April 22, 2011
The Independent (UK)

The Regimes Are Rallying Their Forces

In Bahrain, Libya, Yemen and Syria leaders are no longer caught by surprise; their defeat no longer seems inevitable

by Patrick Cockburn

Is a counter-revolutionary tide beginning to favour the "strongmen" of the Arab world, whose regimes appeared a couple of months ago to be faltering under the impact of the Arab Awakening?

From Libya to Bahrain and Syria to Yemen, leaders are clinging on to power despite intense pressure from pro-democracy protesters. And the counter-revolution has so far had one undoubted success: the Bahraini monarchy, backed by troops from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states, has brutally but effectively crushed the protesters in the island kingdom. Pro-democracy leaders are in jail or have fled abroad. The majority Shia population is being terrorised by arbitrary arrests, torture, killings, disappearances, sackings, and the destruction of its mosques and religious places.

In three other countries despots under heavy assault have varying chances of survival. A month ago in Yemen it seemed likely that President Ali Abdullah Saleh was on his way out, but he still has not gone and has mobilised his own demonstrators, gunmen and security forces. Nevertheless the army has publicly split and the probability is that he will finally depart.

In Syria protests are continuing across the country despite frequent shootings, but President Bashar al-Assad will take a lot of displacing because of his determination to stay, the strength of his security apparatus and the tight grip on power of the minority Allawi community.

In Libya Muammar Gaddafi teetered on the verge of defeat two months ago when rebels had seized the east of the country and there were demonstrations in Tripoli. Since then he has rallied a core of support and the rebels in Benghazi would collapse if they did not have the backing of Nato airpower. Nevertheless he is likely to go simply because Britain, France and the US are committed to his departure. . . .


Pepe Escobar, "Egypt's Nationalists At Odds With Vested Interests," Asia Times, February 8, 2011

"Protests Spread to Bahrain, Iraq, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Yemen," The Wisdom Fund, February 17, 2011

"The Attack on Libya is Illegal, Unjust," The Wisdom Fund, March 28, 2011

"Brutal Repression in Bahrain, U.S. Objections Muted," The Wisdom Fund, April 16, 2011

Jason Ditz, "US Secretly Funding Syrian Dissidents, Cables Show,", April 18, 2011

[Libyan rebels will be betrayed just as quickly as Qaddafi was.

. . . The oil money that once built water ways, public housing, and farms from Benghazi to Tripoli, will be funneled directly out of the country and into the corporate-financier's accounts.--Tony Cartalucci, "Libyan Rebels Fighting the Globalists' War,", April 20, 2011]

"Syria braces for more protests after bloody Friday: Activists say army and gunman loyal to Al Assad shot dead at least 88 civilians on Friday,", April 23, 2011

[Thus, while Washington has privately expressed strong doubts about the wisdom of the increasingly brutal and indiscriminate crackdown against the majority Shia population in Bahrain, home to the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet, its failure to clearly and publicly denounce the Saudi-backed repression is only the most blatant example of this trend.

Far less noticed - let alone condemned - are actions such as Thursday's dissolution by the government of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) of the board of directors of the Jurist Association, one of the country's most prominent civil society organizations, which earlier this month had the temerity to sign a petition seeking political reform.--Jim Lobe, "Arab Spring Stalls as U.S. Defers to Saudi 'Counter-Revolution',", April 24, 2011]

Khalid Ali and Rupert Cornwell, "Secret police detain more than 500 as Syria defies Western threats," Independent, April 27, 2011

Nick Turse and Tom Engelhardt, "Hueys Over Yemen: Is U.S. Aid Suppressing Another Mideast Freedom Struggle?,", April 29, 2011

[Mr. Prince, who resettled here last year after his security business faced mounting legal problems in the United States, was hired by the crown prince of Abu Dhabi to put together an 800-member battalion of foreign troops for the U.A.E. . . .

People involved in the project and American officials said that the Emiratis were interested in deploying the battalion to respond to terrorist attacks and put down uprisings inside the country's sprawling labor camps, which house the Pakistanis, Filipinos and other foreigners who make up the bulk of the country's work force. The foreign military force was planned months before the so-called Arab Spring revolts that many experts believe are unlikely to spread to the U.A.E. Iran was a particular concern.--Mark Mazzetti and Emily B. Hager, "Secret Desert Force Set Up by Blackwater's Founder,", May 14, 2011]

Brian Becker and Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, "Reality Check: The Profound Hypocrisy of President Obama's Speech on the Middle East,", May 19, 2011

[A new imperial phase is unfolding in direct response to the Arab uprising that began in January and has shocked Washington and Europe, causing an Eden-style panic. The loss of the Egyptian tyrant Mubarak was grievous, though not irretrievable; an American-backed counter-revolution is under way as the military regime in Cairo is seduced with new bribes and power shifting from the street to political groups that did not initiate the revolution. The western aim, as ever, is to stop authentic democracy and reclaim control.--John Pilger, "Welcome to the Violent World of Mr. Hopey Changey,", May 28, 2011]

[To lead the counter-revolution in this region, Washington and Tel Aviv have relied on their best support: the Sudairi clan, which embodies despotism at the service of imperialism unlike any other.

You have probably never heard of them, but for decades the Sudairi have been the world's richest political organization.--Thierry Meyssan, "The Middle East counter-revolution,", May 26, 2011]

"Seymour Hersh on the Arab Spring, "Disaster" U.S. Wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and the Looming Crisis in Iraq,", June 3, 2011

[The House of Saud has just given Supreme Military Council leader Field Marshall Tantawi US$4 billion in cold hard cash - although not even the Sphinx knows for sure how much power Tantawi, 75, deposed tyrant Hosni Mubarak's former minister of defense, really wields.

Washington extended Cairo $1 billion in "debt forgiveness" and another $1 billion in loan guarantees. Not much - compared to what Washington extends to Israel, but still a signal. And then the

International Monetary Fund extended an extra $3 billion in loans. The "new" Egypt will start to do business already bound in unforgiving chains.--Pepe Escobar, "The cold hard cash counter-revolution,", June 8, 2011]

[The kingdom is spending $130 billion to pump up salaries, build housing and finance religious organizations, among other outlays, effectively neutralizing most opposition.--Neil Macfarquhar, "In Saudi Arabia, Royal Funds Buy Peace for Now,", June 8, 2011]

David Edwards, "U.S. conducting 'mass surveillance' against Arab world: report,", June 22, 2011

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