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Chatting with my Chinese friend (8): ‘Islam against Arabs?’

Editor: Li Kun 丨CCTV.com

10-27-2015 14:55 BJT

By H Karoui

"What is biggest problem facing Arabs today?" Yu asked. I am not sure which problem is biggest, I replied, but one of the biggest problems of Arab countries is their inability to take charge of the defense of their region, despite ranking among the top nations in the world for military spending. Reliance on the US as an ally in this matter is no secret. However, the US has its own strategic interests and goals, which do not necessarily reflect those of its Arab allies - far from it.

In 2003, Washington invaded Iraq against the wishes of most Arab leaders who feared the consequences of the war for their own countries. Yet the US fighters that bombed Baghdad and other cities were taking off from a base in Qatar even as Al-Jazeera was giving voice to Arab anger and condemnation of Bush policy. It seems that at one time the Americans even thought of bombing Al-Jazeera. If they refrained, it was because there was no possible justification for such behavior which would ultimately make them lose their Al-Eidid base in the country.

While a majority of Arabs clearly opposed the US invasion, their policy remained that of the powerless. It is the same kind of impotence you see now against ISIS and other threats.

The US "Middle East democratization" project once patronized by Condoleezza Rice, Paul Wolfowitz and the American neocons, has not proven a great success. The new Middle East that emerged does not look like a region where people are happy and prospering under credible non-corrupt legal institutions and governing bodies. It looks like an area open to new brands of terrorism and neo-fascist ultra-rightist groups hijacking Islam for purposes beyond the claims of any religion.

Instead of the so-long expected generation of new Arab modernists, democratic leaders and organizations, we witness the emergence of a new generation of backward long-bearded sociopathic killers and criminals, claiming to lead Arab and Muslim populations to a final clash with the whole world. They trumpet doomsday and the end of times, raising the Quran in one hand and a long knife with the other.

The anarchy in Iraq from the beginning took on the misleading appearance of a religious war. Claiming to be oppressed by the new Shiite government allied to the Americans and Iran, the Sunnite leaders announced an interminable guerrilla war against their enemies. To get weapons and support, they turned toward the neighbors, who, as Muslim Sunnites like them, were not happy to see Shiite Iran swallowing up Iraq. Those Al-Qaeda fighters who escaped American troops in Afghanistan were seeking another zone for their activism at that time. Iraq seemed just the place for continuing jihad. Soon many other jihadists joined them. Together, along with all the angry Baathists, jobless ex-soldiers and officers from the dismantled Iraqi army, they started organizing so-called "resistance." It was the beginning of an undeclared civil war in Iraq, which, after the explosion of anger in the streets of Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, and Syria in 2011, ostensibly found its strategic depth. The revolt was everywhere, and democracy nowhere.

The "spring" of the Arabs gave birth soon to a new monstrosity: the Islamic state (Daesh), which started by claiming its "rule" in Iraq and Syria, before expanding its reach westward to North Africa. Thus for the first time in modern history we saw Arabs abandoning their dreams of awakening and rising in favor of a bunch of terrorists and criminals who would impose the yoke of their backward Islam on anyone or condemn them to death.

Islam, which in the seventh century liberated Arabs from their ignorance and backwardness, became the Arabs' own worst enemy and the enemy of all peaceful people in the 21st century at the hands of Daesh & Co. The Arab states seem incapable of stopping this kind of rubbish Islamism.

This is the Arabs' biggest problem. It is surely not that of other nations.

Since the beginning of the Syrian crisis and well before the emergence of ISIS, the Obama administration was criticized by its Arab-Gulf allies for its alleged mishandling of the issue. And more recently when Russia launched its military intervention in Syria, the Obama administration came under fire again for its supposed "passivity."

But you should not miss the point: Military means cannot fix a political problem. As the example of Iraq shows, the US invasion did not make the country better. It instead opened up the country to warlords, traffickers, criminals and terrorists.

The military fight against terrorism that started under George W Bush cannot lead to a sustainable victory today unless accompanied by another fight against the Islamization of politics and society that foments neofascism.

This second fight is the one that the Arab elite should lead during the next decades, through political and legal means. What Arabs need is a cultural transformation, supported by law enforcement that would block any group or individual from hijacking Islam and society for political purposes.

Military alliances and coalitions may stop the Islamic state (Daesh) and reduce its influence to a minimum if only all the nations that have an interest in such a mission could reach a consensus. But without a cultural transformation of the current Arab-Islamic political ideology through secular constitutional systems and the rule of law, neofascist ideologies will continue to terrorize and destabilize the Middle East.

( The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Panview or CCTV.com. )



Panview offers a new window of understanding the world as well as China through the views, opinions, and analysis of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.

Panview offers an alternative angle on China and the rest of the world through the analyses and opinions of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.



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