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My Optimism About Europe

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Submitted by Ed Melik, Esq. (United States), Feb 13, 2011 at 02:28

Interesting analysis by Mr. Pipes who I admire and respect but in this instance I must respectfully take an issue.

(Ed. Note: Exerpted from Daily analyses importance of convergence of Islamic movements against the West

[Text of editorial by "Saleh Eskandari", entitled: "'Convergence of Islamic movements' http://saleheskandary.blogfa.com/post-6.aspx)

Following the disintegration of the Ottoman caliphate in 1924, the movements in theWorld of Islam were taking shape mainly for confrontation against the phenomenon of Western colonialism. The Pakistani scholar, "Khorshid Ahmad", who was a member of Pakistan's Jema'at Eslami, believes that the roots of contemporary Islamic uprising must be looked for in the colonial legacy. In other words, in the effects that colonial powers left behind in Muslim communities. [Punctuation as published here and throughout.]

A considerable section of the movements that had taken form in response to the process of colonialism emerged from the Sunni inhabited states. One can refer to the Ekhvan al-Moslemin [Arabic: Muslim Brotherhood] in Egypt that was founded by Hasan al-Bana in 1928, the Syrian Islamic movement (a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood) set u by Mostafa Saba'i, one of Hasan al-Bana's novices and comrades, in 1944, the Al-Shabab al-Eslami society in Morocco in 1971, the al-Qiam and al-Dawa groups in Algeria in the 1970s and the Islamic Salvation Front that was founded in 1989 and had branches in all areas of Algeria, and the New Ekhvan Movement in Saudi Arabia in 1970s, etc.

Although most of the collective actions of those movements manifested themselves against the native governments that were supported by colonial states, in numerous cases they would lead to direct confrontation and even armed resistance against the domination of foreign and non-Muslim forces. Some examples of that can be noted, including the uprising by the Sudanese Mahdi and the declaration of jihad against Britain at the end of the 19th Century, the declaration of jihad by the Senusi Movement in north Africa against the Allies and the Italian forces at the beginning of the 20th Century, the armed struggle by Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood against British forces in the Suez Canal at the beginning of 1952, etc.

However, the subject of this short article is to respond to the question about the Sunni Islamic movements that have been formed essentially against colonialism and began to struggle in the 20th Century against political, economic and cultural hegemony of the colonial states with unparalleled enthusiasm and energy and the reason behind their failing today to show the requisite fervour and eagerness against the "supra-neo-colonialism" [Farsi: este'mar-e faranow]. To understand this phenomenon requires an awareness of the nationalist context that pre-dominated the Middle East atmosphere in the 20th Century.

Essentially, although Islamic movements in the Sunni inhabited states and even certain Shi'i countries used to present their ultimate goal and aspiration as Islamic reformism before the Islamic revolution in Iran, one cannot deny the fact that anti-colonial nationalist tendencies have not figured in their actions. In practice, colonialism in the 20th Century had targeted the national sovereignty of the Muslim states in the Middle East. The issues of the mandates, puppet governments, occupation of the territories of Muslim states and, eventually, the Palestine issue are examples of direct colonial intervention in the national sovereignty of those states.

In fact, in the anti-colonial objectives of the Islamic movements of the Sunni inhabited states somehow a mix up had occurred between the quest for Islam and nationalist concepts.

In the present century, "supra-neo-colonialism" has not targeted nation-states [sic] in contrast to the colonial era. What challenges supra-neo-colonialism today is the concept of umma [Islamic nation]-government or the "unity of the Islamic umma. Today, as a result of the civilization fissures that have appeared, the West as a whole finds itself facing Islam in its entirety. Therefore, in the supra-neo-colonialism, the national sovereignty of the states does not enjoy significant interest. It is the concept of the Islamic umma that is of importance, something that the American president notes as the threat of Islamic empire from Indonesia to the gates of Spain. Within that policy, the setting up of democratic rules in Iraq and Afghanistan can be justified

Today, in the supra-neo-colonialism scheme, the West's confrontation and defiance towards the World of Islam has reached its height. Therefore, the need for separate Islamic movements in various Muslim states is not of issue as it was in the 20th Century. On the contrary, what is of importance to the World of Islam is the convergence of Islamic movements against the Western neo-colonialism.

