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‘Arab Spring’ is a misnomer

12 October 2012

4:58 PM

12 October 2012

4:58 PM

What do you do when confronted with a prejudice so strong it takes your breath away? In my case, I did what was immediately necessary. I took a deep breath to replenish lost oxygen, and moved on. It wasn’t the time or place to take on this particularly ugly example of intolerance; but it is an intolerance which needs to recognised.

I was giving a lecture at a charity that trains journalists from around the world. Some are already making their way in the industry and are expected to do well.

I was talking about my theory that the term ‘Arab Spring’ actually clouds our understanding of what has been happening in the region over the past 18 months.  From the Egyptian coup d’etat onwards, I’ve argued that calling these events the ‘Arab Spring’ automatically frames them as positive.

The word ‘spring’ evokes the feeling of growth, something benign, a time of renewal leading to even better times.  When educated Europeans or North Americans hear the term ‘Arab Spring’ we hear an echo of the ‘Prague Spring’, a heroic, positive thing. Then, when sections of the media began to talk about a domino effect, the template for understanding the events was that of 1989 and the fall of the Berlin Wall, an utterly inappropriate template for a different region, with a different language, history and culture.

Too many reporters rushed to interview the young liberals who were standing in city squares with placards written in English, and mistook them for the voice of the people and the direction of history. Some journalists had done the same during the ‘Green Revolution’ describing the young students of North Tehran as the youth of Iran, thus ignoring that far more young Iranians were joining the reactionary Basij militia and the Revolutionary Guard.

The Arab uprisings, as I prefer to call them, may well end up leading to the flourishing of  liberal democracy in the region; but it is far too early to tell and it was much too early to frame events in that light last year.

In 1989 in Eastern Europe there was one form of totalitarianism: communism. In the majority of people’s minds there was only one direction in which to go: towards democracy, which was thriving on the other side of the Iron Curtain. East and West shared a historical memory of brief periods of democracy and civil society.

The Arab World of 2011 enjoyed none of those things and faced in many directions. There was, and is, the direction of democracy, liberal democracy (which differs from the former), nationalism, the cult of the strong leader, and then there was the direction in which many people had been facing all along: Islam in its various guises, including Islamism.

In some cases people don’t have much of a choice. Mao Tse Tung’s maxim ‘All political power comes from the barrel of a gun’ is a flawed concept in a liberal democracy, even if democracies insist on having a monopoly on violence, but it is a truism in the Arab World.

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Some good citizens of Misrata in Libya may want to develop a liberal democratic party, some might even want to campaign for gay rights; but their choice will be limited if the local de facto power shoots liberal democrats and gays. Iraq is a case in point: a democracy in name only, far from liberal, and a place where people are routinely murdered for being homosexual.

The second phase of the Arab uprising has begun: an internal struggle within societies where religious beliefs, social mores, tribal links and guns are currently far more powerful forces than ‘Western’ ideals of equality, freedom of expression and suffrage.

The Arab countries are beset by prejudices; indeed, hatreds of which the average westerner knows so little that they tend not to believe them even if they are laid out in print before their eyes. We are aware of our own prejudices, which are legion, but often seem to turn a blind eye to those in the Middle East.

Routine expression of hatred for the other is so common in the Arab World that they barely draw comment outside the often western educated liberal minority. Cartoons which echo the Nazi Der Sturmer newspaper are common. Week in and week out, shock-jock Imams are given space on prime time TV shows, which they sometimes host. They use their time to spew vitriol and inspire violence; they would make Ofcom’s eyes water.

Western apologists for this sort of behaviour are sometimes hamstrung by a fear of being described as one of Edward Said’s ‘Orientalists’. They betray their own liberal values by denying that they are universal.  Others, in their naivety, say that these incitements to murder are not widespread and must be seen in the context of Arabic, which can be given to flights of rhetoric. This signals their lack of understanding of the Arab Street, the role of the mainstream Arab media and a refusal to understand that when people who are full of hatred say something, they mean it.  A letter written by Al Zawahiri, the al Qaeda leader, to the Iraqi al Qaeda leader provides a telling example. He asked the Iraqis to stop killing Shia in such large numbers and concentrate on killing American soldiers because the Shia could be dealt with later.

The Arab Uprising is well into its second phase. The oppressive lid of dictatorial rule has been lifted in many areas. This has given the political and sometimes geographical space for ideas, and guns, to flow. None of this happens in a vacuum. Outside forces are playing in the arena. For example Qatari weapons flowed to specific Islamist groups during the war against Gaddafi, and now Qatari riyals flow to people who are usually allied with the Muslim Brotherhood or even more radical organizations. Libya may have had an election in which the Brotherhood came second; but it has an electoral aftermath in which the Brotherhood is the strongest, best organized and best armed network in a nation reduced to fiefdoms.

As we have seen since the removal of Gaddafi, the gangs running these fiefdoms have exacted their ‘revenge’ in an orgy of brutality against black Libyans, black Africans, and people deemed to be Gaddafi loyalists. In impoverished societies with few accountable institutions, power rests with gangs disguised as ‘militia’ and ‘political parties’.  While they fight for power, many innocent people die.

It was in this context during the lecture that I used the phrase, ‘Muslims killing Muslims’. It was the response to this statement which took away my breath. I accept that the phrase might be construed as provocative and that few people would say ‘Christians killing Christians’; but it was a statement of fact nonetheless.

Among the audience of about 30 people from all over the world, was a young woman from south Asia. She stood up and said: ‘I cannot let you say that. Muslims kill Muslims’. I replied that we were all journalists and hopefully could discuss things in a rational manner, giving a few examples of how the Taliban were killing people in Pakistan and how hundreds of Pakistani Shia Muslims die in sectarian murders every year.

