Asif Haroon Raja
In the 6th century, the entire Arab Peninsula had sunk into the morass of depravation and delinquency. The two super powers of the time, Romans (Byzantine Empire) and Persians (Sassanian Empire) were situated in the west and east of Arabian Peninsula respectively and were antagonists. The 28 year-war (602-630 A.D.) had drained the two empires and decay had begun to set in. It was in those times that Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), born at Mecca on April 22, 571 A.D., came on the scene and started his holy mission in 610 A.D. assigned to him by Allah. In less than 20 years, he purged the degenerated Arabian society of the multifarious deep-seated evils and transformed the savage Arab tribes into civilized people. Mecca became the cradle of a new civilization and the fountainhead of a new culture. An embodiment of all-human values and virtues, and the brightest example in the annals of history, and greatest benefactor of mankind, Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) breathed his last on the fateful day of June 8, 632 A.D. He left behind an ideal democracy (Meesakh-e-Madina) based on equality, fraternity and justice which was meant for the betterment and wellbeing of mankind. It was practiced by the elected Caliphs for next 30 years.
The era of Khulfa-e-Rashida (632 – 661 A.D.) have no parallel in the human history and is acknowledged as the glorious and momentous period in the annals of Islamic world. Their far reaching contributions will ever remain the most outstanding achievements recorded in human history. The ill-equipped and unskilled nomadic Arabs destroyed the Persian Empire and humbled the Byzantine Empire. In the space of 100 years, the Arabs conquered an empire extending from the Pamirs in the east to the Atlantic coast of Morocco in the west, and northwards into southern France. In the 7th century, the Arab Muslim armies implanted Muslim faith in all the countries overpowered by them and their victory was total and wholesome. The Muslim Empire was a more civilized society than the Christian Europe. It was more tolerant; even the Christians of Egypt and Syria preferred Arab rule over the Christian Constantinople. Tolerance and justice exhibited by the Muslims toward other religions have been universally acknowledged. Infused by the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), the Arabs brought about the greatest revolution in the annals of mankind.
With the accession of Hazrat Muawiya as the first Caliph of Umayyads in 661 A.D. with capital at Damascus, the democratic nature of Khilafat was changed and it assumed the trappings of monarchy. The Umayyads (661-750 A.D.), the Abbasids (750-1258 A.D.) and Spanish Moors in Spain (714-1492 A.D.) reached the pinnacle of glory during their respective rules and left behind their marks. Muslim rule in Spain in particular was the marvel of the middle ages. When all Europe had plunged in barbaric ignorance and strife, Spain, particularly Cordova alone held the torch of learning and civilization before the western world. Christians and Jews were given total liberty to build churches and synagogues. However, infighting among Umayyads, Abbasids, and Moors, their intrigues and digression from the path of Islamic teachings led to their humiliating downfall and large-scale massacre.
In their desperate bid to possess the Holy Land of Jerusalem from the Muslims, the Christian world launched series of ferocious crusades from 1095 to 1798. The first series of crusades undertaken in 10th Century were Jerusalem focused. The crusades in the name of religion wrought havoc but their genocide was confined to Jerusalem and the nearby areas of Palestine only. Rest of the Middle East was not touched since the invaders didn’t have the capacity to do so. More so, their objective was seizure of Jerusalem and not Islam and Muslims. Hence the bloodbath remained confined to a limited area. Jerusalem changed hands but was eventually captured by Salah Uddin Ayubi after decisively defeating the crusaders. The defeat of the crusaders left deep imprints of prejudice and hostility among the Christendom against Islam, the effects of which have persisted till today.
The Ottomans reigned supreme from 1299 to 1566 A.D. During Suleman 1 (The Magnificent) tenure from 1520 till 1566, he made Ottoman Empire the most dominant both on land and sea. Its vast dominions included major parts of southeast Europe, West Asia, and North Africa, stretching from Vienna to the wall of China in the east, and from Ukraine in north to the source of Nile in the south. In 17th and 18th century, the Turks gradually lost their glory. Europe and North America had become much richer and technologically stronger than rest of the world by the end of 18th century. This was owing to cultural transformation and industrial revolution in Europe. Overseas colonial expansion by European powers recommenced after 1870 under a new title of ‘New Imperialism’. Colonisation in Middle East, Africa, Asia, and Pacific Basin rich in resources and raw materials was undertaken on the pretext of Europeanising ‘backward’ regions as part of “white man’s burden”. Among the European rivals, Britain took the lead since it had the strongest navy. Great Britain lorded over the colonized world through its policy of divide and rule.
