This text is slightly modified from an interview that Andrew Korybko gave to a Moscow-based PhD student specializing in the “Arab Spring” regime change events.
The Role Of Social Media
Social media platforms were instrumental in organizing and deploying the regime change destabilizations that took place during the “Arab Spring” theater-wide Color Revolutions. They allowed the initiators of these events to more easily connect with tens of thousands of sympathizers and propagate their provocative messages to them in a bid to incite as many participating individuals as possible. Social media at that time was naively assumed by many of the masses, especially the comparatively uneducated and less technologically adept ones of the “Arab Street”, to be the “uncensored” and “genuine” “voice of the people”, ergo why so many people fell for the narratives (some of which were deliberately misleading or outright false) being spread by core organizers through these media. Had it not been for social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and even the technical application of Google Maps (which assists with planning ‘protest’ routes and urban guerrilla warfare), it’s doubtful that the so-called “Arab Spring” would have ever unfolded as it did, let alone at all perhaps.
The “Green Revolution”
What happened in Tunisia and Egypt in 2010-2011 was the beginning of what the US hoped would be a transregional Color Revolution campaign, and it’s directly connected to the so-called “Green Revolution” which the US encouraged in Iran in 2009. The whole point of that latter exercise was to gauge the responses of the Iranian government – the strongest and most security-conscious of the Mideast states – and to identify structural vulnerabilities which could be exploited in the comparatively weaker countries of the region. The US only half-heartedly supported the “Green Revolution” because it was always meant to be a probing exercise, not a full-fledged regime change attempt, but it also had the intended aftereffect of signaling to the Ayatollah and his military-security “conservatives” that the US could do much worse against them at a future date if they don’t agree to what turned out to be forthcoming secret negotiations about the country’s nuclear energy activity. It also impacted the psyche of Iranian youth by emboldening them to vote for the “moderate” Rouhani four years later, which ultimately facilitated the eventual nuclear deal in summer 2015.
The successful regime change campaigns in North Africa are emblematic of what my definition of Hybrid War is, namely the interweaving of Color Revolution and Unconventional Warfare tactics for the purpose of overthrowing a targeted government. What began as ‘peaceful’ anti-government protests provoked by external social media management techniques and in-country collaborators quickly spiraled into urban terrorism, with the main difference between Tunisia and Egypt being that the Cairo authorities held out slightly longer before capitulating to the insurgents’ demands.
As would later be seen in the case of Syria, however, the government and the vast majority of the population united in their opposition to what they already knew was a foreign-concocted regime change plot against their civilization-state, which is why they resisted so fiercely and the Color Revolution instruments were ordered to transform into outright terrorist groups such as Al Nusra, Daesh, and other “moderate rebels”.
The whole point behind the “Arab Spring” Color Revolution wave in the first place was to replace the governments in North Africa and the Levant with the Muslim Brotherhood, thus creating a transregional ideologically identical ‘super state’ which could be controlled by proxy via Neo-Ottoman Erdogan (just as the Eastern Bloc was controlled by the USSR up until a generation ago), though the geopolitical reality tremendously changed throughout the course of this campaign and thus prevented this wide-ranging geostrategic plot from succeeding.
The Role Of Foreign Influence
Foreign influence was crucially important in sparking the “Arab Spring” regime change riots, especially in North Africa. The first thing to remember is that the US works best when it’s operating indirectly, in this case, through the social and structural preconditioning that it carried out on these two states and their peoples well in advance of their formal destabilizations. Using a combination of macroeconomic instruments and ‘NGOs’, the US was able to both damage the Tunisian and Egyptian economies and consequently use various incitements to provoke the already agitated masses into coming out to the streets and overthrowing the government. It can safely be assumed that the US had at least several teams of in-country experts guiding the events, but for the most part, these operatives would not have had much success had it not been for the prior conditions that the US manipulated in shaping the dismal state of these country’s economies and fomenting widespread anti-government sympathies. Under such circumstances, all that it took was a highly publicized spark and carefully crafted Mainstream Media hysteria to set the ‘NGO’-social media apparatus into motion and craft a self-sustaining auto-synchronous destabilization which required minimal direct interference to execute its desired objective.
