The Project for a New Arab Century

The project for a new Arab century
Al Jazeera, Mohammed Khan, February 22, 2011
Cached version

One constituency the US has long ignored in the Arab world is the people [GALLO/GETTY]

No sooner did former US president George W. Bush come into power in January 2001 than a much vaunted neo-conservative doctrine came into full swing, wreaking havoc across the Middle East. Throughout the eight years of the Bush presidency, the levers of power - the political, the economic, the scholarly and, importantly, the military - were all employed towards one ultimate goal: The project for the new American century.

Bush's neo-con backers had prepared the manual for his presidency well before time. With their man in power, the greatest force of Western power since the Roman Empire set about changing the world in the name of neo-conservatism, to "promote American global leadership", we were told.

At the receiving end of the mighty American military-industrial complex were the people of the Arab world. The basic premise was to utilise maximum US force, power and influence to create a new Middle East, one obedient to the interests and objectives of the US. The central focus was the preservation of the superiority of Israel and the utilisation of American hard-power to eliminate any threats posed to it. The benign undercurrent, we were told, was the need to spread democracy across the region. After all, democracies do not fight wars against one other.

The scorecard of the Bush doctrine is there for all to see: "Shock and awe" was unleashed against Iraq in the pursuit of this project; the Palestinians in Gaza were collectively imprisoned for having the audacity to vote for Hamas; Lebanon was brutalised by Israel with the tacit backing of the US in an effort to destroy Hezbollah; Iran became the new public enemy number one (after Iraq had been dealt with of course); the Gulf states went along quietly arming themselves in the name of stability and North African dictators were given free rein to fight "Islamism" - also in the name of stability.

With American hyper-power on full display over this period, there was little doubting the contention that in the realm of international relations, "the end of history" was indeed being reached in the absence of any challenger to the formidable US military might. "Liberty" to Arabs, it seemed, was being brought on the back of American battle tanks. The destruction wrought on the region over this period was apparently "the birth pangs" of a new Middle East.

It's the people, stupid

How times change. The human and capital cost, however, of the Iraq adventure almost bled the US economy dry. The invasion became so bogged down that the political will to continue the war soon weakened. The thought of expanding the military adventure to other lands similarly evaporated. Post-Bush, the Americans were now left grappling with "soft-power", to persuade, to diplomatically engage with Arab/Iranian leaderships in order to resolve disputes. In the midst of this power play in the region, one constituency which the US had long ignored (and continues to ignore) is the people.

Toppling disobedient leaders and oiling the wheels of pliant ones proved useful so long as the populations of these countries remained voiceless. As the people begin to find their voices, however, the Middle East as we have long known it is beginning to alter. Unfortunately for the decision-makers in the US (and their policy advisers and legions of "intellectual" think tanks) the dramatic changes are not in the direction that they had conceived.

The catalyst for the political earthquake that we are currently witnessing was a massive popular uprising in Tunisia at the end of 2010. Emboldened by the overthrow of the brutal regime of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, the people of Egypt then took to the streets demanding reform. In just 18 days, Egyptian civil society, which we had been told by regional "experts" either did not exist or was spineless, broke the shackles of oppression and overcame a dictator whose regime had become synonymous with abuse and corruption. Egypt had finally been released from 30 years of political imprisonment.

That Hosni Mubarak continued to breed fear about the "chaos" that his removal would unleash and his foreign backers continued to maintain the need for "stability" and "orderly" change, showed the total lack of understanding on their part of the momentous changes that were being played out. The revolutionary bug has now spread across the wider region with people in Algeria, Yemen, Bahrain and Libya currently battling despotism, while leaderships in Jordan, Syria and Morocco (to name but a few) consider ways of preventing the tide of "people power" from sweeping their shores.

'Islands of stability'

Consider for a moment the extent to which various US administrations have suffered from an ailment which, for wont of a better description, we will call "foot in mouth syndrome". The shah of Iran was an "island of stability" in the troubled Middle East, according to the then US president, Jimmy Carter. A short time after these illustrious words were spoken, Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi was dethroned; Iran had witnessed an Islamic revolution and US policy in the country was found lacking. Around the time that Iran’s new Islamic leadership swept to power, Egypt too was undergoing change, this time in the form of the presidency of Hosni Mubarak who came to power in 1981 following his predecessor’s assassination.

