Speaking on the Al-Jazeera network's "Opposite Direction" talk show on July 11, Libyan expat Dr. Hadi Shalouf, a former member of the ICC, said that the Arab peoples are not used to democracy and are not ready for it. The other guest on the show, Syrian journalist Khalil Al-Miqdad, said that many of the Arab rulers had foreign roots and that the American invasion of Iraq was a conspiracy. "According to the Torah, Judaism, and the clash of civilizations, Israel can only survive if Iraq ceases to exist," he said. Dr. Shalouf countered that the problem lies with the Arab peoples and that the internal crises plaguing the Arab world were local, not foreign, products. "We are living in the Dark Ages," he said. "Our peoples need a long period of time in order to awaken from their slumber and lay the foundations [of democracy]."
Dr. Hadi Shalouf: "For decades we have been demanding that these dictatorial regimes be changed. As members of Arab opposition movements abroad, we used to think that the problem was with the [Arab] rulers. But as soon as the revolutions in Tunisia, Libya and Egypt were victorious, we realized that, unfortunately, it was not the regimes per se that were directly responsible [for the problems]. It was the [Arab] peoples that had helped create these regimes, from day one. These regimes are nothing but the product of these peoples.
"I believe that the Libyan revolution would not have succeeded if the West had not helped the Libyan people. We know full well that the U.S. Navy fired at least 115 Tomahawk missiles, and that the French, Italian and German air forces helped to liberate Libya from a regime that ruled with injustice and tyranny for 42 years. What happened was that the people who then came [to power] were not ready to lead the countries. On the contrary, the situation became worse than before [the Arab Spring]. [The new rulers] were thieves and criminals, who had come to rob the countries and throw them into internal wars. This is what ultimately happened to the [Arab Spring] countries."
Interviewer: "So you are saying that the internal wars we are now seeing in Yemen, Libya, Tunisia and Syria are local, not foreign, products?"
Dr. Hadi Shalouf: "Absolutely.
"Prisoners who spend a long time behind bars – 20, 30, or 40 years – prefer to return to prison, instead of living outside. Some [released prisoners] even commit suicide."
Interviewer: "How does that apply to peoples?"
Dr. Hadi Shalouf: "The [Arab] peoples are undoubtedly not ready for democracy and are not used to it. We were ruled by the Ottomans for four hundred years. After that we were ruled by Western colonialism for 40-50 years, or 130 years in Algeria. So the [Arab] peoples are not ready for democracy. This is the reason for the failure of the Arab Spring. Foreign [powers] were not involved, but even if they were involved, they were supported by the people who came to power."
Interviewer: "So it is the [Arab] peoples who are the root of the problem?"
Dr. Hadi Shalouf: "Without a doubt."
Khalil Al-Miqdad: "Many of our rulers are alien to our nation, and we do not know their origins. Who is Qadhafi? Can you tell me? We find that his aunt was Jewish. Who was Hafez Al-Assad ['Lion'], or Hafez Al-Wahsh ['Beast'], or whatever? Where did he come from? Some say from Iran, and others say from Kurdistan. A Kurdish researcher says that he is from Kurdistan. I don't want to delve into the subject, but the Western system... Dick Cheney, after the Iraqi war..."
Interviewer: "The former U.S. defense secretary..."
Khalil Al-Miqdad: "Bush's vice president... After the American invasion of Iraq, he spoke to Ariel Sharon, and said: 'The U.S. invaded Iraq first and foremost for the sake of Israel.' According to the Torah, Judaism, and the clash of civilizations, Israel can only survive if Iraq ceases to exist."
Interviewer: "By the way, after the American tanks rolled into west Baghdad, when the U.S. invaded Iraq, former U.S. President George Bush called Sharon and said to him: 'We have wiped out the danger that was threatening Israel. We are now in west Iraq.' This is recorded."
Dr. Hadi Shalouf: "Who was it who invaded Kuwait? Who was it who used poisonous gas against his own people? Who was it who waged war against a neighboring Muslim country? It was Saddam Hussein. Saddam Hussein brought about the destruction of Iraq. Who was it who brought about the destruction of Libya? It was Qadhafi. We asked Qadhafi to step down peacefully, but he refused, so..."
Interviewer: "Who destroyed Syria?"
Dr. Hadi Shalouf: "Bashar Al-Assad destroyed Syria, because he did not want to step down. But the [Arab] peoples were not ready, and they split into sects and parties, and they began to ask for aid from all the other countries. So it is not only about the regime of Bashar Al-Assad. We see what is happening in Syria now. We see groups fighting one another for aid from all the countries of the world. They have begun to ask for aid, just like the Palestinians. The Palestinians lost their cause because they asked for aid. This is what is happening to the Arab peoples."
Interviewer: "They sold themselves out to other countries."
Dr. Hadi Shalouf: "Yes. There was a conference in 2001, when the money of the Muslim organizations was confiscated. The Palestinians asked the E.U. and all the international organizations to cut off the aid, because it was not reaching the Palestinians. So the problem lies with the [Arab] peoples. They are not used to democracy and they will not get used to it. We need a long period of time. We are living in the Dark Ages. It is now 1438 AH, and it is exactly like the year 1438 CE was in Europe. We are living in the Middle Ages."
Interviewer: "The Dark Ages."
Dr. Hadi Shalouf: "Exactly. That is the stage that we are undergoing now. Our peoples need a long period of time in order to awaken from their slumber and lay the foundations [of democracy]."