A foreign correspondent has used his background and first-hand information to build a compelling picture of uprising hijacked by Islamist reaction...
After the Arab spring: how Islamists hijacked the Middle East revolts, by John R. Bradley, hardback, 247 pages, ISBN 978-0-230-33819-7, Palgrave Macmillan, 2012, £10.99.
In this splendid book, John Bradley, an experienced foreign correspondent, shows how the media have lied to us about recent events in the Middle East. He exposes the myth of the “Arab Spring”, which he says, like every Eastern European “colour” revolution, was not for freedom or democracy but for reaction.
He reminds us that Tunisia “was ruled by the most secular Arab regime and was the most socially liberal and progressive Muslim country in the Middle East. As such, before its revolution it had been the last bulwark against the Saudi-funded Wahhabi form of Islam that, since the oil boom of the 1970s, had spread everywhere else in the Islamic world.”
Bradley points out that Tunisia was a “Muslim country where abortion was legal, where schools taught sex education, and where the veil was banned in government institutions (and severely discouraged elsewhere).” Polygamy had been outlawed for decades. The fertility rate was 2.08, down from 7.2 in the 1960s.
Schools and health care were free. More was spent on education than on the army. Its education was excellent, ranked 17th in the world, and seventh in maths and science. A third of Tunisia’s young people went to university, where 60 per cent of students were women.
25 January 2012: thousands gather in Cairo’s Tahrir Square on the first anniversary of the Egyptian uprising to call for further political reforms.
Photo: Mohamed Elsayyed/Shutterstock.com
The army had no role in politics. The government opposed regionalism, tribalism and Islamism. “In Tunisia, there was a reason that the Islamists were not the vanguard: for decades the regime had imprisoned or exiled them.”
In 2009, only 4 per cent of Tunisians were poor; after the counter-revolution, 25 per cent were poor, and 40 per cent were jobless. The Islamists won the October 2011 election. Islamist stormtroopers smashed up cinemas, TV stations, bars, synagogues and university buildings, and attacked unveiled women, artists and secularists – the fascist murder of Tunisia’s secularism.
In Egypt a military coup ousted Mubarak. Saudi Arabia gave $4 billion in soft loans to Egypt’s new military regime. The generals promised civilian rule, but reneged and have jailed even more people than Mubarak did. Bradley comments, “In 2011 the pro-democracy activists had from the outset foolishly declared their own revolution ‘leaderless’; they had learned nothing from history about how revolutionary movements lacking a vanguard are crushed by more entrenched and better-organized forces in the aftermath of massive social and political upheaval.”
In February 2011 Saudi forces shot down Bahrain’s unarmed protestors. President Obama backed the Saudi invasion. Saudi Arabia backed an Islamist revolt in the Yemen. It funds the religious schools (madrassas) in Pakistan that teach the Saudi-based Wahhabi form of Islam, which emphasises Jihad as war on infidels; in return Pakistani troops are stationed in Saudi Arabia to support the regime.
Saudi Arabia also funds madrassas in Indonesia, Malaysia, southern Thailand and Afghanistan. It is the paymaster of Islamist terrorism around the world. Its fronts include the World Assembly of Muslim Youth, the International Islamic Relief Organisation and the Muslim World League.
The USA thinks that its interests, and Israel’s, are best served by a pact with Saudi Arabia. So President Obama backs all the Saudi counter-revolutions, supports the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and backed the Al-Qaeda-linked rebels in Libya.
Bradley notes, “Syria, the only ostensibly secular Arab country apart from Tunisia, was ruled by a minority Shia cult, and there, too, the Sunni fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood was ready to pounce.” In this, the only remaining secular Arab country, the USA and Britain back the Islamist, Al-Qaeda-linked, Saudi-backed rebels trying to overthrow the government by force.
Bradley concludes, “Socially and economically, the Arab Spring has put back countries like Tunisia, Yemen, and Syria by decades.” ■