At this she turned red and almost shouted: ‘How dare you talk about my religion. I do not talk about yours!’ I replied that I would be happy to talk about Christian fundamentalism, the bombing of abortion clinics or even the Crusades if she wished; but suggested for everyone’s sake that we should move on. Before I could finish a man behind her from an Arab country interjected:

‘I also cannot allow you to say this. Muslims do not kill Muslims.’ I am familiar with the concept that no true Muslim could kill another, but find all too often this is merely used to wriggle out of a debate about the scale of killings. The explanation this time was one with which I am also familiar but rarely hear in a public forum.

In a bid to meet him half way I suggested that there was a debate to be had about whose fault it was that sectarian tensions had erupted in Iraq; but in both Saddam’s time and since his fall, Muslims killed Muslims by the hundreds of thousands.

‘This is not true,’ he replied. ‘The media is wrong. It is foreigners killing people in Iraq.’ Again, I was about to move on when I thought of what I felt might be a strong point. ‘But in the Iran-Iraq war, 1 million people died’.  He replied, ‘Yes, but the Iranians are not Muslims.’ The penny dropped along with my heart.

The majority of Iranians are Shia, so I asked him: ‘Are you saying that the Shia are not Muslims?’ He replied: ‘Yes, the Shia are not Muslims.’

His fellow class mates looked at him in astonishment, some open mouthed.  There are at least 200 million Shia Muslims in the world; it’s possible that some of them were in the room. With only a few minutes of the lecture left, and some of the audience clearly uncomfortable, I felt it was best to move on.

I was saddened by the experience. I’ve heard these views before, many times; but to say it so casually in an open forum made me wonder, again, how widespread this prejudice is. I suspect that a majority of the man’s fellow Muslims would disagree with him. However, recall the theory on the ‘Arab Spring’: those with the most guns ensure that their ideas are shouted loudest. There are many people who share this man’s beliefs. They are highly motivated and very well armed.

Tim Marshall is Foreign Affairs Editor at Sky News

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Show comments
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  • Jaysonrex

    The Civilized World must reclassify Islam from a religion to a political idelology (similar to Nazism, Stalinism, etc.) and prohibit its ‘manifestations’ (like it does with Nazism, Stalinism, etc.).
    Unfortunately, U.K. has a terrible reputation in this respect. The question that begs an honest answer is “When the chips will soon be down, who can the Brits appeal to? The Americans, again?”
    Islam represents a present and immediate danger to the entire human civilization. Who will lead us from the 7th back to the 21st century? There are no Churchills around any longer, as we all know. So … who?

  • JamesHaddock

    Communism isn’t a form of totalitarianism…but all forms of state communism to date have led to totalitarianism…be accurate, otherwise you’ll confund yourself and others

  • davidshort10

    It’s a misnomer because it started here in Tunisia in the winter, not the spring, and President Ben Ali, wiser than Gaddafi and Saddam who are no longer with us, legged it to Saudi on 14 January.

  • ShahMassoud

    Quran 9:26

    Say, [O Muhammad], “If your fathers, your sons, your brothers, your wives, your relatives, wealth which you have obtained, commerce wherein you fear decline, and dwellings with which you are pleased are more beloved to you than Allah and His Messenger and jihad in His cause, then wait until Allah executes His command. And Allah does not guide the defiantly disobedient people.”

    Islam comes even before family. So if other Muslims are not faithful enough a Muslim can kill him

  • ShahMassoud

    Jews and Christian are apes and pigs according to Islam

    Quran 5:60-64 Then say: “Should I inform you [People of the Book] of those, who will have even worse recompense from Allah than the transgressors? They are those whom Allah has cursed; who have been under His wrath; some of whom were turned into apes and swine; who worshipped taghut [the devil or idols]; those are the people who are in a far worse plight and who have turned farthest away from the Right Way.” (Maududi)

  • ShahMassoud

    Mohammed Badie of the Muslim Brotherhood Egypt said “jihad for the recovery of Jerusalem is a duty for all Muslims.”

  • ShahMassoud

    Egyptian cleric Safwat Higazi of the Egyptian MB

    “We can see how the dream of the Islamic caliphate is being realized, God willing, by Dr. Mohamed Mursi,”

    “The capital of the caliphate – the capital of the United States of the Arabs – will be Jerusalem, God willing,”

    “Our capital shall not be in Cairo, Mecca or Medina,” he said, before leading the crowd in chants of “Millions of martyrs march toward Jerusalem.”

  • ShahMassoud

    Sayyid Qutb’s MileStones spiritual father of the MB in Egypt

    “This movement uses … physical power and Jihaad for abolishing the organizations and authorities of the jahili system (Western civilization) which prevents people from reforming their ideas and beliefs but forces them to obey their erroneous ways [i.e. what they want to do] and make them serve human lords instead of the Almighty Lord. ”

    “Any place where the Islamic Shari’ah is not enforced and where Islam is not dominant becomes the Home of Hostility (Dar-ul-Harb) … A Muslim will remain prepared to fight against it, whether it be his birthplace or a place where his relatives reside or where his property or any other material interest are located. The homeland of the Muslim, in which he lives and [upon] which he depends, is not a piece of land; the nationality of the Muslim, by which he is identified, is not the nationality determined by a government … striving is purely for the sake of God, for the success of His religion and His law …. “

  • ShahMassoud

    “Sharia has to be adopted wholesale, and it will come either by embracing Islam because it is the fastest growing religion in the country, or by an Islamic country conquering Britain or by elements embracing Islam and imposing it.” – Anjem Choudry

  • ShahMassoud

    Abul A’la Maududi – Jamaat-e-Islami
    “Islam wishes to destroy all states and governments anywhere on the face of the earth which are opposed to the ideology and programme of Islam, regardless of the country or the nation which rules it. The purpose of Islam is to set up a state on the basis of its own ideology and programme, regardless of which nation assumes the role of the standard-bearer of Islam or the rule of which nation is undermined in the process of the establishment of an ideological Islamic State.