The concept of "Islamic reawakening" that was initiated by the Islamic revolution in Iran and is on the ascent with the passage of time is devoid of nationalist tendencies. The moving engine of Islamic reawakening is the quest for Islam in the light of the formation of the Islamic umma. The Islamic movements in the Sunni inhabited states must re-appraise the concepts and indications that revolve around the superior reasons for Islamic reawakening so that one can witness the unity of word among the masses under the convergence of the Islamic movements.

In an ecumenical meeting with the Shi'i and Sunni scholars, the Supreme Leader [Khamene'i] made certain statements about the unity of the Islamic umma, saying: "We have to create the principles of an academic, true and sincerely realistic unity between the Sunni and Shi'is... The distinguished in the struggle against colonialism and global arrogance have doubly stressed the need for the "Islamic umma unity". Notice how Seyyed Jamaleddin Asadabadi (may God be satisfied with him), known as Afghani, and his novice Sheykh Mohammad Abdo and others, and the late Sharafoddin Ameli and other great ones from the Shi'i scholars endeavoured in the struggle against colonialism not to allow this easy tool to turn into a weapon in the hands of colonialism against the World of Islam.

What would the West's reaction be if a coalition of Muslim countries were to invade Spain and Italy, prop up corrupt and dysfunctional regimes in France, Germany and the United Kingdom, impose crippling sanctions on Canada and Australia, and demand the United States of America unilaterally disarm?

Would, under such circumstances the people of the West seek to engage in "interfaith dialogue" for "peace building" with their Muslim counterparts? Or would, western societies be radicalised, polarised and destabilised by the experience of perpetual humiliation, relentless aggression and imperial interference? Would it not be logical for such western states that retained pretensions of sovereignty to then seek overt and covert means to defy and frustrate the forces of imperial pan-Islam? And would it not stand to reason that some particularly outraged westerners would band together in terrorist organisations, invoke the memory of Charles Martel or Vlag Tepes, and rally to the defense of Christendom?

The answers to these questions are self-evident. If the situation were reversed, Christian churches would be preaching "crusade" and "just war" from every pulpit. Western youths would be alienated from both their sell-out local masters and their imperial backers and lash out at them given the opportunity. Self-serving and cynical members of the western elite may well go along with the charade of peace building and interfaith harmonisation, but even they in their hearts would know that they are traitors and collaborators and sooner or later they will have to face the consequences of their duplicity and incompetence.

The recent episodes involving separate botched or scotched attempts by an American citizen of Pakistani origin, a Nigerian and an Afghan, to carry out "lone wolf" attacks on the imperial heartland, like earlier coordinated attacks on western targets, demonstrate the nonsensicality of the prevailing analysis about the causes of (and therefore) and the cure for terrorism. The conventional analysis is that terrorism in the Muslim world is the byproduct of inadequate human resource development, limited economic opportunities, a youth bulge, and lack of democracy. These factors are, it is maintained, responsible for creating the terrorist mentality/sympathy in the Muslim world.

The problem is that those perpetrating the attacks or attempted attacks on western soil are not poor, illiterate, peasant boys brainwashed for years in deeni madaris to carry out their deadly mission. The actual socioeconomic profile of many organised anti-West Islamic movements and groups within the Muslim world as well as the export quality terrorists that find their way to the West seems incompatible with the poverty-illiteracy theory. Insofar as organised Islamist movements are concerned, ranging from the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood to Pakistan's Jamaat-i-Islami, their demographic profile is middle class with a considerable influence in professions such as engineering, medicine and education.

More overtly militant organisations like Hezbollah or Hamas run charities, television stations, win parliamentary elections and also maintain armed wings. The individuals responsible for attempting to strike at targets in western soil are very different in socioeconomic profile from the poverty-stricken madressah student. For educated Muslim youths residing in the West, with their whole lives ahead of them and many opportunities to rise further, only a sense of outrage at what is being done to their coreligionists and the countries of their origin by western powers seems an adequate explanation of their readiness to give up all their tomorrows and end or ruin their lives by participating in terrorist acts.

