U.S. in the Middle East: Good Intentions, Terrible Results
The Americans continue to support various Islamic organizations, such as Egypt's threatened Muslim Brotherhood, in the vain hope that they will cooperate and create "stable" institutions. The Americans have deluded themselves into thinking that the the Islamists will forget their anti-Crusader agenda -- the driving force behind everything they do -- and their ultimate goal of Muslim world domination.
Whether or not America won in Afghanistan is a question that will have to be answered by history. What can be said with certainty, however, is that the West did not slink away with its tail between its legs the way the Soviets did. The Soviets, for those with short memories, were shredded by the Taliban, who, with American weapons and the cunning of the Afghan cheetah, outmaneuvered the clumsy Soviet special forces and their fleets of tanks, APCs and attack helicopters.
The unfortunate part of the saga is that the Taliban and its rotten fruit, Al-Qaeda, repaid its American benefactors by ramming two planes into the World Trade Center and are plotting to do worse. However, the Pentagon seems to have come to the realization that radical Islam will not honor a treaty made with a non-Muslim regime or government. As far as Islam is concerned, treaties made with infidels are ephemeral and function only as leverage for Islamic goals, and are fated to be unilaterally violated when the Muslims feel the time has come. Once the ultimate goal of Muslim world domination has been achieved, the treaties will be worthless and non-Muslims will be forced to convert.
The Israelis made a mistake in the 1970s when they allowed Sheikh Yassin to set up the social organization called Mujama al-Islamiya in the Gaza Strip as a counterweight to the PLO. The organization later took the name Hamas, committed endless terrorist activities against Israeli citizens and has never given up its stated goal of destroying the State of Israel. The Israelis made a similar mistake when they helped the Shi'ite Amal party and the various associations in the Lebanese villages in their efforts to get the Palestinians terrorist organizations -- which harassed the Shi'ite villagers and raped their women -- out of Lebanon. As soon as Arafat and his cronies had been driven out, with Israeli help, the Shi'ites founded Hezbollah, which, thanks to Iran, has the military capabilities of a small country and has been using them to attempt to obliterate Israel.
The American road to hell in the Middle East is paved, as usual, with good intentions and terrible results. When the Americans pulled out of Iraq, after toppling Saddam Hussein, the Shi'ites took over the country: the men of President Al-Maliki work for Iran, along with the Assad regime in Syria. Now, when the Americans are getting ready to pull out of Afghanistan, the future of the country remains an open question and the issue of President Karzai vs. the Taliban remains unresolved. The Taliban's demand to establish an Islamic emirate in Afghanistan based on the Sharia, Islamic law from the 7th century, does not bode well for President Karzai.
Despite the lessons of the past, the Americans continue to support various Islamic organizations, such as Egypt's threatened Muslim Brotherhood, in the vain hope that they will cooperate and create "stable" institutions, or at least have a positive relationship with the West. The Americans have deluded themselves into thinking that the Islamists will somehow forget both their anti-Crusader agenda -- the driving force behind everything they do -- and the Islamists' ultimate goal of Muslim world domination.
Free Syrian Army soldiers (Source: WikiMedia Commons)
Their problem is what weapons to send; to whom to send them; how to send them so that they do not find their way into the hands of the Islamist gangs operating side by side with the Syrian opposition, and how to keep the arms from being turned, in the future, against the Americans and their allies.
Recently, in Doha, Qatar, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry promised Prime Minister Hamad al-Thani, before he turned his country over to his son, that the Americans would supply the Syrian opposition with arms to stop the slaughter of the Sunni population. Apparently the Americans have understood that the civil war in Syria is only the tip of the iceberg of Iranian-Russian interests, and will have consequences not only for the Middle East but also for the regional and global status of the United States.
America's decision to support the Syrian opposition signals a change in policy that overcomes its previous hesitation. It has now formulated a plan that takes all possibilities into account. Supplying weapons to General Salim Idris, the (secular) commander of the rebel so-called "Free Syrian Army" forces may neutralize the forces of Iran and Hezbollah which operate with Russian support.
If the weapons do in fact influence the balance of power on the ground, this change might send a message to the Iranians and the Russians, telling them that America is not prepared to have Russia erode its status in the Middle East and will not accept more procrastination and threats -- and that America has decided to take action. Both the Russians and the Assad regime openly warned Europe not to supply arms to the rebels. Sending American arms to the opposition is the first step in stopping Russia and cutting off both direct and indirect (through Iraq and Lebanon) Iranian support for the Assad regime. It can only be hoped that the American weapons will force Assad to move toward an interim government. In the final analysis, the Syrian civil war may end with a radical Islamic takeover of Syria, a risk one can only hope -- what with all the other Arab Spring Islamist takeovers -- that the West has no intention of taking.
