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Transcript – KGNU – Hemispheres, Middle East Dialogue – December 24, 2019 – Part Three. “Gene Sharp Peace Theorizing and the Arab Spring: Tool for Societal Transformation…or the Road to Nowhere?” with Ibrahim Kazerooni and Rob Prince. KGNU 1390 AM, 88.5 FM – Hemispheres, Middle East Dialogues. Tuesday, December 24, 2019.

December 30, 2019

Damascus, Syria – 19th century. It was here in Syria that contemporary U.S. plans to partition Syria (the Doha Protocols) were stopped dead in its tracks. (photo credit: Ottoman Imperial Archives)

Transcript – KGNU – Hemispheres, Middle East Dialogue – December 24, 2019 – Part Three.

“Gene Sharp Peace Theorizing and the Arab Spring: Tool for Societal Transformation…or the Road to Nowhere?” with Ibrahim Kazerooni and Rob Prince. KGNU 1390 AM, 88.5 FM – Hemispheres, Middle East Dialogues. Tuesday, December 24, 2019. 6 pm Mountain Time.

Continued from Part One, Part Two

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What we have now is that OTPOR has become an institution that is controlled by the Albert Einstein Institute and supported by all the defense and security institutions (C.I.A and others), the defense establishment. Now they are going around the world training people, to undermine governments, to destabilize their governments to bring the government down.

One of the characteristics of Gene Sharp – although he talks about the downfall of governments he is silent about what is brought about after the regime falls.

– Ibrahim Kazerooni –

What kind of social change is it that Abrams is so enthusiastic about?

And it wasn’t just Elliot Abrams. If you look at the neo-liberal thinkers in 2009-2010, they are actively involved in supporting the Tunisian demonstrations, in turning against their friend Ben Ali whom they had supported for several decades.

– Rob Prince –

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Rob Prince: Ibrahim, let me add something at this point.

When the Arab Spring began, I noticed that there were some rather curious figures who were cheer-leading the changes in Tunisia, calling for the ousting of Zine Ben Ali. So for example one of them was Elliot Abrams. Those of you familiar with U.S. intervention in Central America in Nicaragua and El Salvador in particular know that Elliot Abrams was one of the key architects of those criminal actions – trying to overthrow the Sandinistas in Nicaragua and in fomenting the horrible war that took place in El Salvador both of which were supported by U.S. administrations of that decade (the 1980s).

Yet the same Elliot Abrams is calling for change in Tunisia in 2010-2011. What kind of change is it that Abrams is so enthusiastic about

And it wasn’t just Elliot Abrams. If you look at the neo-liberal thinkers in 2009-2010, they are actively involved in supporting the Tunisian demonstrations, in turning against their friend Ben Ali whom they had supported for several decades.

This right-wing support for change in Tunisia was for me a kind of epiphany, a wake up call. The question was: well, has Elliot Abrams changed? Has he become a Bernie Sanders left Democrat?
Or, is Elliot Abrams a part of some kind of movement in the United States that has worked out – in considerable detail – how to hijack social movements in the Third World?

Needless to say, as far as Elliot Abrams has concerned “the spots haven’t changed”; he’s the same neo-conservative he’s always been. The ultra-right has figured out and devised ways to use social movements to use social movements…. as if social movements are “sacred” – oh there is a social movement, it must be good, to turn them around and use social movements for their own right-wing ends.

It’s really insidious stuff.

One more point on this: whenever we broach such subjects, what is the response: “oh you guys, you are conspiracy theorists!”

Here I want to say something to our listeners: there are conspiracies everywhere. The issue is which ones are real and which ones are fabricated. I would simply add – before you continue Ibrahim – that when you look, really penetrate, the work and connections of Gene Sharp, there are a lot of very, very “dark areas” that simply cannot be pushed aside.

What we are seeing in the Middle East – and we’ll come to that in a little while – is that the ideas of Gene Sharp are being realized. And that the ideas of Gene Sharp are being realized in the Middle East is not a pretty picture.

OK – Ibrahim, continue with your analysis here.

Ibrahim Kazerooni: Around the early 1980s, once the C.I.A. realized how useful the Albert Einstein Institute and the method of non-violent resistance could be to its purposes, they brought in a Colonel Robert Halby, an expert in clandestine operations and a former dean of the U.S. Embassy’s Military Attache Training School. Halby began collaborating with Gene Sharp. Together they went to Burma, the Soviet Union where they scored their first success.

Their first dramatic success came at the end of the 1980s when Sharp, along with a number of people, including Ackerman and a few others, began corresponding with the leadership of the nationalist separatist movement in the Soviet Union, mostly in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.

Cutting this discussion short, finally around November, 1991, these three Baltic states become independent. We see – again and again and again – Sharp working together with a number of others with the help of the Albert Einstein Institute contacts with which had already established, to teach and guide them through the necessary steps. And here, the face of George Soros emerges as well in his “support for democracy.”

With regard to the USSR, Boris Yelstin is brought in. Aid from the West immediately began, economic shock therapy, in a effort to privatize literally everything in the former Soviet Union, under the guidance, once again, of the Albert Einstein Institute, Gene Sharp and a number of others.