  • taxpayer

    You don’t need to apologise for Muslims or their way of life. you only know them because Europe colonised them then withdrew when Europeans figured out a more cost effective way to run them ie through puppet totalitarian regimes. whether they are Islamist like Saudi and Qatar or secular like Syria and Egypt is of little consequence. people have been oppressed for centuries now and they will cease to fight when they regain their freedom completely. there will be a period of chaos where the usual regional and international players will attempt to clear the field for their players but it will not work.this is a new generation of young Muslims who are hyper aware of their true history as opposed to European rewrite.they have as little respect for the west as they do for al-Qaeda or the king of Saudi arabia.they are little more than criminals in the eyes of a young Muslim who seeks freedom and dignity. Shia are Muslims but not well received amongst their people due to the strange dogma they espouse. a similar example in Christianity would be Mormonism. but way more violent and secretive. most people in the west have no idea what Islam actually is or what it truly teaches. none of these young revolutionaries will come to Europe to fight jihad here. they want their own lands back from your puppets. will Europe let them have freedom in their own land the returns of their own exports and no military coups?? I don’t think so..you seem to equate freedom with sex or alcohol or the right to malign those one does not like. but freedom is way bigger than that. the imam who spouts hatred is a psycho so is the Zionist and the Christian fundamentalist. to a true Muslim all of these people are abhorrent especially the bad Imam. Allah says in the Quran that faith is not by force and we are meant to follow the rational middle way and steer clear of extremes. try to understand not just hate

    • AY

      is sharia law prevalent, or subordinate to the man-made law?
      in sharia, are muslims considered as having exactly same legal rights as non-muslims?
      in sharia, is blasphemy against god or prophet – punishable?
      in sharia, is apostasy from islam – punishable?
      in sharia, is homosexuality – punishable?
      in sharia, is adultery – punishable?

      do you support the right of Pakistanis to have their national home in Pakistan?
      do you support the right of Jews to have their national home in Israel?

      are Christians allowed to bring Bible to Saudi Arabia?
      are Muslims allowed to bring Koran to the UK?

      are churches allowed in Mecca?
      are mosques allowed in London?

      try to answer all this FOR YOURSELF, then please understand the difference, that you are complete alien in this civilization, – and better consider packing to the place where your values and believes will be respected.

      sorry man – but no place for islam in modernity.

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  • toumanbeg

    “They are highly motivated and very well armed.”
    NO, they are not well armed. They use mostly early cold war weapons. Soviet weapons, which were never anywhere close to sate of the art. Modern War is about technology. To go up against a 21st century weapons system with a 1970’s weapon system is just an expensive form of suicide.

    “I say we pull out and nuke ‘em
    from orbit. It’s the only way to make sure.”
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  • toumanbeg

    The Arab Spring IS a good thing. It will lead to a democracy. In about 120 years or so. Meanwhile, life goes on.
    The “Arab Spring” is actually a series of food riots. The Islamic crescent is mostly wasteland. Muslims have very little in the way of technological skills. Ish’allah is a sure fire tech killer. Muslims do not grow enough food to feed their population. They need imports to just get by. They are at the bottom of the food chain so when thing get bad, they suffer. That can change but it will require Islam to change. That will take a century at least. When a generation of Muslims is raised that realizes when the car runs out of gas, it is NOT the will of Allah but some fool not refilling the gas tank then there will be a chance.

    • Daniel Maris

      If you’re right then we are going to see a lot of riots over the next year or so as food stocks are reducing due to poor harvests around the world.

      We will have freed ourselves of dependence on oil within 20 years. Things will change v. rapidly then.

      Drone and robot armies are giving us the military edge again. But the development of the Proto-Caliphate (Turkey, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Qatar- let’s call them TELTuQ) is worrying.

      • john

        The proto-caliphate already exists, Daniel. It’s called the OIC. The head of the OIC said, on their own website, that the OIC “fulfils all the functions of a caliphate.” So there it is, straight from the horse’s mouth.

  • Daniel Maris

    We need to recognise there is a proto-Caliphate in place now. It involves Turkey, Qatar, Egypt, Libya and Tunisia. It has Syria in its sights next.

    I think on that basis we cannot support the Syrian rebels. Not the same as saying we should support the Ba’athist fascists. But we need to understand what the proto-Caliphate means and what it is trying to do.

    Qatar has played a v. clever game. I feel if we knew what Qatar are really up to we might understand what is happening better.

    • AY

      qatar is jihadi Klein Zaches.
      it wants to install as many islamic colonies everywhere, and put them into position of power – before their oil runs out.

      so they invent “joint project” to transform French nogo zones, buy property in the UK, court egypt as source of arab demographics, establish “departments of islamic law” in Western universities, and so on.

      they had also learned that infiltration is effective when followed by terror.
      so they are ready to buy bunches of South Korean/Chinese/Russian small arms and push them suddenly into whatever country they decide is ripe for violent islamic takeover.
      they started from Libya and Syria, but have France and Britain in sights.

