Wonderful article Phil…..really tells you where we need to go. However, there are other dimensions to the issue and addressing them is as important if we are to move forward.
The Arab world, and the wider Muslim world has to change also, but in the present set up I simply do not see that happening. By ‘set up’ I do not just mean the internal situation, but the West’s relationship with the monarchs and dictators. They are being propped up and supported by the US. Let me give a few examples:
1) The recent arm sale of 70 billion US$….these are mainly for domestic use in controlling dissent. A further 30 or more billion $ are being bought from elsewhere.
2) There were protests in Saudi Arabia around the same time as in Egypt. These were hurriedly crushed, the leader apparently killed, and little mention of it ever reached the wider world.
3) The protests in Bahrain were brutally suppressed and measures taken to see they didn’t happen again. It was mainly Saudi arms, tanks and military personnel who carried out this suppression. Obama made no mention of the Saudi insurgency or Saudi contribution to the massacre in Bahrain.
4) This from The New York Times of July 22, 2011:
he New York Times reports:
5) A proposed Saudi counterterrorism law that would give the Interior Ministry sweeping powers and mandate jail sentences for criticizing the king would effectively squelch political dissent, human rights advocates said on Thursday.
6) The law would allow prisoners to be held without trial, and trials and appeals to be held secretly, Saudi and international rights advocates said. It would also grant the Interior Ministry broad powers including the ability to tap telephones or search houses without permission from the judiciary.
7) Saudi activists have long accused the judicial system and the Interior Ministry of a lack of respect for human rights, even when such rights exist legally. The new law, the activists said, would legalize those practices, removing all restraints.
8) “Every single thing we criticized them about in the past is going to be legitimate,” Bassem Alim, the defense lawyer for a group of men imprisoned in 2007 on terrorism charges, said by telephone. The men were formally charged only last August, and their real crime, Mr. Alim said, was taking rudimentary steps toward forming a political party.
9) “Ninety-nine percent of the law has nothing to do with terrorism, it has to do with political dissent,” he said.
10) The fact of the matter is that it suits the West to have these people in power, who control not just the people but the vast oil wealth. For when that wealth is in a limited number of hands there is a better chance those vast amounts will be invested in the West. Where else could these fortunes find a place. Note the Saudi owner of 12 ½ per cent of Murdoch’s media empire, the second biggest share holder after Murdoch himself. Saudi shareholding in the Carlyle Group. Qatar’s development of the prestigious ONE HYDE PARK project in central London, to name just a few. As an aside, it was amusing to note George W Bush’s body language when he was with Saudi royals. I wish I had the photos or references to give here.
11) Also, I am certain there will be no radical changes in the Muslim world while Saudi Arabia continues the way it is. The Royal family is the guardian of the Holy places of Islam and their legitimacy comes mainly, if not entirely, from this fact. Any movement towards change in the Islamic world, in my view, has to have Saudi Arabia as its epicenter. The bulk of the oil revenues go to the Royal family so why should they want things changed when the status quo gives them all that they have. What is more, they have better protection than any Mafia family ever had: the United States government. It seems we are all doomed to live this status quo – West, East, Christian, Muslim, Jew and the peripherals – and that in the end it makes us all lesser human beings is contemporary mans’ biggest failing. The hypocrisies it has given birth to are too staggering and far too many to record.