Arab world rocks US-backed ‘stability’

March 5, 2011

The US government says it wants “stability” in the Arab world. That sounds reasonable, right?

However, as US author and political analyst Noam Chomsky explained to Press TV on February 24, for the US government, “stability” means something other than what most people would think.

“You have to remember that stability is a cold code word,” Chomsky said. “Stability doesn't mean stability; it means obedience to US domination … [It] doesn't mean that things are calm and straightforward, [it] means they are under control. That of course it is inconsistent with democracy.

“The principle is that as long as people are quiet everything is fine — if they stop being quiet, something has to be done to reassert control. But it they are quiet, [US allies can] do what [they] like. That is the basic principle of governance.”

In promoting its own brand of “stability” in the Arab world, the US government raised military assistance funding to countries at the heart of the current unrest in a budget for 2011, said on February 9, 2010.

Increases were given to Bahrain, Libya, Morocco, Oman and Yemen. Jordan, Lebanon and Tunisia also received significant funding despite it being less than 2010.

However, many people in the Arab world — and beyond — are sick of the US's version of “stability” and want change. Fresh protests took place in Bahrain, Oman, Jordan, Yemen and Iraq on March 4.

Most of the protests are occurring in countries with US-backed regimes. Some examples of protests include:

Oman became the latest country to become “unstable” on February 27, when protesters took to the streets of Sohar, The New York Times said that day. Rallies have spread despite Oman's ruler, Sultan Qaboos bin Said, offering concessions of 50,000 new jobs and payments to the unemployed.

“Protesters' demands include greater freedom of expression, higher salaries, a clampdown on government corruption, a new constitution, and the prosecution of security officials whose actions led to the death of demonstrators,” said on March 1.

• In US-occupied Iraq, 29 people were killed as security forces attacked protests on February 25, the Guardian said on March 2. Security forces closed off bridges to stop protesters converging in Baghdad's Tahrir Square.

They also built walls blocking access to the US-controlled Green Zone. Protesters chanted: "No to terrorism, no to Saddam's dictatorship, and no to the dictatorship of thieves" and "No to the occupation". The US embassy broadcast in Arabic on state TV “a thinly veiled threat to protesters not to go too far in their demands”, The Guardian said.

• The government of Iran has arrested prominent opposition leaders Mehdi Karrubi and Mir-Hossein Mousavi to try to intimidate protesters, said on March 1. Police used tear gas to disperse a rally in Tehran demanding their release, said on March 2. Protests also took place that day in Tabriz, Shiraz, Isfahan, Kermanshehr, Karaj and Simnan.

• In Morocco, protests in several cities were brutally broken up on February 29, said that day. Activists have reported a “climate of fear” following the crackdown, which included the arrest of at least 11 protest organisers in Casablanca.

• The US has backed the Jordan government's promise of "serious" reforms, AFP said on March 2. A peaceful rally on February 25 demanded the government speed up the reform process and take action against pro-government thugs who attacked a rally on February 18, said on March 1.

• In Djibouti, 300 pro-democracy activists were arrested in pre-emptive raids to try to stop more protests, said on March 1. Previous rallies had drawn up to 60,000 people, said on February 19. Security forces stopped a protest on March 4 by blocking the march route, AP said that day.


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