Regional Alliances Shift/ Rejection of claim that US had involvement in starting Arab Spring
Cheney has been quoted early this year as accrediting the Bush administration’s invasion of Iraq as spearheading the Arab Spring movement. Now, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is perpetuating the same argument in her new memoir, “No Higher Honor.” She remarks former President Bush’s “freedom agenda” was channeled through Iraq to the other Arab countries like Tunisia and Egypt. “The change in conversation about the Middle East, where people bow routinely talk about democratization is something that I’m very grateful for and I think we had a role in that.” Cheney has been quoted as saying similar claims, ” I think what happened in Iraq, the fact that we brought democracy, if you will, and freedom to Iraq, has had a ripple effect on some of the other countries. This is the claim across the board, that the United States role in the Middle East has had regional influence and has been correlated to the Arab Spring movement. Rice argues without the ousting of Saddam from Iraq that an equivalency to an Arab Spring in Iraq would have been unthinkable. By extension, former Bush officials say the regional influence Saddam had over surrounding states would have made it unlikely for similar Arab spring movements to happen in those countries either.
Many in the international community and experts in the field of Middle Eastern affairs completely reject this claim. Steven Cook from The Council of Foreign Relations says, “there is no connection between the invasion in Iraq and Arab efforts to throw off generations of dictatorship (Armbruster 2).” This claim not only gives credit to foreign governments as starting a domestic revolution but completely ignores the agency and role of the peoples in these countries to rise up against oppression and injustice.” Many argue one-step further that the instability in Iraq and the reluctant embrace of democracy has been an example of other repressive governments to use Iraq as an example of failure.
Iraq has also attempted to reform and make new alliances in the Middle East that create opposition to the United States wishes. The Obama administration and the United States has openly called for the resignation of Syrian Prime Minister Bashar al-Assad, while the Iraqi government has been known “offering key and moral financial support” to Assad and the Syrian government (Armbruster 2). Many analysts say that new regional alliances are being formed. Iraq is tilting towards allying with Iran’s Shiite theocracy and strongly supporting Syria makes a powerful alliance between the three. This would not be in the United State’s interest considering it’s opposition to both Syria and Iran. Transnational identities are playing a role in these new alliances. For example, al-Maliki has not condemned the Syrian government’s violent crackdown against its people but has been outspoken against the atrocities in Bahrain. Some analysts have evaluated this as Iraq’s support of the Shiite government in Syria over the Sunni population and against the predominately Sunni monarchy of Bahrain over the largely Shiite population. I agree with this claim that transnational identities are dictating behavivor and new alliances.
In addition to this, Iraq’s President Nuri Kamal al-Maliki has warned other Arab countries that the Arab Spring is an advantage to Israel. “Zionists and Israel are the first biggest beneficiaries of this whole process [Arab Spring] (Schmidt,2 ).” Iraq is interested in protecting its own interests, supporting that Arab’s should have more rights but should do it in an electoral process rather than revolution. The Iraqi government doesn’t want the spillover of Syrian conflict into their borders and also has been remarked as saying they don’t want western governments like Israel and the US to take advantage of the internal corrosion caused by the “Arab Spring.”
Schmidt, Michael S. (2011). “Iraq Leader Says the Arab Spring Benefits
Israel. The New York Times. 1-2.
Armbruster, Ben. (2011). “Condi Rice Credits Bush for Arab Spring: ‘W Had A
Role In That.” Think Progress. 1-2.