No “struggles for democracy and human rights”

Nato- and other interests in the "Arab Spring"

Interview by Francesco Guadagni (L’Antidiplomatico) with Michel Raimbaud

Francesco Guadagni: Mr Raimbaud, 2021 will be the tenth anniversary of the so-called “Arab Spring”. What assessment can we make?
Michel Raimbaud
: First of all, let us be clear that the protest movements, which erupted from December 2010 (in Tunisia) until spring of 2011, were obviously neither a political “spring” nor “peaceful and spontaneous revolutions” for democracy and human rights. Although they initially attracted gullible people fighting against corruption and authoritarian regimes, it soon became clear that the movements were monitored and manipulated by activists trained by Western NGOs in the West. They were using standardised techniques of mobilisation, propaganda and organisation which were learned at the site from the colour revolutions (Otpor movement)that led to the break-up of the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s.

By the dominant media corporations, they were described as “struggles for democracy and human rights”. What were they in reality?
What was demanded was the resignation of the heads of state, a change of government and reforms aimed at weakening or destroying the state, the institutions and the army (priority targets for the West and Israel as well as for the “revolutionaries”, always inspired by foreign countries). Invocations of democracy and human rights are lures to win the sympathy of the Western protectors and “friends”. These armed uprisings, organised, orchestrated, manipulated and soon heavily financed from abroad (Anglo-Saxon countries through NGOs) degenerated into conflicts and chaotic situations and spread from country to country from the Maghreb to the Mashriq.
  This cascade of tragedies is not a succession of isolated and spontaneous civil wars, as the false version spread in the West suggests in order to hide the gross interference of the Atlantic empire. Taken together as a whole, they form the components of a plan of destabilisation and destruction (we cannot repeat this often enough), which was concerted, elaborated and theorised by the USA, its Anglo-Saxon “parents” and its Israeli “branch”.  This enterprise obviously relies on relays, accomplices, allies in all the countries concerned: in the foreground, the Islamic extremist forces – often the Muslim Brotherhood, sponsored by Turkey and Qatar, or movements influenced by the Wahhabis of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates or other Gulf states.  Without this open and finally recognised alliance of interests between the West and Israel on the one hand, states and Islamist forces on the other, there would be no “revolutions”, which will take different turns and developments.

From Tunisia to Libya, it was a rapid escalation. The original plan to remove Gaddafi has been blown up, and it was necessary to intervene with a criminal war, the effects of which are still being felt today. Was it the resistance of the Syrian people that stopped Washington’s plan to completely destabilise the region?
The first results were seen in Tunisia, then in Egypt (with the ousting of Ben Ali and Mubarak after a few weeks). The electoral processes were able to bring the Muslim Brotherhood to power. Then came political instability, insecurity, destabilisation. In Algeria and Mauritania in January 2011, a first “spring” was reported and nipped in the bud. Likewise, in Morocco, where the king quickly restored the situation and in Bahrain, where Saudi-Arabia intervened to “save” the Sunni dynasty from a Shiite population. The turmoil has never stopped. The “revolution” in Yemen has turned into a civil war: It continues to this moment. Libya and then Syria are hit. Gaddafi’s Jamahiriya is confronted with an illegal NATO-intervention, secession and chaos.  Gaddafi is being assassinated by “revolutionaries” assisted by Western “services”. The state is destroyed and never recovers.
  Syria experienced the war against jihadism, the West, the Islamists and terrorism, the “friends of the Syrian people” (114 states at the end of 2012, a number that then dissipated). The multi-layered war (“Les guerres de Syrie”, title of my latest work, which was published in June 2019) quickly took on the appearance of a war of aggression, even in its most violent and spectacular jihadist and terrorist aspects. These events, which during the last ten years have been sowing chaos and destruction in the most Arab countries, but also in the “expanded” Middle East (the “Greater Middle East” of George W. Bush) and create a climate of open warfare, have made obvious the global confrontation between the USA and its Israeli-Anglo-Saxon empire on the one hand and the two “emerging” or “reborn” Greats of Eurasia and their allies on the other. In this global political and economic, financial, military, strategic, ideological and geopolitical confrontation, the countries of the “Greater Middle East” are a stake, a battlefield and decisive actors (see my book “Tempête sur le Grand Moyen-Orient”, first published 2015).
I will come back to this later.
  Interestingly, almost all Arab republics are affected by this “epidemic”, from North Africa to the Middle East, as well as two monarchies, Morocco and Bahrain. The oil monarchies (Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states) have strangely been spared, even though their regimes are the most backward, but are supported by the US and the West. As for the role of the media, it deserves a book of its own. Also I will come back to this later.

