices. The masses marching on the streets do not have the ability and the will to work positively towards stability and order and to achieve political liberal goals, such as freedom and civil rights, even if they wish to do so. In fact, they do not want civil society, but a religious society, an Islamic state. Evidence suggests that most of the so-called ‘people’ do not want to institutionalize Western ideals, but rather to integrate the Shari`ah and establish an Islamic regime. In his historical analysis, Elie Kedourie has proven that in the Middle East, the pattern is one form of authoritarian regime replacing another. Decades of autocracy and Islamic rule have discouraged the emergence of democratization processes. Arab publics believe that government should implement the Shari`ah. If democratization is defined as individuals’ pursuit of happiness — freedoms, human rights, tolerance, and trust — then there is a problem.
Then, what makes Western leaders so determined to believe in their own mirror image and misconceptions, as if we all are the same culturally and share the same beliefs operationally? The evidence proves the opposite is true. Take the Arabs and the Islamic rule of 1400 years, both domestically and internationally. Or, the Arab and Muslim states’ rule and regimes since their establishment, as well as past year’s events in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Yemen.
The incompatibility of democratic principles with Islam is also evidenced by our failure to acknowledge the significance of religion for the Muslim identity, as well as the reality that most Arab countries are still profoundly Muslim, and that religion remains the major political force. Rather than explaining Middle East political dysfunctions by Western terms and ideologies, most Muslims see the problems as resulting from the crisis of Islam. Likewise the solution is to be found in Islam alone. Liberalized regimes are almost impossible, and without legitimacy, accountability and representation, Arab countries are disintegrating and becoming failed states.
The misperception of the masses’ role
The media has created, almost with one collective voice, a virtual reality, and al-Tahrir Square has become an in-fashion symbol of revolution and change. The protesters have been dubbed as true democrats, moderate and peace-loving. The mantra that the Arab people want freedom has swept the world. All have ignored the reality that just because people protest something does not mean they are democracy-loving and freedom-seeking moderates. Contrary to popular opinion, it is not the Facebook and Twitter revolution, as online social networks claim only 2% of the entire Arab world as users. Rather, it is the satellite channels, mainly Al-Jazeera, that have revolutionized the uprisings by indoctrinating world public opinion and policy-makers. Faisal al-Qassem has correctly written that Al-Jazeera is the real engine in organizing the popular uprisings and behind what he calls the revolutions in the Arab world. Indeed, without the TV coverage, the uprisings would never have assumed such proportions and gained so much success.
What do we really see in the Middle East coming out of the so-called Arab Spring? There is an operational strategy, schemed, directed and executed by the monarchical states, and headed by Qatar with its oil money resources and by its TV station, Al-Jazeera. Hamed Halifah al-Thani, the Qatari ruler, is orchestrating the Arab Spring situation in order to topple Arab military regimes and replace them with Islamic regimes. This is not to reduce the revolutionary role of the masses and the great burden required to better their lives, but to exhibit the active forces behind and above it all.
How is the strategy operated? First there are the masses, demonstrating against the regime; then the ‘rebels’ appear, supported with weapons and men from outside trying to overthrow the regime. The media intervenes by disseminating violent pictures and voices, relaying the message and displaying the rebels as true believers and democrats, while the regime is portrayed as evil and oppressive. When the army fights back, killing civilians who serve as human shields for the rebels (see Hama, in 1982 and Homs today in Syria), the videos appear abroad, mainly broadcast by Al-Jazeera, showing only the cruelty of the regimes that kill innocent civilians, while ignoring the role of the rebels.
Manipulated by the pictures and voices coming mainly from and through Al-Jazeera, Western leaders side with the rebels, and call on the rulers to ‘step down.’ Consumed with the slogan of their own mirror image, Western leaders do not realize that the real powers behind the scene are the Muslim Brotherhood (Egypt and Tunisia) and al-Qaeda groups (Libya, and now Syria). With ‘democracy’ and ‘freedom’ neither part of their arsenals nor representative of the people’s wishes, these groups are nonetheless able to take advantage of the situation.
Ultimately, the secular governments are deposed, as in Tunisia, Egypt, and Yemen. The current victim of this sophisticated manipulation is Syria, where Bashar al-Assad is pictured as a mass-murderer. The outcome will unfortunately be the same as in Libya, where NATO forces toppled Qaddafi’s regime to create chaos and anarchy,resulting in a victory for al-Qaeda. The end game is that the ME changes its construct to become more Islamic and hostile to Western interests.
