THE WINDS OF CHANGE ON THE ISLAMIC GEOGRAPHY
In TUNISIA, a young man named Mohamed Bouazizi attempted suicide by setting himself on fire to protest unemployment, poverty and corruption and his images spread throughout the country just to extend the scale of protests among the public, which finally turned into a civil commotion. After the refusal of General Rachid Ammar, the Army Commander to obey the order to shoot protesters, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, the President of Tunisia, left his country and fled to Saudi Arabia after 23 years in power. Mohamed Ghannouchi, the Prime Minister of the government dissolved by Ben Ali, assumed the Presidency as required by the Tunisian Constitution; and he formed the “National Unity Government” including leaders of opposition parties in which the ministers of defense, home affairs and finance of the former government remained their positions. However, with the continuing protests, the government resigned. By the end of January, a provisional government was formed under the leadership of Mohamed Ghannouchi. The Prime Minister Ghannouchi announced that elections would be held within six months and the new government would take over.
Meanwhile in EGYPT; crowds of people who communicated on Google, Youtube and Twitter beginning from January 24th, 2011, decided to gather for the same reasons and selected Tahrir Square as the primary destination for protests. Attended by all opposition groups and even by many public institutions, the protests were led by the leaders of Muslim Brotherhood Youth and ElBaradei, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, who was awarded the Nobel Prize. The protests led to the resignation of the 30-year President Hosni Mubarak on February 11th, 2011. Before that date, the Army assigned by Mubarak to disperse the crowd was reluctant to come across the public, and the pro-Israeli Omar Suleiman who was appointed as vice president resigned due to public dissent.
Finally, the caretaker government under the presidency of Ahmed Shafiq remained in power, the “Supreme Military Council” gathered all powers, as a result of which the parliament was dissolved and the Constitution was suspended. The Supreme Military Council announced that the transition period would take about 6 months during which elections would be held for the Presidency and the Parliament. Soldiers were deployed to Tahrir Square to disperse the crowds, but opposition groups remained unmoved.
Civil commotions overthrowing dictatorial regimes in Tunisia and Egypt then spread over Yemen, Jordan, Syria, Algeria and Saudi Arabia but were not as effective as in Tunisia and Egypt.
COMMON CHARACTERISTICS OF COUNTRIES IN WHICH PROTESTS ARE FOCUSED:
It is questionable whether these civil commotions were triggered by national opposition groups of the Countries by their own initiatives or they were organized by the USA and the West, and whether the systems to be established subsequently will succeed in protecting their independence or end up in the same old story.
The common characteristics of Arab Countries in which civil commotions were effective are that they are governed under autocratic regime, and unemployment, poverty and corruptions influence a wide range of people. These people are in a social and political environment where freedoms are restricted, low level government officials are employed for a wage of USD 100-150, and bribery and nepotism are regarded as means of existence.
COMMON GOALS OF SUPER POWERS;
The common goal of superpowers like the U.S.A., EU, RUSSIA, JAPAN, CHINA and INDIA, which have been struggling for world leadership, is the ISLAMIC GEOGRAPHY which possesses virgin resources, strategic locations under-developed qualities. Following Iraq and Afghanistan operations, the U.S.A. admitted that this Geography cannot be controlled by MILITARY POWER (Invasion of Afghanistan dissolved USSR, Iraq and Afghanistan operations drove the US to crisis); and that the control can be ensured only by means of proponent governments. Therefore, the U.S.A. developed projects which will enable them to achieve their goals without using armed forces and facing public opposition in the target country.
THE PURPOSE OF GREATER MIDDLE EAST INITIATIVE:
The purpose of "Broader Middle East and North Africa Initiative", namely the “Greater Middle East Initiative” (GMEI) is to realize an extensive “Islamic Geography” transformation strategy under the leadership of the U.S.A. comprising politics, law, information/ training, economics, social dimensions and security which address countries on a geography stretching from Mauritania, Morocco in the west, Central Asia and Mongolia in the east, Caucasus and Turkey in the north and from the Arab World to Somali in the south; aiming at a long-term change in the mentioned fields.
The purpose declared by GMEI to member countries can be briefly referred to as “to democratize the countries of the Region and to ensure them to gain economic and political stability”.