Let us take a step back. The Heads of State of Libya and Syria, Gaddafi and Assad, 2010 are visiting European countries like Italy and France, with relations that appear to be cordial. A year later, there are uprisings in Libya, that lead to the assassination of Gaddafi, and a war begins in Syria, with Assad resisting. Erdogan’s Turkey itself had very good relations with Syria. What caused this change of course?
Relations were undoubtedly of a deceptive cordiality in the two cases you pointed out; these two cases must be separated. It is more or less about the fact that the Europeans get political, strategic or economic concessions (on oil or gas) from heads of state who are known for their firmness of principle and loyalty to the alliance, without any counterpart on the side of Paris or Rome. As far as Libya is concerned, I think, the idea was to convince Gaddafi to abandon any nuclear project (he would have done so) and to give up continuing with his plans for independence and the economic, financial and monetary unity of Africa (he would not have done so and therefore had to be “punished”).
  The Syrian case is a bit different. France was obviously responsible for passing on the American pressure from George W. Bush and Colin Powell on Bashar al-Assad to convince the latter to renounce his alliance with Iran and his relations with Hezbollah in order to please Israel. The Syrian president did not give in and demanded compensation for the pipeline projects.  Bashar al Assad did not give in; he had to pay for it. Understand that these points probably represent only the obvious part of the case. In 2010/2011, it was clearly written in Washington that Syria must be destroyed. If there is no pretext, we will create one. Concession or not, it is written that there will be war, thanks to the epidemic of “revolutions” which make it possible for the conflict to break out a priori from within, without too much conspicuous interference.

Gaddafi had established fruitful relations with Italy during the Berlusconi government and made agreements on oil and infrastructure. In the war against Libya, Sarkozy’s France was one of the main sponsors: Do you think it is a mistake to say, that it was a war against Italy in order to get to the Libyan oil?
Yes, I think it is a gamble. In the case of Libya, it was not primarily the oil, that was targeted. It was mainly “Gaddafi’s billions”, i.e. Libyan funds (probably several hundred billion dollars), and they are frozen before they “disappear” … But the main objective of the armed intervention of NATO was to liquidate Gaddafi, in order to prevent him from financing an African monetary system independent of the dollar, the euro, and the West. So, they had to destroy the Libyan state, which is what happened.

How do you assess the role of information from the West and the Gulf states in the conflicts in Syria and Libya? How important was the propaganda?
The role of this media you refer to, was very damaging and the propaganda was associated with a real brainwashing. They all participated in the massive misinformation of opinions: from the lies of the intellectuals to the dishonesty of the politicians. Journalists and “reporters” on the ground have largely contributed to a huge intellectual deception and blind unanimity in favour of the aggressors and criminals, in Syria as in Libya. The Western media have contributed a great deal to destroying the moral authority that the West and its clientele have wrongly claimed.

What kind of country was Syria before the war?
“Beating heart of Arabism”, seat of the first caliphs, centre of influence of the enlightened Islam and cradle of Christianity. Syria – although deprived of 40% of its historical territory through colonisation and mandates – enjoyed great prestige among Arabs and Muslims. In this country with a rich archaeological and historical heritage, where tolerance in the customs and traditions of the religions and denominations is carved in marble, an art of living has been cultivated and is maintained to this day, which pleases the visitors. The quality of their diplomacy and the constancy of their commitments and alliances have always commanded respect, I would say, even in the adversity of the moment Syria is by nature a radiant country. A prosperous, independent, stable, self-sufficient country that produces most of what it consumes and consumes what it produces. A country with no foreign debt and without dependence on the IMF and the World Bank.
  A free, efficient school and education system, that produces large numbers of valuable graduates and leaders, many of whom, unfortunately migrated to the diaspora during the war.
  A remarkable, modern and free health and social care system, which is available throughout the whole Syrian territory and attracts the inhabitants of neighbouring countries. A self-sufficient country that produced all fields of medicine, also for export.
  More generally: a network of efficient social services, a modern economy in transition. We could add, “what has happened to Syria” by recalling some numbers and realities: 400,000 dead, one or two million wounded and maimed, six or seven million Syrians who have been “displaced”, i.e. forced to settle elsewhere on Syrian territory because of war and terrorism, at least five million Syrians who have moved to Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, and sometimes even Europe, most of them fleeing terrorists, armed opposition, occupiers, mistreatment, hunger, etc.  60% of the country devastated, another 20% occupied by Turks, American troops, Europeans, supported by Kurdish separatists…

