OH WHAT A TANGLED WEB WE WEAVE
ISLAM AND THE ARABS: CHAOS AND BETRAYAL
We have all at some time got to take stock of ourselves and of our values at sometime in our lives. Not that which we proclaim publicly for all to see, but that which we in truth practice in thought word and deed in the silence of our own hearts and minds.
The Arabs are perhaps an example of what that conflict of morality, politics and law can be without self examination and introspection from time to time. The Arabs as an example are without doubt their own worst enemies. Not that because of their failings and self inflicted stupidity the US or the west are therefore justified in the way they treat the Arab citizens of Arab states. The Arabs, their leaders, have allowed themselves to be corrupted morally and politically, some say beyond redemption. It has always been the case in their tumultuous history. They stand out as an example of words and actions having different meanings to different peoples. Corruption has no meaning in the Arab psyche or in their vocabulary. Not in the universal definition of the word corruption that is.
No one it seems can teach Arabs the art of betrayal, the thrill of cruelty or the benefits of treachery as only an Arab can to himself. This is of course a generalization and some may say racist. But there are some generalizations which are evidently true, reinforced by the daily lives and the conduct of some like the Arabs. Islam has to be isolated from the politics of Arab nationalism and its parochial and self serving interpretations.
They the Arabs do not seem to want to resile from their barbarity voluntarily either. Not one of the Arab states, and I mean not one is representative of the character or aspirations of its masses nor a reflection of their religious values or laws. Saudi Arabia whose rulers are the custodians of the holy city of Mecca / Jeddah are a stark example of the blind misguided loyalty by otherwise apparently rational people on “leaders” especially of this variety. No one in the Islamic world can in any way be considered a greater example of the antithesis or a poorer example of the virtues of Islam than the inglorious House of Saud. Yet they continue to keep the holy city of Mecca as their property defiling it with their presence and title to it. No one in the Islamic world it appears is prepared to speak out about the subject except perhaps Iran.
COMMON VICES LITTLE WISDOM
This same mentality and state of affairs to some extent can be said to exist in many Asian and other non -European states.
India and China both have their own dynamic in politics. It is not possible to compare one with the other. There are similarities but their differences are what sets them apart. Politically China never had and will never in the foreseeable future have a democratic set up. They are a patrimony and a benevolent dictatorship in much the same way Singapore and Taiwan are, cut out of the same cloth. Hong Kong, contrary to popular myth spun by the British was never ever before it re joined China democratic. It had a parliament. Out of the 80 odd seats in the assembly only of these 16 were freely elected by the people. The rest were literally appointed by the British.
The Indians on the other hand claim to be the world’s largest democracy whatever that means to a largely disenfranchised population of lower and under castes, women and non Hindus. Yet few amongst them will express their desire for change and for relief from their burdens imposed on them by their over lords in much the same way its been done for centuries. And if the Malaysian pendatang argument is to be applied here, the British have a right to full citizenship and the rights that accrue to citizens because they were there for over 350 years.
WHEN A SPRING IS NOT A SPRING
Getting back to the game changer, most Arab states are the by product of post World War II re drawing of boundaries. Syria is now the subject of a concentrated attack by not just the west but by states like Turkey and Saudi Arabia both of who are strong US allies and Sunni states and showing signs of imperial theocratic designs by stepping into the void. Syria is an Alawite ruled state of Sunnis who in the region have been traditional allies of the US and the west. Not so the Shi ites or their religious cousins the Alawites.
There is a different dynamic at play here and it seems to be ignored. The Saudis and their satellite states in the Gulf region too have their “Arab springs’. These have been brutally suppressed, the brutality and suppression continues’ unabated with the silence of the US and the west being seen as consent. To protect the unlawful and unrepresentative demagogy of the Saudi rulers is paramount to US interests in the region. Yet none of the Islamic polity have openly come out to say they must go. Those who have done so have paid a heavy price like Saddam Hussein and Muammar Ghadaffi have.