      • Daniel Maris

        Yes, I think you are probably right. But it would useful to get confirmation from people who know the country. I do recall that they have always had quite a forward looking policy. They used their oil money to build one of the biggest radio transmitters for an internatinoal service in the 1960s for instance.

        • AY

          forward looking doesn’t necessarily mean benevolent.

          Al-Jazeera broadcast lot of neutral apolitical stuff, their women presenters are not covered, and they not once showed discussions with some of their own secular Arabs who, from Westerner’s viewpoint at least, finished islamic doctrines in seconds. but, we just can’t grasp how strong Arab inertia is.

          that is all done by Al-Jazeera to infiltrate West’s minds smoothly – islam is always kept at hand and transmitted via hints and symbols, all these small pilot caps on blonde stewardesses, “wake up and smell arabica”, etc.

          but, maybe they aren’t fully aware on reality and feasibility of their mission.
          maybe they just try to bite too much, before the mug is cracked.

          the “vision” of qatari emir is in the end a vision of just one man – who is very unlikely to be told that he’s mistaken.
          and hopefully they underestimate how much resistance will be there.

          but at least we in the West should recognize and reject their encroachments.

      • Madame Merle

        The proto- caliphate is making brilliant progress in Europe, thanks to the immigration policy of the EU.

        To a greater or lesser degree, every European nation is guilty of anti-semitism and it is the feeling of guilt that accounts for the extreme tolerance towards an ever more demanding alien culture.

        In the 1930s the Jews were wrongly accused of a world-wide conspiracy and suffered horribly in the holocaust.

        Today there really is a self-proclaimed threat which is global and supremacist but our elected representatives do nothing.

    • john

      Qatar are hardcore Muslims – that’s what they’re up to. You know very well what that means. And there’s a new video on that interweb of the Free Syrian Army, otherwise known as The Rebels, in which they say “we will make Syria an Islamic state whether they want it or not”

      Fancy that? Who’d have guessed? If only we’d known etc. etc…

  • Redneck

    The majority of the Middle East and North African countries involved in the “Arab Spring” have clearly veered to a more fundamentalist regime. Is that not unequivocally correct?

    How, being selfish for a minute, is that of any benefit to the UK or the USA?

    I retch, slightly, each-and-every-time, I hear the BBC enthusing about Twittering and the Arab Spring: bed-wetters all. They are out to crush us, via a combination of unfettered influx into the once monocultural UK and conversion of white, female Britons to conform to their Muslim-betrothed’s wishes (see Melissa Kite).

    Let’s be frank, the “Arab Spring”, the virtual Islamification of France and the well-established London Caliphate: we have a very clear enemy. Those who deny it are deluded.

    • john

      There are two options available to the UK to stop further Islamisation, and keep a lid on where it’s up to. 1) deal with it in a civilised, legal way 2) wait 20 years and deal with it in an uncivilised, illegal way.

      And 2) will inevitably follow 1) if we don’t take option 1).

  • obmed1

    If the Sunni Muslim fundamentalists will slaughter Shia other with such glee and wild abandon, imagine what they would do the Christians. Imagine what they would do to the Jews. Perhaps this exercise will teach our stupefied western liberals why the Israelis need to keep their powder dry. Why they will never surrender territory that could provide bases and launch zones to the forces of evil. With such enemies, the minute they let down their guard, they are dead men. The fate that would then await their wives and children is too horrifying to discuss.

  • Carmel

    Brilliant article, Tim Marshall! When I began my journalistic career, I learned that the first principle of journalism is to be objective. Unfortunately, too may journalists are biased; have their own agenda and do not know how to report nor write objectively. Tim Marshall – whether he’s speaking on SKY or writing in newspaper/magazine – is factual; calm and presents with all the necessary background knowledge at his fingertips. He might well have his personal opinion – but is always impartial professionally. He is to be admired.

  • Jez

    No offence Tim, but where was this all encompasing wisdom when SKY News basically allied itself with the Islamist Millitia in the overthrow of Gadaffi?
    .
    The bias and almost utter contempt for regards a balanced approach to what was actually happening out there on the ground was also quite breath taking.
    .
    Is this peice an attempt to flush out the demons or something?
    .
    Scandalous.

  • Mjinga

    Got it about right. Islamists have slaughtered thousands of fellow Muslims over the last decade. Only the Muslim world can stop it. If non-Muslim try it merely reinforces the jihadist’s propoganda. Until moderate Muslims make a stand nothing will change.

  • Tarka the Rotter

    Ah, the penny drops…now spread the word amongst your colleagues in the BBC

  • andagain

    ‘Arab Spring’ is a misnomer

    “Arab revolutions” perhaps?

    • anotherjoeblogs

      not that i was a fan of press tv but they referred to the arab spring as ‘ Islamic Awakening ‘

  • David B

    Two points
    strike me. as an causal observer

    1.
    History tells us that revolutions that overthrough bad regimes do not necessarily lead to better ones

    2. We are dealing with prejudices that goes back
    centuries and they are far more ingrained than the west understands

  • arnoldo87

    While it is hard to dispute the substance of this article, it is hard to discern what you recommend as an alternative to the Arab Spring. Maybe you genuinely wish that the (predominantly Western-backed) dictators were still in charge?
    But in that case you would surely have to accept that somewhere down the line an Arab Spring would have been inevitable. The big problem that the Middle East faces is how to transition to democracy and stability. The West did it over hundreds of years with much religious hatred and bloodshed.
    The Arabs are doing it more rapidly.

