“Much to the satisfaction of the United States and its allies it's been essentially no change to the major centers of oil production, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf. The dictatorships are firmly in place”, says Noam Chomsky. There were attempts by the population to join the Arab Spring but they were quickly and harshly repressed with the support of the West. Iraq meant a substantial loss to the United States. It doesn’t follow US orders anymore and is now under significant Iranian influence, e.g. in permitting supplies to the Assad government in Syria. The countries of North Africa like Tunisia and Egypt have experienced some real successes: Much more freedom of speech and for labor organizing. On the other hand the governments were taken over by Islamist forces which follow the neoliberal policies of the West. The two countries under military occupation in the region, Western Sahara and Palestine, were kept immune from the Arab Spring. “The revolution is not in a standstill but in a waiting period. I think there will be a power shift. It's much harder to simply disregard the populations as it had been the case under the Western backed dictatorships. Even in the oil dictatorships they have to pay some attention to the populations.”
Noam Chomsky: MIT Linguist, US critic and activist, author of dozens of books about US foreign policy, state based capitalism and mass media e.g. "Manufacturing Consent", "Profit over People", "Hegemony or Survival" and "Occupy". Chomsky is official supporter of Kontext TV.
David Goeßmann: How have the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Arab Spring and the change of governments in Arab countries, changed the geopolitical landscape in that oil rich region Middle-East. Do the U.S. still have control over the resources in that region?
Noam Chomsky: Much to the satisfaction of the United States and its allies it's been essentially no change to the major centers of oil production, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf. The dictatorships are firmly in place, there were attempts by the population to join the Arab Spring but they were quickly and harshly repressed, with the support of the West, so there things are in order. Other places it is a different story. Iraq is of course a total ruin, one of the consequences of the Iraq war not too surprising but it's been, we can see it, a victory emerged when Iraq was destroyed, the U.S was pretty much defeated, had to abandon war aims. But Iran made out fine, so Iraq is not under control of Iran but is under substantial Iranian influence. It is the major outside influence which means that Iraq is cooperating in permitting supplies to the Assad government in Syria and in general doesn't follow U.S. orders. So that's a substantial loss to the United States. One could argue about what it means for the region. The countries of North Africa, Tunisia and Egypt which were the main centres of the Arab Spring there have been some real successes: Much more freedom of speech, much more freedom for labor organizing. On the other hand the governments were taken over by Islamist forces that only once really could organize under the dictatorships backed by the West formerly in power. And they are satisfactory to the U.S. and the West, they've followed the neoliberal policies, you know World Bank, IMF treasury policies which is primarily what the U.S. is concerned with, frankly I doubt that they can hold on the uprisings, revolutions if you like. They are not in a standstill but they are in a waiting period and I suspect we'll see more coming soon. Whatever will come out of that, you cannot predict more than you could have predicted what happened. In other countries it's taken its own course, I mean some of them we don't even talk about. So there are two countries in the region which are essentially under military occupation, the first is Western Sahara, the second is Palestine. The Arab Spring actually began in Western Sahara with tent cities protests against the Moroccan rule, they repressed it. It is a security council protectorate, the last colony in Africa subject of decolonization. France intervened to block any discussion at the security council and the U.S. backed them. And that's kind of ignored, you see nothing about it. The other is Palestine and that's kept immune from the Arab Spring at least in actions. But there is a lot of repression and we could talk about what's going on there but so it is not been really part of the changes that are taking place if anything it is regressed there.
David Goessmann: So there is no major power shift in the Arab world?
Noam Chomsky: I think there will be a power shift. It's much harder to simply disregard the populations as it had been the case under the Western backed dictatorships, even in the oil dictatorships have to pay some attention to the populations. And actually in Bahrain where there was brutal repression there have been some encouraging steps towards reform and responding to some of the popular demands. The situation was pretty severe for a while. Across the causeway in Eastern Saudi Arabia which is a very crucial area, mostly Shiite area, a lot of protests were very violently repressed, that's where most of the Saudi oil is. But for the moment it's under Western control at least under control by forces that are amenable to Western influence and power.