What does the Syrian resistance represent, after ten years of war and sanctions, also with the help of Russia, Iran and the Hezbollah? This conflict has not been ended according to the ideas of the West, especially the United States and Israel. Has this war reshaped the geopolitical balance with new global actors such as China and Russia thwarting Western plans?
Partly, yes. Sure, Syria is devastated, but it has not been defeated and dismantled after ten years of ruthless warfare by a collective aggression in which more than a hundred members of the “international community”, i.e., more than half of the United Nations, were involved in one way or another, and an endlessly renewed stream of tens or hundreds of thousands of terrorists who claim to be part of the holy war. Syria has certainly benefited from the support of faithful allies (Iran, Lebanese Hezbollah, Russia, China, even the Iraqi Shi'ite movements, which are gradually breaking free of the US stranglehold). But the fact remains, that the Syrian army withstood the aforementioned enemies for four and a half years – from March 2011 to September 2015, the time of the air intervention by the Russian army stationed alongside it. The geopolitical balance gradually shifted and Western and Israeli plans were thwarted. But the West does not see itself as defeated, it prohibits the return of refugees, reconstruction, normal life, by an (from the outside) invisible war hushed up by the Western media.

When President Assad was asked whether the politics in the United States under a Democrat will be different than under a Republican, he replied that nothing will change. Because it is the lobbies, the corporations, who set the course of American politics. Do you think that Biden will change anything?
President Bashar al Assad is not wrong, when he says that between Republicans and Democrats in general and between Trump and Biden in particular there is no difference, and that nothing will change under Biden. For the Arab world and Syria in particular, nothing will change. At least in principle, because a change in Tehran promised by Biden could indirectly affect the situation in Syria. Indeed, the US president may be the most powerful man in the world, but he is far from being the most powerful man of the United States. Just as the Congress is nowhere near as all-powerful as it sometimes gives the impression of being. It is the neoconservative “Deep State” that he leads, supported by the Zionist Jewish community and the powerful lobby of Protestant Zionist Christians (especially the Evangelical Church, which claims more than 60 million members in America and 600 million worldwide). The lobbies, the 17 US intelligence agencies, which undoubtedly have more than a million agents, the military hierarchy, the banks, the GAFAM [Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft – translator’s note] – are all part of this “Deep State” – as Trump would probably put it.

To sum up, after the failures of the West in Latin America, in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, the presence of a strong resistance in the Middle East, of new rising powers like Russia and China, a decline of Western imperialism and especially American imperialism is looming in the not-too-distant future?
This decline is underway, otherwise America would have already gone on the attack against Russia and China. China has become the world’s leading economic and trading power. It is the factory of the world. It is well on its way to becoming a leading military power. Russia has regained military parity with America without having a huge defense budget, it is a major energy power and is becoming a major agricultural power. It has finally become a political and diplomatic reference power again, which wants to guarantee the return to the international law that the West has despised and destroyed.
  It should be noted that Russia, but also China, are jointly developing powerful strategic cooperation and that they are both supporters of Syria in view of Western Islamist aggression. Militarily and diplomatically for Russia, diplomatically mainly (so far) for China.
  Finally, since you mention COVID-19, one will note the disastrous management of the pandemic in America and Western Europe compared to Chinese control and effective handling of the crisis by Russia. Russia and China have emerged victorious in the eyes of the world in the West’s fight against COVID-19.  •

First published: Amb. Raimbaud a l'AD: “In Libia e Siria, i media occidentali hanno favorito gli aggressori e i criminali”; of 22 February 2021

Source: of 15 March 2021

(Translation Current Concerns; last question and answer added)

The French former diplomat Michel Raimbaud is Plenipotentiary Minister, Knight of the Legion of Honour and Officer of the National Order of Merit. From 1976 to 1978, Raimbaud was Secretary in Jeddah (Saudi Arabia) and then in Aden (Yemen) from 1978 to 1979, before being transferred to the Central Administration (African and Madagascar Affairs) from 1979 to 1985. He was then appointed Second Counsellor in Cairo and Brasilia from 1988 to 1991, before becoming French Ambassador to Mauritania from 1991 to 1994 and finally Ambassador to Sudan for more than five years. From June 2000 to February 2003, he was director of the French Office for the Protection of Refugees and Stateless Persons (OFPRA), then in the central administration at the Quai d’Orsay, before becoming French ambassador to Zimbabwe in 2004 and retiring in 2006. He then became a lecturer and also taught at the Centre for Diplomatic and Strategic Studies (CEDS).

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