However, after almost 30 years of stern one-man rule, Egyptian civil society revolted against Mubarak’s despotism, seeking his ouster in January 2011, precisely a decade after Bush’s first inauguration. What were the very first utterances of the US administration under Barack Obama, as protesters gathered on Egypt’s streets? "Our assessment is that the Egyptian government is stable ..." said Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state. Her assessment, reminiscent of the meanderings about Iran, could not have been more wrong.

The islands of stability that the US has traditionally favoured are not the same sort that the people of the Arab world have desired. While Iraq under Saddam Hussein was ripe for invasion and "democratic change", the hunger for reform on the part of populations in other parts of the region also subjected to Saddam-like repression was not felt by the US. Where the American military brought democracy to Iraq, the Arab people are now battling to bring democracy to themselves. Should we then be surprised that the neo-con intellectual machine that planned change in the Middle East under Bush is now largely silent? While their project has failed, a new Arab people’s project is beginning to blossom.

If any clear evidence of US opposition to the people's wishes in the region were needed, the Obama administration willingly obliged on February 18. The UN Security Council (UNSC) held a vote to condemn Israeli settlement building in the occupied West Bank as illegal and to demand an immediate end to all such activity. Settlement building is a particular sore among Palestinians and the wider Arab population. While 14 out of the 15 UNSC members backed the resolution, the US issued its first veto under Obama, damning the Palestinian Territories to further Israeli expansionism - well in keeping with the American spirit of defying global opinion. The PR spin on the veto will no doubt attempt to portray the US measure as some sort of noble endeavour. The nobleness was certainly in Israel's favour.

Moment in history

When I was an undergraduate, the most fascinating, most closely scrutinised event that all students of the Middle East were exposed to was the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran. That was a truly momentous event. The repercussions for the Middle East were staggering. Political Islam came to the fore as an academic discipline. The political power play in the region shifted with alliances quickly emerging against Iran for fear that its brand of revolutionary zeal would spread. That revolution continues to captivate.

More than 30 years later, however, the new crop of undergraduates will be evaluating perhaps an even more momentous event: That of February 11, 2011, when Egypt, the Arab world’s most populous nation, one at the core of the region’s political, economic and security affairs, defeated its very own despotism, rid itself of fear and raised expectations of a new era of political relations in the Middle East. Incidentally, Mubarak was forced out precisely 32 years from the day when the shah of Iran was deposed.

While the people of Tunisia wrote the introduction to what we can call the unfolding "project for the new Arab century", the people of Egypt have just completed its defining first chapter. What conclusions can be drawn from these historic events is far too early to gauge. What is certain, however, is that many more chapters will be written before the political dust settles. Safe to say, nevertheless, that the birth pangs of a new Middle East are now definitely being felt, but not in ways that many outsiders imagined.

Mohammed Khan is a political analyst based in the UAE.

The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera's editorial policy.

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Al Jazeera Live

... and a new muslim's 911 truth !

Herblay FRANCE

I hope at last the muslims will now be brave enough to join the world community which is asking for an international investigation in the murders of 911 et all the deaths afterwards.

Also that they will bring out all the truth on Bin Laden and give us proof that he died at the end of 2001 !



error double entry

error double entry

Dutch marines held hostage


Officials from the Netherlands are working to win the release of the three Dutch marines detained in Libya, our correspondent Alan Fisher reports from The Hague.

This incident happened on Sunday but there's been a media blackout up until this point. The Dutch government believes that's allowed them to negotiate with the Libyans - thinking that more can be done the fewer people that know about this.

"Dutch authorities believe they will be able to secure the release of these three Dutch marines."

Libya: A state of terror


a ton of good stuff on this on voltairenet- very in depth incl analysis of who owns Al-Jazeera
I know M.Meyssan ucked fup with the pentagon but i really like his non-aligned news service

1 for project censored

2 March 2011





Russian military: "Airstrikes in Libya did not take place"

The reports of Libya mobilizing its air force against its own people spread quickly around the world. However, Russia’s military chiefs say they have been monitoring from space – and the pictures tell a different story.

