Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Thursday, January 18th, 2018

Oil, Fear and Democracy

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Oil, Fear and Democracy

However, the Arab civil uprising attained an appreciating level of popularity, but it necessary could not win the sympathy of all, particularly, all those who are playing key role in the international spheres and can deal effect on its process, direction and success. What we now have across the world is a combination of sympathy, appreciation, on one hand, and anxiety and clandestine opposition, on the other.

What generally we observe daily on press and Medias is as if civilians as well as top decision makers have taken their decision and are resolved to push for regional and North African countries movement's success. But such a picture indubitably lacks a sound and accurate judgment. And it is really hard to voice out that the so-called supporters of democracy and human rights have made their mind and would pressurize authoritarian Arab regimes to open up decades-long restricted social and political environment towards citizens and let them chose their own destiny through polling stations and ballot papers.

What makes me to sputter like this? Before answering the question, I just want to express my personal feelings for all those brave and courageous people have marched into streets called for revolutionary political reforms and elimination of regimes. And I found it favorable also because their anti-government demonstration for establishment of democracy and restoration of human dignity can largely affect the extremism and fundamentalism in my country Afghanistan, which has been the main victim of that potentially destructive ideology. A break-up between theorizer of ideology and its performers in AFPAK can create disorder and confusion in the network and weaken their strength to challenge Afghan government, in particular after military withdrawal soon to be started this year.

I think there are two factors which effectively alarm some of leading countries to stay silent or do not go far beyond mild-criticisms of countries who are practicing massive violent measures against their own people, or even have restricted in such manner that people hardly dare to express discontents. Many now fret in the world, saying that the current uprising "is too late". It must have happened decades ago, and, thus, Arab civilians are blamed why they did not rise against the regimes years ago. But, sincerely speaking, I am not blaming Arab civilians of political aloofness or sleepiness. However, I do believe that the explosion of communication technology has largely affected the present civil unrest, but the social and political circumstances were restricted in such extent that left possibility of success of any uprising absolutely grim, which, somehow, with course of time has loosened.

This restriction of socio-political circumstances was not the result of political aloofness of civilians but the cause of it. In such situation international mentality and attitude of major international players are playing the key role, the thing which was avoided from citizens of these countries, because of two factors: (1), expansion of political Islam, subsequently, threat of extremism and Islamic fundamentalism, and (2), oil—in some of regional countries.

Almost all dictatorial regimes survived up to present only depending so much on security forces to crack down any opposing sound. Somehow, they have had appreciating global mindset and support of western countries, who, at meantime, claimed the position of leadership for expansion of democracy and human rights across the world. They survived on the philosophy that if they had left the power, the alternative was nothing other than capture of power by Osama-like personalities whose principle target is dealing blow to interest of western countries. Actually, expansion as well as radicalization of Muslim Brotherhood, founded by Hassan Abduh and his fellow contemporary thinkers in Egypt, indeed, became a stronger reason for Arab regimes to maintain tight grasp over any movement deemed dangerous to hegemony of a minor ruling group, thereafter.

Right after crackdown of Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt as well as in Syria by Anwar Sadat and Hafiz Assad respectively, movements were further scrutinized and individuals were persecuted. Since then, any anti-government voice, if ever raised, was cruelly stifled and eliminated. Ironically, all oppressing measures have had hinging support of global attitude. Whether the fear from extremism was real or illusionary, but the world looked towards regimes as the only possible option in the region that can protect their interest. Thus, regimes ruled people without caring about their legitimacy and with relief from global pressures.

Ironically, what was going on in some Arab countries was completely against process going in Iran. Anti-government protesters have been suppressed on the basis of argument that were foreign elements and try to stabilize the country, while in Arab countries people were suppressed because they were endangering foreign interests.

Anyhow, riding on such fear to convince foreign countries still has not come into an absolute stoppage. We observed that when people marched to streets of Benghazi, Mr. Gaddafi said that behind the revolt were global terror networks like Al-Qaeda. However, after engagement of US and NATO in Libya, the perception that authoritarian regimes can no longer outdated tool of "fear-creation", but their interference is tainted with allegations that they actually came to save oil-smooth transportation, not people. Allegations become stronger as they completely showed no interest to do anything for Bahrain, Yemen and Syria. They only remained on level of advisory criticism. Even, there are still voices heard from some circles within the western countries that they should try for stability of the region, even if it becomes possible through restoration of the power of Bashar Assad.

The second factor for the failure of democratic project in large number of these countries was definitely oil. What developed countries needed the most has been energy and struggle to ensure its safe and continuous transportations. Oil-enriched Muslim Arab countries made deal with their industrial and powerful countries: we meet your demand for energy and, in turn, do not tell us how to your citizens. None of the contractors are willing to break the deal for now. And we clearly observe that countries like US are too cautious to criticize regional giant oil exporter countries. The third factor which helps the maintenance of present state is 'fear from Shiism", which I will talk about latter in my column.

The author is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at outlookafghanistan @gmail.com

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