I've recently come across two interesting articles that indicate that the policy currently being carried out by the West in the Middle East is counter productive (to phrase it mildly) One is on the use of drones in Yemen (http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/when-us-drones-kill...) and the other states that at this point in time it would be wise for the international community to intervene in Syria and back up the National Coalition army. (http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/138509/michael-broening/time...)
These two articles are just an example of a growing demand for a change of method in the war against terrorism. They are interesting to read for all who are interested in the Arab spring and how it is effecting geopolitics and relationships between (Middle) East and West. There are indicators that the policy currently endorsed and acted on by Washington and the West (that more or less follows the US, reluctantly though in many cases) with it's focus on hard power (such as the use of drones and direct military invention - or not as in the case of Syria) is fueling conflicts and hostility towards the West and the idea of a secular, liberal, Western style democracy. This makes it easier for terrorist organisations (such as Al Qaeda) to recruit new followers and strengthen the Islamic narrative among the public who are developin a need to fight the perceived invaders and traitors to the Islamic cause. In the former article I mentioned it is stated that for every 10 Al Qaeda members that are killed by drones, 100 new are recruited!
This doesn't make sense! The harder "we" fight - the bigger the problem becomes. Even so much so that the people start to distrust their own new and fragile governments and fellow citizens who want to give a more secular regime a change, with the risk of renewed and/or increased unrest and dissatisfaction. During the uprising in the Middle East different groups with different demands protested side by side.The dream was to usher the dictators who had controlled peoples lives for decades. Those who lived the Arab spring and directly participated in it tell me that the reason for the uprising was not first and foremost the demand for jobs and material prosperity (as some have insisted) but for autonomy, dignity and the right to decide ones own life - to choose ones own identity. Today the same people, who last year fought together for dignity and freedom, are in a state of escalating conflict and the main issue is directly linked to identity - the very thing they fought for in the very beginning.The conflict in a nutshell is this: shall I embrace Islam as the foundation of society or follow the West and endorse more liberal values against Islam? Those who stand in between and want their societies to be given time and space to develop a new path on their own terms, grounded on both liberal values and respect for cultural -and Islamic values, are marginalized or even pin-pointed as traitors to the cause (Islam or Liberalism) and affiliated with the enemy (the liberal West or the Islamists). The moderates on both ends are in a loose/loose situation, really.
And the international community is not helping in combining these two perspectives or facilitating diversity and peaceful co-existence - not in the Middle East or anywhere else for that matter. On the contrary, both the world and individual societies seem even more polarized now then when the Arab spring began and the hopes it brought are slowly fading into ice cold winter. The risk that one dictatorship regime will be replaced with another just as oppressive, even if the powers have shifted and different groups are now oppressed, is very real.We - as a world - have failed. We are not addressing the humanity and autonomy of the people involved - the root cause! The gap between groups of peoples is widening. It is happening in Egypt and Syria right now and other countries are at the risk of becoming other examples if nothing changes.
I find this very disappointing. Devastating I would even say, because the opportunity to really change something for the better was there, and now its slipping away. And we are all responsible. The policy currently endorsed by the West is a vicious circle - not a solution. Isn't it time that we realize that the Arab spring is a global project and has both - to some extent - global causes and global solutions? We need genuine collaboration and justice to fulfill it's potentials. Wouldn't it be wiser and more effective to focus more on collaboration and the empowerment of the peoples in the (Middle) East so that they can enjoy their humanity and dignity and exercise the freedom and autonomy they fought so hard for? And use drones and other hard power techniques as a possibility in extreme cases on the site? To create a policy of dialogue that enables us to develop societies where anger and fear and frustration does not make a terrorist or extremist narrative of any kind appealing and just?