JOSEPH MASSAD, jam25 at columbia.edu
Massad is associate professor of modern Arab politics and intellectual history at Columbia University. He said today that Obama’s “silence on demonstrations in monarchies (Saudi Arabia, Oman, Jordan, Morocco) and the mild criticisms of Yemen stood in stark contrast with the vehemence of his criticisms of Syria and Libya. The belated mention of Bahrain stood out as a sign of a lack of courage, as now weeks after the Bahraini revolution has been crushed through use of a U.S.-supplied and supported Gulf mercenary force, Obama mustered the courage to speak about ongoing arrests there. In the case of Syria, the criticisms started from day one.”
Massad recently wrote the piece: “The future of the Arab uprisings: The U.S., with its allies, has already begun plans to subvert the Arab Spring to save its own regional hegemony,” which states: “The situation in Arab countries today is characterized as much by the counter-revolution sponsored by the Saudi regime and the United States as it is by the uprisings of the Arab peoples against U.S.-sponsored dictatorial regimes.
“While the U.S.-Saudi axis was caught unprepared for the Tunisian and Egyptian uprisings, they quickly made contingency plans to counter the uprisings elsewhere, especially in Bahrain and Oman, but also in Jordan and Yemen, as well as take control of the uprisings in Libya (at first) and later in Syria. Attempts to take control of the Yemeni uprising have had mixed results so far.”
NICK TURSE, nat9 at columbia.edu
Turse is a fellow at Harvard University’s Radcliffe Institute and author of The Case for Withdrawal from Afghanistan. He recently wrote the piece “Obama’s Reset: Arab Spring or Same Old Thing? How the President and the Pentagon Prop Up Both Middle Eastern Despots and American Arms Dealers,” which states: “For months now, the world has watched as protesters have taken to the streets across the Middle East to demand a greater say in their lives. In Tunisia and Egypt, they toppled decades-old dictatorships. In Bahrain and Yemen, they were shot down in the streets as they demanded democracy. In the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, they called for reforms, free speech, and basic rights, and ended up bloodied and often in jail cells. In Iraq, they protested a lack of food and jobs, and in response got bullets and beatings.
“As the world watched, trained eyes couldn’t help noticing something startling about the tools of repression in those countries. The armored personnel carriers, tanks, and helicopters used to intimidate or even kill peaceful protesters were often American models.
“For decades, the U.S. has provided military aid, facilitated the sale of weaponry, and transferred vast quantities of arms to a host of Middle Eastern despots. Arming Arab autocrats, however, isn’t only the work of presidents past. A TomDispatch analysis of Pentagon documents finds that the Obama administration has sought to send billions of dollars in weapons systems — from advanced helicopters to fighter jets — to the very regimes that have beaten, jailed, and killed pro-democracy demonstrators, journalists, and reform activists throughout the Arab Spring.”
Turse is associate editor of TomDispatch.com, one of the webpages blocked to State Department employees. In his speech at the State Department today Obama lauded internet freedom: wemeantwell.com.
Reuters report: “U.S. announces $60 billion arms sale for Saudi Arabia”
For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167