Syria and the Muslim World


800px-Azaz_Syria_during_the_Syrian_Civil_War_Missing_front_of_HouseNot Just Buildings, but Dreams

Aleppo, July 4 – A United States F16 jet bombed a house in Syria’s largest city today, killing all 12 members of the Al Halbi family, as the men were preparing to go to the local mosque. The house was totally destroyed and the bodies of the numerous women and children were scattered about the courtyard. Neighbors searched for survivors in vain. A preliminary investigation reveals that local Syrian rebels told U.S. commanders that the house was a headquarters for Jabhat al-Nusra, the armed Salafist rebel faction that has links to Al-Qaeda. Other villagers think that Assad’s forces misled the Americans in order to create an atrocity that would force the U.S. to restrict its use of air power. Already there are reports of attacks on the American Embassy in Cairo, Baghdad and Amman. Prime Minister Erdogan of Turkey and King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia have condemned the Aleppo attack. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has called for retaliation against all Americans everywhere.

This news story is currently fictitious but it will be very real if America enters the Syrian civil war.

Not only have lives been broken and lost in the Syrian civil war but Arab dreams have, too. According to The Economist, the slaughter of civilians is now accompanied by widespread rape and kidnapping. Assad and the diffuse rebel factions opposing him are not showing any restraint. Both sides use executions, torture, and the wanton destruction of civilian infrastructure. Whole cities like Homs have been laid to waste. Not even holy mosques are spared. The seminal eleventh-century Umayyad mosque of Aleppo has been severely damaged.

The videos coming from both sides are beyond shocking. The Muslim on Muslim violence and depravity has to register in the hearts and minds of any rational Arab human being. This is the dark hart of the Arab religious and political failure to modernize. Think of the Islamic outrage over the Danish cartoons, here we have a far worse insult to the prophet. Yet, there is deafening silence on the Arab street.

No wonder that with each passing day the cry for American intervention grows louder. On May 6 Bill Keller laid out the case for American intervention in The New York Times. In short, he believes our vital national interests are at stake and only America can stop the war and achieve an outcome to its liking. On the other hand, the congressional right-wing made up of unrepentant neo-cons is constantly attacking Obama for being afraid to use American power.

Let’s just pull back a moment and explore an important theme that much of the Arab world has been propagating for a while. This is the idea that there is a supra-Muslim ideal, a higher authority. The idea that justice, for instance, can only be conceptualized through this Islamic lens. And that nationalism is an artificial and meaningless construct that must ultimately be superseded by a global caliphate that unifies the world’s Muslims under one socio-political umbrella.

A second and not too subtle byproduct of this fundamentalist ethos is the aversion to any Western ideas. Islam supercedes democracy. So too, the secular world pales against the completeness of Islamic law and conduct. Even a supposed secular country and NATO member like Turkey has actively promoted this belief. There is a pride and self-confidence that grows from these ideas. These feelings and beliefs should not be dismissed, as they are a real force throughout the entire Muslim world.

What does this have to do with Syria? Everything. There are powerful Muslim states in the Middle East. Turkey and Saudi Arabia, for example, are armed to the teeth. Hundreds of billions of dollars in arms—including the very latest jets and fighter bombers—have been sold to these two countries. Their militaries are on alert and ready for action. In the case of Turkey, when the Palestinians of Gaza were merely inconvenienced the Turkish government sprang into action to defend their brethren, making an international row over the blockade of Gaza.

Yet the Syrian slaughter is infinitely worse.

Why don’t they care about the slaughter, rape and dispossession of their fellow Muslims?  If the Arab nation is so strong and the voice of the Prophet so clear why can they not sort Syria out? Where are the Ulema (clerical leaders) that can make decisions by Muslims for Muslims?

I do not know. What I do know, however, is that nothing will unify the Arab world faster than an American intervention in another Muslim country. In a heartbeat the Arab and Iranian-caused misery in Syria will be forgotten and American lethality remembered. Last month Turkey hosted a huge gala dinner for the World Superyacht Awards in Istanbul. Clearly they are not concerned enough about their fellow Muslim neighbors to stop promoting superyachting.  The idea that American lives may be lost to encourage and protect the fecklessness of the Arab and Muslim world is not rational.

America will only be spanked, not thanked, for intervening in Syria. The Salafist preachers will have a field day calling for jihad against the infidel. Our “allies” in Saudi Arabia, Amman, Cairo and Istanbul will remain as mute in defending us as they are now on the atrocities being visited on the Syrians. Stay out of Syria. Prod and cajole and incentivize the Muslim world to do its job in the name of the Prophet and justice.

About the Author
Jonathan Russo has been observing Israel and its policies since he first visited in 1966. He is a businessman in New York City.