The Perfect Soldier: Special Operations, Commandos, and the Future of Us Warfare by James F. Dunnigan
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Dirty Little Secrets
The Troubles With Traditions
Discussion Board on this DLS topic
by James Dunnigan
May 23, 2005
May 19, 2005: American and Western pressure for "reform" and "democracy" in the
Arab world is having some interesting consequences. All of the Arab countries
friendly to the West are essentially authoritarian, some secular (e.g., Egypt,
Jordan) and some religious (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait). Pressure for greater openness
and democratic reforms does not sit well with either group. Nor does this effort
necessarily "convert" local advocates for democracy and reform into becoming
supporters of the West. Only a few advocates of reform in the Arab world are in
favor of genuinely progressive secular liberal institutions on a Western model.
Most support "reform" because they believe it will bring about more
authoritarian regimes (such as the Baath Party, which in its roots was a
nationalistic quasi-socialist movement) or will result in more
religiously-oriented regimes, as in the case with the "Moslem Brotherhood,"
which is strong in Egypt, and some other countries. There is much interest in
the benefits of democracy (less corruption), but the idea of a "strong leader"
is still popular.
Meanwhile, Islamic conservatives are hanging on in
Yemen. Despite Yemeni government declarations to the contrary, the al Houthi
movement was not defeated in heavy fighting earlier this year. Many al Houthi
supporters are still active, and violent incidents occur daily. These are mostly
small scale, often taking the form of grenade attacks against government
supporters or institutions, including government offices in Sanaa, the capitol.
The government has responded with numerous arrests and heavy patrolling in the
tribal areas. The al Houthi crew are Islamic radicals that draw their power from
similar tribal traditions. They are not becoming any more popular, but they
aren't going away either.
Further south, several countries, including
Kenya and Tanzania, are supporting an Egyptian initiative to strengthen their
anti-terrorism intelligence capabilities, including the development of a
regional anti-terrorism information sharing system. While highly desirable, this
may be difficult to accomplish. Kenya and Tanzania are two of the most stable
regimes in Africa. By regional standards they are efficient, relatively
corruption-free, and more or less democratic. Most other countries in Africa are
much less so. Whatever the result, the initiative is likely to lead to increased
Egyptian influence in the Sub-Saharan region.