What is apparently dangerous to the world (read the west) about Syria is its alliance with Iran. Dangerous for its backing of Hezbollah and its infrastructure in Lebanon and the Iranian Syrian nuclear programme. The Saudis themselves have been openly financing rebellions in the region and have sought and obtained money from even as far as the Sultan of Brunei to advance their causes in this regard. It is as much an internal Islamic fratricide as it is an American adventure into the affairs of Arab states. This is not as clear cut black and white as it is portrayed to be a western anti Islamic crusade.
Historically if one looks critically and honestly into the Israeli battle victories in the middle east the element of Arab betrayal of Arab is ever present. It goes back to Biblical times and to the petty tribal battles of the Israelites and their neighbours then not referred to as Arabs. Hard to swallow but true nonetheless. The murder of Ghadaffi was financed by Saudi and Qatar royal families as much as it involved NATO hardware from the air and Israeli intelligence on the ground. The bombing of the Iraki nuclear reactor in the 1980’s by Israel was sanctioned and assisted by the Saudis and the lat King Hussein of Jordan.
The Americans and Europeans are opportunists. The real culprits the in the divisions and disasters of the middle east defiling Islam are the Saudi Arabs and the Turks.
In the Egyptian spring, no doubt the army will ‘legitimately’ intervene if the Muslim Brotherhood as expected win hands down. There are some outcomes in the complex matrix of Arab politics which Hillary Clinton who recently took credit for backing the Arab Spring four years ago did not factor into the equation. It will be a repeat of 2001 in Algeria. And there is no shortage of volunteers to destabilize Egypt from within. Muhammed El Baradei is one such white ant in Egypt.
LITTLE BIG BROTHERS AT PLAY:SAME DANGERS DIFFERENT PLAYERS
On the Asian front China has been pursuing a hegemony in and around the Indian sub-continent. It has been financing the Naxalites internally, the Nepalese to India’s north, the Sri Lankan government against the Tamils for access to Trincomalee as a port for its Blue water navy and the same in Myanmar a state without any legitimacy for its access to the Bay of Bengal. All this presumably to counter the Indian navy’s own expansion and in the view of other major trading nations, to control access into the Straits of Malacca from its northern entry point (the Bay of Bengal). Further north they are and have supported and continue to support the rebels in Mizoram, Assam, Tripura and Kashmir.
In Nepal they continue to fund the Marxists and sway the government of Nepal with huge infusions of military hardware, build roads and infrastructure with military implications and attempt the same with Bhutan. In so doing the Chinese are reminded of their previous adventures with an incursions into Sikkim a few decades ago with the connivance and cooperation of the US, (who planted a US agent in the palace the Queen an American actress and volunteer spy) the Indians entered the kingdom without warning, annexed it and changed the status of Sikkim forever.
Till recently India believed it had the right to rule and to disrupt and interfere in the internal affairs of their immediate neighbours. The geopolitical changes and re alignment of world affairs means that China now with its coffers full and its influence in a near bankrupt Europe extensive and over powering can step into the breach whilst India contemplate the rapidly changing world in and around it. And that from the lessons of history may take India forever to realize. The elephant may be big and impressive but he moves slowly. Very slowly.
TILT IN A SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT DIRECTION
Today the US needs India. The US has no bulwark against China or the Arab madness spiraling out of control in every which direction but loose. In a reversal of their 1971 policy of ’tilt’ favouring Pakistan (against India) to appease their newly emerging friend China and, in an effort to thwart any Indian militaristic ambitions on a strategically placed Pakistan, the Nixon administration policy of “tilt” of shift meant Pakistan was favoured. The new foreign policy in the region was found acceptable inspite of the risk of Pakistan being thrust into the arms of China in the process. ‘Tilt’ was a none too subtle expression meaning that they the US would no longer be neutral in how they would view the disputes between the two sub continentals (Pakistan and India) favouring Pakistan instead as the quid pro quo for a thaw in US Chinese relations.
