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Dominant West & radical Islam
By Dr Javid Iqbal
The predominant western view of radical Islam has multiplied over last few decades. And the projection of civilisational conflict in western narratives prevails without a look at how the western domination has affected Muslim masses. Profiling Middle East where the bulk of Muslims live in apparently independent states, the denial of civil and political rights might be put at the door of leaders running these countries. However the very fact that these regimes are sustained by the dominant west evokes anger. The pent-up feelings result in radicalization. The extreme anger and sense of hopelessness, which has dominated the Muslim minds is due to genuine injustices, atrocities and cruelties of the dominant West,

Apart from autocracies in many Arab countries, there are dictatorships tyrannical in extremes. There are no rights of speech against the government, no fair elections, no independent press, no opposition, compromised judiciary and brutal Police forces. Power is exercised either by a ruling clan or single party domination. In Arabic, single party states are called in jest 'Wahid Hizbi Doula' [Wahid: single, Hizbi: party, Doula: government]. Egyptian 'Wahid Hizbi Doula' was supported to the hilt by Americans, as Anwar Sadat bowed to Zionists in Israeli parliament, the year being 1979. And allowed the 1947 leader of Zionist terrorists-Manehem Begin, who had graduated to Prime Ministership of Israel to dictate the so called Middle East peace agenda. While Egypt was handed over Sinai, the Jewish state held back West Bank and Golan heights.

Israel without a shade of doubt is the creation of the west to control Near East/Middle East. Though the dominant west is strong and powerful, in the historical context however, the lurking doubt of resurgent Middle East, the west of Asia posing a challenge in the unseen future remains. West is unable to get over the memory of crusades. Jews came handy to west in 20th century to fulfill their designs, withstanding anti-Semitism in the west. In fact the creation of Israel filled a dual purpose. One, with the creation of Jewish state, the troublesome Jews would move to the state of their own. Two, the Jewish State would hold Middle East in check. Oil fields of Arabia in the process of being discovered as 20th century progressed added another dimension to west's plans. Declaration of United Kingdom's Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour dated 2 November 1917 was carried through a letter to Baron Walter Rothschild, a leader of the British Jewish community, for transmission to the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland. The declaration created space for Jews to move into Palestine. Post First World War in the treaty of Seville, Turkey-called the sick man of Europe in derogatory terms conceded the Palestinian mandate. Talat, the Grand Vizier represented the Othman empire. Hussain-Sheriff of Mecca helped operationalize the deal bagging for his family the kingdom of Iraq and Urdun [Trans-Jordan].

It was in the background of this bitter historical memory that Sadat's unceremonious surrender had Muslims fuming. Henry Kissinger said in half jest that had he known Sadat would yield as much as he did in Israeli parliament, he would have had Israel concede a lot more to Egypt. The Muslim moderate face had held without a trace of militancy until then. Ikhwan-ul-Muslimeen in Egypt under the leadership of Hasan Banna and Syed Qutub and Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) movement in Pakistan under the guidance of Maulana Maudoodi is taken as the first Major Muslim response in early fifties. The leaders and workers of these organizations were political moderates with a religious inclination. This was a period when diverse ideologies started growing in Arab world, ranging from Jamaal Abdul Nasir's Arab nationalism to socialism of Baathists led by two ideologues-Christian Arabs-Salah Bitar of Syria and Michael Aflak of Iraq.

Nasir was popular without a doubt however intolerant of growth of Ikhwan. The organization well knit was rapidly spreading its ideology of political Islam, which became a rallying point for young Muslims in the Arab world. The response of the Arab regimes, including that of Nasir was ruthless and outright cruel. Instead of debating issues ruthless force was used. It may be conceded though that Nasir badly drubbed by the Jewish state did not yield on Arab interests. That changed with Sadat's surrender, even though in the Ramadan war of 1973, Egyptian forces by their Sinai crossing had partially redeemed the battered honour of 1947/1967 conflicts. The tale of Arab humiliation was long and relentless. Instead of challenging and confronting the young Islamists intellectually and ideologically, a policy of decimation was adopted by the Arab governments. Ikhwan was banned and its leaders jailed, tortured and killed. Syed Qutub was hanged in Egypt in the 60?s and he became a martyr of the cause. The persecution of Muslim moderates was intensified by Sadat. Acts like assassination of Sadat, tourist massacre of Luxar, taking over of Kabbah in 1979, first car bombing of world trade center in early nineties followed.

