After communism and capitalism, there is asterism.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Living in the past

One of the big lies of the first world war was 'The Great Arab Revolution'. The story goes that the Arabs revolted against Ottoman rule and became independent. It was no such thing. The machinery of the Ottoman Empire was only retuned to serve a new master. Much of the bureaucracy that ruled the Arabs and the class of people who led the military - i.e. those that really control the system of power - stayed the same.

In Iraq, a Sunni elite tended to run the government and the military officers tended to come from a certain class from Mousil. Politicians come and go but the army and bureaucracy remained a constant. Saddam tinkered with the system little. Christians and Shia were allowed to take controlling positions in the military and government but only when there was no threat to his rule and only when they could be replaced at the drop of a hat.

The American occupation of Iraq turned all that on its head. The Sunni classes that enjoyed a privileged position in Saddam's Iraq were turned into outcasts and a whole system of ruling the country was torn apart.

The comments of Mubarak (that all Shia answer to Iran and not to their own countries) should be taken in this context. What America did in Iraq has started the Great Arab Revolution. The old social classes that used to control the power in Iraq have gone and a new class is taking its place. The same will start to happen across the Arab world and the old classes are scared witless. Mubarak and all the Arab leaders that are nodding in agreement with him are history. The point is now what shape the future will take.


Post a Comment

<< Home