The notorious Sykes-Picot pact – the basis of modern Middle East’s political map, came into being as a product of Anglo-French joint conspiracy. Turkey raised no objection to the 1917 Sykes-Picot sinister plan of giving birth to an illegitimate child Israel at the cost of Palestinians and hastened to recognize the illegal state. In drawing a new map of the Arab land, the local Arab Muslims didn’t have an iota of involvement. The Arab Muslims incited and induced by the British, joined the Anglo-French Alliance in 1917 against the Turks to fragment Ottoman Empire and dismantle Khilafat –the citadel of Muslim power.
Under Kemal Ata Turk, Turkey was turned into a model secular state and in the name of modernism, Islamic customs and traditions were replaced with western culture. Likewise, The Arab world was divided into 20 states. The Emirates like new states were created to fit in the new political map. A clan of compliant rulers were installed in these Emirates only to serve the imperialists’ agenda and pursue their own opportunism. The British-French installed puppet regimes disapproved the core Islamic principles like Sharia, Hudud, Khilafa and Jihad and instead promoted secularism and nationalism and remained engulfed in intrigues and perpetual inter-state rivalry. Once the US and former USSR emerged as new super powers after the 2nd World War, the Middle Eastern countries accepted the lordship of the new masters who preferred authoritarian rulers and kings.
Same happened with other decolonized Muslim countries in Asia and Africa where the British trained secular minded rulers gained power who adopted Westminster democracy, Anglo-Saxon laws and western police, civil and military management systems. For the general public, decolonization proved worse since independence was in name only. Notwithstanding the massive loot, plunder, rapine, slavery in the colonies of the Western Christian imperialism, which cannot be forgotten and forgiven, the colonization did much good in the name of spreading European civilization and Enlightenment. But Gora (White) Sahibs were replaced by avaricious and haughty Brown Sahibs devoid of moral and human values. They maintained class system and widened the gulf between the rich and poor. The US led west made sure that the decolonized States remained dependent upon them. As a consequence, the Muslim world despite its massive wealth and resources remained far behind the western world.
The period between 1946 and 1991 witnessed cold war between the two super powers each vying to expand its power of influence outside the western and eastern hemispheres. Developing and under developed worlds suffered the most at the hands of imperialist powers as well as Israel and India. This period saw occupation of states by the Red Army, resistance war in Cuba, Vietnam War, Korean War, Indo-Pakistan wars, Arab-Israeli wars, civil war in Lebanon, Iran-Iraq war, Falkland war, Afghan war, First Gulf War, conflicts in Africa and forcible regime changes. After the dismantlement of USSR in 1991, the US has been vying to convert the world into a globalisied village run by the neo cons and corporates. This ambition led to the engineered 9/11. In the aftermath of 9/11, the Muslim world was subjected to the US led global coalition of the 21st century crusaders under a set agenda to once again redraw the boundaries of the Middle East, steal their mineral resources and neo-colonize the defiant Muslim States. The brutalization of Muslim Ummah was justified and legalized under the cover of global terrorism. The puppet regimes of the targeted countries or the rebels helped the crusaders in destroying Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and Syria, or in changing defiant regimes.
The global war on terrorism triggered by the sole super power and its western allies has surpassed previous genocidal wars. The sort of destruction and pogrom carried out by the new crusaders have paled the barbarities of the medieval crusaders and even the Mongols under Chengez and Halaku – notorious for their genocide, into insignificance. None in the past had razed any Muslim cities to ground as was done in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and now in Syria. After repeated destruction of Gaza by the Israeli forces and keeping it besieged since 2007, Syrian cities are being devastated in succession. Hama, Homs, Lataqia, and now Aleppo are worst affected. In Iraq, after systematically ruining Fallujah, Tikrit and Ramadi, Mosul is now being destroyed.
Notwithstanding the depravation of the US led western world, which is ravenously plundering the mineral wealth of the Muslim countries, the role of the Muslims is no less deplorable. Their moral scale has touched the lowest ebb. There was a time when the old crusaders would find it near impossible to recruit a collaborator from within the Muslims or to build a military base, or install a Trojan horse to promote their agenda. Unfortunately, there is no dearth of collaborators now who are prepared to sell their souls for money. The earlier crusaders didn’t have any collaborating Muslim partners; but now the Muslim rulers -with few exception, compete each other to become full collaborators cum coalition partners of the new crusaders. The western forces could not have successfully invaded and occupied Muslim countries without the aid of fifth columnists and the conspiring rulers of Muslim states.
