Today we should classify this analysis as one of those truths that is true until it is not. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, as the world knows, had dozens of his half-brothers and cousins ââheld in a luxury hotel, where some were tortured and many were forced to give up some of their wealth “conquered by corruption” . And then came the murder at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul of Jamal Khashoggi, a journalist who wrote critical articles on the crown prince, but who had been an assistant to the kingdom’s former ambassador to the United States, Prince Turki al-Faisal.
As for one-bullet regimes and how that bullet can reverse the politics of a nation-state, I can’t help but think of the assassin bullet that killed Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin of Israel. in 1995, rescinding the Oslo Accords promise and leading to Benjamin Netanyahu’s years as head of die-hard governments hostile to the Oslo Accords two-state promise.
Nonetheless, if we take a cold look at the greater Middle East, we see tyrants killed and regimes overthrown – or suppressing revolts – in a way that seems to validate the drastic change theorem discussed by this Israeli analyst ago. years. Just consider the disappearance of Saddam Hussein in Iraq or Moamer Khadafy In Libya. Saddam, Iran’s relentless enemy and persecutor of Iraqi Shiites, has been replaced by an elected government enslaved to Iran and dominated by Shiite parties.
The fall of Gaddafy’s monolithic dictatorship led to relentless civil war in Libya and the involvement of Russia, Turkey and Arab Gulf regimes in a multifaceted power struggle that made life a nightmare for the citizens of this oil-rich country.
But the worst recent nightmares in the Middle East have been in Syria, where the ultimate one-bullet regime, the “elected” dictatorship of Bashar Assad, survived a decade of revolt thanks to the Quds force of the Guardians of the Iranian revolution that leads the counter-revolution – bringing in Hezbollah fighters from Lebanon, Shiite infantry from Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere, and, most importantly, the air power of the Putin regime in Russia.
All these forces, all this firepower, were mobilized to prevent Assad from taking a bullet that could turn his regime into his antithesis: a Syria ruled not by an Alawite minority but a Sunni majority not wanting to remain in the grip of Shia Iran. Half of the Syrian population has been driven from their homes for this purpose; babies were killed by Russian bombs; doctors perished in bombed hospitals; and countless numbers of Syrians have been tortured to death in Assad’s prisons. All this so that the regime inherited from Assad is not supplanted by its antithesis.
Egypt, too, went through their version of the 180-degree turn. Ten years ago, senior generals worried that Hosni Mubarak’s son Gamal would replace his father and, along with his partner, steel tycoon Ahmed Ezz, jeopardize the generals’ economic assets, were perfectly fine. happy to inform Mubarak that his time in power was in place. As an Egyptian joke summed up the drama: His advisers came to Mubarak and said, âSir, the Egyptian people are saying goodbye to you. And Mubarak’s lordly response was to ask: âReally? Where are they going?”
The rest is history. The high ranking officers allowed an election; the election was won by the only truly organized political party, the Muslim Brotherhood; the generals gave the clumsy Brothers enough time to discredit themselves, then took over the reins of power. The appearance of the popular revolution was an illusion. But in the meantime, the power seemed to turn 180 degrees, not once but twice.
Again . . . the various fluctuations of power in the Middle East are pale in comparison to our four years of counterrevolution. This distraught crook, Donald Trump, pulled the United States out of the Paris Agreement on the climate, the Iranian nuclear agreement and the Trans-Pacific Partnership of the 12 countries; alienated and insulted America’s closest allies; botched nuclear negotiations with North Korea; and suggested Americans could protect themselves against COVID-19 by injecting bleach.
Yet none of his blunders were as repulsive as his betrayal of the Syrian Kurds who, in coordination with American air power, fought and defeated the Islamic State fanatics. Influenced by the writings of the American radical Murray Bookchin, Syrian Kurds practice a form of community egalitarianism based in part on New England’s early town councils, with complete equality between men and women, and democratic participation in all decision making.
In the final battle of the war against Islamic State, Kurdish women and girls fought female slave traders house by house in the Syrian town of Raqqa. And finished them. For Islamic State cult pawns, nothing could be worse than being killed by a woman; such death meant that the victim could not enter heaven. Yet Trump, in a phone call, authorized Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to intimidate him into abandoning the Syrian Kurds. A Turkish military incursion into northern Syria followed which amounted to ethnic cleansing. As a result, Trump’s Defense Secretary General James Mattis has resigned, as has Brett McGurk, the administration official overseeing the fight against Islamic State.
As difficult as it may be, we Americans have to contend with the fact that we are now looking at the rest of the world as if we are living on a one-turn regime. And if they succeed, the Trump insurgents who stormed the Capitol on Jan.6 calling for the hanging of Mike Pence could enter America in the one-bullet diet club.
Alan Berger is a retired Globe columnist.