From the Al-Qaeda terror to the Islamic State juggernaut, it is the same familiar players enacting the same dangerous games in the world’s most volatile region. After long years of Islam-bashing and being tarred for the crimes of Al-Qaeda, this is just what we needed. A grand PR nightmare and disaster for an already much demonized global community.
AIJAZ ZAKA SYED
[dropcap]T[/dropcap]hose who cannot remember the past, are condemned to repeat it. So Barack Obama, who stood against Bush’s wars and his apocalyptic visions of a world divided between Us and Them, is not just back bombing Iraq – fourth US president to do so – he seems to read from the self-same script.
“No just God would stand for what they [ISIS] did yesterday, and for what they do every single day,” the US president declared, responding to the slaying of US journalist James Foley in Syria.
When was the last time you heard this invocation of the divine and the whole business of civilizational conflict, the good versus evil and ‘our god versus their god’ routine? That’s right. We have been here before—and not long ago either.
Obama may not exactly envision himself on a ‘divine mission’ to save the world as his predecessor did but he has ended up doing just about the same. Only the pretext seems to differ.
Then it was supposedly to rid the world of Saddam Hussain’s mythical weapons of mass destruction or to confront him on his support to Al-Qaeda in planning 9/11, as Bush claimed. Now it is to save the Christians and Yazidis from the clutches of the ISIS bigots. Truly touching the lengths America goes to every time to save the wretched world.
Taking Obama’s lead, defense secretary Chuck Hagel, Gen Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and even cousins across the pond have gone all hyper screaming: “Apocalypse Now…End-of-Days…We must prepare for everything…an imminent threat to every interest we have…This is beyond anything we have seen…”
In the words of Robert Fisk, Hagel and Dempsey were pure Hollywood. It only needed Tom Cruise at their press conference to utter the words “Mission impossible”.
David Cameron, in the great tradition of Tony Blair who swore that Britain was just 45 minute away from an Iraq WMD strike, sees ISIS unleashing its terror on the UK streets.
For years one saw such exaggerated nightmarish scenarios regularly spawned by the West vis-à-vis Al-Qaeda and of course Iraq and Iran.
Alas, Al-Qaeda has nearly been wiped out; Saddam and Bin Laden have been eliminated and Iran has been suitably neutralized.
So the world needed, or rather the mighty military industrial complex that drives the US economy needed, a new enemy to keep its good, old wars going. And the fearsome ISIS chief Abubakr Al Baghdadi with his black, murderous mobs and their blood-curdling acts of casual brutality is perfect for the job profile.
Even Al-Qaeda, or what remains of it, seems to be fearful of and is shocked by their viciousness and sheer savagery. The tales of mass murder, rapes and abductions of Christians, Yazidis and even Muslims by the hordes of the ISIS or Islamic State, as it absurdly likes to call itself now, already seem to be the stuff of legends. Not surprisingly, they have shaken and outraged people around the world—the Muslims more so.
After facing long years of Islam-bashing and being blamed for the crimes of Al-Qaeda and others, this is just what we needed. A grand PR nightmare and disaster for an already much demonized global community.
An Indian friend who has been enjoying the fruits of good life in Norway and never stops singing paeans of the generosity and tolerance of the Scandinavian countries, talks of a sudden change in the way people view Muslims now. If this is the case in the Norwegian paradise, you can imagine the love and goodwill the faithful are showered with in mainland Europe or America.
The Islamic State and the so-called Caliphate it promises is like our worst nightmare come true. It materialized out of thin air, like clouds of locusts, taking over the vast swathes of Iraqi and Syrian territory.
As Yvonne Ridley reasons, ISIS has achieved in a matter of weeks what the US and its allies failed to do in 10 years of occupation. This hasn’t happened by accident; military victories on this scale take strategic planning and inside help. So who, exactly, is behind ISIS?
More importantly, who stands to benefit from this carefully calibrated mayhem in the heart of the Middle East? The same folks who created Al Qaeda and used it ingenuously and effectively for years until Osama and his baby had exhausted their uses and were past their sell-by date.
Look at the uncanny similarity in the methods used by Al-Qaeda and IS – from the chilling murder of Daniel Pearl to the barbaric beheading of James Foley this month, both US journalists incidentally. There is a method in the madness.
I hate to sound like a conspiracy theorist here but behind the scepter of ISIS—and all such groups–it is hard to miss the same machinations against the world of Islam that one saw in the rise of Al-Qaeda. The fingerprints of the CIA, Mossad and their willing collaborators can be seen all over this baby.
It’s so predictable. As author Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya argues, the targeting of Christians and other minorities in Iraq and Syria and attempts to remap the Middle East are aimed at paving the way for the clash of civilizations that the likes of Samuel Huntington and Bernard Lewis have obsessed over for years.
The Muslim world has never in its long history faced a greater challenge. However, terrifying as the menace of IS extremism is, it is far less damaging than the internecine squabbling and siege within that define the Muslim world, particularly the Arab world today[divider]
So it is good that Arab and Muslim states seem to be waking up to the monster that is staring them in the face. The recent Arab ministers’ brainstorming in Jeddah and the Saudi-Iran confabulations seeking a common front against ISIS are welcome. So are the strong denunciations by top Islamic scholars and ordinary Muslims.
The Muslim world has never in its long history faced a greater challenge. However, terrifying as the menace of IS extremism is, it is far less damaging than the internecine squabbling and siege within that define the Muslim world, particularly the Arab world today. No wonder Israel gets away with murder. Seldom have Arabs been plagued with such strife and crippling divisions within their ranks. And too many innocents have paid with their lives for it—in Syria, Iraq…and elsewhere.
Doubtless, ISIS is a clear and present danger. And it wouldn’t, most probably, have come into existence if it had not been for the spectacular lies and crusades of Bush and Blair. The Israeli crimes against humanity and relentless persecution of its helpless victims have also helped radicalize generations of Arabs and Muslims — even those born in Western climes, as is apparently the case with the alleged British killer of James Foley.
But above all, as veteran Arab analyst Rami Khouri diagnoses in his fine analysis, “the single most important, widespread, continuous and still active reason for the birth and spread of the Islamic State mindset is the curse of Arab security states that treat citizens like children that need to be taught obedience and passivity above all else.”
Khouri goes on to point out that the average Arab citizen has lived in political, economic and social systems that have offered zero accountability, political rights and participation.
He says: “The IS phenomenon is the latest and perhaps not the final stop on a journey of mass Arab humiliation and dehumanization. Foreign attacks have exacerbated this trend, as has Israeli aggression against Palestinians and other Arabs. But the single biggest driver of the kind of criminal Islamist extremism we see in this phenomenon is the predicament of several hundred million individual men and women who are unable to achieve their full humanity or potential, or exercise their full powers of thought and creativity; or, in many cases, obtain basic life needs for their families.”
The Beirut-based Arab analyst has a word of advice for the region. “There is only one antidote in the long run to eliminating the Islamic State and all it represents. That is to stop pursuing the abusive and criminal policies that have demeaned millions of decent men and women and shaped the region for the past half a century.”
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