Islamic States having geostrategic positions are still governed under totalitarian regimes imposed between two world wars by western states of today’s category of development.
Children of elite individuals of these nations complete their education in countries where there are broad freedoms and fairly shared high economic opportunities.
Acknowledging that the totalitarian systems of developed Western States, primarily of the U.S.A., on Countries of the Middle East Region will change sooner or later, they naturally intend to plan this change, which would already be inevitable otherwise, so that they will not lose control.
GMEI must be considered as a natural result of this point of view.
WHAT ARE THE INTERESTS OF MUSLIM NATIONS?
When we consider the common goals of superpowers, the Greater Middle East Initiative and protests and civil commotions all over the Islamic Geography along with Tunisia and Egypt, it turns out to be highly probable that these movements may have been jointly planned by authoritarian governors who are in close cooperation with the US and the West. If it is the case, this means that there are also other countries on the line.
Though outdated, it is a well-known and widely used political strategy that foreign powers expressly support the government in power in target countries while especially the illegitimate opposition receives clandestine support from these foreign powers; and the parties which are likely to provide long-term interests receive higher support and those providing no interests are deprived of support by the same foreign powers.
During the public movements in Tunisia and Egypt, military troops were not assigned before totalitarian leaders are overthrown; the troops assumed the role of the savior of the people only after the governments were overthrown. These strategies brings the suspicion in people's minds that new governments will be constituted jointly by the USA, ousted leaders and Armed Forces in control.
On the other hand, having regard to the fact that the faithful servant of the U.S.A, the overthrown President of Iraq, Saddam Hussein, who was prompted to attack Iran, declared the leader of his country and of the region in 1990s, was executed by his own exploiter after he completed his role, it must be taken into consideration that dictators on the Islamic Geography may be cast aside after being exploited.
At this point, the important question is in which part of this game the opposition groups organizing the resistance stand, whether they are also intentionally exploited or just unaware of the situation.
With the aim to prevent Turkey, on which Muslim Nations place their hopes, and oppressed nations from being ruined in a dog-eat-dog world, contributions should be made to efforts of Muslim states on political reforms by considering their experiences as well as advantageous and disadvantageous aspects of our system and in cooperation with qualified delegations in the restructuring of their future. The issue may be either taken as a project by our Government or directed to suitable solutions by the Organization of the Islamic Conference, our universities, research centers and scientific authorities, with a view to perform research on political systems by working as a laboratory.
Armed Forces of Tunisia, Egypt and other Muslim States should fill the authority gap by themselves and should not involve the army in politics. The army’s task should be to protect the country against foreign threats. Even in an atmosphere of harsh debates, confrontations and even armed conflicts within the country, the army should not change its stance against foreign countries and not be involved in internal politics and security. Otherwise, neither the army can overcome the issue nor the nation can evade the Army.
Opposition groups, who led the civil uprising hold the major responsibility. They should not conflict with each other on basic issues. They should not initiate a power struggle before the system has settled. They should not cooperate with foreign forces for domestic political interests. Strictly speaking, they should not let foreign powers use them.
It is not easy to overthrow an authoritarian ruling. Even though it is the autocratic regime that has been overthrown, it is more difficult to establish a new system instead and put it into effect. Problems of these countries are not of such quality that can be overcome through short-term solutions. Socio-cultural, economic, technological, scientific, educational issues and problems regarding infrastructure, increase of income levels and distribution of income can be solved no earlier than fifty years at the best when developed and modern countries are taken as basis. The foundation of a parliamentary democratic system based on justice and the rule of law, and elimination of chaos and instability in a country requires a similar amount of time. Delays in solution of existing problems including unemployment, poverty and corruptions may increase civil unrest. Civil unrest may lead to protests and protests may result in chaos and instability.
For these reasons, Egypt, Tunisia, the other countries on the line and their allies are supposed to know that they are bound to face civil unrest and instability.
If leaders of the countries at which the winds of uprising have yet to arrive become able to initiate the normalization process without waiting for these winds, they will probably face less turmoil.
If foreign powers and the USA support a change in the Islamic Countries, this is only because they reckon that they can easily manipulate the facilities of such countries for their own interests. The countries led by cautious leaders who are able to perceive the current situation should pay efforts for the Islamic Unity once they have ensured domestic unity.
February 14th, 2011
Retired Brigadier General