Middle East is our theatre to argue whether ‘power’ is a gift of God or a reward by the devil. The article itself does not conclude in this regard whether power belongs to heavens or hells but tries to provide enough for the reader to decide. This article is bound to fetch examples from this decade only, which makes it more specific for the readers to remind the events and decide on any side of the coin. In arguing that power is a virtuous strength, the article presents Arab Spring _____ the public power, failed coup against Erdogan ___ again the power of the masses, and Iran’s might that resists heavier damage and American adventurism, as case studies. Whereas arguing that power is devil stuff, this writing highlights Morsi’s death, Khashoggi’s murder, and the Syrian war and the powers involved in it.
Power: Made in Heavens
For better understanding and comparison let’s begin with the argument that power is made in heavens. The following paragraphs will argue on the question ‘how’ and ‘why’.
It was a morning of December 2010, when a 26-year young Tunisian street vendor self-immolated himself in the consequence of the local officials’ harsh treatment. Soon the people in Tunisia were in the streets against the 23 years’ tyrannical regime of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. After a 28 days campaign against him, Tunisians were successful to topple him in January 2011 and the revolution came to be known as the Jasmine Revulsion. In December same year the elected president and prime minister of Tunisia took office.
Seeing successful protests in Tunisia, Egyptians also came out of their homes starting demonstrations against President Hosni Mubarak, who was ruling for thirty years there. The Egyptian Army was reluctant and showed hesitation in attacking their own citizens or using any kind of force against them. Mubarak getting no support from his fellow army men was compelled to leave the office, which he did on February 11. In January very next year, newly elected Assembly in Egypt held its inaugural session, which was a triumph came through public power against tyrannical power.
Seeing two extremely powerful leaders resigning, the rulers of Algeria, Jordan, Morocco, and Oman were quick to offer concessions. They also removed few officials from the office to satisfy their public opinions. Also, they made political changes like changes in the constitution____ empowering masses. This was a gift of power bestowed on Algerians, Jordanians, Moroccans, and the people of Oman due to immense use of it around. Besides, monarchy like Saudi Arabia, with absolute power was also afraid of such pro-democracy waves of protests, also offered concessions to its people.
But yes, Libya, Syria, and Yemen are exceptions, as the good power was defeated by the tyrannical one to a great account there and they are still in ruins.
“The Arab Spring reminds me a bit of the decolonization process where one country gets independence, and everybody else wants it.” Kofi Annan
Failed Coup against Erdogan
The failed coup against Erdogan is a remarkable piece of argument that power belongs to the heavens. It was 15th July 2016, when a section of the Turkish military led a bloodiest coup to unseat the current Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Explosions rang out in the streets of Ankara and Istanbul. The Turkish Army bombed the Turkish parliament. People in Anatolia came out to resist the coup. Similar resistance was witnessed in other parts of the country failing the coup miserably and the government declared a swift victory. 241 were killed and 2,194 were injured as a result but democracy had won. A heavenly power had defatted a mean one. Recep Tayyip Erdogan emerged as the strongest leader in Turkey and serving until today. This victory was possible due to the power and strength of the masses and defeating a ruthless might. Undoubtedly, a successful coup would be an argument in the opposite basket of the debate.
“If there is only one thing to underline boldly from this tragic experience, it should be the evolution of the social dynamic in Turkey that has come to a point where it will no longer tolerate the extermination of its will and freedom by force.” Anonymous
Iran’s Rationality and Power
The third argument in this regard is of Iran’s power. Almost the entire region of the Far Middle East is a victim of American adventurism in one way or the other. But in the case of Iran, US has been reluctant to invade it like she invaded Baghdad and it is highly unlikely that the US would ever dare to do that. Because the people sitting in the houses of Iran are far more rational than Saddam Hussein. United States also bombed pro-Qaddafi forces in Libya to support anti-Qaddafi forces to topple his regime, but protests in Tehran went unnoticed by America in this regard. If Iran was as weak as Iraq was, or as irrational as Libya was, then the region would have suffered far more than it suffers today. Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and environs could suffer bigger consequences if Iran was a weak state. From an individual perspective, the human cost could be very high in this region, from a national perspective, the disintegration of the mentioned states was possible and from an international perspective, other international wolves would have also joined the theatre of war to safeguard their interests. But it is Iran, who cannot be handled by the United States by invading it, and thus causing her to counter her in Iraq, Syria, and other parts of the region, limiting the damage in almost all senses.
“Iran has five capitals today, Baghdad, Damascus, Sana’a, Beirut, and Tehran.”Anonymous
Power: Made in Hells
Now it is good to go and argue that power is not heavenly, it’s a devil thing.
