The European Union is the world's greatest importer of energy. That is not a boast. That is a mark of shame. It is also a sign pointing to Europe's greatest danger: Energy Blackmail. Europe has already experienced the effects of an oil embargo in the 1970s.
The EU pays 2.5% of its GDP on imported energy -- money that could be used stimulate its own innovations, an energy efficiency economy and native energy production. On oil alone the EU spends an enormous 270 billion euros. It cost only a fraction of that to produce, as it flows freely from wells. The surplus profits are used too often against the welfare of Europeans and Americans. Instead Europe's economy is still driven by Arab oil. Moreover it mostly comes from the Persian Gulf countries and is exported through a narrow and dangerous strait.
The poorer Arab States are now being aroused by their richer religious cousins. North African States are now much more mosque-orientated than only a decade ago. Daily habits and clothes have changed. More than piety is involved. Egypt is a key State between Saudi and Iranian power grabs. No wonder that the 86-year old Saudi King Abdullah was reportedly apoplectic at naive American attempts to unseat Mubarak.
'The events in Tunisia and Egypt are the sign of the Islamic Awakening' and 'an Islamic liberation movement' -- these were the words of Iran's Supreme Leader Khomenei. He addressed the Friday crowds for the first time in seven months. These movements will spell an 'irreparable defeat' for the United States, he said to cheering crowds raising their fists and shouting 'Death to America! Death to Israel!'.
Did the Europe's 27 leaders closeted in secret hear about Iran's pronouncement on the Mediterranean revolution? Did anyone tell them that the leader of nuclear Iran was laying ideological claim to Europe's southern frontiers? Are they talking about it now the Council has dispersed? We don't know.
Through Egypt by ship and pipeline comes 5 per cent of the world's oil and much of it destined for European and American consumers. Around 8 per cent of the world's exports comes through the Suez canal. It is the major umbilical that attaches marine trade of Europe, the Near East and Asia. Who is behind this revolt? There are many factors, such as wanting the freedoms of the West across the water, a sense of purpose, work and an end to grinding poverty.
Others are more dangerous, including the Muslim Brethren, an organisation that for decades has spawned jihadi spin-offs worldwide. It has been called the mother of modern jihadis, including Iran and Al Qaida. Like Communism, Nazism and other isms, it is ideological to the core. It still retains its poisonous ideological connection with Nazism and the Arabic version of Hitler's Mein Kampf and the fictitious propaganda The protocols of the Elders of Zion are widely published. Danish cartoons are not.
Its slogan is Islam is the Solution. But what is the question? What is life's purpose? To die as a so-called martyr? It has not brought happiness, peace, satisfying work, productive industry or the conservation of Nature and the ecological betterment of the planet. Europe has rejected the Islamic solution intellectually and physically with great loss of blood at Tours, Vienna and many other times over a millennium and half. Internal documents of the Brotherhood cite that the goal is a kind of 'grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and "sabotaging" its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God's religion is made victorious over all other religions.'
Is the only way to show this solution to destroy the successful alternatives? How about a good example? A weak ideology turns to immoral action and illicit expansion, often by violence, intimidation or sabotage. That distracts people from deeper analysis that exposes its false assumptions. The weakest spot of such an ideology is exposed in a public debate.
Why do these 'solutions' require the death of Israel? Because Israel has allowed freedom of worship. The Israeli government also pays for the maintenance of mosques. It did not desecrate them or build synagogues on top of them. It has produced a high tech society out of penniless Jewish refugees expelled from Arab lands. It has turned a barren land into an exporter of food. It is an example that many tyrants want to hide from their populations.
The interest of Iran should be kept in mind. Its regime can only stay in power at home by attacking and eliminating all its opponents at home and attempting to expand abroad. Its propaganda is powerful and contrasts with the weak reply of the West.
Consider how Iran has created a sphere of influence and propaganda in the Near East in the last few years. This now nearly surrounds Israel. It has gained a decisive interest in Gaza where it has often supplied arms and rockets by sea and by land. This has overexcited the whole of the Muslim world. Iran has also paid for and trained the militant Hizballah movement in Lebanon and has succeeded to make this militant Shi'ite jihadist army an integral part of the government of the once peaceful country. Iran's influence in Syria is also growing.