According to Al Jazeera and BBC, on February 21 Libyan government inflicted airstrikes on Benghazi – the country’s largest city – and on the capital Tripoli. However, the Russian military, monitoring the unrest via satellite from the very beginning, says nothing of the sort was going on on the ground.

At this point, the Russian military is saying that, as far as they are concerned, the attacks some media were reporting have never occurred.

The same sources in Russia’s military establishment say they are also monitoring the situation around Libya’s oil pumping facilities.


- For further comments regarding Al Jazeera’s allegedly unreliable coverage see Libya: Are the US and EU Pushing for Civil War to Justify NATO Intervention?, by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, Voltaire Network, 25 February 2011, chapter "The Politics of Al Jazeera" :

"The Libyan government has shut down the internet and phone lines and an information war is underway. Although one of the most professional news network in the world, it has to be cautioned that Al Jazeera is not a neutral actor. It is subordinate to the Emir of Qatar and the Qatari government, which is also an autocracy. By picking and choosing what to report, Al Jazeera’s coverage of Libya is biased. This is evident when one studies Al Jazeera’s coverage of Bahrain, which has been restrained due to political ties between the leaders of Bahrain and Qatar.

"Reports by Al Jazeera about Libyan jets firing on protesters in Tripoli and the major cities are unverified and questionable. Here to, the reports that Libyan jets have been attacking people in the streets have not been verified. No visual evidence of the jet attacks has been shown, while visual confirmation about other events have been coming out of Libya.

"Al Jazeera is not alone in its biased reporting from Libya. The Saudi media is also relishing the events in Libya. Asharq Al-Awsat is a paper that is strictly aligned to U.S. interests in the Middle East-North Africa (MENA) region. Its editor-in-chief is now running editorials glorifying the Arab League for their decision to suspend Libya – why were such steps not taken for Egypt, Tunisia, Bahrain, or Yemen? Inside and outside the Arab World, the mainstream media is now creating the conditions for some sort of intervention in Libya."


1 March 2011
The "geriatric baby snatchers" of Argentine, Go on Trial

The "geriatric baby snatchers" of Argentine, Go on Trial

  28 February 2011
In Moscow, Thierry Meyssan gave his appraisal of Arab insurrections

In Moscow, Thierry Meyssan gave his appraisal of Arab insurrections

  25 February 2011
Venezuela: US behind Libyan violence

Venezuela: US behind Libyan violence

Meyssan's spin

Meyssan has some considerable experience exposing "attacks that never occurred", hasn't he? :-P

In the video below, at 1m35s:

"Then, a Libyan airforce bomber circled overhead. Its first bombing run hit close to the center of the fighting, near Brega University. The second, hit our position..."

And you can see the bomb drop... in view of the camera.

There is the interview Anita McNaught did with Saif al-Islam. At 2m25s there's this exchange:

Anita McNaught
So bombs have been falling on Brega.

Saif al-Islam
No, not bombs.

Anita McNaught
Eyewitness have seen bombs.... jets, bombing...

Saif al-Islam
Jets.... Trying...... No no no no no no no no no no no

Anita McNaught
What have they been doing, as they haven't been...

Saif al-Islam
Brega is empty. Brega is an empty, empty empty area. There is a harbor, there is an oil harbor, and an industrial, an oil ... you know.. installation.

Anita McNaught
So why would you be dropping bombs on an empty area?

Saif al-Islam
No, the aircraft trying to frighten everybody from going near to the oil assets.

Anita McNaught

Saif al-Islam
It's very important area, so but it's.... It's a desert. It's empty, it's a desert, it's flat area. It's no city there.

Anita McNaught
So no-one's being harmed by what the jets... the army jets did today?

Saif al-Islam
[Inaudible] ... But... the army should...should frighten the people not to go to the harbor. Because this is very strategic place for the whole country.

.... and Saif al-Islam continues to spin the facts.

This is a glimpse of the real Saif al-Islam, inciting the slaughter of protesters in Tripoli:

A jet was shot down by the rebels:

There is plenty more to be found. It seems Meyssan, again, is off in his claims. I'm not surprised, to be honest. I don't particularly trust the Russians or the Chinese either. They have their own motivations.