The next target for this movement is the former Yugoslavia and the overthrow of Milosevic. Milosevic’s “biggest mistake” was to ignore the advice of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to restructure the Yugoslav economy along structural adjustment lines. He insisted on pursuing socialist economic policies. Then the West moved in.

OTPOR is an outcome of this unique development and is associated with Milosevic’s downfall in Serbia.

Rob Prince: Ibrahim, I want to interject a few comments about the break up of Yugoslavia.

At the time, in the 1990s as Yugoslavia was imploding, a certain narrative was created (in the U.S. and western media) about that situation.

I want the listeners to consider: here we are now a good 25 years after this collapse. What happened in Yugoslavia? It was balkanized, partitioned. What was – I wouldn’t say the strongest – but still, a centralized state, was taken and broken into little pieces, none of which has one tenth the strength that of the former Yugoslavia.

I mention that because this is the strategy in the Middle East. The strategy is partition and balkanization. The first place we see it clearly is the former Yugoslavia.

Then we begin seeing it all over the Middle East – Iraq, Libya, Syria.

Ibrahim Kazerooni: Before you go to the Middle East, look what was happening within Europe itself.

Rob Prince: Yes. Czechoslovakia collapses. Smaller and smaller national units are created with many people thinking that this is a wonderful development – whether it’s the Croats or the Slovaks, now they have their ethnic independence!

What they have is a much smaller – from an economic and political point of view – influential political system – and that has been the goal all along.

Why was that the goal of the United States and some of its key European allies (Germany, France, UK)…

Decentralized small states are more easily manipulated, bullied by international corporations – oil and gas or otherwise – power players like the United States. What’s happened with these (middle sized) centralized states is that they are vilified. They are referred to as “authoritarian states.” Now we know in these states there are all kinds of problems. Classic example – Iraq under Saddam Hussein. Saddam was easy to vilify. But the goal not really to “democratize” Iraq as the rhetoric suggested – the U.S. goal is to fracture, to fragment the Iraqi state to make it more difficult for Iraq to sell its oil at higher prices.

Ibrahim Kazerooni: There is also the case of Georgia. It is a classic case of undermining state authority in the way you just explained.

After Yugoslavia was fragmented and Serbia was humiliated, the attention of OTPOR youth activists shifted to Georgia. The OTPOR model was again used here. Money was provided from George Soros’ Open Society Foundations, NATO and a few other sources. The campaign focused on Edward Schevardnadze, the former foreign minister of the Soviet Union (under Gorbachev).

Schevardnadze went on to become an important ally of Boris Yelstin in the latter’s successful effort to dismantle the USSR as well as a friend of NATO. For thirty years he had been the most powerful politician in Georgia, but even he made a few mistakes: after coming to power in Georgia he signed a 25 year natural gas contract with Russian-owned Gazprom. Then he sold Tbilisi’s electricity distribution company to Ukraine’s United Energy Systems even though this was only after a U.S. company, A.E.S. bungled a privatization effort and pulled out of the deal.
The fact that Georgia had not offered these deals to either the United States or the Europeans was enough for the West, particularly the United States to justify the removal of Schevardnadze.

Here we see a parallel with Iraq.

Abdul Madhi, the prime minister that was recently forced to resign his post – it was not a question as to whether he was a crook or not – he was no different than the others. But he went to China and closed a deal with China to start building the infrastructure – roads, rails, improve the oil and gas industry, the country’s electrical power grid. The contract was not offered to the United States.

Immediately one of the U.S. senators reacted, warning that the only way that Abdul Madhi could remain in power – remember the Doha Protocols – to negate, cancel all the contracts with China and re-evaluate Iraq’s position to be more closely connected to the United States.

Rob Prince: Most recently Ibrahim, I read about Macedonia – little Macedonia, already fragmented from what used to be Yugoslavia is trying to enter NATO, but in order to do so, it has been pressured to change its name because the Greeks don’t like the name Macedonia.

Main point here is why is Macedonia interested in joining NATO?

And I’m thinking of those Baltic countries you referred to earlier.

They gain their independence, become these small political units, a historic fear of Russia is stirred among them which is being used to advance NATO as close to the Russian border as possible – you can’t get any closer than Estonia in Northern Europe – and in Southern Europe you can’t get much closer to Russia than Macedonia.

Once again we see fracturing, balkanization and where the balkanization takes place, a pathway for NATO to manipulate the situation and to move east.

There are so many similar examples. This is the kind of stuff that so many people here in the United States tend to miss. After the fact, the true reasons for intervention sometimes become clearer.

After the fact, after the United States invaded Iraq, opposition grew substantially, but before the invasion, as the war talk was building up and the momentum for going to war was taking place, there was something close to a consensus for going to war – and that was all the powers that be needed. They needed that consensus to go to war; once the war has begun they don’t particularly care about public opinion anymore.

Missing from all this – whether it’s Saddam Hussein, Assad – you take a leader, you vilify him, the goal is not democracy but to shatter the state and render it helpless to outside influence and power. The goal is not democracy, it’s not freedom – call it what you want – the goal is to shatter these states so they are small entities that can no longer stand up to the powers that be. In the Middle East, who benefits when Syria, Iraq and Libya have become either de facto or de jure balkanized?

