KOUROSH ZIABARI: What’s your estimation of the recent developments in the region and how do you forecast the future of chained revolutions of the Middle East?
Franklin Lamb: This truly historic regional uprising will, in my view, also contribute critically to the liberation of Palestine. Eventually the current uprising will replace perhaps as many as ten regimes and to its great credit, will count the implementation of UN Resolution 194 and the full and long overdue return of the Palestinian Refugees to their homeland.
KZ: What’s your analysis of the situation in Libya? Given the immense investment of the American and European companies in the oil sector of Libya, can we foresee a future in which Gaddafi is removed from power and tried for his criminal policies?
FL: I agree that what is going on in Libya is a civil war and that the so-called “Obama Doctrine” has become farcical with respect to Libya. NATO should stop its bombing which has killed many of those they were tasked to protect and the international community must insist on a ceasefire and sending humanitarian aid. Enforcing a ceasefire would be a legitimate international role but taking sides in a civil war has only very rarely led to the desired outcome and violates Art. 2 (7) of the UN Charter which prohibits unwarranted interference in the internal affairs of Member States.
Yes, the West will insist on a replacement for Gaddafi and one who is more reliable that he has been recently Also the US will demand that Libya’s new government must not confront Israel seriously and it must be friendly toward US military projects and bases.
Daily the military option is being shown to be ineffective and is in fact deepening the tragedy. It is not too late for the UN to revise its resolution and insist on a ceasefire and dialogue among the factions and making use of the good offices of the Arab League and African Union.
KZ: What’s your idea about the situation in Bahrain?
FL: I think the people of Bahrain will absolutely succeed in their legitimate quest for dignity and freedom. A recent University of Maryland poll shows that nearly 70% of the American public is supporting the Middle Eastern uprisings even if it means weakening Israel.
Meanwhile, the Obama administration hypocrisy toward the unarmed civilians being killed in Bahrain is flagrant.
Speaking on 4/13/11 at the U.S.-Islamic World Forum, a gathering sponsored by Qatar and the Brookings Institution, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton assured the World that “America’s core interests and values have not changed, including our commitment to promote human rights equally in every country.”
Clinton’s remarks prompted some groans from the audience, and one Georgetown University student impolitely blurted out “Tell that to the people of Bahrain and prove it, lady!”
What the exasperated student, and others in the audience apparently found outrageous was Clinton’s comment that, “We know that a one-size-fits-all approach to American values doesn’t make sense in such a diverse region at such a fluid time” as she hailed Bahrain for what she called a “decades-long friendship which we expect to continue long into the future.” Referring to the government crackdown, she added that “violence is not and cannot be the answer.”
Clinton explained that the Obama administration will neither recall its ambassador to Manama nor threaten sanctions — a striking disparity that is fueling anti-U.S. sentiment among Bahraini opposition groups. The Obama Doctrine words are all about freedom and democracy and change, but in Bahrain, the reality is that the Obama Doctrine amounts to a protection for the dictatorship.
By contrast, Obama has repeatedly justified military attacks in Libya, saying: “Innocent people were targeted for killing. Hospitals and ambulances were attacked. Journalists were arrested. These acts are against core American values.” But while the same human rights abuses noted by Obama are happening in Bahrain, the Obama Doctrine is not on the Presidents teleprompter.
It appears that core American values aren’t so important when the regime being reformed houses the Fifth Fleet and has Saudi neighbors, themselves afraid of potential protests.
KZ: What will be the impacts of Egyptian revolution on the future of Israel-Egypt relations?
FL. During the Tahrir Square uprising we heard much about the need for dignity of the Egyptian people and dignity for Arabs and Muslims. What captured the world’s attention were the demands for jobs, democracy, freedom from fear of arbitrary arrest, torture and detention by the myriad security services and much more control of the economy by the Egyptian people.
Now were are hearing more about fundamental issues, such as the Camp David Accords, which have been festering among Egyptians and most Arabs for three decades. I believe the Egyptian people will eventually abrogate Camp David which in its essence is a Western imposed Capitulation Treaty.
The 19th Century Zionist colonial enterprise was grafted onto Palestine under a series of truly bizarre coincidences that could never be sustained. Of course the Zionist movement was well funded and well-armed and the colonial powers, particularly Britain was in no position to fulfill even their League of Nations mandate. Their occupation was co-opted by Zionist forces while at the same time the exhausted post-World War II international community was simply not interested in being an honest broker in the struggle between the indigenous Palestinian population and the arriving foreign European colonists.
Both the CIA and the politicians in Israel see the historical handwriting on the wall. Israel will not collapse peacefully but it will dissolve. Hopefully the colonists who came from Europe and America will return whence they came or will agree to live as equals with the native population of Palestinians in a democratic, secular state governed by one person one vote and without discrimination based on any religion.
Six decades of serial crimes by Israel has educated the World that establishing an apartheid State on stolen Arab land was an historic and moral mistake and in not sustainable. Sooner perhaps rather than later the CIA predictions will likely come to pass.
KZ: Iranian authorities say that the Middle East revolutions are modeled on Iran’s 1979 revolution. Do you agree with them?
FL: I would not go as far as to say that the 1979 Iranian Revolution provided an exact template for what is occurring now, 32 years later. But I strongly believe that the Iranian revolution is a fundamental cause of the 2011 uprisings. Firstly, we often hear some argue that the current rebellions are all about bread and butter issues and are not motivated by religion. I don’t agree. While the issues expressed on the streets have been largely those we discussed above, I think a fundamental factor that initiated what we are witnessing is Islam. Islam is all about justice and sacrifice for the commonweal of the community, the Ummah. Islam is about the dignity of the individual. I believe that Islam provided the inspiration and the strength of the populations involved in each of these historic uprisings.
Consider how each Friday the prayers in the Mosques and Husaynieh’s [religious buildings constructed for the congregation of worshippers] in the region provided the opportunity to gather, to mutually inspire, to rededicate, to plan and to support the rebellions. Every Friday became a day of renewed resistance to oppression. From my point of view this is what Islam is all about; dignity of the individual, the quest for justice in the face of oppression, individual freedom and resistance to injustice and oppression until
victory. Without the power of Islam I do not think these rebellions would have ignited as we have witnessed them, nor would they be succeeding as they are.
I think it is very difficult to exaggerate the positive consequences for scores of million of freedom seeking people in the region resulting from the great Islamic and Arab Awakening of 2011.
Franklin Lamb is Director of the Americans Concerned for Middle East Peace, Beirut-Washington DC, Board Member of The Sabra Shatila Foundation, and a volunteer with the Palestine Civil Rights Campaign, Lebanon. He is the author of “The Price We Pay: A Quarter-Century of Israel’s Use of American Weapons Against Civilians in Lebanon”. He is doing research in Lebanon and is reachable c/o firstname.lastname@example.org
KOUROSH ZIABARI is a young Iranian journalist, media correspondent and literary author.