Political Islam-the word had come into vogue, though it stood poorly defined. Some wondered whether there was any need to prefix political with Islam. The ones bred in Islamic ideology and having firm faith in it, not only in word but in deed argued that Islam does not compartmentalize the state and the religion, the temporal and the spiritual. However what the dominant west called political Islam without comprehending the basic tenants of Islamic ideology remained without any mature and long term planning for what needs to be done to sustain the struggle. The struggle that suppressed Muslim masses ad an inkling of, without knowing how to get on with it. The strategy that would provide for alternate sustainable solutions, future reconciliations in case needed, decision on peace moves, if and when warranted. It could be said though that the anger of some of the cadre had turned into outright violence at their helplessness to change anything around them. This was the state in the Arab world when the Afghan Jihad started in 1979; then the whole scenario changed rapidly.

As Sadat surrendered to the Jewish state, an extension of dominant west in Middle East, certain factors led to radicalization, they may be noted as:

(a) Afghan Jihad

(b) Iranian Islamic revolution

(c) Iran-Iraq war

Afghan Jihad is taken as the precipitator, wherein the prevalent thought process crystallized into a phenomenon, which became the major discourse. Instead of intellectual argument, language of violence prevailed. This fuelled mainly Sunni militancy. Iranian revolution on the contrary led to growth of Shia militancy. Iran-Iraq war had undercurrents of Arab-Iranian tensions of yore, as well as Sunni-Shia differences. Fortunately it didn't crystallize into major confrontation between two sects, with Iranians projecting the joint concerns of Muslim world and providing support to Palestinian cause. Shia militants in South Lebanon for the first time posed security problems to Israelis, a fact that did not go un-noticed in Islamic world.

The worst sufferer of Sunni-Shia sectarian differences was Pakistan, it continues to suffer. Of late in Iraq and Syria, dominant west is subtly playing up sectarian differences. In Iraq Sunni Kurds have the carte blanche to run an independent state, in defiance of federal government, even though the Kurd leader-Jalal Taliban was made the president-a ceremonial position, If in Kurdistan the dominant west is providing succor to Kurd separatists, incidentally Sunnis, in mainland Iraq Shia-Sunni differences are played-up. There have been elections, apparently free, in which the Shia majority emerged winners. Without a doubt they felt suppressed during Saddam years. Saddam incidentally a Sunni was a Baathist-a socialist in political belief. Following elections however, Sunnis and Shias had a rocking coalition. No meaningful effort was made for national reconciliation. Western agencies active in Middle East keep up with their job of creating and sustaining divisions.

In Syria the Baathists-secular socialists in power have been labeled as Alwite Shias though the religious hue was never propagated by Syrian Baathists over forty years in power. The power machinations of dominant west are playing up Sunnis not in the name of fighting a dictatorship, but fighting 12% Alwite Shias. This has resulted in other minorities like Christians lining up behind Alwite Shias fearing Sunni domination. In Bahrain the fight against autocracy should have had masses move jointly, instead it is being a fight of majority Shias against autocracy, incidentally Sunnis. This is yet again the handiwork of dominant west.

Apparently the dominant west professes democracy and pleads for establishment of democratic institutions in Middle East; however in deed the sustenance of autocracies remains its aim and the objective. And wherever democracy looks like taking shape for example in Algiers, in Egypt, if it translates into Islamists coming to power, alternative discourses are played up and financed by agencies to thwart the move and create hurdles. International power play thrives on checkmating moderate Muslim forces, and it suits the dominant west to give Islam a bad name.

How long this strategy works is being questioned not only in Islamic world, but in some western quarters too. Dominant West, relate the concerned voices might be overplaying its hand. The fear remains that the strategy of dominant west might unleash forces, difficult to contain. There is need for some hard rethinking, if the world is to live in peace.

Yaar Zinda Sohbat Baqi [Reunion is subordinate to survival]

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News Updated at : Monday, December 17, 2012
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