The Jordanian authorities are faced with a stark existential choice -- bend to Tehran or be broken. That seems to be the ground why they have urged America to go to war against Iran, even though this would bring war and destruction to the entire region. The Jordanians see this catastrophe of war as a lesser evil than an inevitable total Shi'ite take-over of the whole region through intimidation and small arms. That would only lead to further major war elsewhere, a global jihad. The Iranian theocracy has as its avowed aim the destruction of America and Europe as the great satans.
Is Iran behind the troubles in Egypt? Is it taking an opportunistic hand in the uprising against Mubarak? Iran rather gave its hand away. Last week it accused Israel of supplying plane-loads of anti-riot material to Mubarak's regime. That was swiftly denied by Jerusalem as nonsense. The fact of the matter is that in October last year -- for some unknown reason -- plane flights were resumed between Tehran and Egypt. Who authorized it? Strangely no one seems to know. Why is it significant? Simply because plane flights between the Shi'ite state and Egypt have been stopped not for a year or two but for thirty years.
For years President Mubarak had already warned the Muslims in neighbouring countries of the plans of the sectarian leaders of the Iranian Islamic Republic. 'The Persians are trying to devour the Arab states,' he said. 'A nuclear armed Iran with hegemonic ambitions is the greatest threat to Arab nations today,' Mubarak told the Arab Summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in 2009.
Now we know from WikiLeaks that all the neighbouring States are worried about what they consider the malevolent influence of Iran. The Saudis are calling Iran a 'snake' whose head needs to be cut off. Why then did the Egyptians -- the fiercest enemy of the Persians -- do this most extraordinary thing? They chose this moment to agree to resume airflights with Tehran. They were cut in the days of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and the Revolution of 1979-80. At that time the Shah left Iran and in a final trip between the capitals took his plane to Egypt. It is an indication of the growing power of Iran in Egypt.
The revolutionaries have a longer memory than many European leaders -- the Crusades are common talk. Are Europeans equally familiar with their past struggles with militant jihadis over 1500 years?
The Iranians can recall the vital need to control supply routes. At one stage, 2500 years ago, Egypt fell under the sword of the Persian monarchs Darius 1 and Cambyses of Persia. A three-language monument, unearthed by de Lesseps and now in Paris, declares the words of Darius that his men re-excavated the canal that links the Mediterranean with the Red Sea.
King Darius says:
I am a Persian; setting out from Persia, I conquered Egypt. I ordered to dig this canal from the river that is called Nile and flows in Egypt, to the sea that begins in Persia. Therefore, when this canal had been dug as I had ordered, ships went from Egypt through this canal to Persia, as I had intended.This was when the natives of the land were mainly Egyptians -- that is Copts, whose language is similar to ancient Egyptian. Only later when the Egyptian Empire had been destroyed did the Greeks, the Romans and then the Arabs take over the land. Prior to that Egypt was one of the world's greatest Christian countries. Many Arabs tend to believe civilisation only existed with Islam. The Persians remember they not only had a great civilisation but were controlling Egypt long before the Arabs arrived.
The Suez Canal itself can be seen as a historic goal for the Iranian regime. Today the Iranians have decisive influence in all the countries surrounding Israel, the only democracy in the entire Middle East.
The Iranians have no reason to be nice to those trying to thwart its nuclear plans. Europe is trying to impose crippling sanctions on the regime. If the Iranians gain influence on the Suez Canal they will have an additional stranglehold on Europe and its oil imports. The other route for oil from the Persian Gulf is by super-tanker around Africa. This too is becoming more dangerous. Witness the capture of hundreds of ships including a couple of tankers with enough oil for a fifth of the daily needs of the USA.