The success of the 21st century crusaders is huge. The old crusaders couldn’t alter the demography and geography of Palestine. But now they have succeeded in changing the boundaries of Middle East as visualized by Lt Col Ralph Peters in 2006. His map shows Baluchistan an independent state. Earlier on in 1982, Israeli Adid Yenon had given the idea of dividing the Arab states into smaller quasi states on ethnic/sectarian basis. Eight member team comprising Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, David Wurmser, his wife Meyrav Wurmser, James Colbert, John Bolton, Charles Fairbanks, Jr. Robert Loewenberg, and Benjamin Netanyahu were the architects of the gory plan in 1996 to redraw the boundaries of Middle East by stoking chaos, bringing ‘regime change’ to install stable puppets, or else to balkanise. Pentagon’s Memo listing 7 States in Middle East is well known. The Islamic State (IS), creation of CIA helped in creating chaos in Middle East and in changing boundaries of Iraq and Syria.
As a consequence to moral degeneration and leadership crisis within Muslim Ummah, the new crusaders are fighting their battles inside the Muslim lands. Foreign powers are in occupation of Afghanistan since November 2001 and have military bases in Iraq, Syria, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, UAE and several other Muslim countries. In some of the Muslim countries, USA has converted its Embassies into fortresses and spying dens and Pakistan is one example. These collaborating Muslim countries have provided strategic depth to the western world and has enabled it to keep the whole lot of Muslim countries in their iron grip and to loot their resources and to keep them militarily weak and dependent.
Divide and rule policy has helped the western powers to keep the Muslim States, particularly in the Middle East locked in perpetual rivalry. The Arab Muslims – despite their ethnic, linguistic and geographical oneness, stand divided into more than 20 States. The string-puppet regimes installed by USA have secularized their respective countries and in order to please their so-called patrons they disapprove Islamic laws. The core Islamic principles like Sharia, Hudud, Khilafa, Jihad and trans-ethnic global solidarity are censured. Contrary to such Qur’anic ruling, they have raised walls of divisions to protect the pre-Islamic ethnic, linguistic and tribal identity. These divisive walls in the name of race, language or religious sect had been dismantled during the golden period of Muslims.
The Saudi led Gulf States supported Iraq under Saddam Hussain when Iraqi forces invaded Iran in 1980. After the Iraqi forces captured Kuwait in August 1991, the other Arab countries led by Saudi Arabia allowed the US and NATO to bomb and invade Iraq in November 1991. They provided military bases to US which are still in its occupation. The entire Muslim world supported the US-NATO invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001. Ground invasion was undertaken by Northern Alliance troops (non-Pashtun Afghans), trained and equipped by India and Iran. Pakistan provided military bases and intelligence support as well as land supply routes to the invaders. The Taliban ousted from power are in wilderness but are resisting the occupying forces and the US installed puppet regime in Kabul. There is deep animosity between Pashtun Afghans who are in heavy majority but out of power and homeless, and the US supported non-Pashtun Afghans, belonging to northern parts of the country, ruling the country since December 2001. The Arab world supported the US-NATO invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003 and then of Libya in 2011. Both the countries stand divided and are in turmoil.
The Arab world watched from sidelines the repeated invasion and massacre of people of Gaza by Israeli forces and blockade of Gaza strip since 2007. Only Iran provided some unguided rockets to the Hamas to contest the aggressors. Arab League and OIC have played no role in resolving the chronic Palestinian dispute pending in the tray of the UN since 1948. The world comity has turned a blind eye to Israeli forward settlement policy and Israel’s U-turn on Oslo Accord, after agreeing to the two-state solution in return for peace.
In the Syrian civil war, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Gulf States and Iran are fully involved. The Turkish government had allowed the US to use its air base to bomb the Syrian and the Iraqi cities to flush out ISIS. This base was closed after the recent coup in Turkey in which it was found to be supporting the rebels. Paradoxically, the US Army personnel are fighting shoulder to shoulder with the Kurdish Marxist-Leninist YPG terrorists in northern Syria – though these Kurdish fighters are marked as terrorists even by the American administration. The US soldiers even wore the YPG badge on their military uniform. However, Turkey treats the Kurds as an enemy and is bombarding their positions in Syria and Iraq. Iranian soldiers and militia as well as Lebanon based Hezbollah are taking part in Syrian civil war in support of Assad regime.