This is the essence of Israeli policy.

Ibrahim Kazerooni: In the interest of time, let me go over this quickly.

In November 2003, the Albert Einstein Institute scored another victory with the ousting of Schevardnadze (in Georgia). Who replaces him? The slick Columbia University Law School graduate, Mikhael Saakashvili who re-establishes friendly relations with the International Monetary Fund, privatizes Georgia’s public healthcare system, deregulated the country’s health insurance system,
increased military and prison spending, signed the “Economic Liberty Act” which restricted the Georgian state’s ability to manage the economy and reversed the country’s foreign policy, inciting war with Russia.

Immediately after their (the Albert Einstein Institute’s) success in Georgia, they moved on to the Ukraine and its Pora! Movement in response to selling some anti-aircraft radar to Saddam.

Then in 2005, they move against Chavez in Venezuela; there they fail. Then they get involved in Burma and helped ignite “the Saffron Revolution.” And then they move to the Middle East just prior to the uprising of the Arab Spring.

What we have now is that OTPOR has become an institution that is controlled by the Albert Einstein Institute and supported by all the defense and security institutions (C.I.A and others), the defense establishment. Now they are going around the world training people, to undermine governments, to destabilize their governments to bring the government down.

One of the characteristics of Gene Sharp – although he talks about the downfall of governments he is silent about what is brought about after the regime falls.

During that time I visited Tunisia (2011-12). One of the meetings I had was with a former Tunisian Ambassador to the United States, Ferhad Hached – son of the famous Tunisian labor leader of the colonial period assassinated by an arm of French intelligence, La Main Rouge (The Red Hand). It was about a year into the post-Ben Ali era. Ben Ali was already gone.

The ambassador asked me an interesting question. “Do you think there’s been a revolution here in Tunisia.”

No one had posed that question to me quite in the fashion during my visit there.

Thinking about, I responded “No, there’s been a change at the top, but when examining the institutional structures in Tunisia, post-Ben Ali, I don’t see any changes, no changes in the economic model; I frankly see very few changes in the political system. Nor were there any substantial changes in other institutions, the Ministry of Justice, etc., etc.

It was then that I understood that these demonstrations had a limited goal: get rid of Ben Ali but they had no post-power strategy. Those elements that did in Tunisia, actually did not participate in the uprising, the demonstrations – that is to say the Muslim Brotherhood, the Ennahdha Party. It will emerge in power and in the Tunisian case, it’s going to hijack the movement.

So why am I talking about this? Because this was a classic Gene Sharp operation.

Rob Prince: When we began this program a decade ago, it was at the onset of the Arab Spring with the demonstrations in Tunisia. I remember being so excited, so hopeful and positive about the possibilities of bringing down the Ben Ali government with all its corruption and repression.

During that time I visited Tunisia (2011-12). One of the meetings I had was with a former Tunisian Ambassador to the United States, Ferhad Hached – son of the famous Tunisian labor leader of the colonial period assassinated by an arm of French intelligence, La Main Rouge (The Red Hand). It was about a year into the post-Ben Ali era. Ben Ali was already gone.

The ambassador asked me an interesting question. “Do you think there’s been a revolution here in Tunisia.”

No one had posed that question to me quite in the fashion during my visit there.

Thinking about, I responded “No, there’s been a change at the top, but when examining the institutional structures in Tunisia, post-Ben Ali, I don’t see any changes, no changes in the economic model; I frankly see very few changes in the political system. Nor were there any substantial changes in other institutions, the Ministry of Justice, etc., etc.

It was then that I understood that these demonstrations had a limited goal: get rid of Ben Ali but they had no post-power strategy. Those elements that did in Tunisia, actually did not participate in the uprising, the demonstrations – that is to say the Muslim Brotherhood, the Ennahdha Party. It will emerge in power and in the Tunisian case, it’s going to hijack the movement.

Ibrahim Kazerooni: As they did.

Rob Prince: So why am I talking about this? Because this was a classic Gene Sharp operation.

 

3 Comments leave one →
  1. nkrutter permalink
    December 30, 2019 9:09 pm

    Dear Mr. Prince,
    I enjoy your blog and am especially curious about your work with the World Peace Council thirty years ago. I’m an historian working on the history of the WPC and similar neglected organizations, and would love to communicate with you about them.
    Cheers,
    Nick Rutter
    Fairfield University (Connecticut)

    • December 30, 2019 9:54 pm

      Someone interested in the history of the World Peace Council? Ha. It’s so long ago. Anyhow, you can email me – robertjprince@gmail.com and tell me more about your work… and specifically what you are interested in. Best, Rob P.

  2. William Conklin permalink
    January 2, 2020 2:07 pm

    Thanks for enlightening me on a fellow I knew nothing about. The depressing thing is that it appears the Masters of Capital are so powerful, the world will have to come apart before it changes. It seems we have only two choices for the future: Barbarism or Socialism. I don’t know what it will be.

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