Interview with Miriam Shabafrouz
May 26, 2011
What are the biggest dangers for the Arab Spring?
Hamid Dabashi: The biggest dangers are precisely the forces that will lose from these democratic uprisings. What are they: the United States, the European Union, NATO more particularly, Israel and medieval Arab potentates like rulers of Saudi Arabia. But equally important is to keep in mind that a loser is also the Islamic Republic of Iran, which on the surface appears to be in opposition to the US and its regional and European allies, but in fact is part of the same political vocabulary, the same geopolitics. It has been increasingly made powerful in the region by virtue of the imperial adventures of the US and its allies.
So it is not just the latter that are losing and as a result posit a threat to these democratic uprisings, but also the Islamic Republic and its three subnational allies, namely Hamas, Hezbollah and the Mahdi militia in Iraq. It is not accidental, in my judgement, that under the influence of these democratic uprisings, Hamas has finally started a rapprochement with Fatah and the Palestinian national liberation has resumed more democratic, more genuine, more grassroot and more comprehensive dimensions.
What is the exact aim of those rising up against oppression in the Arab world?
Dabashi: In an essay that I wrote for Al-Jazeera two months ago, I call it delayed defiance. These are all post-colonial societies, from Morocco to Syria, all sharing a kind of domestic tyranny that has emerged in the aftermath of European colonialism. They are fake and phony post-colonial state. The best examples of it are Gaddhafi or Mugabe, you can look at these tyrants that have posited themselves as anti-colonial and then for forty or fifty years have looted the country without any semblance of democratic institutions or change.
In effect, in these parts of the world, people are rising up against not only, number one, the colonialism that initiated this condition, not only, number two, against the domestic tyrannies that were the inheritors of this colonial past, but number three also against the current imperial project that wants to micromanage the globe. The fact of these revolts is predicated on the inoperative nature of global capitalism that systematically generates destitute.
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