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Western Influence over the Arab Revolution, Reality or Just Conspiracy?

5 September 2011

Dear friends,

Since almost a month or perhaps two I have been away from my blog and my writings about the Arab revolution. I had too much work with my thesis and I just couldn’t find enough time and effort to keep the blog updated with info about what I see and I received from many friends in the Arab world.

However, I had to break my silence after watching a great short documentary about the influence of foreign powers and Western NGO’s in the Arab revolution. This is not a joke.

The documentary is called the Revolution Business and it was produced by Journeyman pictures, a New York Based independent production company founded by Paul S. Mezey (Maria Full of Grace, 2004).

The piece is short but correct. However, the more I think about the Arab Spring or revolution, the more I am convinced of its originality and honesty despite of what happened in Libya with NATO and other arguments exposed in this documentary.

The film bases its thesis on the premise that the so-called Arab Spring is not an organic uprising of frustrated youth as the media continues to report. The film defends the ideas that the Revolution was carefully planned and well executed by a series of Revolutionary experts and consultants from the Serbian organizations such as Optor (Revolution in Serbian) and CANVAS.

Poster used by the organization OPTOR  during their proterst in Belgrado

Poster used by the organization OPTOR during their proterst in Belgrado

Former students created these organizations during the uprising against the Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic in 2002 and since then they have worked hard and in more than 50 countries teaching and giving work shops to the youth about how to organize no-violent protest and revolutions. Tina Rosenber at Foreign Policy published an article where she interviews former members of CANVAS Ivan Marovic who said some years ago before all this happened in the Middle East:

 “Revolutions are often seen as spontaneous,” Ivan Marovic, a former CANVAS trainer, told me in Washington a few years ago. “It looks like people just went into the street. But it’s the result of months or years of preparation. It is very boring until you reach a certain point, where you can organize mass demonstrations or strikes. If it is carefully planned, by the time they start, everything is over in a matter of weeks.”

What we know so far about these organizations is that they have helped political activist to organize students in North Africa into a more efficient force and they have developed various strategies usually based on the ideas of Boston retired professor Gene Sharp and his books: From Dictatorship to Democracy: a conceptual framework for liberation (2004) and Nonviolent Action: A Research Guide (1997).

However, there are authors that have a very different approach to what happened with Milosevic. Michel Parenti mentioned in his article The Demonization of Slobodan Milosevic (2003) some of the strategies and propaganda used by US officials to discredit Milosevic:

“The propaganda method used to discredit many of these governments is not particularly original, indeed by now it is quite transparently predictable. Their leaders are denounced as bombastic, hostile, and psychologically flawed. They are labeled power hungry demagogues, mercurial strongmen, and the worst sort of dictators likened to Hitler himself. The countries in question are designated as “terrorist” or “rogue” states, guilty of being “anti-American” and “anti-West.” Some choice few are even condemned as members of an “evil axis.” When targeting a country and demonizing its leadership, U.S. leaders are assisted by ideologically attuned publicists, pundits, academics, and former government officials. Together they create a climate of opinion that enables Washington to do whatever is necessary to inflict serious damage upon the designated nation’s infrastructure and population, all in the name of human rights, anti-terrorism, and national security.

There is no better example of this than the tireless demonization of democratically-elected President Slobodan Milosevic and the U.S.-supported wars against Yugoslavia. Louis Sell, a former U.S. Foreign Service officer, has authored a book (Slobodan Milosevic and the Destruction of Yugoslavia, Duke University Press, 2002) that is a hit piece on Milosevic, loaded with all the usual prefabricated images and policy presumptions of the U.S. national security state. Sell’s Milosevic is a caricature, a cunning power seeker and maddened fool, who turns on trusted comrades and plays upon divisions within the party.”

The similarities between Optor’s campaign and the propaganda lunched by the US government led us think there was a close relationship between these movements and foreign actors in uprising against Milosevic’s regime. Moreover, what it seems clear is that Optor and Canvas were very much involved in Tunisia and Egypt as the video explains. However, the weakest point of the films is the director’s attempt to link the Bush doctrine with the Arab Uprising and the work of these organizations on the ground.

Optor Venezuela

Optor Venezuela

When George W. Bush initiated the War on Terror in 2003, he predicted that the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan would create a domino effect that would democratize the Middle East. After more than eight years, the strategies and plans adopted by the US military had been a total fiasco and both countries are going through serious problems due to a raising corruption, embezzlement and sectarian conflict (more often that not provoked by the occupiers).

So far so good, a civil resistance embodied mainly by the youth, trying to peacefully overthrow a nefarious character such as Milosevic. Things change when we see similar operations in Venezuela, Bolivia and in our country (Argentina), where elected governments by popular vote are subject to destabilization processes that respond to soft manual Albert Einstein Institute.                                                                                                                                                                                                       Charlie Boyle

Poster of the Syrian Revolution

Poster of the Syrian Revolution

 Optor and CANVAS are not the only US founded NGO’s working on the Middle East that are promoting democracy and non-violent actions. The US and the EU have been since years founding organization and NGO’s that were supposedly trying to promote democratic values and ideas but their results and achievements were certainly poor. Why the US did not take this strategy from the beginning? Why expending millions of dollars and sacrificed thousand of soldiers if it could fund NGOs to start a democratic revolution?

 The answer to this question is that Bush or other US president before him never wanted to spread democracy in the Middle East. Figures such as Hosni Mubarak, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, and Muammar el Gaddafi played a paramount role in the status quo that the United States had helped to create in the region (Gaddafi was more important for the European than for the Americans). The US and EU wanted to see change in the Middle East since decades but never really had the determination and will to carry out it. Why now?