The Syrian regime responded to the American decision to arm the rebels with anger and threats, and declared it would not be blackmailed. After the Geneva II conference was sabotaged, largely by the Russians, it should have become clear that the time for procrastination and naiveté was over. The rebel announcement of the Al-Qadissiya operation in Aleppo in recent weeks meant a Sunni counterattack was on the table, overtly supported by the Western countries in response to the organized Shi'ite slaughter of Syria's Sunnis. The arms race between the United States and Russia is escalating in Syria. Relations between the two superpowers are heading for an unavoidable -- and unprecedented -- clash. Which country is the world betting will back down?
Ali Salim is a scholar based in the Middle East.
Reader comments on this item
|"Radical Islam" [37 words]||Clive||Jul 11, 2013 14:16|
|When will the US ever learn? Sadly it seems, never. [86 words]||Hass||Jul 11, 2013 08:05|
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by Pierre Rehov
For terrorists, the death of innocent children is irrelevant. In a society that promotes martyrdom as the ultimate sign of success, the death of innocent children can sometimes even be seen as a public relations blessing.
In every action, intent is paramount. There should never be a moral equivalence painted between the deliberate killing of civilians, and a retaliation that tragically leads to casualties among civilians.
There is, however, one small difference: in the Middle East, reporters are threatened, except in Israel. Their choice becomes a simple one: promote the Palestinian point of view or stop working in the West Bank. Keep the eye of the camera dirty or lose your job. This show should not go on.
by Khaled Abu Toameh
Since 1948, the Arab countries and government have been paying mostly lip service to the Palestinians.
"They have money and oil, but don't care about the Palestinians, even though we are Arabs and Muslims like them. What a Saudi or Qatari sheikh spends in one night in London, Paris or Las Vegas could solve the problem of tens of thousands of Palestinians." — Palestinian human rights activist.
"Some Arabs were hoping that Israel would rid them of Hamas." — Ashraf Salameh, Gaza City.
"Some of the Arab regimes are interested in getting rid of the resistance in order to remove the burden of the Palestinian cause, which threatens the stability of their regimes." — Mustafa al-Sawwaf, Palestinian political analyst.
"Most Arabs are busy these days with bloody battles waged by their leaders, who are struggling to survive. These battles are raging in Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Libya and the Palestinian Authority." — Mohammed al-Musafer, columnist.
"The Arab leaders don't know what they want from the Gaza Strip. They don't even know what they want from Israel." — Yusef Rizka, Hamas official.
by Soeren Kern
European elites, who take pride in viewing the EU as a "postmodern" superpower, have long argued that military hard-power is illegitimate in the 21st century. Unfortunately for Europe, Russia (along with China and Iran) has not embraced the EU's fantastical soft-power worldview, in which "climate change" is now said to pose the greatest threat to European security.
For its part, the European Commission, the EU's administrative branch, which never misses an opportunity to boycott institutions in Israel, has issued only a standard statement on the shooting down of MH17 in Ukraine, which reads: "The European Union will continue to follow this issue very closely."
The EU has made only half-hearted attempts to develop alternatives to its dependency on Russian oil and gas.
by Shoshana Bryen
Proportionality in international law is not about equality of death or civilian suffering, or even about [equality of] firepower. Proportionality weighs the necessity of a military action against suffering that the action might cause to enemy civilians in the vicinity.
"Under international humanitarian law and the Rome Statute, the death of civilians during an armed conflict, no matter how grave and regrettable does not constitute a war crime.... even when it is known that some civilian deaths or injuries will occur. A crime occurs if there is an intentional attack directed against civilians (principle of distinction) or an attack is launched on a military objective in the knowledge that the incidental civilian injuries would be clearly excessive in relation to the anticipated military advantage (principle of proportionality)." — Luis Moreno-Ocampo, Chief Prosecutor, International Criminal Court.
"The greater the military advantage anticipated, the larger the amount of collateral damage -- often civilian casualties -- which will be "justified" and "necessary." — Dr. Françoise Hampton, University of Essex, UK.
by Irfan Al-Alawi
"Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi" is Abu Du'a, a follower of the late Osama Bin Laden. By adding the name "Al-Qurayshi" in his current alias, he is also seeking to affirm descent from Muhammad.
The allegation of theological sovereignty over all Sunnis extends to Indonesia and Morocco. The idea that the borders between Syria and Iraq will be dissolved by the new "caliphate" defies all Islamic theology and history. As the Qur'an states, "Allah "made the nations and tribes different." (49:13) Syria and Iraq have been distinct for millennia.
The "Islamic State" seeks to obliterate these diverse identities by expelling or killing all Shias and Sunni Sufis. And it does not invoke the Ottoman caliphate in its propaganda, demonstrating decisively the fake nature of the "Islamic State."
A caliphate is obsolete and the "Islamic State" is totalitarian. All Sunnis need to repudiate them soundly, even by force of arms.