Now the question is why the Qatari-Saudi deep involvement in the Arab Spring? What are their gains from toppling the Qaddafi, Bashar and Saleh regimes? The answer is connected with the threat of Iran. Qatar and the Gulf Emirates are in the fore-front of the Iranian sphere of hegemony. They need solid Arab-Sunni cohesion and an authentic defensible strategy. More than Israel, Saudi Arabia is the first target of Iran. The Shiite-Sunni split lies at the core of Middle Eastern conflicts and is the most lethal one. Iran wishes to restore the supremacy of Shiite leadership taken by the malicious designs of the Sunnis. Iran believes that the time is ripe to bring Islamic order back to the region by controlling the Islamic religious sites of Mecca and Medina.
This strategy of Qatar was not planned from the beginning. It was a reaction mainly to the fall of Mubarak, after the betrayal of the US in Egypt. In 1979, Carter described Khomeini as Gandhi, as a human rights reformer, and gave him millions of dollars. In contrast, he tossed out the Shah like a corpse from the plague. Obama’s betrayal of Mubarak was even worse. A secret document sent from the U.S. Embassy in Cairo discloses the extent of American support for the protesters. Like the Shah, Mubarak was considered a “dead man walking.”
Saudi Arabia and Qatar have watched the US policy with a panic which has brought them to the conclusion that they need more of Obama’s indetermination, inconsistency, and zigzagging policies. The uprisings in Libya, Yemen, and Syria seem to serve their objective of forming a united Sunni front, without any defection from an Arab state (Syria), a pariah state (Libya), or a weak state located in a strategic region (Yemen). Toppling these regimes and implanting Islamic states ready to confront Iran is critical. That is why Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Jordan participated in the air campaign over Libya, justifying its intervention on humanitarian grounds. Qatar has become a vociferous state concerning international intervention in Syria, and before that in Libya and Yemen. Thus, on February 26, 2012, Qatar declared its intent to help the Syrian opposition “by all means,” including giving weapons to the rebels. Two days later, anti-Assad officials received a $100 million donation.
The misperception of elections proving the democratic process
Islamic groups are capable of brilliantly practicing Taqiyah (dissimulation) t0o hide their real targets and intentions by adapting to the situation at hand and changing like a chameleon. In to understand this Islamic versatility and flexibility, one must have learned the lessons of Khomeini’s behavior. During his exile, when Khomeini was under the glare of the media, his declarations were mild and non-aggressive. He understood what the U.S. wanted to hear, and promised a more responsive democratic government. As expected, the media bought what he was selling and found him appealing and moderate. The U.S. ambassador, William Sullivan, wrote that Khomeini would work well with army officers in Iran and cooperate with the US. Experts argued that Khomeini was surrounded by moderate politicians and had a “notable record of concern for human rights.”
Can we say that the lessons were studied for application to the situation with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt? The answer is absolutely no, not by the governmental branches, not by the media, and not by the “experts.” One has to learn the step-by-step strategy of the Muslim Brotherhood, as developed by its Charter, its phony adoption of a moderate and pragmatic façade, and its objectives. Its logo exhibits a Qur’an with two swords underneath, and between them the word “`Wa`edou,” which means “prepare,” from the Qur’an 8:60: “Prepare against them… by which you may strike terror into the enemy of Allah…” The motto is: “Allah is our objective; the Quran is our law, the Prophet is our leader; Jihad is our way; and death in the way of Allah is our highest objective.” Is this a moderate democratic-seeking movement?
The Western media tell us that the Islamic groups are unimportant, and will cooperate in accordance with Western interests. Exploiting the naïveté and ignorance of Western public opinion, the leaders of the Muslim parties, speaking in double-tongues, have assured their audience that they will not take steps to implement the Shari`ah, and that they will not compromise Western interests in the region. This is a pure Taqiyah used by Islamic groups and movements to mislead and deceive world public opinion, and it is operated time and again with success.
In Tunisia, the Ennahda founder, Rachid Gannouchi, has assured the West and Tunisian secularists that his party is moderate, that it will not compromise Western interests, and that it does not intend to subordinate Tunisia’s freedoms to the Shari’ah. He declared that the first article of Tunisia’s constitution should remain unchanged, and that there would be no other references to religion in the constitution. Yet, in the draft constitution, Islam is described as Tunisia’s religion and Shari`ah as the principal source of its legislation, to be strictly followed. After the election results of the National Constituent Assembly, on October 23, 2011, Ennahda party, together with two Salafi groups, won a majority in the Parliament. The hopes vested in last year’s uprising have ended in continued censorship, growing religious intolerance, and unemployment. Moreover, there are many indications that Tunisia has now become a new home for Jihadi Salafis.
