Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Democracy if Needs Must West of the Suez, Just Not East

Asia Times' columnist 'Pepe Escobar' claims Washington and the Arab League despots are on the same page.  Revolution is tolerable west of the Suez but the status quo is to be maintained by whatever means in the Persian Gulf.

Saudi media may slam Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and his lethal strategy against his own people. But Libya and Saudi Arabia are equals. Gaddafi has laid out the counter-revolution playbook; bomb the fight out of the protesters. His winning strategy is the same as Bahrain's, with crucial Saudi help.

As far as the inextricable Saudi/Washington nexus goes, democracy may be acceptable for Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. But it's a very bad idea for Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and other friendly Gulf dictatorships. United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had a close meeting in Paris with special envoy of the Libyan transitional council Mahmoud Jabril. They discussed "how to step up the level of US outreach''. This after the Barack Obama administration had coined the neologism "regime alteration" for its new Middle East strategy.

So "outreach" means talking to pro-democracy "rebels", while "regime alteration" means endorsing brutal crackdowns against pro-democracy protesters. The proof that the policy is official is that Jeffrey Feltman, the assistant US secretary of state for Near Eastern Affairs, has been at the US Embassy in Manama since Monday - where he oversaw, live, the Saudi invasion and the subsequent bloody repression of the Pearl/Lulu roundabout (50 tanks, heavy armored vehicles, several helicopters). This is the fourth time Feltman visited Bahrain in one month.

The predictable Saudi-orchestrated counter-revolution has transformed demands for justice, dignity and equality into the newest, deadliest, incarnation of a Sunni-Shi'ite sectarian war, so that imperiled Sunni regimes may once again invoke the specter of a Shi'ite crescent.

No comments: