Activists & Masterminds

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has announced plans to build several nuclear power plants. AP Photo/Mohammed Al-Sehety
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has announced plans to build several nuclear power plants. AP Photo/Mohammed Al-Sehety

It is difficult at this stage to determine the identity of the masterminds exploiting the current turmoil in the Middle East in a satisfactory manner, because the processes involved are not transparent and there are too many contradictory conspiracy theories out there to help make sense of anything, including ones that assert that the entire development called the Arab Spring is actually a phenomenon engineered by the “masterminds.”

Some of these latter theories do not necessarily ignore the genuineness of the intentions of the nonviolent activists and protest leaders, nor the existence of objective reasons that facilitated the revolutions; rather they simply posit that from the onset there were already forces at work that attempted to coopt the revolutionary movements and guide them towards predesigned ends. According to these particular iterations, the nonviolent prodemocracy activists were either fooled or coopted at one point in the process, or rendered completely irrelevant in due course through lack of support.

Be that as it may, one thing is clear: competition over resources is strongly at play here, especially in connection to oil, natural gas and Uranium. At this stage, we are not yet in the post-fossil-fuel era. There are still too many supplies of oil and natural gas available all around the world, and too much money to be made from their sale for a serious push to develop alternative energy sources to take place anytime soon, or for the transition to take place in a speedy manner. The available sources of fossil fuel have to be exhausted first. It’s as simple as that. That means that control of supply routes will remain of critical importance for many countries and economies around the world, and the competition in this regard will continue.

Meanwhile, a fierce competition over control of Uranium deposits is taken place almost concurrently, because nuclear energy is the fallback position adopted by most states, once fossil fuel reserves have been exhausted. With Egypt recently joining the ranks of countries with major Uranium deposits, standing alongside Kazakhstan, Russia and Canada, the region will not be spared the reverberation of the fierce competition already taking place. Indeed, in April of 2013, Russia signed a major deal with the Egyptian government at the time allowing the Russians to mine for Uranium and build new power plants.

This continuing competition over resources in the region will be a major complicating factor involved in the transition to a multipolar world, if not one of its main driving forces.

Still, the issue of the masterminds doesn’t really matter as much as some seem to think. What matters is that the whole power struggle involved could have unfolded differently, and solely within the realm of politics, had the political elite involved, especially in our region, been more perceptive, and pragmatic.

Making the world a better place is not about preventing the occurrence of interest-based conflicts, after all, it is human nature to compete over control of resources. The real challenge is about trying to restrict such conflicts as much as possible to the realm of politics and legal proceedings.

Moreover, since we are always bound to have psychopaths, nihilistic rejectionists and greedy bastards in our midst, war does not seem destined to become obsolete any time soon, if ever, for all the suffering it brings with it. But, we should still keep pushing for the adoption of a unified international stand against mass murder and genocide. Failing that, we should, as prodemocracy, human rights and peace activists, rally behind the international alliances that seek to halt these practices and bring the perpetrators to justice. Indeed, we should always be careful not to be used as agents of chaos while making our stand known, but we should also beware cynical stands that encourage inaction in the face of such crimes. There are as many unsavory powers and characters that stand to benefit from inaction as there is when the wrong action is involved.

This will never be an easy balancing act, and we will often fail. But failure is never a legitimate excuse for giving up when the battle is so clearly existential in nature. It’s is our very humanity that is at stake here. Every success that has ever been made to advance the cause of freedom, justice and peace in the world has been made in the face of all odds and following countless failures. Individual activists may tire, and may reconsider the level and nature of their involvement in the course of their careers, but despondency is never an option on the collective level. There should always in this world a network of pragmatic activists dedicated to the cause of providing more effective conflict resolution mechanisms, and more effective accountability procedures for those responsible for perpetrating crimes against humanity.