By Mahboob A Khawaja
23 January 2016
THE entire Muslim world is engaged in self-destructive conflicts. Unwarranted wars and sectarian bloodbaths are the order of the day, so unparallel in contemporary history. You wonder, what are they fighting for? Who are the real warriors fighting for human freedom and justice and who are the hired culprits to prolong proxy wars for other hegemonic powers? Both the US and Russia are competing for hegemonic strategic influence, increased sales of weaponry and to acquire direct control over the natural resources of Arab Middle East. West Europeans — the former lords of colonialism prefer their own strategic priorities wherever they could find a gap between the two competing superpowers. People are not the aim for mind control but victims of the interventionist policies and raging wars.
Believe it or not, people are assumed as digits and numbers in police-run states as they could not challenge the Arab authoritarianism for decades. Unthinkable as it was that ideological adversaries like the US and Russia would collaborate to bomb the Arab people, their culture and habitats. The Middle East is not a fertile place for ideological contrasts as the Arab culture and civilisation overwhelms the entire landscape.
At issues are political change and the aspirations of new age generations for an effective role to shape the present and future. Yet they are denied opportunities by the authoritarian rulers to have any say in the political change. Arab Spring articulated an illusion that was fast replaced by the foreign powers with tyranny and militarisation. The Muslim world as a whole is a quagmire of ethnic clichés, linguistic identities and individualistic political diversions. Islam professed a universal message of brotherhood amongst the divided people of Arabia and unity of faith to become One Ummah- One People, all equal in rights and obligations before God. The essence and spirit of this message has been neglected and its imperatives betrayed in the political governance and official policies and practices.
No authoritarian Arab ruler will ever admit being part of the problem. Should humans not be moral in our political and intellectual endeavours? Do we have the remedial imagination to cure the incurable ignorance, sectarian resentment and nationalistic bloody rampage — the malice and perfidy out of the sadistic human plans and priorities across the Arabian Peninsula? Can we critically look at ourselves and ask why Muslims have become so stagnated in moral, spiritual and intellectual values that we are on the verge of destroying any hope of freedom, equality and justice for the future? Can Muslims see the mirror with a collective consciousness?
Arab Authoritarianism Is a Chronic Problem
THE authoritarian puppet Arab-Muslim leaders, propelled by egoistic Western leaders, are engaged in desperate struggle for survival with unknown disastrous consequences for the entire world. None of the self-made kings and dictators will ever surrender to the will of the people and make ways for peaceful transfer of power to the new generations. Deliberate killings of the innocents go unabated across Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Lebanon and Egypt as if there were no human conscience, knowledge, or rational thinking on the part of earth’s habitants. The war syndrome represents human madness, the guilt of having plunged the whole of the mankind into cruel abyss. Nobody can imagine what is the way out of the sadistic messy plan for the future of humanity. Individual self interest has replaced the collective goodness of besieged mankind. For sure, wickedness and righteousness cannot be combined in one policy statement and decision maker’s mindset. All those possessing absolute political power appear to be moving by cruel indifference towards their fellow human beings.
Americans and Europeans have divided the Arab-Muslim world in sectarian identities, clichés and antagonism. The cruelty of unwanted wars is raging across the Arab- Muslim societies —Shiite-Sunnis fighting daily bloodbaths happening as if it is the normal sacrifices of the religious festival. None seem to have any sense of accountability. The leaders are comfortable and unmoved to see their people pre-occupied by killing and madness. Who is going undue the irretrievable historical mistakes in these leader’s judgment? History shall see people and the leaders by their actions, not by their claims. When difficult problems erupt, intelligent and competent leaders are always conscious and open to listening to voices of reason for change and remedial action. This helps all to manage a navigational change and to solve the problems. Borrowed weapons and corrupt and failed rulers do not have the capacity to extend moral or intellectual security to the Arab masses. Most oil pumping Arab countries are merely satellites of the US Empire. Those who plan and wage wars are not innocent belligerents or acting without knowledge. They know well what they are engaged in and its consequences. Those warriors who go to Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and elsewhere to kill innocent people, massacring men, women and children, fully understand what they are doing.
Do The Authoritarian Leaders Listen To Voices Of Reason?
TYRANNY complements transgression and corruption. The contemporary Muslim world is a living picture of this political stigma. To replace Bashr al-Assad, self acclaimed Arab kings and Princess, Ben Ali, Hosni Mubarak, Ghadaffi and Sadam Hussein millions could be displaced, made refugees and exterminated and nothing will change. What if the Arab leaders had developed public institutions and islamically people-oriented system of governance, could this all be not averted? Surely, the outcome could have been different and more sustainable than the raging sectarian bloodbaths occurring daily across Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Egypt, and Lebanon and soon overlapping to Saudi Arabia.