    • obmed1

      As a thought experiment, consider that you could go back in time to 1978 when the shah of Iran was overthrown. Would you follow the same policy as Carter did knowing what lay in store for the next thirty years. Would you not do everything in your power and move heaven and earth to stop ayatollah khomeini? Knowing of the millions who would die as a result of his takeover, would it have been justified to put a bomb on the airplane that took him from Paris to Tehran? Was Carter right to cut diplomatic backing for the Shah and to deny him money and arms? Should we have provided a few brigades to prop up his loyal forces or maybe some air power. The psychological effect of our abandoning the Shah was devastating to his supporters. They promptly saw that the game was up and quickly switched sides or ran for the exits in droves.

      • arnoldo87

        Obmed1,
        Go back further than that, to 1953, when the West were complicit in a coup d’etat to replace a democratically elected government in Iran. This has been the problem with the West in the Middle East. We have tended to support (or in this case instal) dictatorships. From now on we should be encouraging moves towards democracy and assisting moves to replace dictators.

        • AY

          mordor with ballot box is not Western-style democracy.

          I personally don’t care if intention of islamic mobs to exterminate me and my family (because I am a Jew, or gay, or an atheist) – will reflect genuine will of 99.9% of all 1.5 godzillions of muslims.

          I will fight them anyway.

        • obmed1

          The 1953 coup by the Shah and his forces was indeed supported by the CIA. It became necessary because Mohammad Mosaddegh was a leftist and was conspiring to give the Russians access to naval bases on the Persian gulf. With such bases they would have had the strategic option of shutting of the oil flow to the Europe and Japan..It would have been the end of George Kennan’s “containment strategy”. If we had allowed the Mosaddegh regime to remain we would likely have lost the cold war. Our mistake was in allowing Iran to slip away during the ’70’s. This was a disastrous blow for our strategic position in the whole ME but the advantage came too late for the Russians and they collapsed anyhow in a few years. Of course people like you are all hung up of childish schoolyard ideas of morality and you don’t understand that in war you need to win by any and all means. You would have dithered and wrung your hands while the Soviets cleaned our clock and enslaved western europe just the way they enslaved eastern europe. I would rather have the death of a thousand Mosaddegh’s on my conscious than have my children live in such a world.

          • arnoldo87

            Tell me obmed1 – what exactly is the difference between your view of democracy and that of the old Soviet Union?
            You both believe in the validity of supporting non-elected governments to maintain your global strategic objectives.
            You both believe in winning wars by any means.
            And you both believe that enslavement of indigenous populations in support of those objectives is acceptable.
            That sort of morality clearly does not belong in the schoolyard. It’s more at home in the cesspit.

            • obmed1

              A Stalin would have said; “another useful idiot heard from”. Purity of the soul is doubtless very comforting if you beleive in an afterlife. Rational people do what needs to be done in order to survive. Take you “morality” and your sophomoric comparisons and shove them up a difficult orifice.

              • arnoldo87

                Brace yourself then, old chap

  • victor67

    Marshall works for Murdoch and still believes that America is an all powerful force for good in the world. They care about two things oil and Israel . Make sure the black stuff keeps flowing and the squatter state keeps dominating its neighbours and the arabs can go to hell.

    • AY

      what is dominating arab states is not Israel but islamic darkness.

    • obmed1

      The stink of Jew hatred overpowers all rationality. These fundamentalist Muslims would kill the Jews and then gladly slaughter you yourself plus every Atheist, Socialist and Christian on the planet. Their depravity and violence knows no limit or distinction. The Jews, as usual, are just the canary in this particular coal mine.

  • HooksLaw

    ‘Arab Spring’ is a term coined by journalists who are always looking for a convenient shorthand.

    What is happening in these places is an evolution of democratic accountability. its slow and painful. its not long ago that for instance Germany was a dictatorship, both in WW2 and an effective dictatorship in WW1. iIs not long ago that women did not have the vote in the UK. Our own evolution to democracy has been a long drawn out process. many of these countries we are talking about have a long history of autocracy and it will be a continuing long process for them to approach what we might consider as democracy.

    • arnoldo87

      HooksLaw,
      Agreed, but do you concur that any action that seeks to go from dictatorship towards democracy is to be welcomed, even if the process is complicated, bloody and not guaranteed to end in success?

  • victor67

    Sure there are sectarian tensions that lead to violence in the arab/islamic world but like Ireland Western imperialism exploits them in a divide and rule strategy. Take Iraq Paul Bremer and the neo-con paymasters promoted the shia at the expense of the sunni minority setting the scene for the sectarian blood bath. They also decided to use someone else is country as a battle ground. ie we fight them over here so we do not have to face them in our homeland.

    • scheduled departures every day

      It worked pretty well, didn’t it? All of the jihadist vermin collecting themselves together for easy extermination?

      • victor67

        The thing is the “vermin ” are never short of new recruits thanks to pax americana. Fallujah, haditha, US kill teams, drones and many more keep the breeding ground for new recruits and ultimately more grunts in US/UK to lay down their lives for the cause of reedom,apple pie and bae systems shares.

        • scheduled departures every day

          Oh, I’d say the jihadist vermin are running out of recruits. That’s the thing about the information age. It breaks through the local mullah’s rantings, and the potential jihadi recruits get to see video of the fiery death their brethren experienced, even as these potential recruits are being recruited.

          One’s perspective is molded accordingly, when one realizes that one may shortly be allahuing their last akhbar, courtesy of a Hellfire missile.

          • Daniel Maris

            Also, importantly, it may be sinking in that none of Osama’s kids went on to enjoy a glorious martyr’s death and that he appears to have discouraged them from doing so.

        • obmed1

          If they have more recruits we have more bullets.

