Det snakkes ikke lenger like høyt om demokratisering av Midtøsten. Nå kalles istedet Saudi-Arabia, Egypt og Jordan for «moderate». Men ordet har ingen mening brukt på Saudi-Arabia, skriver Mai Yamani.
Hun påpeker at USA nok en gang må inngå allianse med de sunni-arabiske regimene, og sier det stinker av dobbeltmoral. Blant folk i Midtøsten avler det kynisme. Det undergraver også legitimiteten til regimene, mener hun. Men hun unngår å nevne bakgrunnen: At USA trenger all den hjelp det kan få for å demme opp for Irans fremstøt.
This minuet of political marketing may play well in the west, but not in the Arab world, where the double standards and manipulation are all too plain to see. The Saudi Wahhabis are, after all, fanatics; Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak is intolerant of dissent; and Jordan, the state closest to the western ideal, is a marginal player. These countries’ appalling human rights records, lack of transparency and repression rank them among the world’s least moderate. Is there such a thing as a «moderate public beheading»? For the US and UK governments there clearly is, because all departures from the ideals of liberal democracy and social justice are rooted in «tradition». Hence bribes, beheadings and the oppression of women and minorities are traditional, and because whatever is traditional is not radical, it must be moderate.
The use of moderate to describe such leaders is necessary to mask the death of Bush’s «freedom agenda» in the Middle East, with its lofty goal of regionwide democratisation. Indeed, Rice’s visit to Egypt in January emphasised the word moderate and completely ignored the word democracy
The relationship with the west is a two-way street. The Saudis invest billions in the US, buy weapons they don’t need or cannot use, and provide a thriving market for western goods. But, like Mubarak, the Saudi rulers are old and on the defensive against their own people. The more the US shelters them, the more their legitimacy erodes. And the longer Washington and London prolong the state of denial with the help of pithy and amorphous buzzwords, the more explosive the Middle East will become.
· Mai Yamani is author of Cradle of Islam, and Changed Identities: The Challenge of the New Generation in Saudi Arabia
The longer the US and Britain back dictatorial regimes in the Middle East the more explosive the region will become