Marooned Assad led Syrian regime has allowed Russia to establish its air base and a naval base in Syria and to help Syrian forces in fighting the US supported rebellion. The Russian, the US and western forces as well as Turkish forces are bombing the Islamists in Syria. The civil war in Syria since March 2011 has resulted in deaths of 350,000 people and displacement of 12 million people.
Saleh regime in Yemen had allowed CIA to use drones against Al-Qaeda from the US base in Djibouti, which later sparked civil war and Saudi-Houthis war which is still raging. Saudi air force along with Egyptian and Gulf States air power are bombing Yemen since March 2015. Somalia, rived in a civil war since early 1990s has become a failed state own to the US interventionist policy.
Egyptian President General Abdul Fatah al-Sisi dethroned democratically elected Morsi and Muslim Brotherhood (MB) regime from power in July 2013 and his act was supported by Saudi led Gulf States and the US. Major reason of the coup was that Israel was unhappy over MB’s support to Gazans. Sisi’s ruthless persecution of Islamists is overlooked by the advanced world while Saudi Arabia and other Gulf States dole out reward money to the dictator since their rulers are no less autocrats. Resistance forces led by MB are fighting government forces in Sinai.
The two ideological rivals Iran and Saudi Arabia sponsor proxy wars in other countries to promote Shiaism and Wahabism. Palestinian leadership is divided; one led by Hamas in Gaza and other by Abbas in West Bank. Democratically elected Hamas have been declared terrorists by the US, UN and Israel.
The ISIS under Caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi established its caliphate stretching from Raqqa in Syria to Faluja, Mosul, Dyala in Iraq in mid-2014 and later on spread its tentacles into Libya, Yemen, Algeria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan. It was created by CIA in Bucca Camp in Baghdad in 2006 under Zarqawi to fight Al-Qaeda in Fallujah and Ambar. Later it was sent to Syria in 2011 to help Nusra group and other rebel groups to topple Assad regime. The ISIS fighters after capturing the entire northeastern Syria including oil/gas fields in 2013, then captured large parts of northwestern Iraq and established its own caliphate in June 2014. After capturing Mosul, the Islamic State (IS) became the richest militant group in the world. Large numbers of white Jihadis from Europe started joining IS, and its fighters slaughtered Christians and Yazidis in northern Iraq and enslaved their girls for prostitution. These events coupled with the IS threat to capture Karbala, Najaf, Mecca and Medina, alarmed the US, Europe, Arab world, Turkey and Iran.
The US-NATO started an air campaign against the IS positions in Iraq and Syria in August 2014 but couldn’t make any dent in the IS power. From 30 September 2015 onward, Russia airpower also joined the fray in Syria to help the beleaguered Assad regime from collapsing. It is helping Assad forces to recover the lost territories as well as in eliminating the IS, which is in control of one-third north eastern territory of Syria including oil and gas fields. Although the IS positions are being bombed and Iraqi Nationalist Army assisted by Kurds, Turkmen and Shia militias are fast recovering their lost territories and have recovered Fallujah and are now fighting a pitched battle in Mosul, CIA, Mossad and RAW are on the quiet employing IS fighters as proxies in their target countries. In fact, RAW has become the major supplier of arms and explosives to IS in Iraq and Syria. RAW helped the IS in tying the knot with runaway Jamaat e Ahrar, a breakaway faction of Tehrik-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) under Khalid Khurasani based in Nangarhar and with TTP Amir Fazlullah in Kunar, the two provinces of Afghanistan.
Pakistan was forced by USA to fight the US imposed war on terror on its soil. Although Pakistan was declared a frontline state and a non-NATO ally, in reality it was a target. Pakistan was pressed to fight the terror groups, but TTP, BLA, BRA, BLF were secretly funded, equipped and trained by RAW and Afghan NDS and tasked to fight Pak security forces in FATA, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Baluchistan. RAW also funded and armed MQM political party in Sindh. All this was supervised by CIA, Mossad and MI-6. Afghanistan has turned into biggest launching pad for exporting terrorism into Pakistan. Massive covert operations are going on since 2003 as a result of which Pakistan has suffered well over 60,000 human fatalities, and a financial loss of $ 118 billion. Pakistan is also host to 3 million Afghan refugees since 1978. Despite such colossal sacrifices and Pakistan having performed exceptionally well against terrorism, Pakistan is blamed by Kabul, New Delhi and Washington that it is abetting terrorism in Afghanistan, Kashmir and India. The trio knitted in strategic partnership has for all practical purposes lost the war in Afghanistan. Rather than admitting their defeat ad accepting the Taliban as the major stakeholder, or correcting their fault lines, they are merely reinforcing failure. In order to hide their failures, they blame Pakistan, naively thinking that blame game and making Pakistan a scapegoat would lessen their pains.