  • Daniel Maris

    Tim Marshall has always struck me among the western journos as one you could largely trust and whose prognostications tended to be accurate. This is an excellent article with a salutory message.

    It underlines for me that we should not expect anything of changes in the Middle East but rather should focus on building up support for democracy through funding, practical resources and training etc.

    • AY

      guns, bandages, ammo and air cover.

    • ArchiePonsonby

      Tim Marshall strikes me as another naive Westerner who sees everything in that region in black and white instead of the infinite shades of grey which it really is. A region therefore which we would do well to leave to it’s own devices!

      • ShahMassoud

        9:29 of the Qur’an (The basis for offensive Jihad)

        Fight against those who (1) believe not in Allah, (2) nor in the Last Day, (3) nor forbid that which has been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger (4) and those who acknowledge not the religion of truth (i.e. Islam) among the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians), until they pay the Jizyah with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.

  • justathought

    I will not lose any sleep tonight because of this shocking revelation that Muslims kill other Muslims nor will I be astonished by Islams prejudice against various other Muslims.

    This menace will only increase as petro dollars are hosed across the region. Of concern should be the UK Muslims going for jihad training abroad only to return fully trained.

    • obmed1

      And who invited these Alien invaders to immigrate where they don”t belong? Were the people consulted on such a momentous decision? When will the idiots who perpetrated this stupidity be held to account for destroying a great and ancient society. And how are things to be set right again?

  • In2minds

    And this prejudice that shocked you so, no doubt heard in some UK Midlands town!

  • TomTom

    If you peg food prices to oil prices by using Biofuels you could expect areas that import large amounts of grain like the Middle East to explode as it becomes too costly to eat. Quantitative Easing is another addition to the heady brew of rising food prices as Barcap and Goldman enter the markets for gains. Arab Spring is what they used to call “Bread Riots” – a reason they abolished The Corn Laws for fear of uprisings in Manchester and Liverpool. Hunger is a primitive motivational force underestimated by the well-fed.

  • Madame Merle

    Good article.

    The “green” western powers see the buds of new life by helping rebels in old dictatorships.
    When will they realise that by propagating so-called democracy in such soil, they allow the poisonous weeds of jihadists to flourish.

    Spring, but only as in “springtime for Hitler”.

  • mcclane

    I don’t where you’re from, Tim. I don’t know where you’re going to.Maybe work experience. But your blogpost is too long & simply doesn’t reflect the realities of Turkey. Iran & Syria.

    • TomTom

      CSE in Metalwork according to Tim provided his qualifications for Sky News

    • Dimoto

      Two of which are not Arab and have had no spring. So, what’s your point ?

    • Daniel Maris

      Er…is that a bong before you? Can you please explain what you mean.

    • anotherjoeblogs

      the blog doesn’t reflect the realities of the hopi indians and their mescaline ceremonies either

  • McRobbie

    Isn’t it sad that anyone can so readily condone the killing of millions of people, wether muslim, not quite muslim in theri eyes or even not muslim at all. Any religion that allows that to be their mantra is a bad religion.

    • telemachus associates

      Reminds one does it not of the holy war in the trenches of Flanders

    • Augustus

      Now you know why Winston Churchill called Islam ‘the most retrograde force in
      the world’, and why he compared Mein Kampf to the Quran. There is no making peace with the more radical elements of Islam for whom dying as a martyr is so appealing they believe that killing other people is worth strapping on a bomb for. Islam is a system of totalitarian ideology, and cannot be compatible with freedom and democracy, because what it strives for is Sharia. It is a system that lays down detailed rules for society and the life of every
      person. Islam wants to dictate every aspect of life, and if unchecked, would readily establish governments in which Sharia law would replace any remnants of democracy and freedom. Islam’s greatest appeal from its very beginnings was that it endorsed the pillage of caravans and then of tribes as a means to acquire wealth. It permitted men to have several wives and reduced women to chattel. If you were a malcontent forever looking for someone to hate, you were instructed to hate and kill. After Mohammed died his followers launched “holy wars” to spread Islam and, in the process, created the schism between Sunnis and Shiites concerning who was Mohammed’s rightful successor. They still disagree and are still killing each other. It would be nice to think that we in the West could withdraw from the Muslim turmoil and aggression, now militant Islam is on the rise again, and leave them to fight their own battles. But to do so would certainly delay, possibly for ever, the day when secular elements will return to power in those countries now in the grip of the present turmoil.

      • ShahMassoud

        Winston Churchill

        How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. The effects are apparent in many countries. Improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live. A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement; the next of its dignity and sanctity.

        The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property – either as a child, a wife, or a concubine – must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men. Thousands become the brave and loyal soldiers of the Queen: all know how to die but the influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world.

        Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step; and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science, the science against which it had vainly struggled, the civilisation of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilisation of ancient Rome.

  • Koakona

    Poor, this analysis of both the religion of peace and its adherents charge to power across the Maghreb could be found below the line here in the coffeehouse week in week out for the last two years and daily on the coffeehouse wall and its excellent successor.

  • james102

    Symptomatic of the power of wishful thinking in the west. We
    want something to be true, such as proportionate outcomes or the inevitability
    of western style democracy, so pretend it is.

    • telemachus associates

      What we want is control
      Control of their oil
      Control of their politics
      Bur all is driven by fear of what it might do to the continuing hegemony of Israel over the region

      • anyfool

        Would you like your family to be under their control, you have seen what happens to little white girls under their control, you saw white people having their heads sawn of under their control, the you see their own women have acid thrown in their face under their control, you see their young Muslim girls spreadeagled and their genitals mutilated under their control, need i go on. now who should be in control remembering you have millions in the UK.

