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Maidhc Ó Cathail Interview by Kourosh Ziabari
Israel, the Sole Winner of Arab Spring

Maidhc Ó Cathail is a widely-published author and journalist based in Japan. Maidhc is one of my good friends and I’ve always enjoyed his insightful writings. Just a few weeks ago, I asked him to take part in an interview with me and answer some questions regarding the Arab Spring and its implications for the United State and Israel.

19 August 2012

Maidhc has his own way of thinking and believes that Israel was the only winner of the so-called revolutions that have been sweeping the Middle East since 2011. He believes that the uprisings were not genuine revolutions, but were spearheaded by the United States. I disagree with him, because I believe that Israel has tremendously suffered from the revolutions of the Middle East and in some junctures, frantically expressed its desperation. I can bring up my own argument; however, I respect Maidhc’s viewpoints and invite you to read this interview. [Kourosh Ziabari]

Q: In a recent article in the Washington Post, Charles Krauthammer wrote that the SCAF hastily dissolved the Egyptian parliament because the majority of members of parliament elected in the post-Mubarak elections were Islamists. Does Mohammad Morsi’s acceptance of the military council’s decision denote that he might be inclined toward the West? The U.S. Secretary of State Clinton has just paid a visit to Egypt and met with President Morsi. Are these signs indicative of the fact that Morsi has a pro-Western attitude and may betray the Egyptian Revolution?

A: First of all, I don’t believe that there was a genuine revolution in Egypt in the first place. Like the “colour revolutions” in Serbia, Georgia, Ukraine and elsewhere, the so-called “Arab Spring” was orchestrated by the regime change specialists at the National Endowment for Democracy, Freedom House, the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict and the wider network of groups engaged in what is euphemistically called “democracy promotion.” While the mainstream media cannot openly admit this, they have given some strong hints. For example, a New York Times report in April 2011, aptly entitled “U.S. Groups Helped Nurture Arab Uprisings,” acknowledged that “as American officials and others look back at the uprisings of the Arab Spring, they are seeing that the United States’ democracy-building campaigns played a bigger role in fomenting protests than was previously known, with key leaders of the movements having been trained by the Americans in campaigning, organizing through new media tools and monitoring elections.” Unless we are to believe that these “democracy-building campaigns” were not intended to undermine authoritarian regimes like Mubarak’s, then there’s no “revolution” for the American-educated Morsi to betray. Interestingly, it appears that it was Krauthammer, a Guardian of Zion awardee, who was the first to use the term “Arab Spring.” In the same 2005 piece, he presciently wrote, “The democracy project is, of course, just beginning.”

Q: What will be, in your view, the attitude of the new government in Egypt toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Prior to the elections, the Israelis were extremely worried that an Islamist president might revoke the Camp David Accords. However, Morsi hasn’t decided to do so. Will the new government in Egypt support the Palestinian resistance front?

A: One has to distinguish between what Israeli officials say publicly and what they think privately. If Tel Aviv was genuinely worried about an Islamist government revoking the Camp David Accords, then why has its American lobby been so supportive of a democratic transition to civilian rule in Cairo, knowing full well that this would increase the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood? A recent article featured on the website of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA) gives a clearer insight into Israeli strategic thinking. Entitled “Is Israel the Winner of the Arab Spring?” the piece concludes that “the so-called ‘Arab Spring’ has, paradoxically, made Israel stronger as Israel’s enemies have turned on each other.” As the JINSA fellow astutely observes, “The Egyptian body politic may indeed be more hostile to the Jewish State, but its capabilities for acting on that hostility have markedly declined.”

Q: What do you think of the prospect of revolution in Bahrain? The Al Khalifa regime is murderously killing unarmed civilians on a daily basis, but the United States and its allies have kept silent, indifferently watching the bloodshed in the Persian Gulf country. Is it possible to bring to an end the calamity taking place in Bahrain?

A: Again, if you look at the democracy promotion organizations and the influential pro-Israel think tanks, you’ll see that they have been far from silent on this issue. For example, Fikra Forum, a project of the AIPAC-created Washington Institute for Near East Policy, has been fully supportive of the protestors in Bahrain. Regardless of King Hamad’s Wikileaks-alleged friendly links to Israeli intelligence, pro-Israeli democracy promoters are backing the protests against his regime. With such influential supporters, there is every prospect of revolution in Manama.

Q: What’s your analysis of the interference of foreign powers in Syria? The Syrian government blames the United States and some Arab nations of the region for smuggling weaponry onto its soil and equipping the rebels and terrorists. What do you think? What factors have impeded the implementation of Kofi Annan’s 6-point peace plan? Has the Syrian government breached the ceasefire or should the blame be put on the opposition?

