The Face of Middle East Democracy

On January 24, Byron Tau penned a brief “entry” for the Politico’s ongoing “Living Diary of the Obama Presidency.” The short entry follows in its entirety:

President Obama cautiously praised the revolutions in the Arab World, but said that their final outcome is ultimately uncertain — an acknowledgement of the popularity of Islamist parties and the difficulties of building new democracies from scratch.

“As the tide of war recedes, a wave of change has washed across the Middle East and North Africa, from Tunis to Cairo; from Sana’a to Tripoli. A year ago, Qadhafi was one of the world’s longest-serving dictators – a murderer with American blood on his hands. Today, he is gone. And in Syria, I have no doubt that the Assad regime will soon discover that the forces of change can’t be reversed, and that human dignity can’t be denied,” Obama said during his third annual State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress.

“How this incredible transformation will end remains uncertain. But we have a huge stake in the outcome. And while it is ultimately up to the people of the region to decide their fate, we will advocate for those values that have served our own country so well. We will stand against violence and intimidation. We will stand for the rights and dignity of all human beings,” the president said.

Barack Obama, who was running victory laps over the Arab Spring of 2011 and had his sentiments echoed by the mainstream press, is now pivoting on the subject. The peaceful democratic movement that we were told was unfolding in the Middle East and in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya was nothing more than a mirage. Peaceful democratic utopianism that the American left so ravenously desires did not come about. One form of tyranny was abandoned for another. Despots were removed from power and have been replaced or will soon be replaced by equally oppressive despotism.

Last fall, it was clear even then that sharia law was going to be adopted in Libya. Here’s an excerpt from the Christian Science Monitor on October 25:

After giving a speech that emphasized the Islamization of Libya, the head of the transitional government on Monday tried to reassure the Western powers who helped topple Moammar Gadhafi that the country’s new leaders are moderate Muslims.

National Transitional Council leader Mustafa Abdul-Jalil said Sunday that Islamic Sharia law would be the main source of legislation, that laws contradicting its tenets would be nullified, and that polygamy would be legalized.

Uh oh. Not good. Well, what about Egypt. Hosni Mubarak was ousted but has effectively been replaced by the Muslim Brotherhood. I’m sorry – how is this an improvement? From the UK Guardian on December 2:

Egypt’s Islamist party plans to push for a stricter religious code after claiming strong gains in the first round of parliamentary elections. Islamists led by the Muslim Brotherhood and radical Salafists appear to have taken a majority of seats in the first round of Egypt’s first parliamentary vote since the ousting of Mubarak. Egypt’s election commission announced few results, but said turnout was 62%, the highest in the country’s modern history. Leaked preliminary counts indicated that the Muslim Brotherhood’s political arm took the largest share of votes. Following closely behind was the ultra-conservative Islamist Nour party and a liberal coalition, according to unofficial counts.

Things in Tunisia didn’t progress much better, as reported October 24 by Israel Today:

The “Arab Spring” was predictably hailed by naive Western leaders as a positive development that would finally bring true Western-style democratic freedom to the masses of the Middle East. But more than one analyst, including top Israeli officials, have warned that the Arab Spring is about to give birth to the Islamic Winter. Tunisia was the first country in the Arab Spring to oust its long-time dictator. On Sunday the north African nation held its first free election since the uprising. Voter turnout was massive at 90 percent. The results surprised many in the West, but they shouldn’t have.

In the same article – the new power player in Egypt – the Muslim Brotherhood was described as the “grandfather of all extremist Islamic groups in the region, and the direct progenitor of organizations such as Hamas.”

I guess the president finally got around to reading some of these headlines. Sharia is being implemented in every one of the “Arab Spring” countries and there’s no sign of democratic government waiting around any corner. Obama claims that he will stand for the “rights and dignity” of all humans, which is confusing. He opposes Assad in Syria. He opposed Gaddafi and Mubarak. But he favors the Muslim Brotherhood and doesn’t murmur so much as a peep in the direction of Iran. Individual rights and dignity are incompatible with sharia law and Islamo-Fascism.

But not to worry, things are really going swell over there. This week, 73 Egyptians were killed at a soccer match in Port Said. The New York Times reported yesterday:

Police officers around the stadium appeared unable or unwilling to control the violence, and video footage showed officers standing idle as groups of fans attacked each other with knives and other weapons.

…The newly seated Egyptian Parliament, which had adjourned until Monday, called a special session Thursday to discuss a response to the episode, and several other planned matches were immediately postponed.

The mayhem also focused renewed attention on the potential savagery of organized groups of die-hard fans, known here as ultras, who have emerged as a volatile component of Egyptian politics in the year of turmoil since Mr. Mubarak left power.

Previously apolitical, the ultras were known for their rowdy behavior, obscene chants and apparently endless enthusiasm for clashes with the often-brutal Egyptian police. “ACAB,” one group of Cairo ultras likes to spray-paint on city walls, standing for “All Cops are Bastards.”
The ultras joined the revolt against Mr. Mubarak on the first day of protests, taunting and harassing the police as they tried to crack down on thousands of other marchers heading for Cairo’s Tahrir Square. Protest organizers said they played a more central role in the so-called battle of the camels, helping beat back mobs of Mubarak supporters, some of them riding camels, in a daylong battle of rocks and Molotov cocktails.

Since then, however, the ultras have injected an unpredictable element of chaos into the frequent demonstrations over the course of the political transition here. They drove an assault on the Israeli Embassy that triggered a crisis in relations between the two countries last fall. They joined a weeklong battle with security forces near Tahrir Square that left more than 40 dead in November, and another outburst of street fighting near the cabinet building in which more than 15 people died in December.

Now that’s what I call a peaceful outgrowth of democracy.

Someone who recognizes our enemies and recognizes genuine threats to our national security wouldn’t be sitting back while these “democratic processes” take place in the Middle East and Northern Africa. The president needs to get his head out of the clouds and recognize this movement for what it really is – a threat to the United States, Israel and the West.

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