Arab Spring into an autumn turned

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The catastrophe wroughtaf by the US

How true the aphorism, ‘we learn from history that we learn nothing from history’. In the case of recent US interventions in the Middle East, with so-called coalitions of the willing always in tow, this saying is proved beyond a doubt. One would have thought that the disastrous case of Iraq, once a stable and secular though tyrannically ruled country, and today living in a state of near anarchy with sectarian slaughters taking a terrible toll, would have been sufficient to discourage future regime changes by force. But once a superpower has gone into a world domination mode, its biggest issue is, it does not know when and where to stop. So Iraq’s destruction was followed by murderous meddling in Libya, Egypt and Syria – leaving the first and last named in tatters, and Egypt in a state of dangerous flux, where instability lurks just beneath the surface.

On Friday, Tripoli witnessed a horrific incident when peaceful protestors waving white flags were fired upon by machinegun wielding militia – killing 31, wounding 325. This then is another ‘collateral damage’ of the US’ unwarranted aggression, namely the rise of the militias and the inevitable influx of Al Qaeda in these countries. Whatever Col. Gaddafi’s faults, like the late unlamented Saddam Hussein, he kept the sectarian rivalries and extremist elements at bay. Sharing a portion of his enormous oil royalties with his people, Libya was one of the most prosperous nations in Africa. His ghastly end, caught on camera, would in an ideal world cause those responsible behind the scenes to be hauled before the International Court of Justice and charged for an open and shut case of murder. Now Syria is likewise undergoing a catastrophic civil war initially waged by elements under Western aegis, and since joined by wild and free spirits of Al Qaeda.

In predominantly Sunni Egypt, since the sectarian card could not be employed, the US used another familiar ploy, backing a pliant military dictatorship over a democratically elected Islamist government hostile to Israel. Egypt now represents the second major issue, after sectarianism, confronting most Muslim countries today: the struggle for priority of influence between the liberals and the fundamentalists. This is a homegrown debate, heated, intense and often violent as we in Pakistan know only too well. Unless the inner contradictions of the Islamic world are resolved, the Ummah will remain a target for those fond of fishing in troubled waters, and Spring will ‘come slowly up this way’, if at all.

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