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Peace Did Not Blossom From Arab Spring | Tom O'Hara

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Peace Did Not Blossom From Arab Spring | Tom O'Hara

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Peace Did Not Blossom From Arab Spring
Tuesday, September 18, 2012 — Tom O'Hara

Apparently America has been taken by surprise by the anger in the Muslim World sparked by a 14-minute video that mocks the Prophet Mohammed.

Since riots erupted last week in Egypt and Libya, TV broadcasters have been rounding up Middle East experts and asking them why would those Libyans and Egyptians treat the U.S. so badly.

“Didn’t we liberate Libya from Muammar Qaddafi?”

“Didn’t we help overthrow Hosni Mubarak?”

“What happened to the Arab Spring?”

Folks, the Arab Spring has spawned Islamist governments across North Africa and the Middle East. TV news probably gave you the impression that democracy was sweeping the region. After all, you watched  as those young, idealistic Egyptians in Tahrir Square demanded freedom and forced an ailing old dictator to get out of town.

The Facebookers, as I call the early Arab Spring protesters, had gone online and seen how other societies operate. They liked what they saw. They ignited the fuse of revolt, but they had no idea how to seize power. Islamist organizations did.

There are pragmatic Islamists; there are uncompromising Islamists. I don’t know which ones eventually are going to control Egypt and Libya and Tunisia and Yemen.

But it’s a toxic stew over there. In Egypt, the generals still want to control the economy and steal as much money as they can. Pragmatic Islamists want to emulate Turkey; the fundamentalists want to emulate Iran. Most of the population is poor and illiterate. The economy stinks because the place is so chaotic and dangerous.

The few Coptic Christians left in Egypt are terrified radical Islamists are going to kill them, particularly since the guy who produced the video in California reportedly is a Coptic Christian from Egypt.

Militants are running amok in the Sinai Peninsula and the new Muslim Brotherhood government seems paralyzed. Poor Hillary Clinton is trying to make sure the new Egyptian government doesn’t start pandering to its fundamentalist supporters by abrogating its treaty with Israel. She has the carrot of billions of dollars in U.S. aid to keep the Egyptians in line.

Libya is even worse. The central government doesn’t control anything. The place is awash in weapons and criminals. Tribal militias are the real power. As in many lawless countries, Al Qaeda fighters have moved in. It appears a small group of Islamic militants was responsible for the killing of the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans in Libya last week.

Now Muslims in Indonesia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Lebanon and elsewhere are rioting. The political dynamics in those countries are as tangled and grim as those in Egypt.

I returned from living in the Middle East in July. It’s clear from talking to my friends here that no one pays much attention to what’s happening in Pakistan or Iraq or Morocco. I can’t say I blame them. It’s all too murky and remote – until someone flies planes into our skyscrapers.

All you really need to know is this:

-- The Arab Spring did not usher in democracy as we understand it. The majority of voters want leaders who will establish strict Islamist states.

-- Muslim demonstrators believe that the U.S. government approved the video and is refusing to arrest the video’s producer because our government agrees that the Prophet was a conman.

-- We can’t plant western values in foreign soil with our soldiers, money and good intentions.

-- If we need to use military force, get in and get out fast.

-- We’ll be fighting extremists with drones and SEAL teams for a long, long time. The Muslim Street does not like the U.S. and there’s not much we can do about it.

A former managing editor of The Palm Beach Post and Cleveland Plain Dealer, Tom O'Hara is a national columnist for Florida Voices.

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We’ll be fighting extremists with drones and SEAL teams for a long, long time. The Muslim Street does not like the U.S. and there’s not much we can do about it.This sentence is so powerful.

by Dr. Radut.