VIEW: Arab ‘rage’ and 9/11 —Professor Farakh A Khan - Friday, March 25, 2011

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Arab ‘rage’ has shown us that if we want to clamp down on corruption and cronyism in our administration and institutions, we have to do it ourselves peacefully and not with the help of American dollars

The Arab world went through number of traumas since the Ottoman occupation, which was followed by British and French intervention in World War I. They carved out the Arab world on the map rather than ground realities. Kings were imposed all over the Arab world, supported by the west. The people suffered for decades, firstly at the hands of the British and then the Americans by promoting dictatorial regimens for the sake of oil.

We can now understand the cause of Arab ‘rage’ in the 9/11 attack on the US. The attackers were from Saudi Arabia and Egypt. What made them so mad as to take this extreme action against a superpower? In 1993, the World Trade Centre in New York was bombed. On August 7, 1998, attacks on the US embassies in Nairobi, Kenya and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, were planned and carried out by Arab dissidents calling themselves al Qaeda. The attackers were a small minority of Muslim religious extremists in ‘rage’, favouring armed conflict to get rid of dictators in the Arab world by attacking their backers (the US and Britain). These armed groups struck the wrong target, i.e. the west. In retaliation for the embassy attacks the Americans tried to take out Osama in the wasteland of Afghanistan with cruise missiles but missed the target. Now we know it was ‘rage’ against American policy in the Muslim world, where the CIA was used for regime change (as in Iran with the help of the British in 1953) and to support Arab tyrants against democratic institutions. The Arab people have rejected these extremist groups. There is no doubt that Israel’s years of repeated aggression against the unarmed Palestinians was a root cause of the ‘rage’. But the present Arab uprising is about more than American and Israeli policies in Palestine. Islam is not an issue either. It is a peaceful ‘rage’ against their own rulers and their system of governance.

After 9/11, at one point the American administration labelled their ‘war on terror’ as a war on ‘Islamofascism’. This did not go down well with the Muslim world and the term was retracted. However, the term is apt for the dictatorial, tyrannical Arab leaders. The invasion of Bahrain by Saudi and UAE troops flashing past the cameras with US-supplied heavy armour under the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is a clear example of Arab despots fighting back against unarmed protestors (‘Saudi, UAE troops enter Bahrain’, AFP, March 15, 2011). The use of the GCC force may have been more appropriate against Gaddafi’s advancing forces towards Benghazi. For the Arab despots, the victory of Arab pariah Gaddafi would be the defeat of democracy in the Arab world and hence good for them.

In 22 countries with a population of 385 million, the Arab uprising is of unarmed protestors with nationalist aspirations, asking for democracy, freedom, and the end of corruption (except for Libya). The uprising has nothing to do with Islam although Islamic slogans were raised (Allah-o-Akbar) only because they were Muslims in a desperate situation. The unarmed Arab youth are demanding democracy and an end to one-man rule, which some Muslim scholars have labelled as un-Islamic. The most interesting part of the Arab rage is that it is Gandhian — non-violent protest — and this is its strength. It is a people’s uprising with leaders, if there are any, following behind. The use of force by the government has made the protesters stronger. In Libya the clash is now a full-fledged civil war.

The use of cell phones and computers has made the Arab uprising a movement of the future. In the 1991 Gulf War we got meagre information from ‘embedded’ reporters. Now live cell phone photos and videos have given us the reality on the frontline. The amateur footage is challenging the conventional media. The ‘soft power’ is here to stay and impact our future course.

The US administration had many times asked for democracy in the world but supported dictators and kings since they were ‘our sons of b*****s’. The US supported military dictators all over the Arab world as well as in Pakistan while trying to financially promote democracy in the world. USAID gave Pakistan many million of dollars to promote an independent judiciary and democracy in the country. It was without this aid that the people of Pakistan finally restored an independent judiciary in 2009, having ousted the military dictator the previous year. Arab ‘rage’ has shown us that if we want to clamp down on corruption and cronyism in our administration and institutions, we have to do it ourselves peacefully and not with the help of American dollars.

Attacks on the US, Britain, and other European countries by a handful of mainly Arab and some other Muslims were strategically bad for Muslims all around the world. The target of this ‘rage’ was wrong. The final major attack of 9/11 snapped the Americans and the first target of their ‘rage’ was Afghanistan’s Taliban government and the poor civilian population. It is sad to know that this Arab ‘rage’ was not registered or purposely ignored by the Americans and Europeans for decades, who continued to support tyrants and their torture cells, which became the real cause of the Arab world’s ‘rage’ today. The Arabs have finally recognised the real rogues of their world — their rulers.

The writer is a leading urologist

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