Crusaders in 2012: What the West cares about in the Middle East

Let’s be frank. Colonel Ghaddafi is not a pleasant man. The NATO / UN / EU or whatever coalition is right not to trust him. Cameron et al have put themselves in front of the world media to say that they want to help Libyans decide their future for themselves, without fear of oppression.

I believe that these world leaders are sincere. I am sure they are repulsed by the stories of previous torture emerging from Benghazi or wherever. But, let us be clear, just what do our twenty first century knights in shining technology armour really want to achieve?

Are they looking to end terror of local groups or ethnic minorities? 

That would be nice. But, Ghaddafi has been torturing opponents for years, and nobody said a word. Libya was even chair of the UN committee for human rights last year. So, it is not just about trying export the Geneva Convention to new countries.

Let’s take this argument one stage further. President Mubarak was no saint, but the West loved him and Obama revealed one of his most famous speeches at Cairo University. Mubarak maintained the peace treaty with Israel and kept the Muslim Brotherhood at bay. When Obama finally turned his back on the Sphinx, these planks of stability were crashing to the bottom of the Mediterannean.

Elsewhere, William Hague, Britain’s Foriegn Minister, has called on leaders in Bahrain, Oman and Yemen to show restraint against demonstrators. You must be joking! They have not done so in the past  – where were you then Mr H? – and they are hardly likely to learn this new art in 2011.

And as for creating a new order at the UN, words fail me. Iran has just become a panel member of the committee to support women’s rights. Hypocrisy? Chutzpah? Stupidity? I will let my readers choose, and then ask why this is allowed to happen without protest.

It is the “Damascus conundrum”, which fully exposes the malaise and emptiness of Western thinking. Syria is a police state that arrests and kills opponents in quantity. It has spurned a peace opportunity with Israel in 1999. It is a proxy of Iran. So surely if the violent demonstrations lead to a toppling of the Assad dynasty, that will be good news for Europeans?

Not necessarily so. Who knows who could replace the current regime. Many of the demonstrators see Assad as a traitor and are demanding a more Islamic republic……………just like the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. Back to square one?

Fortunately, there is one thing that everything all sides can agree on. Israel is in the wrong. The world blames repression in Gaza on Israel, and ignores continuous reports of Hamas aggression against locals. When five so-called settlers are murdered in their sleep, world media downplays the story. When reporting back to the British Parliament from a recent tour of the Middle East, and as riots continued all over the region, David Cameron made a fairly large swish of his verbal sword in the direction of Israel’s policies. 

Amazingly, it is one of Israel’s fiercest critics, the Guardian newspaper, that noted just how pathetic and outmoded this diplomacy has become.

Our absurd obsession with Israel is laid bare. 

The Middle East meant only Israel to many. Now the lives of millions of Arabs have been brought to Europe’s attention.

The European Union, which did so much to export democracy and the rule of law to former communist dictatorships of eastern Europe, has played a miserable role in the Middle East. It pours in aid but never demands democratisation or restrictions on police powers in return. That will have to change if the promise of the past month is to be realised.

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