The ideological conversion cum de-Islamisation of the autocratic rulers in the Arab world has been so complete that they face no compunction nor feel any Islamic prohibition to provide bases for these traditional enemies of Muslims and Islam. It is a consequence to their delinquency and moral bankruptcy and their secret alliance with their masters in western world that none among them has ever raised his voice against such massive destruction of the Muslim cities and massacre of innocents in Iraq, Libya, Syria, Palestine, Yemen and Afghanistan. Their willing cooperation has encouraged many in the US to suggest nuking holy sites in Saudi Arabia or the belt along the Pak-Afghan border belt. God forbid, if ever such a monstrous thing occurred and millions are killed, who will condemn it? The tongue-tied and captive Muslim rulers will not utter a word of protest.
The US controlled UN may meekly condemn and so will some human rights activists and those in the West like Noam Chomsky, but no resolution will be passed by the UN to punish the perpetrators of this savagery. The US was not punished for dropping hydrogen bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 killing 1, 40,000 people. George W. Bush and his team of neocons have not been held accountable for invading and destroying Afghanistan without proving Osama bin Laden guilty of master minding attacks in New York and Pentagon; and Bush and Tony Blair for destroying Iraq on fake charges; and for killing over two million innocent people in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen and Somalia. War monger Obama who used drone as a choice weapon and further expanded war on terror was awarded Nobel Prize.
Global war on terrorism has remained confined to the Muslim world only while others have been given a clean chit. Barring North Korea, all other targeted countries falling in the ‘axis of evil’ are Muslim countries. The Muslims stand destitute hostage to these brutal big powers. The occupation of Muslim lands, bombing the cities and killing millions is labelled as their security need to protect their so-called national interests. Even dropping nuclear bombs in 1945 was considered a rightful act on the same context. And whoever challenges such savage aggression and hegemony is labelled as terrorist. All freedom movements such as Palestinian and Kashmiri movements have been bracketed with terrorism.
The entire Muslim world is disconnected from the roadmap prescribed in the Quran and has chosen the path suggested by the US led western world. This deviation from the righteous path has brought upon them untold miseries. Independence is in name only. There is complete disconnect between the Muslim rulers and the people, majority of whom fervently seek Sharia (Islamic laws) since capitalism, Westminster democracy and Anglo Saxon laws are pro rich only.
Palestinian issue, Israeli belligerence, Gaza turned into open prison, desecration of Al-Aqsa mosque, double standards of the west, involvement of Iran’s increasing involvement in Arab countries, revengeful persecution of Sunnis in Iraq, forcible change of regime in Libya, willful destabilization of Syria, when seen in context with weakened welfare system within Arab world, unemployment, misrule of Arab rulers, hatred against Hamas, their pro-western policies all put together, have bred discontentment among the Arab youth and they are fatally getting attracted towards extremism and organisations like Da’esh.
In Pakistan, people are by and large dissatisfied with parliamentary form of democracy and the judicial system since these alien systems have utterly failed to transform Pakistan into a welfare state as was envisioned by Quaid-e-Azam. 70 years have passed since independence but the have-nots have remained deprived of basic necessities of life as well as social justice. The cancers of corruption and terrorism are eating into the vitals of the country. The political class seems least interested in badly needed political, electoral, bureaucratic, police, judicial and accountability reforms. The ruling elite is also not prepared to formulate an independent foreign policy that can safeguard Pakistan’s national interests. Until and unless these reforms are implemented in letter and spirit, the scourges of corruption and terrorism will not be eliminated and Pakistan will not become a self-reliant nation. In-house cleanliness, moral reformation, unity, cohesiveness and patriotism will change the complexion of Pakistan and thwart dangerous Indo-US-Israeli agenda. Only then the CPEC can become a game changer.
The writer is a retired Brig, war veteran, defence and security analyst, columnist, author of 5 books, Vice Chairman Thinkers Forum Pakistan, DG Measac Research Centre, Member Executive Council PESS. Takes part in TV talk shows and delivers talks. [email protected]