A: One doesn’t have to take the word of Damascus for it. There are plenty of credible reports in Western and Arab media that NATO and GCC countries are funding, arming, and training assorted forces, including jihadists, to destabilize the Assad regime. Rather than getting lost in the fog of the information war, it’s important not to lose sight of the bigger picture here. Basically, Syria is currently undergoing a repeat of what was done to the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s and to Libya last year. It’s significant that William Kristol, one of the most influential pro-Israel voices in the U.S. media, celebrates the NATO bombing of Serbia and Libya as wars of “Muslim liberation.” When Syria is eventually “liberated” in a similar manner, Kristol and other advocates of “humanitarian intervention” will have succeeded in destabilizing yet another country in Israel’s increasingly chaotic neighbourhood.

Q: Harvard University Professor Noah Feldman believes that Tunisia is the only country among the countries which gave rise to Arab Spring that is thriving following the victory of its revolution. Although he did not mention Bahrain, he wrote at the beginning of his article that “Egypt is in a full-blown constitutional crisis, Syria is in a borderline civil war [and] Yemen elected its former vice president, who ran unopposed.” Feldman, who visited Tunisia last month, argued that the people have freely elected an assembly which is drafting the constitution from scratch, the media are unrestrictedly criticizing the government and the government is trying its best to create more jobs. What’s your idea about the status quo in Tunisia? Has the country realized its objectives?

A: There was an interesting report in Foreign Policy recently saying that U.S. House Rules Committee chairman David Dreier announced during a visit to Tunis that he intends to head an initiative to propose a free trade agreement between the United States and Tunisia. As Tamara Wittes, director of the pro-Israel Saban Center for Middle East Policy, noted, it’s very important “to have a successful model in North Africa for the other countries struggling with democratic reform.” No doubt Feldman, an adjunct senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations—which has long advocated political and economic liberalization in the Arab world—would agree.
On the political front, it’s revealing that soon after the electoral victory of the Islamist an-Nahda movement, its leader Rachid Ghannouchi paid a quiet visit to the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. According to WINEP’s summary of the by-invitation-only event, its tape recording “ran out and was not replaced” just before Ghannouchi stated that an-Nahda opposed the inclusion of a prohibition on normalization with Israel in the Tunisian constitution.

Q: So far, the United States has been a loser in the revolutionary wave of the Middle East. It lost three of its key allies: Ben Ali in Tunisia, Mubarak in Egypt and Abdullah Saleh in Yemen. What will the future hold for the United States? Will it experience further setbacks and failures as a result of the “Arab Spring”?

A: The three “lost” dictators you refer to were at one point considered useful allies, but if you actually study the democracy promotion literature, you’ll find that groups like the National Endowment for Democracy—which is run by Carl Gershman, formerly employed in the “research department” of the pro-Israel Anti-Defamation League—have long been actively promoting regime change throughout the Middle East, including in so-called allied regimes. The New York Times article cited previously notes Mubarak’s desperate attempts to counter such efforts to undermine his rule.

Q: Some political commentators believe that the Middle East revolutions will bolster Iran’s regional dominance and lead to the weakening of Israel’s ailing position in the region. What’s your viewpoint? Can Iran form an alliance with the new democracies such as Tunisia and Egypt and counter the threats of the United States and Israel?

A: As my previous answers imply, I believe Israel is the only real winner of the so-called “Arab Spring.” Even if Iran forms an alliance with some of the new Islamist governments in the region, this will only fuel the “Clash of Civilizations” narrative promoted by Tel Aviv through its foreign partisans like Bernard Lewis. In order to pursue its dreams of a Greater Israel, the self-defined Jewish state requires the appearance of being besieged by “threats” created by such orchestrated “revolutions.”

Q: And finally, what will the future of the Middle East look like in light of the revolutionary wave that has encompassed the region for the last two years? What’s your analysis of the future of power equations in the region as the new democracies take root in Arab nations?

A: In a word, chaotic. The weakening and likely fragmentation of Arab states along ethnic and sectarian lines will only benefit Israel. This, as Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah foresaw in a 2007 New Yorker interview, is “the new Middle East.”

Kourosh Ziabari
Veterans Today, August 17th, 2012


Maidhc Ó Cathail has written extensively on the U.S. foreign policy and Middle East affairs. He edits the blog “The Passionate Attachment” at thepassionateattachment.com. His articles and writings can be found on the Foreign Policy Journal, Global Research, Antiwar.com, Arab News, Dissident Voice, Forward Magazine (Syria), Information Clearing House, Journal of Turkish Weekly, Ma’an News Agency, Middle East Monitor, Palestine Chronicle, Tehran Times and The Nation (Pakistan).