From Egypt, to Libya and to Iraq, Arab leaders cite an al-Qaeda threat as a reason to crack down on domestic protests and opposition to garner military and financial support from the US.
As thousands protest in Iraq demanding more government services, stronger healthcare and less corruption, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has warned al-Qaeda may be watching, and waiting to strike the protestors en mass. This followed a crackdown by police on protestors in the country.
In Libya Moammar Gadhafi accused al-Qaeda of supporting and organizing the protests, and later insisted that all western journalists were also members of or working with al-Qaeda to overthrow his government. He contended Osama bin Laden was fueling protests with al-Qaeda backing and a mix of hallucinogenic drugs. Gadhafi said bin Laden was the enemy and was directly engaged in organizing ongoing protests thought the region.
Following his tirade, Gadhafi cracked down on his people, using live ammunition and targeting civilians who oppose his rule, all in the name of fighting al-Qaeda extremism.
Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, al-Qaeda has become the new buzzword and excuse to target one’s own people.
Accusing protests and opposing of being in cahoots or backed by al-Qaeda opens the doors to use violent force on a country’s civilian population.
Mubarak cited extremist and al-Qaeda backing in the recent uprisings in Egypt which saw him ousted as the nation’s president. Blaming al-Qaeda was an attempt at demonized protestors, making them the bad guys.
It appears al-Qaeda has become a common excuse in the region in order to justify attacks on domestic peaceful protests and civilians seeking a better life.