The Bitter Fruits of the Arab Spring

In a new book entitled A Rage for Order, the journalist Robert Worth tells the story of the Arab Spring and its bloody aftermath through a series of vignettes. Adam Kirsch writes in his review:

[I]n Egypt, as in Syria and the other places Worth covers, the initial enthusiasm [of 2011] obscured the fatal deficit of trust among citizens. Divisions between liberals and Islamists, civilians and the military, rebels and supporters of the old regime proved to be too poisonous and deeply rooted to be overcome. When the Muslim Brotherhood managed to elect their candidate, Mohammed Morsi, to the presidency, many former rebels urged the military to step in and oust him. The new military ruler, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, immediately became the subject of a cult of personality, his likeness appearing on “flags, pins, pictures, chocolate, cups, and other forms of Sisi mania,” in the words of a newspaper article quoted by Worth. When Sisi’s forces massacred 800 Islamists in Cairo, liberals applauded.

In Egypt, however, at least the state survived. The same can’t be said of Yemen, where the decades-long dictatorship of Ali Abdullah Saleh had no sooner ended than Saleh was back at the head of a Shiite coalition, doing battle with Saudi-funded Sunni forces. . . .

It is the disintegration of countries like Yemen, Syria, and Libya that, in Worth’s view, explains the rise and the surprising allure of Islamic State. As his title A Rage for Order suggests, Worth sees the Arab peoples as motivated by a longing not for freedom or justice but for something more basic: the rule of law, the basic predictability of life, that only a functioning state can provide. . . . This is a Hobbesian view of government: rather than a state of nature where all war against all, better to have a single ruler with a monopoly on violence, no matter how arbitrary.

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Read more at Tablet

More about: Arab Spring, Egypt, General Sisi, Middle East, Politics & Current Affairs, Thomas Hobbes, Yemen

 

Why Is Iran Acquiring Property in Venezuela?

In June Tehran and Caracas concluded a major twenty-year cooperation treaty. One of its many provisions—kept secret until recently—was the transfer of 4,000 square miles of Venezuelan land to Iranian control. Although the territory is ostensibly for agricultural use, Lawrence Franklin suspects the Islamic Republic might have other plans:

Hizballah already runs paramilitary training centers in restricted sections of Venezuela’s Margarita Island, a tourist area northeast of the country’s mainland. The terrorist group has considerable support from some of Venezuela’s prominent Lebanese clans such as the Nasr al-Din family, who reportedly facilitated Iran’s penetration of Margarita Island. . . . The Maduro regime has apparently been so welcoming to Iranian intelligence agents that some of Hizballah’s long-established Latin American network at the tri-border nexus of Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay has been overtaken by Hizballah activities on Venezuela’s Margarita Island.

Iran’s alliance with Venezuela most importantly provides Tehran with opportunities to target U.S. interests in Latin America and potentially the southern United States. Iran, along with the Chinese Communist Party, is in the process of strengthening Venezuela’s military against the U.S., for instance by deliveries of military drones, which are also considered a threat by Colombia.

While air and seaborne arms deliveries are high-profile evidence of Iran’s ties with Venezuela, Tehran’s cooperation with Venezuelan intelligence agencies, although less visible, is also intense. The Islamic Republic’s support for Hizballah terrorist operations is pervasive throughout Latin America. Hizballah recruits from Venezuela’s ten-million-strong Lebanese diaspora. Iran and Hizballah cooperate in training of intelligence agents and in developing sources who reside in Venezuela and Colombia, as well as in the tri-border region of Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina.

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Read more at Gatestone

More about: Iran, Latin America, Venezuela