Who are these Somali pirates? They told Reuters: 'We are Muslims. We are marines, coastguards -- not pirates.' Really? They are jihadis. They are at war. One terrorist leader of the al-Shabaab-linked Mu'askar Ras Kamboni (also designated by the US State Department as a terrorist) said on Somali radio: 'I can say the pirates are part of the Mujahedeen [religious fighters], because they are in a war with Christian countries who want to misuse the Somali coast.' Guilty people have poor reasoning. Stealing super tankers worth hundreds of millions of euros shipping oil peacefully hundreds of kilometres out in the Indian Ocean has nothing to do with the coast guards. Osama bin Laden was more frank when he praised the Somalis' war of Islam against Christianity.
Maybe Europe's leaders in the European Council briefly discussed the rising demand for 'democracy' across North Africa. 'Democracy'? Islam? Who is right? They cannot both be right because there is no example of Islamic democracy in history. Democracy-- that is the equality of everyone under law -- is based on Judeo-Christian principles. Islam is based on the supremacy of the Islamic believer over the unbeliever. Effectively the voter may get one vote as in late Weimar Germany but only once. Iran shows that once the theocratic power has taken over they are not willing to give it up regardless of what the people vote. Hamas in Gaza is another example where those voted in to power then proceeded to kill and attack their electoral opponents of the Palestinian Authority. Gaza is one of the tentacles of Iran's Shi'ite octopus -- to use the Jordanian description.
The other Sunni countries have not been willing to allow overtly religious political parties (who might take over forever) or anti-religious parties (that religious fanatics oppose with suicide 'martyrs' as it would expose their methods, logical deficiencies and intolerance). With no philosophical or constitutional separation of secular from the religious powers, usually the military is needed to separate political competitors. The sword of Islam has been used frequently against unbelievers but also believers of the wrong hue.
Democracy as we know it is based on a religious or spiritual concept. Europe's democracy allows atheists or secularists to survive and even thrive. It allows them to pose the most probing questions and make even blasphemous criticism of Christianity. A Judeo-Christian society thus provides tolerance of antagonistic views of its own religion. The reason is that truth is valued above all and must be examined with all critical faculties. Truth will out. The results are clear. Christianity in all its multiple human imperfections is growing worldwide without the sword, intimidation or blackmail.
That is not true for an atheist State. A secular regime like Soviet Communism was at war with spiritual values and the freedom of religion. Only a Judeo-Christian system can produce democracy. Atheistic 'people's democracies' were hollow and false. The core of dialectic materialism was intellectually rotten.
As Schuman explained, democracy is not something that arises by spontaneous generations by mobs, by demonstrations or by revolt. It requires a moral base and a soundly founded concept of where ultimate authority comes from. That is not a false god or false religion.
Democracy is above all not something made quickly; Europe has taken more than a thousand years of Christianity to fashion it. In Africa we were forced to burn our bridges. Not only did we give the vote to an often illiterate population but what is worse, we turned power over to men who often had no training and who were exposed defenceless to all temptations of capriciousness and injustice. We tried to slacken the rhythm, to bring in controls; these were only frail preventive measures against the thrust of nationalism. I would like to be able to quote on this subject what Jacques Maritain, following Bergson, wrote more than twenty years ago, at the time when a more generous and Christian policy on our overseas territories was being elaborated. I will just keep to a few pertinent phrases:Schuman summed up several thousand years of history: 'Democracy will be Christian or it won't exist. An unchristian democracy is a caricature which sinks into tyranny or anarchy.'
'We must realise that the part that instinct and irrationality plays is much larger role in the animation of a group than an individual. At a time when one people enters history claiming their political and social adulthood, large sections of mankind remain in a state of immaturity or suffering from an unhealthy reactions accumulated during the course of time and are still only sketching out or preparing themselves culturally to be called a people. Let us understand that to enjoy one's privileges as an adult person without the risk of bankruptcy, a people must be capable of behaving as adults...
'Nothing is easier for political fraudsters to exploit good principles for an illusion, nor is anything more disastrous than good principles badly applied...'
I conclude with Bergson that 'democracy is essentially evangelical as it has love as its motor.'
We should have no illusions about installing a real democracy or where a tyranny or anarchy in the Mediterranean can lead.