This is the season for pilgrimages to Mecca and the Feast of the Sacrifice (Eid al-Adha), but the Arab world is occupied instead with internecine murder and bloodletting. As the Arab states come apart at the seams, gangs with no respect for human life flock in -- among them the Muslim Brotherhood, the Al-Nusra Front, Hamas and Al-Qaeda -- blowing up markets and mosques. Their advent is surreal: waving green and black flags they shoot everything that moves; and rape, slaughter and loot, all in the name of Allah (S.W.A.T.).
The situation in the Arab world is like the Shi'ite Islamic vision of the Yaom al-Kiama, the End of Days, with the sinners following the False Messiah, Al-Masīh ad-Dajjāl. It is ironic that the rulers and citizens of states that provide a safe haven for terrorists -- sending their death teams to attack innocent civilians in the West -- during the Feast of the Sacrifice now find themselves the victims of the same murderers they so willingly armed.
The Arab and Muslim incitement to massacre -- and the provision of arms and ideological support for most of the Islamist and Palestinian terrorist organizations -- have almost completely disappeared while the Arabs are now busy destroying themselves. The world stands by and watches as millions of Arab and Muslim refugees are expelled, murdered, raped and robbed. Millions of people who fled their homes live in cardboard boxes with plastic sheeting to keep out the rain and cold; and masses of hungry African refugees drown in the sea in a desperate attempt to reach a safe haven in the West.
In Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq, civilians are murdered or flee with nothing; while Egypt is in the midst of a civil war, and millions of homeless refugees have scattered throughout the Middle East.
Despite all this need and chaos, the UN and the various NGOs are insistent on providing a political, economic and moral lifeline to the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of the original 1948 Palestinian refugees, not only prolonging their inherited status, but also making them eternally dependent. The status of "refugees" does not generally pass from one generation to the next, so it is even more unfortunate that the enlightened Western world supports them at the expense of the millions of genuinely needy new refugees. By providing these descendents a commodity to trade in, the UN is alo ensuring that the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians will never be resolved.
If an accounting were ever given of the billions of dollars the UN has poured into the Palestinian coffers over the years, enough money would be found to house each of them in villas with swimming pools across the entire Middle East. If the Arab-Muslim countries really wished to help the Palestinians, they would transfer to them the immense wealth and property left behind by the Jewish refugees, who were expelled in the late 1940s and fled to Israel. The UN, however, is suspiciously insistent on not providing the same -- or even similar -- care for any other group of refugees.
UN agencies (such as UNRWA) themselves benefit from the disabling aid structures they put in place, theoretically to help people in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and abroad, who are able to work and have so many other ways of receiving help; while in Syria, people are dying of hunger, and Muslim clerics in the collapsing Arab states have issued fatwas [Muslim religious opinions] for the Feast of the Sacrifice permitting the consumption of dogs, cats and donkeys.
Given that Europe is bankrupt, both morally and financially, the United States alone bears the burden of supporting over 22% of the malfunctioning UN and its often-corrupt agencies. Instead, the U.S. should demand that the oil-rich Arab states give citizenship, with attendant rights and privileges, to their Palestinian residents, to enable the UN to focus on rehabilitating the millions of new Arab and Muslim refugees created by the catastrophic Arab Spring. Even as we witness the artificial Arab states, created in 1916 by the Sykes-Picot Agreement, disintegrate, the United States and the West seem to insist on creating a new artificial Arab state called "Palestine," which will soon be a hotbed of extremism, terrorism and bloodshed, exactly like the others.
The "Palestinian people," we recall, are not a group at all, but rather Arab immigrants, many of whom who settled in the late 19th-early 20th century in what was part of the Ottoman Empire, and who fled in 1947, when Israel was attacked, then after the war asked to return. The Arabs who did not flee,still live in Israel and, whatever one thinks of Israel, are at least freely able to enter all leading professions, including the parliament and the highest court.
Of those calling themselves Palestinians, some have splintered into Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated Islamist Groups such as the terrorist organization Hamas; others are in the West Bank, both inside and outside Fatah; still others find themselves overseas or in Arab lands. If they were integrated into the existing Arab states, it would serve the quest for world peace. Any new state in the Middle East, such as a Palestine, will be taken down by jihadis before its flag is up.
Although the United States has a full quiver of advisors for Islamic and Arab affairs, the decisions made by its leadership seem to keep repeating the same inexplicable mistakes. It is like the old Arab saying, "The dog has a crooked tail, and if you put it in a cast for forty days, it will still be crooked." It is painful to watch the United States as its well-intended misconceptions of the Middle East cause it to fail: its limp-wristed negotiations with Iran, its weakness in the case of Syria, its helplessness in its dealings with Russia and China, and the fatal mistakes it is making in the sanctions it is imposing on Egypt after the stone-age rule of the Muslim Brotherhood was overthrown.
The most current example of American failure to understand the Middle East occurred when Chuck Hagel, the American Secretary of Defense, suggested to General Sisi that he resign or turn into another Mubarak (who was betrayed by the Americans). In an act of condescension, insult and hypocrisy, he gave Sisi a book about George Washington, and pointed out a chapter in which Washington walked away from power. By treating the Mansour-Sisi interim government in Egypt in such a demeaning fashion, America displays its lack of respect, lack of determination and lack of confidence, all of which will seriously boomerang.
It would be brilliant if the Americans were being deliberately devious when they spoke against the interim government in Egypt, and were secretly working as hard as they could to support it. That is how situations should be manipulated in the Middle East, where hatred of the United States is endemic and passionate. If that were what was occurring, the U.S. would triumph. What is much more likely, however, is that America is hedging its bets, flip-flopping to strengthen the Muslim Brotherhood in case it recaptures power.
The situation is the same of the other crooked dog's tail: Iran's duplicity and the way it deceives the West regarding its nuclear intentions are obvious to those of us living in the Middle East. The U.S. is in danger of making the Gulf States feel betrayed, especially as they watch their national security deteriorate. The regional arms race will increase and tensions will mount -- one of the reasons Saudi Arabia declined a seat on the UN Security Council. Here in the Middle East, America is seen as threatening allies and abandoning friends -- bringing on just what they hoped to avert -- and setting up new victims for the murderers they so willingly armed.
Ali Salim is a scholar based in the Middle East.