Thursday, March 17, 2011

Autocrat vs. the Arab Street

“Oh what a tangled web we weave...”

The U.S. government was for the Street against the ruling autocrats in Tunisia and Egypt.  It has uttered strong statements in support of the Libyan rebels against Gaddafi, but offered no material support.  It has criticized the Sunni ruling family of Bahrain for forcibly suppressing a Shia uprising and the Saudis for sending troops into Bahrain in support of a fellow Sunni ruling family.

But the U.S. has taken no action against Bahrain or Saudi Arabia.  Indeed, to the contrary, Defense Secretary Robert Gates stopped in Bahrain for a photo-op with the ruling monarch during the uprising.  Perhaps this was necessary to protect the U.S. Fifth Fleet that is stationed in Bahrain.  As to the Saudis, it is vital that their oil keeps flowing freely.  Different strokes for difference folks.

Since the removal of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, violence has broken out between Christians and Muslims in Egypt, precipitated by Muslims burning  a Christian church.  The Sunni suppression of Shiites in Bahrain will not sit well with Iraq’s large Shia majority, especially after the U.S. withdraws its remaining 47,000 troops by the end of 2011.

Evidently, overthrowing autocrats and seeking democracy is good for some Arabs, but not for others, at least for now.

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