It will be a matter of time to see if the Indians will fall for the same trap the Pakistanis and more recently Chinese did with the US forcing Australia, China’s honest broker, to enter into arrangements that include Australia and India to encircle China with bases in Australia’s North and in India’s north east. The fall out from this new alignment of foreign policy, Australia now being forced against its will and long held position of not selling uranium to India now entering into security arrangements with India which also compels them to sell uranium to India against China’s wishes. Australia’s position in regards the uranium issue has been widely believed to be because of China’s overwhelming influence over its foreign policy because of trade.
TURNING THE TABLES GETTING ALL TWISTED IN THE PROCESS
There is a saying that what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. The Arabs and the Chinese courted and coveted relations with the west when it suited them. Today the Indians do the same thing but in a different environment. The US is reliant on India but not for the same reasons it sought China’s indulgence in choking the Soviets then with Pakistan in Afghanistan. It is not the same reason why the US sought such close relations with China during the cold war. It is not the same reasons for which the US now courts India that it once treated the Arabs as spoiled rich brats in the region. But there is and always will be a cost, a heavy price to pay for an alliance with the US and its interests. The Indian’s may like all others before them may feel they are different or invincible but only time will tell.
The US cannot really give the Indians much except a bit of muscle and who does not want the added muscle in the current global environment of uncertainty? Malaysia enjoys protection of the US as much as Singapore does but for a different set of reasons. In the Spratleys and Paracel islands dispute, the US is not pro-China. It even has its ear open to Viet Nam its enduring enemy but not to China. China does have territorial ambitions in the region up to as far south as the Pacific islands which it unfortunately expresses in terms that are as crude as the US’s when it does.
The US is best at the art of cashing in on human greed and their weaknesses. It looks after number one first.
The Chinese and Indians are no different to the US when it comes to their own needs and in their political conduct especially where smaller states are concerned. China has recently over played its position militarily because it is avaricious and expansionist. It is intolerant of dissent and alienates itself from the world community because of that. And it can for now at least afford to do that.
That’s not to say the other countries do not have problems or the ideal means of resolving issues with dissent and rebellion. China resolves any dissent or opposition first with the proverbial “glass beads” strategies like early white mercenaries did with natives in Africa. The carrot and stick (very big stick) in our vocabulary.
China’s approach in Africa and Asia is to flood a place with consumer goods then take what it wants to the detriment of locals like they have done in Tibet but without the invasion these days. They do it now in Africa where there are emergent signs of resistance to the ploy in places such as Tanzania, Sudan and even Gabon. Not that the Europeans have not in earlier times done the same and continue to do the same today as France and Italy have so crudely in Libya. But for China to complain of US containment of the middle kingdom is a bit rich.
INDIAN SUMMERS OR NIGHT MOVES?
The Indians have waited to play out a very Machiavellian strategy to reverse the long held suspicion of them held by the west through an infusion of highly trained personnel into the western academic and scientific systems and institutions. They have proven themselves to be more trustworthy unlike the many Chinese who have worked in the west then stolen and sold secrets to China either directly or via Taiwan. The Chinese in the US have perhaps the largest record of espionage even predating the Wen Ho Lee incident in Los Alamos in the 1990’s.
The Arabs must purge themselves of their own cultural malaise of betrayal, deceit and treachery. Most of them are artificial states anyway ruled by minorities who brutalise majorities for their religious beliefs alone. Any state that rules with fear and brutality like the Chinese and Arabs do will at some time fail. China and the Arab states have one thing in common. In order to destroy China’s economic might or t undermine it, the US strategy is believed to be behind the recent (form 2007) artificial hikes in oil prices. The policy favours the US which is the world’s largest controller of oil supplies from shipping lanes to investments in fields in all continents. By increasing oil prices it has managed to drain valuable foreign exchange from the Chinese to pay for their vast quantities of oil imports. China has both large foreign exchange reserves and an even larger appetite for oil for which it must pay from its reserves. Add to this the Chinese refusal to float their currency giving them an artificial economic advantage over the west. If the Arabs and Chinese colluded the situation could well be different. But that will not happen in the near future.
The morality of politics is different to the morality of religion. We are all subject to these events and changes. We can’t avoid them unless we are fair and aware of our own prejudices and deep seated biases.