Sunday, October 23, 2011

ARAB Spring or JIHADIST Winter?

The death of Libyan leader Gadhafi could create a vacuum that a whole new slew of Islamic terrorists and would-be despots seek to fill. There is a grave risk that the fractious and inherently violent nation divided along tribal lines could fracture or further weaken , creating a new breeding ground for terrorists.

Already, there is tension from the Islamist fighters of the Tripoli Military Council, and also of the militias of the city of Misrata who played a key military role in toppling Gaddafi and killing him and keeping his body in cold storage. Islamists, led by several charismatic clerics and the Egyptian-founded Muslim Brotherhood are better at organizing many other groups.

One very disturbing element is the fact that a former al-Qaida terrorist by the name of Abdul Hakim Belhadj, who the CIA renditioned into Thailand, is now back in his original stomping ground. Arnaud de Borchgrave, board member of a Washington, DC-based intelligence forecasting service, says, "Libya is where he was head of the al-Qaida underground. Now he's above ground and commander of the Tripoli garrison." He also added;

  • Gadhafi's death is a major plus for Libya. It will do little to help world oil prices in the short term as the country has to rebuild its infrastructure before it can restart pumping at full capacity.

  • The search is on for the millions-possibly billions- of dollars that Gadhafi expropriated from his oil-rich nation.

  • Syria, unfortunately, is unlikely to follow Libya soon because of that country's well-organized military and intelligence services. Killing over 30,000 of his people doesn't seem to faze the "mild-mannered" Bashar alAssad while his tough younger brother does the massacring.

Speaking about the Libyan revolution, Barack Obama hailed "the rights of peaceful assembly, free speech and the ability of the Libyan people to determine their own destiny and also praised "the peaceful transition to democracy in both Tunisia and in Egypt." He didn't seem to notice that the new Tunisian government has banned movies being shown and announced that other theatrical performances will be monitored for un-Islamic content. Also, Egypt seems to be rushing headlong toward becoming a Sharia state and might be going to war with Israel after the shocking attack on the Israeli embassy in Cairo last month. It is a well-known fact that a significant percentage of Egyptians manifest a deeply ingrained Islamic antisemitism that leads them to hate Israel and would like to tear up the 1979 Camp David Accords. Is the Arab Spring turning into a nasty Jihadist Winter?

The Way I See It....actually no. The democratic movement in the middle East is a powerful positive force for both its people and the world at large. It is a seismic shift in a region that has stagnated for many decades. It will unsettle old norms and practices and cause political upheaval. The Islamists, being better organized, will gain strength in the first phase, but that should spur the moderates to get their act together. A sensible demand for moderation from the country's western-inspired youth should bring economic reform and much-needed jobs.

Already, I see that the Arab Spring has had one positive strategic effect; the weakening of Iran. For a decade, Iran with it's sub-mental leadership, has been making an ambitious bid for regional leadership. However, its support for regional rogues like Syria and Hizballah and it's subterfuge in undercutting Iraq's fledgling democracy has left Tehran no longer looking like a place of inspiration for the Arab masses; instead it resembles the old Arab autocracies. We can all hope a successful revolution will come to Iran some day.

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