Who profits from Qatari-Western “Export of Revolutions”?
The recent announcement by the Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani about Qatar’s readiness to arm the Syrian opposition puts the situation in the region in an entirely new context. Obviously, the Rubicon has been crossed and the monarchies of the Persian Gulf have opted for “no limits” strategy in their drive to oust the remaining secular Arab regimes in the Middle East.
So, the Gulf monarchies have made their choice. The European Union does not lag too far behind – its foreign ministers at a meeting in Brussels declared the anti-government Syrian National Council a legitimate representative of the Syrian people. So, the European “democrats” are just one step behind the absolute monarchs of the Gulf– if only one side in the Syrian conflict is “legitimate,” why not send arms to this side?
This new situation raises new questions about the West’s role in this huge rearrangement of the Middle Eastern politics. How long will the West (i.e. the EU and the USA) follow the monarchies in their risky undertakings? And do the interests of the Sunni insurgents, supported by Saudi Arabia and Qatar, indeed coincide with the West’s interests?
Yevgeny Primakov, Russia’s former foreign minister in 1996-1998 and later prime minister under Boris Yeltsin in the late 1990s, is puzzled by the West’s desire to satisfy every wish of the radical Sunni opposition movements.
“Doesn’t the example of Egypt teach the United States a lesson or two? There was an Arab Spring in Egypt, but finally the Islamists ended up on the top of that wave. Can anyone think seriously that Assad’s ouster will be followed by an establishment of some kind of a democratic regime? This is just laughable,” Primakov, an Arabist by education and his background, told Rossiya channel of Russian television on Sunday.
Nikolay Surkov, a specialist on the Middle East, writing for Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily, thinks that the Western countries decided to “saddle” the wave of the seemingly endless successes of the protest movements in the Arab countries – simply because it was the strongest trend.
“Initially, France, for example, had no intention of inspiring protests in its former protectorates, such as Tunisia, let alone Syria,” Surkov said. “In the initial stages of the protests against the Tunisian president Ben Ali the French even pondered helping him with tear gas and other anti-riot equipment. But when the secular regimes began to be one by one swept away by the protests, the French, Britons and Americans decided to go with the flow, sometimes even supporting more moderate Islamist forces against more violent Salafi Islamists,” Surkov explains.
Another Arab country, Yemen, where the new president was recently elected by more than 99 percent of the eligible voters, offers a good example of the expenses that might follow if the monarchs’ and the West’s immediate aims are achieved. The election of the former vice-president, Abed Rabu Mansour Hadi, which followed more than a year of violent clashes, can hardly be called an exercise in democracy or a security achievement.
On the contrary, experts agree that during the “revolution,” when Yemeni troops had to be pulled back to the capital to fight the violent uprisings, Al-Qaeda strengthened its presence in the country and became a real threat both to the people of Yemen and to Western interests there. Now, the United States has to spend additional amounts of money on fighting Al-Qaeda in Yemen. The New York Times, citing the State Department figures, recently reported that the United States had allocated $53.8 million in security assistance for Yemen this year, up from $30.1 million last year. In fact, Al-Qaeda operatives welcomed the departure of the former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh, whom they viewed as their enemy, not as an “impediment to democracy.” The same seems to be true about Al-Qaeda’s operatives in Syria.
“It is interesting to note that the new Al-Qaeda chief, who became a replacement for Bin Laden, said his organization supported the opposition in Syria. So, Al-Qaeda is against Assad,” former prime minister Primakov said in his interview to Russian television.
So, who is profiting from the “revolutionary spirit” that suddenly engulfed both the oil monarchies of the Persian Gulf and Western capitals? Al Qaeda seems to be at least one such force – and not the smallest one.