        • telemachus associates

          I am sure that is how our forefathers justified continued subjugation of his majesty’s subjects and for example justified our torture of the Kenyans that we heard about last week

          • anyfool

            You still have not answered the question,
            The Kenya situation is under review.

            • telemachus associates

              In battles there are rogues in every army who are renegades as the arrest of the 7 by the MP’s today attests
              The incident happened in Afghanistan’s Helmand province last year, but it is thought investigators only began an inquiry in recent weeks when the “code of silence” among the marines was broken by one of those who is said to have witnessed the crime
              They even cover it up

          • ToryOAP

            Fool Jimmy.

          • Simon Morgan

            lol. You are judge and jury on this one too, are you? The horrors committed by the Mau Mau on white people of course won’t ever come to trial. In this sick PC world in which you reside black people or Arabs are always the victims and they are always right -even when they’re wrong.

            I am heartened by the fact that ALL your comments are marked down whereas your detractors comments are always marked up. It means common sense is beginning to shine a light through the miasma of the politically correct pinhead lobby, as personified by you.

          • ShahMassoud

            Quran 9:5

            And when the sacred months have passed, then kill the polytheists wherever you find them and capture them and besiege them and sit in wait for them at every place of ambush. But if they should repent, establish prayer, and give zakah, let them [go] on their way. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.

      • ToryOAP

        Go away Jimmy. You are scaring the children.

      • HooksLaw

        So do we have control of the oil?
        No. The proof of the pudding is in the none eating. The reality in no way reflects your mad accusations. ‘Mad’ just about sums you up. That and ‘incoherent’.

        (The USA has masses of shale oil/gas anyway.)

      • Simon Morgan

        ‘Control’ of their oil? That’s all they’ve got to sell to the world. They need the revenues from it, and in case you hadn’t heard they are doing very well out of it. In most states you live tax-free. Anyone would think we were stealing the stuff from them listening to you.

      • anotherjoeblogs

        do you think the middle-east would have been better if we hadn’t syphoned and ‘ stolen ‘ their oil ? hegemony of israel over the area ??????????

      • anotherjoeblogs

        do you think the middle-east would have been better if we hadn’t syphoned and ‘ stolen ‘ their oil ? hegemony of israel over the area ??????????

      • anotherjoeblogs

        do you think the middle-east would have been better if we hadn’t syphoned and ‘ stolen ‘ their oil ? hegemony of israel over the area ??????????

      • ShahMassoud

        Qur’an 5:33

        Indeed, the penalty for those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger and strive upon earth [to cause] corruption is none but that they be killed or crucified or that their hands and feet be cut off from opposite sides or that they be exiled from the land. That is for them a disgrace in this world; and for them in the Hereafter is a great punishment,

  • John

    I’m astonished that you have been reporting on the middle east/Muslim world for so long and you don’t have a clue what Islam is, how it works, and how Muslims operate. Astonished, considering it’s so simple.

  • Jebediah

    Good article. There are too many apologists in the West. I always find the Guardian’s convoluted reasoning amusing. Freedom for women, Yes, freedom for gay people, Yes, democracy, Yes, down with racism, Yes. How about in muslim countries? “Ah well, you see, er… different social norms, er… all their problems are our fault… somehow.”

    • telemachus associates

      Good?
      Unbelievably condescending and paternalistic.
      No one was similarly diminishing about the Prague spring
      This is thinly disguised islamophobia and dare I say it racialism

      • http://www.coffeehousewall.co.uk/ Coffeehousewall

        No-one cares what you say or think.

        • telemachus

          Nor you vicar
          Suggest you return to look after your dozen loons on the UKIP porn site
          Britain needs to cleanse itself
          You could help

          • http://www.coffeehousewall.co.uk/ Coffeehousewall

            Little Jimmy, 17,000 visitors a month to www coffeehousewall co uk says different. There is a strong following of the comments there.

            Do you have a blog? Are there any people anywhere who want to read your ravings? Thought not.

            • telemachus

              17,000 visitors go to see the animals at Bristol Zoo

              • http://www.coffeehousewall.co.uk/ Coffeehousewall

                Tit. You prove the opposite point you intend. Bristol Zoo is also popular and successful. How many people would your blog attract if you dared to have one, or could work out how to operate one? A big fat zero apart from the lying troll identities you use to pretend you have support.

                • telemachus

                  We used to view you with respect

                • telemachuslaugh

                  We never viewed you with anything but contempt you creepy little slimeball.

              • ToryOAP

                Wouldn’t trust you with animals either Jimmy. Creepy troll.

          • ShahMassoud

            Sahih Bukhari: Volume 7, Book 62, Number 135:
            Narrated Jabir:
            We used to practice coitus interruptus with captured women during the lifetime of Allah’s Apostle.

      • ToryOAP

        The name changes Jimmy but the stench of perversion follows you. Disgusting troll.

      • ShahMassoud

        The Apostle of Allah (may peace be upon him) sent a military expedition to Awtas on the occasion of the battle of Hunain. They met their enemy and fought with them. They defeated them and took them captives. Some of the Companions of the Apostle of Allah (may peace be upon him) were reluctant to have intercourse with the female captives in the presence of their husbands who were unbelievers.

        So Allah, the Exalted, sent down the Qur’anic verse: (Sura 4:24) “And all married women (are forbidden) unto you save those (captives) whom your right hands possess.” (Abu Dawud 2150, also Muslim 3433)

      • ArchiePonsonby

        Takes one to know one, as my father used to say!