To immediately make the apologetic argument that a few alienated or outraged individuals do not represent the true sentiments of the Muslim world and the Muslim peoples seems to ignore the fact that rejection of the West's policies towards the Muslim world is pervasive in Muslim societies. If Muslim youths with no material reason to become terrorists are succumbing to extremism as an ideology of resistance, then the longer the West's military occupation of the Muslim world continues the greater the chances of the rise of the reluctant fundamentalist within Muslim diasporas in the West.

This situation is favourable to principally one group of people — the rather more enthusiastic fundamentalists that exist in every society, including the West and the Muslim world, and who yearn for apocalyptic confrontations as the prerequisite for reordering the world as a utopia.

This is a point that is brilliantly captured by Abdel Bari Atwan in his book The Secret History of Al-Qaeda. If Atwan's analysis is correct, and in the five years since this book was published the speed of US and western decline has accelerated beyond the expectations of Al Qaeda strategists, there is absolutely nothing that would please the Islamic radicals more if the West were to send its armies into more Muslim countries. The Al Qaeda grand design was and is to force and provoke the West into imperial overstretch and possible domestic collapse by raising the economic, military and political costs of perpetuating its imperial stranglehold over the Muslim world.

That Hillary Clinton publically threatened Pakistan with "very severe consequences" after the failed attempt on Times Square if in the future an attack were to happen and be traced back to Pakistan reflects the West's apparently insoluble dilemma. What specific consequences did Hillary Clinton have in mind? Would the US order the expansion of drone strikes to Islamabad, Lahore and Quetta in retaliation for a terrorist strike on US soil? Would the US decide to extend its rainbow "arc of security" from Afghanistan into adjoining regions of Pakistan? Would the Americans send in Delta Force to hunt down the "bad guys"? Or would senior American diplomats press Pakistan to "do more" on its own? In many respects the western alliance has, like the Soviet Union in the 1980s, grabbed the Islamic wolf by the ears — they know that they cannot hold him forever but are too afraid to let him go.

The vast majority of Muslims are trapped between the demoralising incompetence of their own governments, utopian delusions and ruthlessness of militant obscurantist forces, and the hubris and irrationality of the western imperialists. The combination of domestic meltdown, religious extremism and western imperialism constitutes a triangle of despair that threatens to cripple all prospects for a better future. There is, however, a possible solution though it is one that the West is not likely to accept until forced to do so by a further succession of military and economic failures by which time it will be too late for everybody.

That solution would require the West to shift the emphasis of its policy towards the Muslim world, and from that of expanding or consolidating a sphere of influence that costs too much to maintain to the management of imperial decline.

The first step in this regard would be the phased withdrawal of all western combat forces from the Muslim world in accordance with a publically announced timetable and accompanied by a comprehensive programme in western countries to switch to energy sources other than oil within a generation. The trillions of US dollars expended on invading and occupying Iraq and trying to gain access to energy fields of the Middle East and Central Asia could well have produced a green technology revolution that would have weaned the West from its addiction to Muslim oil and blood.

The second step would entail shifting the focus of western aid from ill-advised attempts to introduce democracy and free markets to building the administrative capacity of Muslim countries beset by managerial dysfunction. The third element would require the modernist elites that still rule most of the Muslim world to show some leadership and character for a change and embark upon meaningful internal reform while moving to decisively confront regressive elements.

However, getting even one of these elements of a solution in place is probably beyond the ability of present western and Muslim ruling elites. The post-9/11 attacks and attempts have clearly demonstrated that in a globalised world "Islamic terror" and western imperialism will feed off each other and jeopardise the future of both Muslim and western societies. While this prospect of escalating destabilisation and insecurity is welcome to extremists on both sides it is clearly not in the enlightened self-interest of either the Muslim or western peoples to be held hostage by utopian delusions and imperialistic reactionaries.


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