In Egypt, the Islamist ascendency is even more troublesome. In the first two rounds of voting, the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafist parties took 70% of the vote, marginalizing the photogenic ‘Facebook kids’ party that charmed Western observers, but won less than 2% of the vote. These results did not come by surprise. The Pew research poll published in June 2010 indicated that 95% of Egyptians are in favor of the large role played by Islam in politics; 85% of the Egyptian public would welcome the supremacy of Islamic politics; and 84% support the death penalty for apostates. Moreover, 82% approve of stoning as a punishment for people who commit adultery; 77% advocate whippings and cutting off the hands of thieves and robbers; 54% justify suicide bombings; 54% champion gender segregation in the workplace; and 59% side with Muslim fundamentalists. The results of the Pew survey from June 2011 also revealed that 60% of Egyptians advocate strict adherence of the law to the teachings of the Qur’an. A majority (69%) supports the religious parties and believes that religious leaders should have an advisory role in national legislation. Specifically, 38% of Egyptians said that they would vote for the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, and 12% for the more radical al-Nour Party.
The radicalization of Egyptian politics towards more Jihadi ideology is seen from the following developments: Sheikh Dr. Yousuf al-Qaradawi has increased in popularity and accelerated his demands about Egypt’s role; al-Qaeda Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has been directly interfering in Egyptian politics; and al-Qaeda leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri continues to make declarations concerning Egypt and its centrality in transforming the ME to become more Islamic. Despite these unequivocal facts, Western politicians and the media continue to disseminate the myth of the Egyptian people seeking democracy and freedom.
Misperceptions stemming from the political process
The best examples of how leaders do not learn from their own faults, and continue the march of their own folly are the events of the uprisings in Libya and in Syria. One would have expected that the consequences of the Libyan uprising would have led to second and third thoughts about alternatives that would best serve U.S. interests.
Libya. On March 18, 2011, President Obama detailed the rationale of why the US intervened militarily in Libya: “Left unchecked, we have every reason to believe that Qaddafi would commit atrocities against his people…” Likewise, Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton warned: “Now obviously, if we want to see a stable, peaceful, democratic Libya, it is highly unlikely it can be accomplished if Qaddafi stays in power.” Nonetheless under the umbrella of U.N. Security Council resolution 1973, the U.S. should not have intervened without congressional authority, and without knowing the identity of the opposition rebels.
Libya lacks a true political culture, and without a civil society, it remains divided into tribes and regions. Sustained democracy and political freedom cannot emerge under this framework, but only more social conflict and a power vacuum leading to anarchy and a failing state. Adding to this gloomy situation, intelligence reports have shown the high probability of al-Qaeda penetration into Libya. Abu Yahya al-Libi, one of al-Qaeda’s leaders, appeared in a video-clip on March 12, 2011, praising the uprising and detailing its objectives. In an interview on al-Hayat, a spokesman for the North African branch of al-Qaeda in the Maghreb (AQIM), Salah Abu Muhammad, confirmed al-Qaeda’s involvement in the Libyan rebellion with the aim of establishing an Islamic Emirate, headed by Abdul-Hakim al-Hasadi.
This situation highlights the futility of being involved in a war under the name of spreading democracy and freedom, while supporting the opposition means victory for the forces that the U.S. has been fighting against for a decade all over the world. Operation Odyssey Dawn to stop a tyrant from “killing his own people” has proven to be disastrous, as evidence shows that both domestic Islamic groups and external al-Qaeda groups take control of the situation and impose their will upon it.
One can look at the situation from another angle: Killing-his-own-people standard is applied with high selectivity. The Middle East is notorious for this, and authoritarian regimes led by patrimonial despotic leaders have clearly been the norm throughout Islamic history. Violence and civil war are rampant in the region, and disintegrating, alienated societies are the rule. Harsh, oppressive Middle Eastern regimes, and their extreme intolerance, lead to the likes of Qaddafi — and Bashar al-Assad — butchering their own people. The difference is that the media (Al-Jazeera!) is not there to show the atrocities, as much as the situation in Sudan (Darfur and the South), Algeria, Somalia, Yemen, and many other Arab states.
Syria. Learning from the Libyan fiasco, how can one understand the call in the US Senate for the ouster of President Bashar al-Assad from power? The resolution “urges the President to support an effective transition to democracy in Syria and providing substantial material and technical support to Syrian organizations.” It also condemns Russia and Iran for their support of Assad, and calls upon the State Department to find ways to “encourage defections” from the Syrian military. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, issued a firm statement to the Syrian elite, urging them to overthrow the Syrian regime. However, a year before Western leaders referred to Assad as a reformer, a modernizer who must play an indispensable role in a constructive solution to the Middle East’s problems. One of those who were so enthusiastic about Assad was Obama’s envoy, Senator John Kerry, who made six visits to Damascus between 2009 and 2011, making a statement on April 1, 2010, that “Syria is an essential player in bringing peace and stability to the region.”
