We’re getting some good lessons in geography, government, and culture from Arabic-speaking countries these days. I loved studying ancient Egypt when I was in school and could relate to those familiar paintings and hieroglyphs as I studied the Bible. When I think of North Africa, I think of Field Marshall Rommel, the Desert Fox, and his tank battles against Montgomery in WWII. The Monaco-size emirates on the Arabian peninsula have meant little or nothing to me during my lifetime. I took notice of Kuwait when the U.S. kicked Saddam’s army out to protect the oil. Al Qaeda groups training and fighting in places such as Yemen catch my eye but not my emotions. My emotions turn to hate when I think of Arabs who want to annihilate Israel. I don’t care what country they come from or if they’re home grown. They’re either part of a nomadic clan or recently descended from one, and their country was created out of desert by Europeans after World War I. Few Arab countries have any relevant history prior to European colonization or Ottoman Turk conquest. Egypt, Syria and Carthage are the only names that ring a bell of importance. Despite Saddam Hussein’s rantings, Iraq is a long way from Babylonia or Assyria. Medes and Persians weren’t and aren’t Arabs.
So, here are Arabs from Western Sahara, Tunisia, Algeria, Lybia, Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, Kuwait, Jordan, and Syria either overthrowing their leaders, demonstrating against authoritarianism, oppression, and government controls, or daring to think about freedom.
We dare not guess how the sands will settle in any of these nations. Autocrats and armies have kept the Islamists in check. We have to ask if a democratically elected president, legislature, and judiciary could or would keep them in check. Then there are the internal battles between Sunni and Shi’a Muslims and they vs. minority Muslim sects. And don’t forget the Kurds. They’re looking for their own real estate where Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Iran touch borders.
Meanwhile, the terrorists of every ilk are sitting back and waiting to see what happens. Or are they? Should we care about an Iranian frigate and its tender passing through the Suez Canal to visit Hezbollah’s Syria? Are we seeing the incipience of Armageddon? Or might Arabs create democratic states by the will of the people, something that two Presidents Bush couldn’t do with military might?
To be continued…