By Nader Entessar:
As I mentioned in my previous writings, the wave of recent developments in the Middle East is a sociopolitical tsunami which will have many different and unpredictable consequences on the foreign policy of many Western powers, including the United States.
Therefore, from the very beginning, Washington tried to manage and control the situation in order to better serve its national interests in the region and also to reduce its level of vulnerability. Now we should focus on four major points in regard to developments in the Middle East and North Africa:
The role of the major powers in directing, strengthening, or weakening these developments
It could be said that the U.S. is playing a very interesting role in the recent Arab movements. It supports human rights issues on the one hand, but on the other hand it also cheers the aggressive policies of some of the Arab states of the Persian Gulf, especially Saudi Arabia, which are dealing with the protests in a very violent and inhuman way. In the case of Egypt, the U.S. soon realized that it had to put more and more pressure on Mubarak to leave the country. In the case of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, Washington came to the conclusion that these monarchies had to be saved in order to maintain the political and military siege on Iran. In Syria, the U.S. is helping the anti-regime elements rebel against the government both directly and indirectly. Thus, the U.S. is again applying its double-standard policy in order to serve its national and regional interests.
Potential use of the Libyan model for intervention in other countries
Unfortunately, the potential use of the Libyan model in other countries is one of the most dangerous ideas of the Western powers in the current situation of the Middle East and North Africa. Recently, several European governments implicitly threatened other countries of the region with a military intervention like Libya. It is a serious threat to the legal and international order which creates many challenges for the international community. In the case of Libya, even China and Russia did not have any objection to the military intervention in that country, although they have criticized the methodology. This should raise alarm bells for the Middle East and North Africa region and also for the international system.
The effect of globalization on recent developments in the Middle East
Globalization and the new communication technologies certainly helped the people’s movements in the Middle East and North Africa. The phenomena led to a weakening of political boundaries and removed some structural barriers in the relations between different classes of society. However, we should note that in a vast country like Egypt, many people still have no access to modern technology and therefore still prefer to use the old tools in their social and political struggle.
Is Turkey an ideal model for the Arab world?
Many analysts believe that Turkey’s current sociopolitical situation can be used as an ideal model for the evolving democracies of the Middle East and North Africa, but I do not agree with the idea because Turkey is completely different than other countries of the region and especially Arab countries. Turkey is currently run by an Islamist government, but the political culture of the country and the influential centers of power, especially the Turkish military, are still under the influence of Ataturkism.
Therefore, the Turkish model cannot be implemented in countries such as Yemen or Saudi Arabia. The electoral process in Turkey has a very strong base and any change in that country is likely to happen through elections and not a revolution, which is the main instrument in the current Arab awakening.
Professor Nader Entessar is the chair of the Department of Political Science and Criminal Justice of the University of South Alabama.