The first example in this regard is Morsi’s death. Mohamed Morsi was the fifth president of Egypt, who served from June 30, 2012, to 3rd July 2013. He belonged to the Muslim Brotherhood. He was allegedly in contact with Hamas. Though he had also tasted power for a year, but the way power made his life hell is far heavier than his 368 days of power.
Despite reaching a deal and assuring Morsi of not derailing the democracy in Egypt, Mohamed Morsi was ousted by the current Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi on July 3rd, 2013 via a successful coup against him. According to his family members and relatives, he was provided no proper medication in the prison as he was a patient of high blood pressure and diabetes. Amnesty International reports that he was often kept in solitary confinement during his six years prison, which can be classified as torture. The British Parliamentary penal had also reported in 2018 that Morsi was kept in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day, also classifying it torture. He was allowed only three visits from relatives and his lawyers and doctor were granted no access to him, the Amnesty International Report adds. The Egyptian authorities were reluctant to allow his family to burry Morsi’s dead body in his native Nile Delta province, Sharqiya, is how his son Abdullah told Reuters. Mohamed Morsi was clearly a victim of political victimization. The last six years of his life were ruined horribly by the people on power.
“(Morsi) was held in solitary confinement for almost six years, placing a considerable strain on his mental and physical wellbeing. He was effectively cut off from the outside world.” Amnesty’s deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa Magdalena Mughrabi
The second argument to prove the claim is Jamal Khashoggi’s Murder in Istanbul inside the Saudi consulate. He was a Saudi Arabian author, dissident, and columnist for the Washington Post. Also, an editor in chief and general manager of Al-Arab News Channel. He was a critic of the Saudi government and paid for it.
On October 2nd, 2018, Jamal Khashoggi went into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul for paperwork and never returned. Saudi authorities initially said that he had left the building. He was murdered inside the embassy, that’s what was revealed then. Saudi officials later claimed that he was killed in a rogue operation, whereas the Turkish authorities argue that the Saudi agents who assassinated Khashoggi had orders from the highest levels of the Saudi government. They also argue that he was tortured before being killed, this is how the audio recordings found inside the consulate confirm. A UN special rapporteur claimed that there was credible evidence found that the Saudi crown prince Mohammad Bin Salman and other high-level officials were involved in Khashoggi’s murder.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Riyadh in such air to bless the American child of the region. As there is nothing to surprise that power blesses power since day one of the universe. Similar stuff happened on Khashoggi’s assassination. The US President Donald Trump seemed unwilling to open the Pandora box, as his such step could jeopardize US-Saudi Financial interests. Trump stated, “If you look at Saudi Arabia they are an ally and they are a tremendous purchaser of not only military equipment but other things. When I went there they committed to purchase $450 billion worth of things”. This strengthens the Saudi might to exploit those who exploit their mean means. US-Saudi alliance is a power that veined Khashoggi’s blood, like many others’ in the region.
“Khashoggi was the victim of a deliberate, premeditated execution, an extrajudicial killing for which the state of Saudi Arabia is responsible” United Nations special rapporteur
For reading more on US-Saudi ties by the author, click here.
Syrian Civil War
The Syrian Civil War is the third example in this case. It was March 2011, when Syrian people came in the streets to protest against the tyrannical regime of Bashar Al Assad. Homs became the revolution capital of Syria, but if the Syrians could have imagined a moment of present Syria, they would have preferred to sit at homes. The government forces of Syria started crushing the protests with force. Iran and Russia were the first two nations to support the tyrannical rule of Assad. The country soon turned out to be the chessboard of the century drawing more actors and non-actors in the Syrian theatre of war. As per 7th April 2020, at least 384,000 people have died since 2011’s Syrian civil War including 116,000 civilians. Also, 11 million Syrians are displaced internally and externally both. Also, the United Nations estimated in 2018 that the conflict had caused nearly $400 billion in war-related destruction. The future of the country and the Syrian people is still not clear and predictable as other powers like Hezbollah of Lebanon, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United States, Israel, Turkey, and many other non-state actors have also joined the Syrian theatre of war for their own strategic and other interests. It can rightly be argued that Syria is badly sandwiched between many devil authorities.
“Nine years of revolution illustrate the extent of the suffering we have known, between exile, bombings, and deaths”. Hala Ibrahim, a rights activist from Dana, Idlib.
For reading more about the Syrian Civil War by the author, click here.
Note: Pictures’ courtesy does not belong to the author.