The Unz Review • An Alternative Media Selection$
A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
 BlogviewPepe Escobar Archive
Brother Obama, Where Art Thou?
Email This Page to Someone

 Remember My Information


Bookmark Toggle AllToCAdd to LibraryRemove from Library • B
Show CommentNext New CommentNext New ReplyRead More
ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
These buttons register your public Agreement, Disagreement, Thanks, LOL, or Troll with the selected comment. They are ONLY available to recent, frequent commenters who have saved their Name+Email using the 'Remember My Information' checkbox, and may also ONLY be used three times during any eight hour period.
Ignore Commenter Follow Commenter
Search Text Case Sensitive  Exact Words  Include Comments
List of Bookmarks

MENA (Middle East/North Africa) is on fire. The diffuse rage – even if manifested by a tiny minority – is distinctly anti-American. Protests in Cairo have reached Sanaa in Yemen and even Bangladesh. The administration of US President Barack Obama is perplexed beyond belief. There will be revenge. What’s really going on?

It does not matter whether that infamous, crude, made-in-California anti-Islam and anti-Prophet Muhammad flick – actually financed/produced by an Egyptian Christian Copt and American protestants, instead of a non-existent Jewish real-estate developer – was just a pretext that led to the killing of the US ambassador in Benghazi and the protests in Cairo and beyond. Let’s try to identify the consequences.

The militia ballet

The strategic target of the Salafi-jihadis who killed the US ambassador in Benghazi was to torpedo the (already shaky) Obama-Muslim Brotherhood alliance.

Imagine if that had happened in Syria – or with a visiting US diplomat to Iran, for example; Pentagon-based revenge already would be in effect. US consulates were never attacked when Colonel Muammar Gaddafi was in power in Libya; it happened under the watch of a “NATO rebel” regime fully sponsored by Washington.

Libya is now militia hell – from neighborhood-watch outfits to mini-armies. They won’t disarm. They refuse to be part of government security forces because their logic is tribal. They’re fighting one another. No weak central government in car-bomb-infested Tripoli will rein them in.

Another way to put it is that “liberated” Libya is now warlord country. Home of vendettas in the desert and tribal pogroms against other tribes – and even whole towns.

The Salafi-jihadis – with whom Washington, London and Paris were unashamedly in bed during their humanitarian bombing campaign – are based in Cyrenaica, eastern Libya. Some have come from Iraq. Some are shuttling back and forth to and from Syria, aiming to destroy yet one more secular Arab republic.

They include the heavily armed gang that attacked the US consulate – the self-described Imprisoned Omar Abdul Rahman Brigades, which surfaced only four months ago. Three months ago, hundreds of AK-47-equipped Salafi-jihadis held Benghazi hostage demanding sharia law.

The (disintegrated) police and army of “liberated” Libya could not possibly face them down. Local tribes don’t care. Salafi-jihadis have been attacking Sufi mosques and tombs; Sufi Islam is infinitely more moderate – and intellectually sophisticated – compared with medieval Wahhabism.

The training camps are near Derna – which has a history of being a top source of al-Qaeda-style jihadis, especially active in occupied Iraq. This does not mean all the Salafi-jihadis are affiliated with al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM); it’s a much more local Libyan affair.

Anyway, by now Derna must be under watch, millimeter by millimeter, by Obama’s drones. Hellfire missiles will be raining down over Derna in no time. There will be collateral damage. No one will shed a tear.


As much as Salafi-jihadis are a minority in Libya, they are a highly motivated, trained and weaponized minority. They won’t go down quietly. They will react if the Obama administration goes for all-out droning and a Hellfire feast; they will attack the weak central government in Tripoli. Somalization looms.

It’s Hellfire time

Egypt is a much tougher, nuanced proposition – because it’s the model for the uneasy Washington-Muslim Brotherhood (MB) love affair, with the US betting on moderate Islamists as provisional substitutes of friendly dictators of the Hosni Mubarak kind. A complicating factor is that Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi is in direct competition with local Salafis – who got 25% in the congressional elections. So the MB won’t be very forceful in denouncing them – even though they are hated by the Salafis.

There’s virtually nothing the Obama administration can do to pressure Morsi. He has been extremely cunning – playing the US, the House of Saud and Qatar against one another. Whatever happens, the brief honeymoon between the Obama administration and the MB is destined to sour. The only regional actor to savor this will be Israel – which detested the honeymoon in the first place.

The Obama administration was forced into this dead-end because – foolishly, one might stress – it has been playing the sectarian card, aligning itself with the medieval House of Saud and cunning mini-superpower Qatar, key protector of the MB, but also with all sorts of Salafi-jihadism, especially in Syria. All this to ultimately defeat the self-described “axis of resistance” – Iran-Syria-Hezbollah – whatever it takes. It takes facing repeated instances of blowback all across MENA and beyond.

So what is Obama to do? The cosmically mediocre Mitt Romney accused him of being weak in the face of “terra-rists”, but Romney is a foreign-policy pigmy, whose neocon-instilled agenda boils down to treating both Russia and China as enemies and bombing Iran. The Republican Party simply has no clue of what’s going on in MENA.

Not that Obama has much to rely on. The old, cozy, dictator-led order has collapsed after Tunisia and Egypt. Washington is being kicked out of Iraq. Obama himself cannot position Egypt as an ally or a threat. What’s left is to drone – somebody, anybody – to death. Send the marines. Deploy some warships. Display some military muscle. And hope for the best.

The last thing Obama needs now is to gloat over his success in finishing off al-Qaeda, or to get embroiled in a messy Arab Spring debate. If, as stellar pollster Nate Silver attests, he has an 80% chance of winning re-election, all he has to do is to calculate each and every move to prevent any serious controversy. After November, it’s another story. The US may even develop a sound, coherent MENA policy.

(Republished from Asia Times by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Barack Obama, Benghazi, Libya 
Current Commenter

Leave a Reply - Comments on articles more than two weeks old will be judged much more strictly on quality and tone

 Remember My InformationWhy?
 Email Replies to my Comment
Submitted comments have been licensed to The Unz Review and may be republished elsewhere at the sole discretion of the latter
Commenting Disabled While in Translation Mode
Subscribe to This Comment Thread via RSS Subscribe to All Pepe Escobar Comments via RSS
Becker update V1.3.2
The Surprising Elements of Talmudic Judaism
The Shaping Event of Our Modern World