Why does removing Bashar contradict US and Western interests? As much as in Libya, the question is who is the opposition? The Syrian National Council (SNC) and the National Coordination Committee (NCC) are mostly composed of the Muslim Brotherhood, under the Local Coordination Committees’ umbrella. They are basically disorganized, and in disagreement concerning key issues. They do not control the military groups, and are incapable of winning the battle. They work independently, and factionalism has been hindering their ability to topple Asad.
The Free Syrian Army (FSA) is ineffective and lacks chain of command. Moreover, there is no information on the makeup of its forces. One must doubt that the FSA has the number of followers it claims or is responsible for the attacks against the Syrian army. The FSA is a fiction mainly of the media, a framework for an unorganized collection of local fighting groups that is incapable of taking control of the situation and carrying out planned operations. Resistance groups in Syria are organized locally and depend on civilian volunteers as well as on defectors from the military. What they really wish to do is to pave the way for NATO military intervention, as in Libya. This is the main strategy executed by Al-Jazeera.
The alarming result is the victory of al-Qaeda. The U.S. intelligence community is said to have confirmed the presence of al-Qaeda Iraq (AQI) in Syria through communications intercepts. According to the US Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, the bombings in Syria’s two largest cities of Damascus and Aleppo, are the work of al-Qaeda Iraq, which has infiltrated the Syrian opposition and comprises an important part of its forces against Bashar. Several Western intelligence agencies have assessed that AQI is conducting attacks in major cities in Syria.
Encouraged by al-Qaeda headquarters to intervene in Syria, this was exactly the message of Ayman al-Zawahiri, calling on al-Qaeda warriors from Turkey, Iraq, Jordan, and Lebanon to mobilize and fight the Assad regime in order to facilitate al-Qaeda’s strategy, as happened in Libya. An al-Qaeda-affiliated terror organization posted a video showing the preparations for the twin suicide bombings that took place in Damascus on January 6, 2012. Two Jihadi groups have appeared in the skies of Syria: the first, Jabhat al-Nusra li-Ahl al-Sham, announced its creation on January 24, 2012, by Muhammad al-Julani, on the Jihadi forum, Shumoukh al-Islam, (58) and the second, the Lebanese Jihadi group Fath al-Islam, declared, on January 13, 2012, to launch Jihad against the Assad regime. Abdallah Khaled al-`Adm, aka Abu `Ubayda, has called on the Syrian people, with the message that Jihad is the solution.
What are the ramifications of toppling the Bashar regime? The highest probability is the emergence of the Muslim Brotherhood groups. Out of the disarray and many factions, they are the most organized to hold power. In free elections, the Muslim Brotherhood will win, as happened in Egypt and Tunisia. However, the total chaos in Syria, and the participation of the so many Salafi-Takfiri al-Qaeda groups, it is with high probability that they will win over Syria. It does not mean that there will law and order, on the contrary, it means that anarchy continues and Syria continues to the status of failed state. What happened in Libya is in small scale compare to the total disaster that reigns among the minorities.
Moreover, what we have seen before in Libya, Egypt, and Tunisia, is that a facade of young secularists, liberal politicians, and leftist intellectuals, move aside just to see the Islamic groups move in and take power. And as in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, and Yemen, democracy and freedom will not emerge in Syria, but at best another authoritarian radical Muslim regime will prevail.
Some will be satisfied with toppling the Bashar regime, as it would mean a weakening of the Iranian axis. However, even if this were true, it probably would not decrease the Iranian determination for hegemony in the Middle East, certainly not Hizballah control in Lebanon. Perhaps the opposite is also true, as Iran would surely increase its terrorist activities and political subversion in the region as well as internationally. The result of an MB/al-Qaeda victory in Syria would be a solid Islamic regional coalition that would destabilize the neighboring pro-Western states, and raise the probability of war with Israel, and even a regional war centered on the Sunni-Shiite split. In any case, the Bashar regime is preferable.* David Bukay is Professor of Middle East Studies at the School of Political Sciences, University of Haifa. He is the author of Muhammad’s Monsters (2004); Yasser Arafat, the Politics of Paranoia (2005); From Muhammad to Bin Laden (2007); Crossovers: anti-Zionism and Anti-Semitism (2010), and has published numerous articles, in referee journals, books and the internet.