Bahrain

How Arab Dictators Find Support in our Ugliest Prejudices

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This picture is pretty much its own alt-text

Middle East despots have for some time been fond of playing up western fears about terrorism and immigration to maintain their grip on power, and as their regimes come tumbling down, they're falling back on old tricks. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak played up sectarian tensions between Christians and Muslims within Egypt as proof that Egyptians could never be trusted to govern themselves democratically, to the point where some have even alleged that his regime orchestrated its own church bombings to blame on al-Qaeda when real terrorism wasn't stoking enough fear. Bahrain's government, too, has tried to frame its own oppressed Shiite minority as a pawn of Iran—though to their credit, American diplomats have doubted these claims.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for Italy's Foreign Minister Franco Frattini, who has been dutifully parroting the maniacal rants of Muammar Gaddafi and his faux reformer son. Gaddafi might be crazy, but he knew that threats that "Europe will become black" would get Italians' attention. Frattini has proved him correct, publicly fretting not about the bloody disaster unfolding within Libya, but about "the repercussions on the migratory situation."

The obsession with illegal immigration is not surprising given Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi's gratitude for Gaddafi's help in turning back would-be migrants who landed in Italy by boat. Deutsche Presse-Agentur says that migration, not oil, was "at the heart" of the two countries' newly-friendly relationship, and that Gaddafi's cooperation allowed Berlusconi to fulfill promises made during his 2008 election campaign to an increasingly xenophobic Italian public. (Though the relationship turned personal at some point—Berlusconi is currently embroiled in a scandal linked to sex tips he reportedly received from Gaddafi.)

And when Gaddafi threatened that his overthrow would unleash "people of turbans and long beards" on Libya, Foreign Minister Frattini was one step ahead of the Libyan leader, warning on Monday about the possibility of an "Islamic Emirate" in Benghazi, the newly-freed city in eastern Libya. Frattini also announced Monday that he supports Saif Gaddafi's calls for reform, and that he's working on convincing Hillary Clinton to do the same. (Frattini has since taken a harder line against the regime, though his breathless fearmongering about Islamic emirates has not abated.)

American and European support likely won't be able to hold back the tide of revolution in the Arab world forever. But between what we tried to do in Egypt, what we're currently doing in Bahrain, and what the Italians wish they could do in Libya, the West has certainly played its part in propping up some of the region's most odious regimes.

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  1. H&R should keep you, STEVE SMITH. You write good shit.

    1. uh huh.

      1. It’s American that’s the problem right dickhead!

  2. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak played up sectarian tensions between Christians and Muslims within Egypt as proof that Egyptians could never be trusted to govern themselves democratically[.]

    “Sectarian”….?

    1200 years of persecution of Christians, Zoroastrians, Jews and Buddhists in lands conquered by Muslims being a never mind to you, I guess…

    1. ?? Religious minorities were relatively much better treated in Islamic kingdoms during the Middle Ages than they were in Christian ones. All they had to do was pay a fine and restrict their religious buildings, and they could largely go about their business. Any Jewish scholar will tell you that Cordoba was a center of Jewish cultural and intellectual flowering during the Caliphate time period, and was shattered when Catholic Spanish monarches retook the area and forced all religious dissenters to convert, flee, or die.

      That doesn’t change a blessed thing about the current world, but I’d hardly throw out “1200 years of oppression” as if there was some kind of Iron Curtain between the free and benevolent Catholic west, and the brutal Islamic east. More like about 300 years of oppression, and even then, not terrible until the past century.

  3. Middle East despots have for some time been fond of playing up western fears about terrorism and immigration? to maintain their grip on power, and as their regimes come tumbling down, they’re falling back on old tricks.

      1. I am a rampant typoist as well. Wee hav too stuck togeether.

  4. I think there’s a parallel to life here in the U.S. too.

    I think a lot of aid we’ve given to Hati over the years hasn’t really been as much about strategic aid as much as it’s been about keeping the Hatians in Hati.

    We’ve supported some authoritarian nasties in Hati too over the years–and again, if we were honest, I think a lot of that was about keeping the Hatians in Hati.

    1. Lord, send us your hot Haitian women.

      Keep the guys.

  5. Think about someone you wish never came to America, they’re brown, right?

    Hating the coloreds and keeping them in their place is the role of dictators all over the world. We’re just less overt about it now. The prejudice is the same, the result is the same, problem is, our current solutions to the developing world “problem” cost more than a rope and a sturdy tree.