It's astonishing to me that so many people don't understand the North African uprising is genuine. This is an insurrection against puppet governments and brutal dictators. This is the dictator block used by the US to bend the Middle East to its will. It's crumbling, as it should.



i'm concerned that

the west will invade Libya to install a client state which will not ultimately benefit the Libyan people.

I would rather see a result like in Venezuela.

I'm not so sure which way the oil will flow after all this.

from the not perfect voltairenet

but still, good sentiments I think:

No To An Imperialist Attack On Libya
by Antonio E. Paris

Benghazi's response to UN 'no fly zone' resolution

Now why didn't the coalition

of the righteous killers intervene somewhere with no oil, or in Gaza ?

Miscellaneous Libya

0314: Abdel, a doctor in the town of Misrata, Libya, about 200km east of Tripoli, tells BBC World television that Gaddafi loyalists have been moving the bodies of people killed in clashes between rebels and government forces to sites that have been bombed by the coalition to make it appear they have died in the strikes.

Exuberant members of the crowd, a mix of middle-aged businessmen, first-time rebel fighters and curious teenagers, instinctively hugged foreigners telling them: ‘God bless our friends in the West.

‘We thank you for bringing your armies and your prayers. With you at our side we will win.’


Mohamed, 32, had been captured during the week-long siege of Ajdabiya, a key town in eastern Libya where Gaddafi’s troops had bombarded residents mercilessly with tank fire and rockets.


They targeted doctors and ambulances, leaving medical staff dead and hospitals abandoned. Now Mohamed was a prisoner of war, being treated by Jala Hospital doctors who were committed to saving lives, no matter which side of the war their patients had been fighting on.

Yesterday he described to The Mail on Sunday how Gaddafi personally ordered his troops to ‘massacre’ the people of Ajdabiya, to leave the town crushed but the oil installations intact, and to then move on to Benghazi, the rebel stronghold in the east. For the first time it was possible to hear how Gaddafi’s troops were brainwashed in preparation for war. ‘We were kept in barracks for one month and not allowed to see any radio or television except the State broadcasts,’ he said. ‘We were given battle training and told that it was vital to wipe out the enemies who had turned eastern Libya against us. For the love of our country and the people we were to cleanse Ajdabiya.

We were told that Mossad agents, the Israeli secret police, had taken over the town. We had to go in there and not look at the women, children or families. Our job was to wipe them out.


‘We were told that the young men there had been given drugs and alcohol and forced to fight against Gaddafi’s government troops. We were told they were filth who had to be eliminated. By the time we drove towards the town from the desert we were all fired up.’

Five days later, Mohamed came up against rebel forces and was shot and wounded in the upper body. Taken prisoner by the rebels he was brought to Jala Hospital where medics last week removed six bullets. The care and kindness of the rebel area’s doctors is nurturing him back to health, and yesterday he was visited by close family who said burns to his hands and arms were healing well. Today, Mohamed says he intends to stay in the rebel-held area of Libya where Nato allies are committed to overthrowing Gaddafi, his former commanding officer.

‘I see now that my country is what matters. I have talked to the soldiers who were fighting us and I am beginning to understand why they want freedom. I hope I will be accepted here when freedom comes.’ Mohamed joined Gaddafi’s army in his teens when young men were being conscripted. From the rural area of Sabha, south of Gaddafi’s birthplace at Sirte, his was a natural allegiance. The government army became his way of life. ‘But I had no idea of the real world,’ he said. ‘Many tens of thousands of us have been manipulated and brainwashed all our lives. When I see the brotherhood of the freedom fighters in Benghazi, and the kindness of the doctors here, even towards someone like me who has tried to kill their people, I feel ashamed.’

Dr Ali Bashir, who is treating Mohamed’s burns, was asked how medics could be so caring towards an enemy soldier.

He said: ‘He is Libyan. He is my brother. It’s as simple as that.’

Paxman & Chomsky about Middle East and North Africa protests

Interview conducted March 8, 2011 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Original sources:

Full interview:

Paxman interviews Chomsky: