The "Spring" that wasn't

At first glance, the Arab uprisings of this year looked to be advances for people often trapped by clerics and tyrants who have used Islam to enslave, torture and kill their people so that they can live in opulent grandeur among some of the planet's poorest populations.

Iran might appear to be the odd man out. For a start its people prefer to fashion themselves as Persians, but it has a significant Arab core. Its supreme leader seems to shun the indulgences that define the lifestyles of his neighbouring leaders, but he and his president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, are still the two of the most dangerous men on earth. Ahmadinejad is mad. Barking. And soon to be nuclear armed.

This year saw movements for freedom in Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen, Bahrain, Morocco, Iran, Syria, Jordan and even Saudi Arabia.

The tyrannical states that enjoy Western support - Bahrain and Saudi Arabia - have largely survived, although Egypt fell quickly. Those who alienated the West, or threatened it, or attacked it, are gone. By the hand of their own people.

A Libyan shot dead Colonel Gaddafi, even if his convoy was trapped in Sirte by NATO airstrikes.

But the next chapter in the lives of these states is unlikely to include anything like democracy.

A greater danger is that the threatening Muslim Brotherhood will overtly or otherwise control their destinies.

A year ago I wrote that we'd do well to remember the name Sayyid Qutb, and suggested that despite being dead for almost 50 years he could yet be the most influential man of this century, in the manner that Karl Marx was the most influential man of the last century while not living to see it. The Koran-quoting assassins of the Muslim Brotherhood work to Qutb's manifesto In The Shade of The Koran.

They are bad news for honest, secular Arabs who made such sacrifices this year in the hopes of liberalism and progress that might change their destiny.

The Brotherhood plans changes, too. First they'd turn the clock back to the sixth century, and introduce sharia law; Muslim women and girls could forget about equality. Next they'd start planning for the destruction of the state of Israel.

They are well organised for today's election in Egypt and the military's bloody crackdown on protesters last week plays directly in to their hands. The poll results will give us an indication of the Brotherhood's real strength there. It can hardly be a coincidence that Cairo will also be the venue for a meeting on December 22 between the Palestinian Fatah and Hamas movements as they strike a unity deal after recent talks on "the question of a truce ... with Israel and the question of popular resistance".

They can't have been long talks: Hamas demands the destruction of Israel.

If the Palestinians put down their weapons, there'd be peace. If the Israelis put down their weapons, there'd be genocide.

Meanwhile, in Yemen, the vacuum left by departing President Saleh also doesn't mean freedom for his people. Jockeying for power there are his son and some tribal chiefs, with various factions of the military.

In Moroccan elections at the weekend so-called "moderate" Islamists appear to have taken the lead, as they did in Tunisia a few weeks back, but secularists failed.

And then there's Libya. Run by a murderous lunatic and his sons - one of them the captured Saif, best mate of Prince Andrew, whose mum is Australia's head of state - after 40 years the people revolted and the era of fear, torture and murder was ended.

Already the new regime is talking of sharia law. Welcome the new barbarians.


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