After a decade, the zeal for war seems to have waned on both sides. It would be premature to say permanent peace is on the horizon, but certainly, the ‘war on terror’, a coded term for war on Islam and Muslims, is not as pronounced since the early days of post 9/11.
In my humble opinion, there are certain political and economical factors that have led to the changes in the course of history, even if that change is a temporary deviation.
Within the US, the nasty neo-conservatives that operate through the Republican Party were replaced by the more pliant looking Democrats. And surprisingly, the Americans elected the first black President. They have come a long a way from the days of running slave labour camps in the farms and plantations. The election of black Obama can be translated as the benign silent majority of the US population speaking through the ballot box against the neo-conservative extremists.
Barack Hussein Obama began well, in the historic Cairo speech he made grand statements; it was an attempt to reach out to the Islamic world after a decade of overt hostility shown from the Bush dynasty. However, very little has materialised, Guantanamo remains open, Israel has continued to build settlements in the occupied territory; whilst operations in Iraq were scaled down, drone attacks have increased significantly in Pakistan and Afghanistan, killing many civilians.
Most likely Barack Obama hit the solid Zionist wall that encircles the US establishment, and succumbed to the reality of their grip on US politics; just look at the reception Netanyahu received from the US Congress recently. There has to be a radical revolution inside the US to release the clutches of the Zionists, the neo-conservative extremists and the Christian-Zionist nut cases beating the drums of Armageddon.
The West in general faces a mounting debt crisis; this hampers the ability to wage expensive wars in distant lands. The disproportionate response to Al-Qaeda has back-fired to some extent it seems; apart from the cost of invasion and occupation, using expensive military hardware against primitive devices has an obvious financial toll. Naturally, the US is withdrawing its troops to cut back on ‘defence’ (another euphemistic term for war) spending and has taken a back seat over Libya and Syria. After all, Usamah Bin Laden has been killed with many other major players of Al-Qaeda, the rest of Al-Qaeda and Taliban activists are on the run, and their infrastructure is severely damaged, so the political justification for retreating is there.
After crying wolf about Muslim terrorists for decades, and the media portrayal of terrorism as exclusively a Muslim problem, the West has had a rude awakening to the real perpetrators of terrorism at home. The mass killing in Norway by a far right extremist, the riots in the UK where the Muslims were the victims and helped to curtail the riots and the usual acts of terrorism in the US under reported as acts of delinquent individuals have finally hit home. According to The Sunday Times, last year out of the 249 terrorist attacks in the EU only three were carried out by Muslim groups.
In the Islamic world, after a decade it seems clear that the Al-Qaeda strategy has failed; the majority of the masses sympathised with the reason given by these types of groups, but far less concurred with their methodology of attacking civilians regardless of the justification. Some argued that the Al-Qaeda approach was incorrect for legal reasons, forbidden under Islamic law; others pointed out that the West should not be confronted militarily, as it’s futile and counter productive. As they say, don’t fight the crocodile in the water.
On the political front, the masses did not respond to the Caliphate like system where Sharia Laws are applied, primarily because the attitude and the examples set by the radical Jihadi-Salafee groups have not gone down well. They are seen as harsh and intolerant to everyone else. The rush to apply the penal codes to demonstrate the Islamic nature of the state is short-sighted and contrary to the example set by Prophet Mohammed (saw), who showed through numerous examples, that penal codes should be applied as a last resort; the victims are encouraged to exhaust the alternative course of actions first.
More pertinently, the pre-requisites should be in place before applying the codes. Everyone knows the example of the second Caliph of Islam (Umar Al-Khattab) suspending the penal codes of theft during famine, similarly, after centuries of living under non-Islamic systems, there should be extreme caution in applying the Islamic penal codes. It would make sense to suspend the penal codes until the society is given a chance to catch up and the conditions are firmly in place first. Hence, the more substantive issues should be tackled, like poverty, health and education.
The focus should have been on building the institutions for a popular government that can be held accountable, and demonstrate economic and political progress, rather than to seek conflict. The only country that managed to show signs of stability was Somalia under the Islamic Courts Union, but that was put to an end by the US-backed Ethiopian invasion, because it was viewed as an Al-Qaeda like government, and thus had to be fought as part of the policy of the war on terror.
The Arab Spring confirmed the rejection of the Caliphate system as portrayed by the Islamists and Jihadists. The Arab masses waved their national flags, called for freedom and democracy, with even the bearded and the veiled ones chanting Allah Akbar and joining en masse. The system they are calling for is elected constitutional government, where the rule of law should prevail, devoid of corruption and nepotism which runs deep in most of the Muslim nations.
As each dictator is unseated, the rebels discover the level of public wealth accumulated and squandered over the decades, along with the true extent of torture dispensed to many of the opponents of the former regime. But note, the Arab Spring is still in its infancy; maybe at some point the Arab Spring will turn to an Islamic Winter. The devout ones will tell you, one step at a time. Once the basic infrastructure is in place we can make gradual progress towards the introduction of Islamic laws. Following the example of Turkey, the more moderate Islamic parties may well take leadership in the long run; the Caliphate in some form may well be on the horizon again, Insha’Allah (If Allah wills).
With the rising economic powers of China, Brazil and India coupled with the declining power of the US, there might be a return to a multi-polar world; it is difficult to predict if war or peace will dominate but for sure the appetite for further conflict has diminished as each side is busy fixing their internal problems.
Yamin Zakaria (email@example.com)
Published on 4th September