by Johan Galtung, 11 Jun 2012 – TRANSCEND Media Service
Talk at the Advanced Studies Research Center, Brussels, Belgium
The multi-season Arab Spring is the third anti-imperialist Arab revolt in less than a century: against the Ottoman empire, the Western Italian-French-English empire, and now the US-Israel empire. The empires hit back. The Ottomans were weak, but England-France-Israel even invaded Egypt in 29 October 1956–in the shadow of the Hungarian revolt against the Soviet empire that crumbled 23-25 years later. And now it is the turn o USA-Israel to try to maintain an illegitimate structure.
So much for the background. In the foreground is class, pitting the powerless at the bottom against the powerful at the top. Wealth flows upward accelerated by corruption; military, police and secret police forces protect the top against revolts; decision-making is by dictatorships; all of this that used to be justified by the fight against communism is now hitched on to fight against islamism.
Needless to say, we can have corrupt, brutal dictatorships in Arab countries without any imperial backing. Like in former colonies –Libya-Palestine-Iraq-Lebanon-Syria–where borders were drawn regardless of inner and outer fault-lines, trusting that by sheer force they could contain such “indigenous, tribal” conflicts. Their successors followed in their tracks, with dictatorship and force. But less so for Egypt and Tunisia: they were old, established countries.