Pepe Escobar on what the Western press is largely ignoring in the Arab world:
As the Arab Spring turns into summer, the counter-revolution is winning. Tyrants – but not systems – are down in Tunisia and Egypt. The Libyan “revolution” is a sham: North Atlantic Treaty Organization air war plus Western spooks/special forces helping dodgy defectors/exiles on the ground. Bahrain, Yemen and Syria have been popular defeats.
As far as Washington and selected European capitals are concerned, “stability” prevails; as in Israel and Saudi Arabia, as pillars, now that Egypt has wobbled; and the oil-drenched Gulf Counter-Revolutionary Club, also known as Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), is solid as Himalayan rock. No revisionism allowed. “Democracy”, yes – as long as it is not a threat to “Western interests”.
And yet what lurks in the shadows tells us more about what’s to come. Call it the secret life of Arabia.
Take Qatar – in the spotlight, again, because non-Federation Internationale de Football Association (football’s governing body) sources swear the emirate bought the 2022 World Cup. Yet Doha has some more pressing balls to kick – as in the emir of Qatar visiting Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to gently ask him to refrain from resupplying Colonel Muammar Gaddafi in Libya with scores of tanks and armored vehicles.
It all depends on who’s really running the show in Algeria – Bouteflika or “rogue” weapons merchants, tempted by Gaddafi’s oil funds and a 1,100 kilometer-long desert border perfect for smuggling.
The GCC is unanimous; it wants Gaddafi gone. Qatar is the face of GCC in Libya. Qatari fighter jets are part of the strike force of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Qatari advisers are deep inside Misrata alongside the “rebels”. Qatar is also maneuvering its soft power towards Assad’s Syria; an infuriated Damascus has just cancelled more than US$6.4 billion in Qatari projects in Syria.
And this while the number of Syrians killed by President Bashar al-Assad’s repression machine has now surpassed the number of Egyptians killed by Hosni Mubarak’s repression machine. By the body count law that draws the difference between “rogue” regimes and “our” bastards, Assad should be ready for the guillotine. The problem is the Anglo-French-American consortium has not found an “acceptable” alternative to Assad (there isn’t any); thus the bland sanctions, and the benefit of the doubt.
Meanwhile, Qatar is convincing the GCC to open a Middle East Development Bank – inspired by the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) – to, essentially, support Arab Spring-practitioner states to the tune of tens of billions of dollars annually. No GCC bigwig will remark on the irony that the bank won’t deal with the zero-democratic GCC itself.