Most ME dictators owe their power to Western patrons: Jahanpour

TEHRAN, Oct. 09 (MNA) – Professor Farhang Jahanpour, a part-time tutor on Middle Eastern affairs in the Department of Continuing Education, University of Oxford, and a member of Kellogg College says that current Middle Eastern leaders who serve Western interests, while lacking legitimacy in the eyes of their own people.

However, once they are not needed any more or act against Western interests they will be toppled, he added.

Former Senior Research Scholar at Harvard University said, “most Middle East dictators owe their power to their Western patrons, because they have no popular base, or at least they have not been elected to their current positions of power to know if they have a popular base or not.”

Following is the full text of his interview with Mehr News:

Speaking at a rally in Mississippi a few days ago, President Trump humiliated Saudi King Salman by saying: “King – we’re protecting you – you might not be there for two weeks without us – you have to pay for your military.” Why is he humiliating his close ally at this time?

What President Trump said is mere common sense. He has a habit of speaking bluntly, and this is a very blunt warning to the Saudi king. A very important fact that most leaders in the third world who are reliant on a major power forget is that they are not courted because they are liked or because of their great qualities, but because they serve the interest of big powers. This has the story of all former leaders who were strongly backed by foreign powers so long as they served the interest of the big powers, and once they had outlived their usefulness they were dropped. 

At one time, Taliban leaders were entertained in Texas and were received by senior US officials because the United States was hoping to build a pipeline between Turkmenistan and Pakistan to transport gas. However, when that plan did not materialize and when the Taliban gave shelter to Osama bin Laden, they were attacked and toppled. 

At another time, Saddam Hussein was an American ally and was visited by Donald Rumsfeld as the special envoy of President Reagan, and he was provided with intelligence to attack Iranian forces during the Iran-Iraq war, even with chemical weapons. However, when his policies diverged from US policies, Iraq was invaded and he was toppled and executed.

The same thing happened to Colonel Qadhafi. At one time, he was entertained by President Sarkozy at the Elysee Palace and was even allowed to pitch his tent in the palace grounds. Last March former President Sarkozy was taken into police custody over allegations that Qadhafi had secretly gave him 50 million euros to help him with the 2007 presidential campaign. The former British Prime Minister Tony Blair visited him in Tripoli and signed big deals with him. However, later on when he fell out with the West, he was attacked and assassinated, and Sarkozy and Prime Minister Cameron went to Tripoli to congratulate the people for having got rid of a dictator. 

The same is true about current Middle Eastern leaders who serve Western interests, while lacking legitimacy in the eyes of their own people. However, once they are not needed any more or act against Western interests they will be toppled. The Saudis’ worth to the Americans is what their oil is worth and how much they spend on US equipment, and how they serve America’s regional interests. Otherwise, they will be of no value.

The second part of President Trump’s remarks was also correct. Most Middle East dictators owe their power to their Western patrons, because they have no popular base, or at least they have not been elected to their current positions of power to know if they have a popular base or not. As a result, as Trump said, they would not last for more than two weeks without Western help. These facts have always been known, but Trump states them more bluntly. 

He wants the Saudis to pump more oil to keep the prices low, and to buy more American weapons, and this is why he says that they should pay for their military costs, by which he means paying for the cost of American military in the Middle East. 

Former President Barack Obama addressed the countries like Saudi Arabia and told them that their security threat came from inside their own countries and not from other countries. Was Obama's reference to human security, which includes political development, individual liberties, and so on?

Certainly! This is the strength of democracies, because when people elect their rulers they support them and the rulers can rely on popular backing and not on foreign support. The other mistake that many Middle Eastern countries make is that instead of responding to the demands of their own people, they look for foreign enemies in order to justify their own wrong policies. 

The only solution to instability and insecurity in the Middle East is for the countries of the region to resolve their differences through dialog and compromise, rather than through resort to force. Indeed, making use of military power will further isolate them and will make their situation much more difficult, as we can see in the disastrous war in Yemen that according to the UN has produced the greatest catastrophe of recent times. If the countries in the region can act in a united fashion and work for peace and progress and satisfy their own people they would not face so many domestic or foreign security problems and have to look to big powers for support.

After more bloodshed and hostility, they will eventually come to the realization that they have no other options as neighbors but to live in peace and to overcome their differences. It would be good if they could come to that conclusion before they destroy more lives and more of each other’s property. That was what brought the European countries that had been fighting for centuries against each other to form a European Union and Middle Eastern countries should ultimately come to this realization before it is too late. 

Interviewed by: Javad Heirannia

MNA/TT

News Code 138521

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