Will the Slaughter in Gaza Trigger a Real Arab Revolution?

Israel’s attack on Gaza: “C’est pire qu’un crime, c’est une faute.”

The comment “C’est pire qu’un crime, c’est une faute!” (This is worse than a crime, it’s a mistake!), followed the execution of the Duc d’Enghien by Napoleon Bonaparte. Shortly thereafter, this was viewed by Napoleon’s own chief of police Fouché and French diplomat Talleyrand as a huge political blunder by the Emperor. The cynicism of the remark makes it sounds more like it came out of the mouth of Machiavellian Talleyrand rather than Fouche. This miscalculation from Napoleon seems, in retrospect, very mild compared to Israel’s strategic blunder in the context of the new war in Gaza.

The last time Israel conducted such an aggression on Gaza, it was called operation “Cast Lead.” The pretext, however, was the same: the firing of rockets by Hamas on Israel’s illegal settlements. But the goal was the same as the current war in Gaza: to “break the back of Hamas”, a democratically elected government labeled a “terrorist organization” by both Israel and the United States. The Netanyahu administration is brutal, but its level of stupidity and lack of basic geopolitical acumen may surpass its ruthlessness. Even though the 2011 Arab Spring was hijacked by Saudi Arabia and the West through their Salafis and Muslim Brotherhood surrogates (Morsi in Egypt), it has nonetheless drastically changed the dynamic across the Middle East. For a few months, the Arab people had regained a sense of pride in their own power to topple autocratic rulers, either aligned with the West or not, as in the case of Libya.

Solidarity with Palestinians: A possibility for a Sunni and Shiite reconciliation

The West, Israel and the Saudi autocrats have successfully divided Arabs on sectarian lines for decades. The US invasion of Iraq in 2003 greatly worsened this division. The “divide and conquer” principle might be proven obsolete in our current predicament. During the Arab Spring, Saudi Arabia crushed the revolution in Bahrain — with the approval of the United States — while financing the “revolution” in Egypt and working in conjunction with NATO to topple Gaddafi in Libya. The same players are involved right now in helping the so-called Syrian revolution to remove Assad from power. Israel and the West seized the opportunity for regime changes across the region, while failing to understand that the despots of Saudi Arabia were running an altogether different track: an Arab world dominated by the Saudis, pushing for a Sunni Middle East — a Talibanization of it — under the oppressive rule of Sharia law.

But what the autocratic and theocratic rulers of the region, from Morocco to Iran, and of course Israel and the West, are failing to understand  is that, ever since the creation of the Jewish state in 1948, the only rallying cause in the Muslim world, and also within the real left in Europe has been the crimes perpetrated against Palestinians. If the conflict escalates, as it appears to be doing, to involve Syria, which is already in the middle of a civil war, the region will ignite again. Some Egyptians already want Morsi out and are organizing buses to join Palestinians in Gaza. The giant can of worms Israel has just opened could ignite a tsunami of rage in Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, Lebanon, Bahrain, and yes, perhaps at the core of the power within Saudi Arabia. Protests are erupting everywhere, and trying to contain them could become impossible even by the most brutal forms of repression. If the 2011 Arab Spring did not blossom, a 2012 Arab Fall, provoked by the martyrdom of Palestinians, could be the beginning of the end for autocratic and theocratic rulers in the region.

Editor’s Note: All photographs by Active Stills.