One wonders, why are the oil enriched Arab leaders buying billions of dollars worth of military hardware from America or Europe? How and against whom would it be used? If Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya and Egypt are any example, the militarisation is meant to quell the public interest and aspirations for political change and future-building. Imagine if the Arab world had competent armed forces and leadership on the one hand, and were open to common sense diplomacy and dialogue on the other, could peace and normalcy have not been restored in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Libya? Any rational person wonders who is fighting whom and why? Are they not entrapped by the US warmongering in the region? America is fighting to support the failing Shiite regime in Iraq, and it is supporting Saudis so to speak against the Shiite Houtis in Yemen and anti-Assad regime in Syria. There is no sense to be made out of the political and intellectual nonsense. Critical issues call for thoughtful analysis, change, and new ideas to replace the obsolete thinking.
It needs to also replace the obsessive values flourishing across the Arabian Peninsula. But the ruling elite have failed to build a foundation that addresses the imperatives of security policies, peace and conflict resolution, and human progress in a global community. Global politics is not fixed but a constantly changing phenomenon of life. Arab leaders do not comprehend the imperatives of political change. But reality will not diminish because nobody is conscious of its presence. The Arab Middle East faces many critical crises. Even a cursory examination of the American-British wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the resulting sectarian bloodbaths predictable crises show that nothing is being tackled in their proper context or by any rational analysis. At the heart of Arab discontent is the freedom of Palestine and how to normalise relations with the State of Israel.
All other crises are superficial to subside the focal issue of Palestine. There are no independent public institutions to analyse the political problems and find workable solutions. No proactive thinking exists in any Arab quarter to strive for political unity and to have coherent leadership. How can leaders who cannot think intelligently, or understand the nature of the current crises, lead in any strategic direction? Few sectarian scholars and leaders are engulfed in self-inflicted madness to ensure their survival. The sectarian madness appears to have gone out of control implicating the traditional Arab-Muslim societies into hatred and fear of survival.
How to change the role and perceptions of sadistic leaders?
LEADERS create leaders and unite the masses when faced with formidable challenges. The contemporary Muslim leaders owe allegiance to foreign masters and lack the rational visions and capacity- to perceive and manage the phenomenon of change in political affairs. When Islam ushered universal message of human unity in faith and tolerance to build bridges across many continents, the conscientious leaders were people-oriented and were open to voices of reason and truth to manage the affairs of the state. Today, ignorance and arrogance make the Iranian leaders to focus on Shia identity contradicting the essence of Islam.
The neighbouring Arabs from Saudi Arabia to other oil exporting states align themselves with the Sunni sect as claims the terrorism powerhouse, the so called Islamic State-IS. Were there any sects in the originality of Islam? After all, this all appears to be man-made precepts to further individualistic interests and disharmony in the body of Islam.
Do they know how to unite the masses? If they had any sense of the originality of Islam, would be engaged in bloody sectarian warfare and killing the innocents in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and elsewhere? Would they be hanging religious scholars if they knew the repercussions and the Divine punishment for such heinous crimes? Ironically, The Islamic Revolution in Iran was brought against the Shah of Iran-the infamous authoritarian king but now the Iranian leadership is supporting another dictator- Bashar Al Assad- the destructive force behind the Syrian crisis.
How could Saudi hang a religious scholar just for challenging the regime? Do they know how to implement the Islamic jurisprudence and its manifestation? Islam seeks a just balance- ‘al-Meezan’ in human affairs, not extremism. Leaders are crushing the human spirit of rational thinking and opportunities to dispel the disposable differences. The raging conflicts in the Muslim world are nothing other than the sectarian infested madness and horror irrelevant to the values and principles of Islam.
The solution must come out of new thinking and new vision for change, dialogue between the sectarian divides and competent leadership to achieve the stated goals. What if they were organised as morally and intellectually conscientious people? What if they knew the complex nature of global politics and the freedom to think, act, and communicate with moral strength to the enemies within the Arab societies? Given the opportunities, educated generations could make the difference when time and history warrant a navigational change. The new generations are proactive and well equipped to think intelligently and compose the differences with knowledge-based creative strategies and decent effective communication to unfold an era of political tolerance, stability and normalisation- away from the tyranny of bloody authoritarianism. Is this not the rational remedy much needed to restore peace and stability in the Muslim world?
Recently, Chris Hedges (‘The Terror We Give Is the Terror We Get’ Truthdig: 2/08/2015) spelled out how the sectarian violence and terror and foreign fetched wars could undermine the future of global humanity:
‘Terror is the engine of war. And terror is what all sides in this conflict produce in overabundance …….We torture hostages in our black sites and choke them to death by stuffing rags down their throats. They torture hostages in squalid hovels and behead them. We organise Shiite death squads to kill Sunnis. They organise Sunni death squads to kill Shiites. We produce high-budget films such as “American Sniper” to glorify our war crimes. They produce inspirational videos to glorify their twisted version of jihad. The barbarism we condemn is the barbarism we commit. The line that separates us from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria is technological, not moral. We are those we fight… “From violence, only violence is born”’, Primo Levi wrote, ‘following a pendular action that, as time goes by, rather than dying down, becomes more frenzied.’
Dr Mahboob A Khawaja specialises in global security, peace and conflict resolution with keen interests in Islamic-Western comparative cultures and civilisations, and author of several publications including the latest: Global Peace and Conflict Management: Man and Humanity in Search of New Thinking. Lambert Academic Publishing Germany-May, 2012.