Foreign-Funded “Civil Society” NGOs
Foreign-funded ‘NGOs’ were used as some of the most powerful tools to destabilize Tunisia and Egypt in the run-up to, and during, the “Arab Spring” regime changes. George Soros and the scores of organizations that he directly and indirectly sponsors engage in ‘investigative’ and ‘activist’ activity which seeks to uncover corrupt relationships between public officials, the financial sector, and others. In and of itself, there’s nothing wrong with legitimately indigenous civil-society groups engaging in political and electoral criticisms, provided of course that they’re grounded in facts and not deliberately disruptive provocations, and it should of course be celebrated anytime that a corrupt individual is exposed for their illegal and unethical behavior. However, the relationships that the said civil society organizations have cultivated, as well as their and their patrons’/partners’ intent, must also be taken into consideration.
There’s a big difference between patriotic individuals carrying out the abovementioned activities for the intended betterment of their societies and internal collaborators conspiring with external (often intelligence-linked) organizers in plotting to sow unrest and topple the government. Sometimes it turns out that the latter category of “activists” are just “useful idiots” who have been duped by their naïve optimism, the comparatively hefty paychecks of their financiers, and/or the self-absorbed attention and sense of importance that they seek to receive from their work into unknowingly collaborating with forces which they aren’t even aware are foreign intelligence agents hostile to their home government. International ‘NGOs’ (INGOs) are oftentimes very shadowy like this and don’t regularly reveal their true intentions to their in-country staff, and some of them typically operate through ‘shell NGOs’ superficially based inside the targeted country, thus promoting the false perception that they are ‘indigenous’ when they’re not.
The Role Of INGOs
In the context of Hybrid War, INGOs function as the catalysts in organizing large masses of people and propagating their external patron’s political message. They operate through a combination of deceit and openness; on the one hand, they usually don’t proclaim their true regime change objectives or emphasize their foreign origins, but on the other, they do whatever they can to spread awareness about their overt or strongly inferred anti-government agenda. There are some INGOs which are officially apolitical but are in fact inherently political organizations, such as some of those dealing with environmental and animal rights. It should be emphasized that this doesn’t mean that every one of these groups is necessarily working as organizational fronts for a foreign government or has an interest in overthrowing their host government, but just that some of the most well-known names in this field such as Greenpeace have a history of engaging in political disturbances and then propagating the authorities’ response to them as alleged ‘proof’ of the given country’s ‘undemocratic nature’ and ‘lack of free speech’, all of which in turn is predicated on stoking more anti-government resentment.
As for those INGOs which are directly a part of Color Revolution destabilizations, the prevailing trend has been for them to flirt with Unconventional Warfare and urban terrorism by lobbing deadly Molotov cocktails at law enforcement officers, as well as committing crimes such as attacking civilian bystanders and vandalizing public and private property. Whenever the INGOs desire to launch a concerted ‘public action campaign’, as they euphemistically call it, and gather as many people together as they can to protest for or against whatever the carefully selected item of agitation may be, they’re in reality working to assemble a crowd in order to manipulate the inevitable mentality that’s associated with large masses of angry individuals and channel it into a ‘hive mind’ of easily guidable “activists”. These individuals are then subtly encouraged or outright goaded into sparking a confrontation with the authorities, usually by breaking municipal law in marching on a location which they weren’t legally permitted to assemble around and then violently resisting arrest.
The whole point in these sorts of stunts is to prompt situations where edited footage can then be acquired by social media “activists” or sympathetic (collaborationist) mainstream media organizations in portraying the government as the “anti-democratic aggressor” and the “protesters” as the “peaceful victims”. As it relates to Hybrid War, this is intended to strengthen the domestic and international pressure on the authorities and introduce an implicit blackmail scenario whereby the government realizes that it must back down in the face of the incipient “protest” movement otherwise it risks aggravating already high tensions and falling under increased international (Western) condemnation. The perception of the masses has already been influenced to a degree whereby some apolitical individuals begin to sympathize with the “activists” and question whether they may indeed be right after all in accusing the government of “anti-democratic and human rights abuses”. Depending on the course of the destabilization and the decisiveness of the authorities’ response to it, some of the INGO members will then break off from the larger group and form their own urban terrorist cells, at times even dangerously using the unaware apolitical crowd of sympathizers surrounding them as de-facto human shields in warding off police countermeasures such as batons and tear gas.
The self-sustaining and auto-synchronous cycle is apparent, and the escalation ladder suggests that the disorganized urban terrorists will eventually coalesce into more disciplined terrorist formations the longer that the Hybrid War is being waged, such as what happened in Syria up until the present day and in rural Western Ukraine right before the coup. If it were not for INGOs and the crowd mentality schemes that they engage in, it would be much more difficult for these actors to destabilize their host governments and promote regime change scenarios. It should be reminded, however, that many of the civilians gathering around the INGO core are usually unaware of the larger goals being pursued by the “protest” organizers. This is a convenient fact which is exploited by these groups to maximum effect in proselytizing their “official” public message to the masses and then steering their converts in the physical direction of being nearby the police’s response to the core provocateurs’ illegal actions, hoping that any ‘collateral damage’ that occurs to law-abiding civilians during this time can galvanize their incipient anti-government attitudes.
