The great Arab revolution holds great promise. Like any uprising against tyranny, it arouses solidarity, enthusiasm and hope. Despite the terrible massacre in Libya, there is no doubt - 2011 is the Middle East's 1989. It could even be the Middle East's 1789. The secular Arab despotism is collapsing before our eyes. The Arab giant is awakening from a coma. A decadent, degenerate, corrupt world order is crumbling. Millions of oppressed people are experiencing their first sense of liberation.
The new era that started in Tunisia last month is spreading rapidly to Morocco, Algeria, Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Jordan and Bahrain. The Arab men and women of the 21st century have received an unprecedented proposal of freedom.
But the great Arab revolution also holds great danger. In the past decade, the United States dismantled Iraq, took Egypt apart and lost Turkey. In doing so, it broke down the Sunni buffer against Iran. These days Washington is dismantling Bahrain, undermining Jordan and endangering Saudi Arabia - thereby turning Iran into the leading regional power. Unless the American policy changes, the result could be a geostrategic disaster.
Under the heading of "democratization," the Shi'ite Muslims will take over a considerable part of the Arab states of the Persian Gulf. Under the heading of "liberation," radicals will take over a considerable part of the Arab world. Peace between Israel and the Palestinians, and between Israel and Syria will become impossible. The Israeli-Egyptian and Israeli-Jordanian peace treaties will fade away. Islamic, neo-Nasserist and neo-Ottoman forces will mold the Middle East. The 2011 revolution could end up the same way as the 1789 French Revolution did - some Bonaparte will hijack it, take advantage of it and turn it into a long succession of bloody wars.
The change in the Arab world should have been sparked during another era - a decade or two ago. The change in the Arab world should have been generated in a different way - by reform, rather than revolution. But now it is too late, there is no turning back; the revolution is in full swing. This is why the Americans are right in wanting to be on the correct side of history. The Americans are right in siding with the masses who are demanding their rights. But the Americans are wrong to start with toppling their allies' regimes. The Americans are wrong in paving with their own hands the road to victory for the Muslim Brotherhood and Iran.
There is only one way out of this catch-22. Moving from defense to offense. Is Barack Obama the new George Bush? Is David Cameron the new Tony Blair? Is Hillary Clinton determined to implement the neoconservatives' ideological platform? Good luck to them. But don't do it only in the West's backyard. Don't do it only in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and Bahrain. Do it alongside forceful humanitarian intervention in Libya as well. Do it in Iran, too.
Take the spirit of freedom blowing through Cairo's squares and bring it to Tehran's squares. Take the Google, Facebook and Twitter revolts and bring them to the ayatollahs. Topple Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's tyranny as you toppled Hosni Mubarak's. Fight the Shia's religious fascism and Muammar Gadhafi's madness with the same relentlessness you fought the pro-Western dictatorships.
Only in this way will you be able to implement the West's democratic values along with its strategic interests. Only in this way will you be able to empower freedom without sparking zealotry and igniting war.
For three weeks, most of the Western media told us that the Tahrir Square revolution was the faceless revolution of the Google generation. But on February 18, 2011, when a million Egyptians celebrated their liberation in Cairo's central square, it turned out that the revolution's face is that of the fanatic Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi.
If the Western powers don't come to their senses quickly, they could discover that the face of the new Middle East is al-Qaradawi; Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan; Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The face of those who are trying to turn the winds of change blowing across the Middle East into a violent, fanatic hurricane.
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now