Tuesday, February 06, 2007

At last.....

Something that bears a remote relationship to the truth is published in a UK paper. It doesn't go far enough: it fails to describe the origins of these regimes (mainly in Sykes-Picot, and the innumerable Western backed coups and 'interventions' since), and she describes Jordan as ' the state closest to the western ideal' ('Human Rights Watch found that Jordan’s General Intelligence Department (GID) frequently carries out arbitrary arrests and abuses suspects in its own detention facility and that many suspects are held in incommunicado detention but never charged with a crime.' ). But it's a start.

Western leaders have simply chosen a few Arab rulers they believe are still saleable to western audiences. And, as the word moderate has been repeated by western leaders and echoed in the international media, these rulers have begun to believe their own billing. But who are they, and are they moderate? Their selection has been fluid at the periphery but solid at the core. Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt clearly qualify, whereas Syria, an ally during the 1990-91 Gulf war, was once at the periphery but fell out of step with US interests after 9/11. Likewise, after the death of Arafat and the victory of Hamas, Fatah became moderate, while Iran, moderate under the shah, became "radical" after the 1979 Islamic revolution.

This minuet of political marketing may play well in the west, but not in the Arab world, where the double standards and manipulation are all too plain to see. The Saudi Wahhabis are, after all, fanatics; Egypt's Hosni Mubarak is intolerant of dissent; and Jordan, the state closest to the western ideal, is a marginal player. These countries' appalling human rights records, lack of transparency and repression rank them among the world's least moderate. Is there such a thing as a "moderate public beheading"? For the US and UK governments there clearly is, because all departures from the ideals of liberal democracy and social justice are rooted in "tradition". Hence bribes, beheadings and the oppression of women and minorities are traditional, and because whatever is traditional is not radical, it must be moderate.'

As someone once said: read the whole thing.


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