    1. Think about someone you wish never came to America, they’re brown, right?

      Nope.

      1. Well I wish you never came to America, even if you were here first. Besides, today your people are among the worst degenerates around.

        1. what tribe are you referring to?

          1. I’ve had experience working with the navajos and to a lesser extent taos pueblo. Alcoholism is severe and drunk driving accidents are more common than coyotes. Also they rant and rave about the white man.

            At least they don’t huff gasoline like the aborgines. They just coke and booze, pot also, but pot isn’t problematic.

            1. And do you believe they were like this when we found them? Or are these the endemic symptoms of a conquered and broken society?

              1. *edit

                I do think it would be hilarious if there actually was one pre-conquest tribe that all the others knew to be absolute drunks and bastards, and everyone just stayed away from them.

              2. they were like that when I found them. I did not break that society. No one within a decade of my age broke that society. The young folks in that society have copious advantages for scholarship that I do not.

                1. Who broke you?

                  ‘Cause I’m thinking that I don’t want you in America.

    2. Like I said, think about Hati.

      Our policies toward Hati for decades seems to have been all about keeping Haitian refugees from washing up on the beaches of Florida by the thousands.

    3. I dunno, I can’t really think of anyone. But most of the people that I wish would leave America are white.

      1. Good point. Most of the people who have screwed me, cheated me, or wrecked my life have been white, as am I ;’) Makes you wonder why so many folks don’t like colored people when their experience with whites has been so awful.

    4. Sure, it’s all about skin color. That’s why everybody freaks out about the Indian immigration menace. Why, they’re taking over our medical offices as we speak! Spreading their programming skills and opressive Hindu religion everywhere they go!

      1. fucjkem theatas whay

        1. Klaatu barada nikto?

      2. Based on your sarcasm, Fatty, I take it you have never spent a lot of time in the UK.

        1. Read the comment I was responding to. He said America, not UK.

  6. The old ‘copied from his friend excuse’. Didn’t Berlusconi’s mother tell him ‘if your friend jumps off a brigde fucks a hooker, are you going to follow?’

  7. But I thought Europeans weren’t racists…

    1. Europeans are the best sort of racists because they are overtly racist while expertly denying it at the same time. In America we have the reverse issue, we wish we could be as racist as the Euros, but even when we give the degenerates the benefit of the doubt, we are called racists.

      1. as racist as euros? congrats uve succeded!

  8. dodo dodo dodo; then I went to the market after the doctor said he wouldn’t refill my prescription. So the Rx pad I had was fake, what of it! I turned to the girl at the pharmacy counter and she said no I cannot help you sir. SIR? who sirs me, No one!

    But that was the last straw, when I grabbed her by the neck and screamed PILL ME UP, BITCH! everyone turned and looked. I’m not allowed to shop at the Shop N Save anymore but at least she’ll nevar forget.

    1. don’t spoof me evar agin!

  9. I’m shocked, SHOCKED I tell you, that politicians would stoop so low as to exploit ancient superstitions that foment bigotry for political gain. Good thing it can’t happen here.

  10. “American and European support likely won’t be able to hold back the tide of revolution in the Arab world forever. But between what we tried to do in Egypt, what we’re currently doing in Bahrain, and what the Italians wish they could do in Libya, the West has certainly played its part in propping up some of the region’s most odious regimes.”

    The goal of foreign policy is often encouraging stability rather than just government. Supporting a stable, odious regime might be pragmatically preferable than encouraging reform which can set a region towards war and an even more odious regime.

    Pursuning idealism is good when you can get away with it, but most of the time foriegn relations is the pursuit of pragmatism.

    1. Hmm, pragmatism deposed the Democratic government of Iran at the behest of – get this – BP, to replace it with the hated Shah, which led to all our current troubles. Pragmatism created Al Quada, and look what happened with that. The “Pragmatism” practiced by the CIA and State Dept in support of murderers and bullies from Latin America to the Middle East, is starting to backfire.

  11. “Bahrain’s government, too, has tried to frame its own oppressed Shiite minority as a pawn of Iran”

    Shias are the majority.

    1. STEVE SMITH HAVE LIMITED TIME TO FACT CHECK AND RAPE. FACT CHECK USUALLY LOSE OUT.

  12. The problem with Gaddafi playing up the threat of terrorism is that he ordered the Lockerbie bombing and is therefore a terrorist, subject to sanction by Hellfire missile. Although our cowardly Administration will instead talk and talk and talk, and let people die.

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