    • Patriccia Shaw

      Apologists in the west need to recognise the true Arab Spring

      The Palestinian Authority president Abbas gave these remarks to the UN
      General Assembly on September 27, 2012

      “Over the past year, since the convening of the General Assembly’s
      previous session, Israel, the occupying Power, has persisted with its
      settlement campaign, focusing on Jerusalem and its environs. It is a campaign
      clearly and deliberately aimed at altering the City’s historic character and
      the glorious image of the Holy City etched in the minds of humankind. It is a
      campaign of ethnic cleansing against the Palestinian people via the demolition
      of their homes and prevention of their construction; the revocation of
      residency rights; the denial of basic services, especially with regard to
      construction of school; the closure of institutions; and the impoverishment of
      Jerusalem’s community via a siege of walls and checkpoints that are choking the
      City and preventing millions of Palestinians from freely accessing its mosques,
      churches, schools, hospitals and markets.”

      Abbas warned that Israel’s ongoing settlement
      construction in East Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank would make the
      creation of a viable Palestinian state alongside Israel “extremely
      difficult if not completely impossible”.

      It is not only Palestinians who see Israeli settlements as one of the main obstacles to peace – the international community does too, as do many Israeli peace activists.

      Help us turn Spring into Summer

      • ToryOAP

        Still fooling no-one but yourself Jimmy.

      • Augustus

        “It is not only Palestinians who see Israeli settlements as one of the main obstacles to peace – the international community does too, as do many
        Israeli peace activists.”
        Some people have been taught to loathe their own civilization so much that some small part of them thinks that perhaps it deserves to be destroyed, though I doubt very much they would be happy to find that it was. It’s fairly irrefutable that the Israelis have generally behaved in a more civilized manner than most any other nation, in the same situation, would have done. Israel is the eternal (and successful) Jew among the nations. But Israel is not just a Jewish issue – it’s about freedom, human rights and
        democracy, all the values that Western nations cherish. It’s also about trying
        to be a light among nations. The Palestinians have been rewarded for terrorism. Other minority stateless ethnic groups such as the Kurds & the Tibetans, are more deserving of their own self-determining state, yet are largely ignored by the world (in particular the U.N.) while the Palestinians are essentially pandered to. If Palestinians really wanted to exist as a state side-by-side with Israel they would stop teaching Jewish hatred in their schools, mosques, media, & on the streets, and make their own leaders more accountable for their actions.

        • telemachus

          your reply forgets history
          The country belonged to the Palestinians before the Israeli terrorists arrived.

          • Jebediah

            Belonged to the British before that, and the Turks before that, and various empires before that, and prior to that it was a Christian land run by the Byzantine Empie, and at some point before that it was Israel run by Jewish people.
            And that’s a simplified version… So back off on calling an entire nation terrorists eh?

            • telemachus

              Many folks colonised but the indiginous Arabs, now Palestinians were there centuries before the torrential invasion by European Jewry

              • Daniel Maris

                I don’t know why you are calling them Arabs. They are Arab speakers but include many people of Turkish descent, European descent, Jewish descent, African descent, Egyptian descent etc etc.

                • Daniel Maris

                  Sorry – typo – I should have typed “Arabic speakers” not “Arab speakers” of course (I was making the same mistake you are Telemachus).

          • telemachus associates

            Do you think the Iranians are correct then?
            Do you agree that regional balance of power reqires Iran to develop a nuclear bomb.

          • ShahMassoud

            Time for History lesson. What is the relevance of Tiberius, Sfad, Hebron and Jerusalem to the Jews.

            What do you know of the Old Yishuv?

      • Daniel Maris

        Message to PA – stop hating Jews, stop hate speech on your TV station, then we might take you a little more seriously.

        • ShahMassoud

          At the Sheikh Ijlin Mosque in Gaza, Sheikh Ibrahim Mudeiris, employee in the Religious Affairs Ministry in the Palestinian Authority, uses the Battle of Badr (AD 624) as a rallying cry for his fellow jihadists to fight the Jews, who are the descendants of apes and pigs.

          Then came the great battle of Badr, where the Muslims grew stronger. This brought the third stage of dealing with the Jewish existence in Al-Madina. We have tolerated you for a long time – you offspring of apes and pigs! We have tolerated you for a long time.

      • Jebediah

        Hey Patricca take your enormous racist non sequitur elsewhere.

      • anotherjoeblogs

        is your name really patriccia shaw ?

      • anotherjoeblogs

        is your name really patriccia shaw ?

      • anotherjoeblogs

        whenever islam is scrutinised play the nasty jew trump card,eh.

      • anotherjoeblogs

        whenever islam is scrutinised play the nasty jew trump card,eh.

      • anotherjoeblogs

        actually you are just reinforcing the premise of the eternal muslim victim complex. you really aren’t doing yourself any favours, patriccia shaw.

      • anotherjoeblogs

        actually you are just reinforcing the premise of the eternal muslim victim complex. you really aren’t doing yourself any favours, patriccia shaw.

      • ShahMassoud

        Really? Yo think they want freedom?

        Ismail Haniya, Gaza, 2006″We will never recognize the usurper Zionist government and will continue our jihad-like movement until the liberation of Jerusalem.”
        “Hamas must declare that it was formed to eliminate the state of Israel, and that Israel is an entity that must disappear. [Hamas] should declare that its political, military, and social plan is the liberation of all the land by means of resistance”The words of Kana’an ‘Obeid, an advisor to the Hamas government in Gaza, in an October 8, 2012 article in the Hamas newspaper Al-Risala.

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