The Future Of INGOs In Egypt And Tunisia
It’s not likely that INGOs will continue to enjoy the same operational freedom under Sisi as they previously had during the last days of Mubarak, and this is simply owing to the experience that the Egyptian state has since received in terms of how these groups are used for regime change purposes. There’s also the very real threat that some INGOs are working with the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood terrorist group, which the US is slavishly sympathetic to, so national security must be considered by all responsible decision makers in Egypt when deciding on the future of INGOs. Concerning Tunisia, however, the country has historically been the most liberal of the North African states, and it doesn’t look like they’ll enact the necessary legislation needed to properly protect themselves from the regime change threat that INGOs are now associated with. Another reason is that they have the globally renowned reputation as being the ‘birthplace’ of the “Arab Spring”, which is still celebrated in the West as a “democratic uprising against totalitarianism”. Even though many Western observers have since wised up to the destabilizing consequences of these transregional Color Revolutions, Tunisia has been the least severely affected by them, which is why it’s still “officially” lionized in the Mainstream Media as the ‘birthplace of modern-day Arab democracy’.
Like it was mentioned in an earlier response, INGOs have also developed a new trend of operating through ‘shell companies’ in order to obscure their foreign nature and more adeptly deceive the domestic audience that they’re trying to target. Instead of the “Open Society Foundation” directly funding whatever ‘NGO’ it is that they envisage promoting their political agenda, for example, they’ll fund a ‘shell NGO’ first and then use that entity to spread their seed funding all throughout the country. There has yet to be any legislation implemented anywhere in the world prohibiting this arrangement from happening or formally decreeing the recipients of the ‘shell NGOs’ laundered largesse as being foreign agents, which is a critical oversight that must be legally remedied as soon as possible by all countries concerned about foreign ‘NGO’-driven Hybrid War destabilizations. While North Africa probably won’t be the first place where this loophole is closed, Egypt might follow the predictable lead of Russia and/or China in likely doing so sometime in the future, and Tunisia might also be compelled to mirror this as well if it begins to once more suffer from INGO destabilization (perhaps with Muslim Brotherhood-sympathetic Western ‘NGOs’ funding violent in-country counterparts).
Varoufakis As Soros’ EU INGO Ringleader
Hybrid War researchers and national security services must keep an eye on George Soros, Gene Sharp, and Yanis Varoufakis. The first one is globally notorious for expending tens of millions of dollars on Color Revolutions and anti-government INGOs all across the globe, while the second one runs the Albert Einstein Institute and is the strategic-tactical architect for “people’s power” unrest. The third one isn’t commonly grouped in the same category as Soros and regime change, though he very well should be considering his links to the billionaire Color Revolution financier as openly evidenced through Varoufakis’ regular contributions to Soros’ “Project Syndicate” website.
This online platform is known as a gathering place for ‘revolutionaries’ and those who desire to catalyze “change” in their societies, which is what Varoufakis now seeks to do. He launched a radical leftist-liberal organization at the beginning of 2016 called DiEM25, which he thenceforth described on “Project Syndicate” as being the beginning of a “Progressive International” which aims to defeat, among others, President Putin, who he intimates is part of a “nationalist international – a classic creature of a deflationary period – united by contempt for liberal democracy and the ability to mobilize those who would crush.” He also since said that Putin is a “war criminal” who “justifies his stranglehold over his own people”, which clearly proves that he’s in opposition to the Russian President and closely echoes what many of Moscow’s regime change opponents have falsely alleged. Given that DiEM25 hopes to become a continental-wide “Progressive International”, it must accordingly be seen as a far-reaching Color Revolution threat which ultimately aims to affect political change in Russia and cause public disruptions to Moscow’s investment deals and partnerships in the EU (per the aforementioned organizational tactics outlined in a previous answer).
Varoufakis’ extreme left-liberal “revolutionary” views could become dangerously attractive to many European and Russian youth, and the Greek demagogue’s connections with George Soros – the man behind the banned Open Society Institute – should be enough cause for Russian decision makers to worry about his intentions and responsibly contemplate preventive action. As Russia continues its post-communist transformation in becoming a conservative civilization-state, one of its greatest enemies might turn out to be the “Secular Wahhabism” that Varoufaki and his Soros-supported ilk represent.
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