Syria's shadow now looms over Egypt – and the West is allowing it to lengthen

 

Share
Related Topics

As rivers of blood flowed in Egypt this week, the frightening crisis in a wounded nation turned even more critical. With each bullet the prospects for peaceful and political resolution to increasingly deep divisions over faith and freedom receded that bit further.

No longer is it far-fetched to see the shadow of Syria hanging over this influential country, home to one in four Arabs and sitting at the crossroads of Africa and Asia. Yet even as the generals ordered their goons to slaughter protesters angered by their President's ousting, there were fresh ripples in the revolutions spinning out of control across the region.

Not just in Syria, being ripped apart as a corrupt clique clings to power regardless of the cost. In Bahrain, there were more violent protests in a place engulfed in turmoil for two years, where 1,200 dissidents have been rounded up in the past six months alone. In Libya, three journalists in four days were targets of assassination in attempts to silence the media. Tunisia still reels from the murder of a second opposition leader.

Revolution is messy and unpredictable. And Western influence is more limited than we like to think. Yet countries such as Britain and the United States have a duty to stand firm with those seeking democracy and shouting about human rights; we did, after all, shake up the region in a misguided attempt to impose our values on Iraq. Instead, we are left looking hypocritical. In Libya we helped the rebels oust their hated dictator – but in Syria we mouth platitudes in support of insurgents but shy away from intervention. Meanwhile, rulers repressing protesters in Bahrain are invited to Downing Street and sold weapons – partly for fear of upsetting the Saudis.

In Egypt an army overthrows an elected government – but leaders of Western countries enjoying the luxury of democracy shy away from calling it a coup. The US cannot use such a dirty word when it wants to keep stuffing aid down the throats of the generals calling the shots, although the idea this buys influence is delusional given far bigger sums flowing in from regional allies. Once again, Britain trots along like a pet poodle, offering just a few admonishments.

Our failure to condemn the coup backfired last week. While we ignore the lessons of history, our contortions confuse other countries and fuel the paranoia of militants claiming the West will never tolerate political Islam. Ultimately, for all the complexities, our stance should always be informed by a determination to stand up for those seeking to share liberties we take for granted. Half a century ago, John F Kennedy said that those who made peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable. His words remain true today.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Client-Side web developer (JQuery, Javascript, UI, JMX, FIX)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Client-Side web developer (JQuery, Javascript, U...

Structured Finance

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CITY - An excellent new instruction w...

SQL Server Developer

£500 per day: Harrington Starr: SQL Server Developer SQL, PHP, C#, Real Time,...

C#.NET Developer

£600 per day: Harrington Starr: C#.NET Developer C#, Win Forms, WPF, WCF, MVVM...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

If children with guns are safer than their unarmed peers, then Somalia must be the safest place in the world to grow up

Mark Steel
Theresa May  

Democracy and the police: a system in crisis

Nigel Morris
Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone