Paying for the Knives – The Arab Spring’s Economic Drought II by Rachel Ehrenfeld and Ken Jensen
News reports on the surge of violence in countries afflicted by the Arab Spring are bewildering, averting the Western readers’ attention from the economic hardship it has generated.
While the U.S. and its Western allies were mostly cheering on the sidelines and their media supported the revolution, little, if any attention was paid to the economic ruin it caused. Instead of more freedom and economic reform, these countries are now ruled by the Muslim Brotherhood and its affiliates, who care more about imposing Shari’a than the welfare and rights of their populaces. Two years into this “Spring attack,” reality is setting in and the U.S. and international lending organizations are sweating to convince the new regimes to accept billions of dollars to shore up their economies. The prevailing wisdom is that a) if we give them money to prop up the economy, they will have to abide by the conditions of the loans, and b) that they’ll use the funds accordingly. However, money is fungible and the Muslim Brothers’ agenda to spread political Islam by all means has greater similarities the Bolsheviks economic agenda, than Western style individual and economic freedoms.
Shortly after radical Islamists targeted the In Amenas gas plant (where the ensuing crisis left 38 hostages dead), the BBC reported that the Algerian communications minister stated that the militants sought “to destroy the Algerian economy, which depends on 98% of exports of hydrocarbons, and Amenas is an important centre in this area.”
As with its previous war with Islamists, the Algerian government was expected to be scrupulous about protecting its energy extraction sites and infrastructure. However, the security in In Amenas was vulnerable enough to allow al Qaeda’s Mokhtar Belmokhtar to follow Osama bin Laden’s and Hassan al Banna’s similar agendas that called for weakening the foundations of Western economies. Obama’s boasting that his efforts helped to destroy al Qaeda aside, Mokhtar Belmokhtar had considerable resources in terrorists and treasure to launch al Qaeda’s economic warfare on Algeria.
In Mali, as in other places the Islamists have taken over, repression and depression reign. CNN reports that “Women who don’t cover their bodies in accordance to the militants’ Sharia law, are imprisoned or raped…. Their husbands, terrified of killings and amputations, don’t utter a word.”
Last March’s Islamist invasion has decimated the economy, which was humming along at around 2 percent GDP growth in 2011. The IMF’s 2012 report noted that “The occupation of the North seriously disrupted agricultural production and trade relations. The deteriorating security situation prompted a sharp reduction of travel to Mali.”
The Kenyan news service, The Nation, reports that unemployment in the southern capital, Bamako, has spiked to 17.3 percent with inflation spiraling out of control, and some essentials have doubled in price.
Mali’s extensive natural resources are concentrated in the North. It is hard to see when the status quo ante will be restored there and when progress can be made in their extraction, or when tourism will return to Mali. In addition to the Islamist-created dislocations in the Malian economy, Mali’s African neighbors interrupted the flow of imports key to the economy (including badly needed fuel) after last year’s junior-officer coup, the point of which was to effectively challenge the Islamist invasion of the North. Of course, they’re “now embracing the French-led action as a way to avoid a broadening Islamist insurgency in Africa.”
Libya, heralded by the West as a success story after the killing of Qaddafi, is facing considerable economic trouble. Security concerns have escalated and foreign investors were put off after al Qaeda’s attacks and the death of four Americans in Benghazi.
Libya’s huge oil reserves were enough reason for the Economist, last November, to look forward to the strengthening of the economy. The pockets of jihadist sympathizers especially — in the eastern part of the country — and gun battles between militias, both Islamist and secular, which continue to erupt were dismissed as growing pains.
But Libya’s economic problems remain unresolved, as does the new government’s control of the country. As the Benghazi attack shows, “gun battles between militias” are hardly like competing gangs of rustlers shooting it out from behind trees on the lone prairie. Given what we know about the connections between Benghazi “gun battlers,” the In Amenas attack, and events in Mali, it is clear that the fight is still on. It will take some time before one of the Islamist groups takes control of Libya.
In Libya, as in Algeria, energy extraction and infrastructure are likely to be targeted by al Qaeda, if the Libyan government doesn’t dance to their tune. This hardly makes for positive feelings about the prospects for economic improvements in the country.
Economic news and prospects for stability and development in the newly Islamist states are far from good. A flood of U.S. and Western money and other aid is exactly what the Islamists hope for. Our funds help these regimes to consolidate power, using the funds as they see fit, not necessarily as stipulated by the U.S., the World Bank and the IMF.
In a letter to his local newspaper in Lagrange, Georgia, one Ford McLain gave chapter and verse on the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood’s anti-Americanism and other sins and went on to say:
“Still, the United States continues to send monetary support (foreign aid) to Egypt and recently the Obama administration has sent 20 [sic] F-16 fighter jets to Egypt. Mr. Obama has declared himself to be a Christian, a supporter of Israel and an advocate of women’s rights. These are things that most Americans can agree with. Why, then, would he knowingly support a group that is vehemently anti-American and against all those things that Mr. Obama says he believes in? Either he truly does not believe in those things, or he is too gullible and naïve to be president of the United States and Commander in Chief of our armed forces.”
Andrew McCarthy, commenting on the F-16 delivery in the National Review, says:
“When you ‘partner’ with Islamists, you are abetting the global jihad, not opposing it. When you arm Islamists, you become a willing participant in your own undoing.” Indeed, the West is paying for the knives the Islamists are buying to slaughter us, the infidels.
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