Plus ça Change: The So-Called ‘Revolutions’ in North Africa
Interview with writer and radio host Stephen Lendman.
Press TV: Do you think that the US is being caught by surprise?
Lendman: I do not think that Washington is at all caught by surprise. I think the hand of Washington is very much involved in everything going on throughout the region and not just in the Egypt — certainly in Yemen, Tunisia and Algeria.
Even the Saudis are a little bit worried. For the first time since the Saudis established what they call a government — they have no elections, but they have a government which was established in 1932 — a political party was formed, called “The Islamic Ummah Party.”
Now King Abdullah has to give it his seal of approval. The last I have heard is that he has not done that yet, but the fact is that a party is formed.
America’s hand is on everything that is going on in the region. There is no question what America wants. It has imperial control, but it wants greater imperial control, including, of course, over Iran.
It wants to shake up the region and get greater control. It wants to remove the leaders that it does not control as much as it would like to.
Mubarak was damaged goods. Mubarak had to go because Washington turned against him. Egypt’s military also turned against him because they were furious that he wanted his son to succeed him. They wanted no part of that …
Press TV: We know that the Yemeni leader is an ally of the United States. What do you think Washington is telling the Yemeni leader to do right now — if it, indeed, is giving him any kind of advice?
Lendman: I would say the Yemeni leader and the leader of any country is really far less important than the regimes and the militaries of these countries that the US supports (and) provides financial and military aid (to). It simply does not matter where the leader goes; what really does matter is that the regime stays.
I almost do not think that America cares one way or the other about President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Again, it is the entrenched system that America wants its grip on.
Look at Egypt: Mubarak is gone. The regime is there. It has more hardened control now than it did under Mubarak. You have got the emergency laws still there; you have got martial law declared; you have got the constitution abolished; you have got parliament suspended; you have got promises made, but no assurances whatsoever that the promises will be carried out.
I repeat that people’s passion is very, very real. These people really want change. Poverty, unemployment and desperation are absolutely real. But what is going on behind the scenes, I think, may in fact be different from what most people will believe. And there is no question that the West led by Washington wants to maintain hardened control.
The last thing that Washington wants in Egypt’s military and the militaries in other countries is any form of democracy. They simply will not tolerate democracy. They will talk democratic change; they will never allow it; they will never tolerate it. They will, maybe, institute its façade, but never the real thing. That is what the people have to be wary of.
Press TV: Do you think that the fact that there have been popular revolts (have made it) actually, a purely popular revolution, and now the United States is trying to benefit from it?
Lendman: I do not think it was just a popular revolt. I use the terms ‘revolt’ and ‘uprising’ — not revolution. I think in all these countries, it is a long way from being revolutions. Revolutions are really tsunami convulsions in which literally the entire country just erupts. And the eruption is so great that it overwhelms everything. There is simply no force that can contain the eruption. We are a long way from that. Here, there is a plus ça change, where everything changes, but stays the same. That is what exactly unfolding in the Middle East: Everything is changing, but stays the same.
There is no question that the hand of America is guiding this as much as possible. It cannot guide everything, but be very careful about what the American officials say. They talk praising democratic change. They do not want democratic change in America, let alone in Yemen and Egypt and Tunisia. They want none of these. They want firm control. They want to shake up the region and pick up the pieces, but they want the pieces to form the puzzle that is the American imperial agenda and it certainly will not help the people in the region. And yet, the passion is absolutely real.