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In the Middle East is a new military crescent in Libya's production



With the break of the Arab Spring more than eight years ago, democratic activists in the Arab world and elsewhere hoped that the influx of democratic change could finally reach its shores. Many of them who criticized American scholar Samuel Huntington, who saw democracy as an extraterrestrial concept of Middle Eastern culture, felt vindicated.

The euphoria of the Arab Spring, however, did not last long. Civil war broke out in Syria, Libya and Yemen, suppressing any hope of a peaceful democratic transition. In Bahrain, they fear Iranian intervention, and Saudi Arabia's military intervention quickly suppressed people's protests. In Morocco, the February protest movement was overwhelmed by a combination of King Mohammed VI's political maneuvers and security. In Egypt, a military organization led a counter-revolution and eventually organized a coup against democratically elected President Mohamed Morsi, who installed General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi as the new military ruler of the country.

Many of them considered this development another indication that the Arab world was indeed undemocratic. The rise of organizations like the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) has confirmed the need for a strong rule. The political choice of Arab nations was apparently limited to "SISI or ISIS".

With this logic in mind, regional and world forces have sponsored the return of military dictatorships to the region, hoping to clear the Arab Spring's "mess" and restore order. In particular, it seeks to create a new "military crescent" in North Africa, which includes Sudan, Egypt, Libya and Algeria.

But just as military domination established in the 1950s and 1960s eventually broke up, this new pressure to militarize Arab politics is also bound to fail.

The US hopes for an "enlightened" Arab military ruler

Western forces have long been supporters of military rule in the Arab world, the United States being one of its earliest and most eager supporters.

In the late 1940s, the theory of modernization popular within American political circles regarded the conservative ruling elites as a major obstacle to the establishment of modern states and societies in the Arab world. At the same time, as Washington gradually emerged as a world power, its interests began to clash with the interests of its ally, the British Empire, especially in the Middle East.

The US viewed Arab conservative regimes as an extension of the British – and in some cases French – colonialism, which it sought to break down. It was considered an acceptable solution by a takeover led by Arab military forces, which tended to be more modernized than other state institutions in the Arab world.

The 1940s there was also already a model for the area to follow: the Revolution of the Young Turks and the subsequent rule of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, which quickly modernized the newly created Turkish Republic.

The American political elite was convinced that Atatürk's military leaders were better prepared to launch a process of modernization from above, if necessary, to change the conservative culture of the Middle East countries and to banish Europeans from the region.

In 1949, the CIA assisted the military coup in Syria against the first democratically elected government of Shukri al-Quwatli. In 1952, the US welcomed the coup against the Egyptian monarchy led by Gamal Abdel Nasser.

This US strategy had somewhat disintegrated after the Suez War in 1956, when the Soviet Union entered the Middle East and opened another front in a more intense Cold War, but Washington continued to favor the region's military government over the next few decades. .

Arab military rulers have been involved in the modernization of their countries, but they have also created police states and inefficient economies in which people have neither bread nor freedom. Poverty, repression, despair, inequality and marginalization have led to radicalization and violence.

America took about 60 years to acknowledge the link between authoritarianism and extremism. Four years after the attacks of 11 September 2005, in June 2005, then US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice spoke in Cairo, saying, "60 years, my country, the United States, has been monitoring stability at the expense of democracy and democracy in the region in the Middle East" East – and we didn't reach either of them.

But when people in the region went to the streets a few years later, demanding freedom and democracy, Washington did not expand its support. In 2011, US and European countries once again demonstrated their deep belief that their interests in the Middle East are best served by autocratic leaders and that they see the democratic aspirations of the Arab people as a threat.

A new military crescent

But in this belief they are not alone. The regional players of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates also felt threatened by popular uprisings in the Middle East and for many years led counter-revolutionary forces in the region to re-establish a military rule. Ironically, the two GCC states have not always been supporters of Arab military forces.

Especially Saudi Arabia was a fierce opponent of the military government in the region when army officers overthrew one conservative monarchy in the 1950s and 1960s.

The Saudi House, witnessing the dismal fate of the royal families in Egypt, Iraq, Libya and Yemen, feared for its own security and took measures that not only weakened and disrupted its own armed forces, but also merged with revolutionary powers. region (including Iran under Pahlavi).

Today, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, as well as their American and European allies, see their interests better served by military dictatorships in the region. Thus, after funding the coup d'état in Egypt in 2013, they now hope that the military rule will extend to Algeria, Sudan and Libya.

In recent months, Algerian and Sudanese people have revolted against their long-time leaders Abdelaziz Bouteflik and Omar al-Bashir and have managed to overthrow them. But in both countries, the military is trying to take advantage of the situation. In Sudan, military generals entered and took control of the country, and in Algeria, the army behind the scenes tried to create a transition that would secure its interests.

Meanwhile, in Libya, a determined military commander, Khalifa Haftar, has launched a major military offensive in the capital of Tripoli, where it has sought to abolish the GNA of the UN recognized by the UN and derail efforts to lead a political transition through general elections.

In all three countries, Saudi Arabia and the UAE stand with military generals seeking state prisoners, and so with the US and a number of European countries. In the case of Libya, US President Donald Trump expressed direct support for Haftar, while France was charged with direct support of his military operation.

There seems to be a joint effort to create a crescent of military-controlled countries from Sudan in northeastern Africa to Algeria in the northwest through Egypt and Libya to avert popular shocks and keep "Islamist" forces under control. It is based on the misleading belief that military fighters like el-Sisi in Egypt, Haftar in Libya or even Bashar al-Assad in Syria can ensure security and stability in the region.

But the truth is – as all the uprisings since 2011 have shown – the stability they promise is mere illusion. The fact that popular movements calling for democratization in the Arab world, despite the tragic consequences in countries like Syria, Yemen, Egypt and Libya, are still going through the region, show that the authoritarian rule and brutality are major sources of instability and insecurity. They led to the emergence of a new wave of extremist groups, more violent and radical than before.

The Middle East will not reach stability until this vicious circle of despotism, violence and extremism is broken. The establishment of a crescent military in North Africa is not the right solution for the region.

The change may be delayed but cannot be stopped. In Algeria and Sudan, a military facility has a unique opportunity to learn from past mistakes, resist foreign influences and make the right choice: to hand over power to the civilian population and prevent further Syria.

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


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