Diary

Mideast Uprisings Leading to Surge of Freedom? No...

Will the Middle East uprisings lead to a worldwide surge of freedom? Or will they simply end up installing more repressive leaders and fail in the most oppressed nations?

It certainly could go either way, but right now it looks like the latter. There is always hope, however. After all, the collapse of communism in 1989-1991 led to the liberation of 400 million people in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union while communist power in the region was seen as unchallengeable for decades.

In China there has been a surge in anti-government activity although it is sure that the controlled press in China has not disseminated any news of the Middle East revolts. Reports theaustralian.com:

‘An eruption of protests throughout China has sent armoured vehicles into town centres, prompted an internet blackout by the government and left thousands across the country blogging about “crazy” violence on the streets.

The summer surge of protests, which flared in the southern industrial hub of Zengcheng over the weekend, has been linked to a range of frustrations with modern China – furies that have drawn the government into crackdowns on activism and massive increases in the domestic security budget.’

Here are two of the stories:

*In Hubei province, armored cars put down a riot over the death of an official who had exposed corruption in the town of Lichuan but who then died in police custody.

*Bomb attacks on government facilities in two cities in the past three weeks, and ethnic unrest in the northern region of Inner Mongolia last month have been reported.

So will the 1 billion+ Chinese decide that they are going to sacrifice themselves by the thousands – perhaps the hundreds of thousands or millions – to fight government tyranny?

It is unlikely without major change at the top and a signal of government reform.

Some observers believe that the actual number of protests in China in 2010 was almost 200,000 individual events. If true, perhaps China is on the brink of an Egypt-style revolt. And that would be a good thing. But scholars warn that China is not susceptible to such.

Meanwhile most of those Arab uprisings have happened or are happening in nations that are friendly to the US and are comparatively benign authoritarians such as the now-deposed president Hosni Mubarak in Egypt. Or countries like Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Yemen which will not use deadly force to the extent that China or Iran is more than willing to do.

Unfortunately these Middle East revolts could end up replacing pro-American governments with much more repressive anti-American Islamist regimes, while two other uprisings are happening in nations where radical Muslims are waiting in the wings to possibly seize power from anti-American dictators like Assad in Syria and Qaddafi in Libya.

And now Libya has been badly damaged in the uprising. How will this help the Libyan people?

In addition a new Libyan draft constitution – whose authority is unclear – says in Part 1, Article 1 that ‘Islam is the Religion of the State, and the principal source of legislation is Islamic jurisprudence (sharia law).”

So since when does a nation moving toward democracy establish a state religion and then impose the harshest of religious laws like sharia?

Never… This document is a troubling sign of radicalism as is the ascent of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt which is alleged to already have formed a pact with the Egyptian military after Mubarak was driven out. This recalls a similar series of events in Iran in 1979 when the pro-American Shah was deposed, leading to a fundamentalist Islamic dictatorship allied with the military.

And by the way, how did America so suddenly come to hate Qaddafi? It is like the overnight hatred of Mubarak. Or has all this been planned behind the scenes to install radical Muslim anti-American regimes like Jimmy Carter helped to do in Iran in 1979? After all some news stories have stated that the Egypt uprising was planned for several year in the US in the State Department and by left-wing groups.

Meanwhile Iraq is still not stable; there easily could be further trouble and the descent into chaos and Muslim tyranny. And even in Turkey, long considered a moderate, open, secular pro-Western democracy that is a member of NATO, radical Islamists are increasing their power.

Uprisings in fundamentalist Iran and communist China, on the other hand, would represent protest against the hardest types of regimes. And that is why they are not going to succeed and why America should be concerned about the trend towards more fundamentalism and the creation of an Islamic caliphate hostile to the West.

In Egypt, the post-Mubarak military government is continuing a crackdown on protesters. More than 7,000 people have been jailed since president Mubarak stepped down in February. Yet that is one of the conditions that the Egypt uprising was supposed to remedy.

Thus it is hard to figure out exactly where Egypt is headed. It is very cloudy right now, and many Egyptians are rightfully disillusioned and worried.  Because Mubarak was a strongman but he kept Egypt an open, orderly society with a bubbling tourist trade and peace with Israel. Since his ouster the tourist economy has suffered a 60% drop. And if Egypt remains unstable that tourism will dry up, harming many people and surely leading to more instability. Tourism is a mainstay of the Egypt economy.

Mubarak has been put on trial. To see this friend of America held in a cage in a courtroom – on a gurney because of his ill health – was a shocking sight. He was a good leader and kept Egypt stable for 30 years since the assassination of Anwar  Sadat in Autumn 1981.

The prosecution of Mubarak and his family is only going to lead to a more hostile climate and a more reclusive Egypt that is not friendly to outsiders. This can never lead to the economic growth and openness that many of the protesters wanted in the first place.

Now Syria and Libya are continuing violent government attacks on rebels. Neither nation has been an ally of America and both have been sponsors of terrorism. Therefore it seems that the United States should side with the rebels, which Obama has done in making military strikes against Qaddafi in Libya.

But America must be cautious. We do not know who exactly all the rebels are, but we do know that some of them are radicals who will impose an even harsher government in all these nations if given the opportunity.

Please visit my blog at www.nikitas3.com for more conservative insights.