This is Part 2 of a 3 Part series.
A recent newspaper headline declared that “Arabs and Muslims Do Not Trust America” but an explanation for that headline would also have explained that they do not trust that which they do not control.
The Iranian president Hassan Rouhani in his speech to the diplomats gathered for the opening of the 2014 UN General Assembly said: Western ‘aggression’ in the Middle East helped foster extremism. He was only partly correct.
The exercise of power is a unilateral decision whether or not it is legitimized in the eyes of some, by being part of a grand coalition. It is in the exercise of power that trust and respect are built. IS are not open to negotiation. In fact, IS is a brutal colonialist enterprise that enslaves, demands conversion from its captives, and kills to demonstrate its absolute power. Its purpose is power for its faithful followers and its line of attack is merciless. Opposition is met with annihilation. Containment is not an option, defeat is inconceivable.
Many people excuse Hamas crimes against humanity because for them, the ends will always justify the means, no matter how heinous those crimes may be. Hezbollah’s Shiite chief Hassan Nasrallah said that there are no red lines. He was simply enunciating the unwritten, sixth pillar of Islamic faith. When we say that Hamas is not IS and that the Muslim Brotherhood is not monstrous we do this so that we may fear it less. We sanitize that which we fear because if it is not dangerous then we can accept it even when we should not.
So, Barack Obama, President of the most powerful nation on the earth and a graduate of Columbia University and Harvard Law School, said: “ISIS is not Islamic”. David Cameron, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, educated at Eton and Oxford University said “ISIS are not Muslims they are monsters.” Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, Caliph of the Islamic State with a PhD from the Islamic University of Baghdad said “We are Muslims.”
This is what others say:
In 2006, senior Wahhabi cleric Abdul Rahman al-Barrak released a fatwa which stated that the Shia are “infidels, apostates and hypocrites … [and] they are more dangerous than Jews or Christians.”
The al-Nusra Front declared in 2012: “The blessed operations will continue until the land of Syria is purified from the filth of the Nusayris (Alawite – Ed.) and the Sunnis are relieved from their oppression.”
The Alawite minority (12% of the total Syrian population) have controlled most of the country since 1920. Nevertheless, that Sunni quote means almost 3 million people will be ‘cleansed’ (murdered) if this al Qaeda offshoot succeeds in capturing Syria for the Sunni mob.
Even so, a Sunni-Alawite alliance in Syria is still possible, if Assad is able to relinquish control over all of Syria. His family has maintained its rule for 43 years, through the acquiescence and military strength of his Sunni partners until the civil war and infiltration by al Qaeda affiliated (Sunni) fighters. To share power now Bashar al-Assad must be able to guarantee that his people are not butchered as they have butchered others.
Perhaps we have a right to be a little bit confused. Our leaders say one thing – the Muslim world says something else.
If I may offer an explanation by illustration:
The Klu Klux Klan was representative of a significant proportion of American public opinion until they were marginalized. This was only possible because the internal narrative of White America was altered to largely reject racism. When Lyndon Baines Johnson was elected President of the United States of America it was his opposition to the KKK contagion, coupled with the judicial activism of the US Supreme Court that ultimately defeated the movement. Treatment of African Americans in the USA was, until that time, a crime against humanity.
Similarly, not all Europeans were Nazis but the Shoah could not have taken place without the passive complicity of Europe’s citizenry.
It is easy for me from the comfort of my 21st Century home, to cast judgement on the frailty and the fears of those populations that are permanently exposed to institutionalized and state supported systems of bigotry and terror. But to deny that bigotry is at the very least a contributory factor in the passive acceptance of such a framework. Denial of those facts is part of the conspiracy that protects it.
ISIS is an abomination to many Muslims but it is supported by the selective use of Islamic texts and thus, by a large swathe of Muslims across the globe. Islam is a religion of peace but it is also a religion of war; and war is a central plank of its expansion throughout history. The ends do justify the means in Islam even when used against their own people but certainly when justified against non-Muslims.
In “HAMAS and Political Legitimacy” (20/8/2014) I wrote that HAMAS has a Hitler Complex. It is so sure of its own theological infallibility it is willing to sacrifice its own population in a destructive war to first humiliate its enemy and then, to destroy it, utterly. Hamas is no different to any other Muslim fundamentalist movement.
The only mistake IS made was that it provoked the United States by publicly beheading two American journalists. Before then it had killed thousands of Christians and in all probability many more thousands of Muslims. Its attempted genocide of the Yazidis has all but been forgotten though it occurred less than two months ago. The main difference between IS, its predecessors and contemporary rivals in the Muslim world is its success. Violence will gain the Islamic State an audience and a minor horde of sociopathic followers, extreme violence however, earns a global audience and an army of sociopathic wannabes.
For the Western-Arab coalition, containment of the IS contagion means infiltration by the dispersed ‘warriors’ and therefore, destabilization spreading throughout the region. Appeasement represents the worst of options because it is a sign of weakness and will only encourage more acts of terror. The logic is that the faithful are tested by their resolve, not as measured by their success but more crucially, when they appear to be failing in their endeavor. Appeasing IS will lead to more 911’s and far greater casualties in the long term.