Protesting UN inaction to violence in the Occupied Territories at MINURSO HQs, Tifariti, October 25, 2010 (photo: Kirby Gookin)

Monday, February 21, 2011

Noam Chomsky: "The current wave of protests [in North Africa] actually began last November in Western Sahara..."

NOAM CHOMSKY: It’s hard to believe that they're not aware of it. I mean, you can read it in the newspapers. There have been demonstrations and protests going on for years. A big protest in 2005, you know, they keep being repressed, then there are more. In fact, the current wave of protests actually began last November in Western Sahara, which is under Moroccan rule after a brutal invasion and occupation. The Moroccan forces came in, carried out - destroyed tent cities, a lot of killed and wounded and so on. And then it spread. You have to be pretty - all the -

AMY GOODMAN: Western Sahara is hardly known about, the rebellion there and the occupation there.

NOAM CHOMSKY: It’s hardly known about, but that's - I mean, it’s a major atrocity. It's kind of like East Timor - in fact, pretty much the same, even the same time. But it's blowing up. And also, they must read the studies of Arab public opinion. I mean, you can't imagine an intelligence service that doesn't read the regular studies by Western polling agencies of Arab public opinion. And if you look at them, you can see why democracy is such a frightening concept. The latest major study last August released by the Brookings Institute, so not very obscure, showed that almost nobody in the Arab world regards Iran as a threat - 10 percent. What they regard as a threat is the United States and Israel, like 80 and 90 per cent. In fact, a majority even favor Iran having nuclear weapons, to balance US-Israeli power, which is the real threat in the Arab world. You take a look at when they list people who are respected, Erdogan in Turkey is way up on top. Obama isn't even listed. You know, you get down to Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, no Obama. Now, these are the opinions of people in the Arab world. What you said about the bureaucrats and the aides is absolutely correct. I mean, after all, there have been 60 years in which explicit policy, you know, in writing, has been - internal records - has been to disregard the Arab population, as long as they can be kept under control.

JUAN GONZALEZ: So, is, perhaps, the reticence of the administration in the case of Egypt, let's say, or right now in Bahrain, more geared to the fact that they know that public opinion and they understand that real democracy in the region would mean another Latin America, another region totally out of US ability to dominate?

NOAM CHOMSKY: I don't talk to anybody in Washington, so I can only guess, but it is simply inconceivable that at least the intelligence services don't go as far as reading polls that I can read.

Click here for full interview : "The Genie is Out of the Bottle."

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