This is not the first time that pro democracy movements start massive protests and demonstrations denouncing the abuses and corruption of the political elites. For instance, in Egypt we find the Kifayah (it’s enough) movement that has organized demonstration since almost a decade against Mubarak and in 2005 Lebanon started a non-violent and pacific movement called the Cedar Revolution after the assassination of Rafiq al-Hariri. Therefore, there must be certain economic and social conditions that have helped to start this revolution such as extreme poverty, youth unemployment, the perception that people have about the regime (authoritarian and corrupted élite), the spread of social networks in Internet and the disclosure of hundreds of thousands of US diplomatic cables in Internet as well as years of warfare, intervention and occupation in the MENA region.

Having said that, this does not mean that the revolution is free of foreign intervention and manipulations. NATO’s intervention in Libya is a good example but there are many other examples orchestrated by the media and intelligence officers around the Middle East. Since the revolution started various well-known and prestigious Public Relations firms in the US such as Qorvis Communications and Brown Lloyed James have been hired by current dictatorships in the Middle East to improve their reputation and counter-balance what they consider a Western media attack against their figures. In this regard, Rosanna M. Fiske, Chair and Chief Executive, Public Relations Society of America, New York, NY, US said about Brown’s public relations adventure with Muammar al Gaddafi:

“Ethical public relations places an emphasis on counselling reputable organisations and individuals in developing and maintaining beneficial relationships with concerned stakeholders. Given that Colonel Muammer Gaddafi showed no inclination to embrace this fundamental concept, despite BLJ’s efforts, we question the value the firm offered the American public in its attempt to reveal a more nuanced picture of the Libyan government. Most disturbingly, the work has insulted the very freedoms that allowed BLJ and similar firms to engage in such questionable services in the first place.”

Rosanna’s emphasis on ethical public relation it seems to me an odd argument if we consider what have happened in the market place since the financial crisis started in Wall Street around 2007. Western government has been caught off guard, in the middle of huge economic crisis and between the dilemmas of abandoning its quest in the Middle East or continuing with the current strategy that only has helped to create a weak democratic systems ruled by corrupted and limited political leadership. Also, we cannot undermined the influence of the strong and powerful pro-Western lobbies in the Arab world such as the Saudi Lobby over the US and EU policies adopted in the Middle Easy.

Documents with photographs and details of people wanted by the Libyan External Security office are seen in the abandoned office where Muammar Gaddafi's former spy chief and foreign minister Moussa Koussa was based in Tripoli

Let’s not forget that Western positions about the spread of democracy in the Middle East was based on the assumption that radical Islam would take over democracy if elections would be hold. This approach to MENA region politics has encourage Western democracies and Arab dictators to justified their authoritarian and brutal methods against any political opposition.

Having said that, this does not mean that the revolution is free of foreign intervention and manipulations. NATO’s intervention in Libya is a good example but there are many other examples orchestrated by the media and intelligence officers around the Middle East. The West in general has been caught off guard, in the middle of huge economic crisis and between the dilemmas of abandoning its quest in the Middle East or continuing with the current strategy that only has helped to create a weak democratic systems ruled by corrupted and limited political leadership.

In this occasion what I can see is how the EU and the US are in a hurry trying to catch up with a train that left without them when one year ago from Tunisia. This revolution comes in handy and Americans and European would be stupid if they wouldn’t take advantage from the situation. The problem lies here will the West repeats its mistakes or they would do it right this time. What kind of intervention can we expected from Western governments?

MareVostrum

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. w.r. Alvarez permalink
    22 September 2011 2:00 pm

    Dani: muy buen analisis. Parece ser que con todo lo que esta cayendo las ideas de conspiracion tendrian mucho sentido. Lo cierto es que no siempre la Historia puede ser manipulada por los poderes facticos. Todo poder siempre tiene algo que ver con lo que ocurre en el mundo pero de ahi a extrapolar que todo movimiento historico es dirigido es una postura maniquea de la Historia. La verdad es que a veces se manipula mucho y otras casi nada. Como bien dices el tren salio de la estacion y las areas de influencia tradicional del mundo(USA Y EU) se quedaron en la estacion sin darse cuenta de lo que estaba pasando. Como ves a pesar de los billones de dolares y euros servicios de inteligencia, esta no es ni mucho menos perfecta y tiene sus fallos. Creo que la crisis economica de occidente tiene muy ocupados a los centros de poder pensando en el proximo paso a seguir para salir de este gran bache. Eso les nubla el ceso y pasan cosas como estas.
    Luego que se an cuenta de lo que pasa sus servicios de inteligencia insinuan muy cinicamente que ellos han manipulado el proceso. JA,ja,ja. Esto es puro “bullshit”
    Ahora bien, dicho esto, no quiero decir que esten en este momento intentando controlar lo que esta pasando y evitar dejar de tener algo que decir durante el proceso, cosa de dirigirlo lo mas posible hacia sus posturas lo cual es logico. Eso no debe sorprender a nadie es lo que se supone que hagan desde el inicio de los tiempos.
    Venga, un abrazo.
    W.

  2. 25 October 2011 3:16 pm

    Dani, thanks for this post. I checked it out earlier this month but am just now commenting. It’s really interesting information that you provide and I think that as free thinking individuals it’s important that we continue to shed light on the illusions that global leaders force us to believe in. When it comes to politics, democracy lies with our relationship to the earth’s true creator and this may be the final way we have to think in order to stop believing that human leaders will ever have our’s or the environment’s best interest at heart.

  3. 4 April 2012 7:34 pm

    How Yugoslavia was destroyed……….http://max-balkanboy.blogspot.com/2012/04/readers-will-recall-that-justification.html

  4. 29 June 2013 6:48 am

    Article writing is also a excitement, if you know afterward you can write if not it is complicated to write.

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