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Welcome Back to History

Islam, like other imperialist ideologies, still needs enemies to flourish. Enemies have served Islam in the past as fuel for its wagons. Without enemies Islam declines and stagnates...
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Salman Masalha

Welcome Back to History

For centuries the Arab world has been living in chronic sickness. One basic reason for this sickness is the mixture between Islam and male tribalism. The male Arab tribal codes that are deeply rooted in the Arab societies and still affect the Arabs these days prevail equally in monarchies or dynastic regimes and so-called republican regimes. This is why you see presidents bequeath their regimes in particular to their sons, not their daughters, as in the case of Syria and as was planned to occur lately in Egypt before the Egyptian people took to the streets. It’s worth noting that the only Muslim countries in which women have been elected and have served as heads of states are non-Arab countries, such as Turkey, Pakistan, Indonesia and Bangladesh.

Islam and male Arab tribalism constitute a toxic mixture. Especially when there is a lack of a fundamental principle, the principle of self-reckoning. The absence of such a principle leaves no way to acknowledge and correct mistakes and sins made by an individual, a leader or a society as a whole.

The combination of Arab tribalism, Islam and the absence of self-reckoning makes all Arab regimes oppressive ones. This has been the case throughout Arab history since the beginning of Islam. In fact, Islam is an ideology of Arab imperialism. For this reason Islam has needed enemies since its advent. In order to solve inner tribal disputes among the Arab tribes, Islam sent tribal warriors to fight other nations outside the Arabian deserts promising them food, goods and Garden of Eden etc. This ideology was behind making the Arab Islamic empire.

The dispute within the Arab Islamic empire since the rise of Islam has been a tribal one mixed with the issue of so-called religious kinship legitimacy - the close kinship relationship to the Prophet’s tribal branch.

With the rise of the non-Arab political and military powers within the Abbasid Caliphate in the 9th century and until the fall of Baghdad into the hands of Hulago in the year 1258, the Arab World went into a state of stagnation that has lasted until the present. Almost 1,000 years of stagnation. This period includes nearly four centuries of the Ottoman Empire.

After the First World War and the decline of the Ottoman Empire, in the Sykes-Picot Agreement the Arab World was divided between European colonial powers, mainly France and Britain. A few decades later, and in the wake of the Second World War and the retreat of the colonial powers, Israel was founded in Mandatory Palestine, recognized and supported by both the Soviet Union and the Western powers.

During the Cold War the oil-rich Middle East became a major arena for wrestling between the West and the Communist bloc. The Cold War split the Arab World into two orientations.: the pro-Western regimes on the one hand and on the other the so-called national “socialist” regimes, influenced by the Soviet Union and headed mostly by military officers who took power in some parts of the Arab World, such as Egypt, Syria and Iraq. Both the Arab monarchies and the republican regimes have been oppressive and have never brought any kind of well being to the Arab nations.

The policy of the United States has always been hypocritical and never really meant all the slogans about freedom, democracy, human rights and the like. On the contrary it has supported dictators and corrupt tribal leaders in the Arab World. America’s thoughts have focused on oil. The stagnation of all parts of the Arab and Islamic World continues. This was in the background of the Shi’ite Islamic revolution in Iran against the oppressive regime of the Shah, who was supported by the West.

The rise of the ideology and the power of the Islamic mujahidin in Afghanistan fighting the Soviet Union’s hegemony and the communist influence was a proxy war launched, supported and funded by the USA and its allies, mainly Saudi Arabia. The defeat of the Soviet Union in Afghanistan brought the decline of the Soviet Union and communism in Europe and most of the rest of the world.

After the end of the Cold War and the fall of Berlin Wall, a naïve discourse emerged in the West led by Francis Fukuyama’s approach proclaiming the end of history and the triumph of Western liberalism. This naïve approach has faced an immediate and opposite response.

Empires need enemies, as I noted above. Once the Soviet enemy disappeared, there were thoughts in the West about finding a new enemy. This new enemy is Islam and Islamic imperialist ideology. And this is the real meaning of Huntington’s “clash of civilizations”, in response to Fukuyama’s “end of history”.

Along with the Shi’ite Islam that took power in Iran, the Sunni Islam that the West used in deploying the mujahidin against the Soviet Union is now a Golem turning against its founder in the West. This brought the Islamic terror that led to the September 11 attacks.

It should be taken into account that since its beginning and by its deep theological nature Islam, which was founded in the Arabian Peninsula on a Judeo-Christian background, has been focused on Judeo-Christian theology. This is why you can hardly find Islamic writing concerning other faiths beyond the Judeo-Christian cultures.

Bearing in mind the rise of an Islamic party in Turkey after the Turkish people despaired of becoming part of the European Union, what we see now facing the sick Arab World is the rise of two non-Arab national powers: Persian nationalism anchored in Shi’ite Islamic doctrine in Iran and Turkish nationalism anchored in Sunni Islamic doctrine in Turkey. The two non-Arab powers are vying with each other for hegemony in the Arab World, and both of them are struggling against the Western powers’ hegemony in the region.

Islam, like other imperialist ideologies, still needs enemies to flourish. Enemies have served Islam in the past as fuel for its wagons. Without enemies Islam declines and stagnates. For this purpose, in addition to what was stated above, there is the continuation of the Israeli Jewish Zionist occupation in Palestine supported by Western Christian Powers.

This confrontation reminds Muslims of their struggle with Jews and Christian in Arabia during the first years of Islam. And in fact there are a lot of modern Islamic writings which try to shed religious light on the Israeli Arab conflict and try to find and emphasize the similarities between our times and those early Islamic times. This new-old theo-political confrontation will keep this oil-rich part of the world a tense place. Foreign powers are able to set fires in parts of this region, driving the Middle East to be the biggest consumer of Western, mainly American, military equipment, as well as a market for all other products. It’s worth bearing in mind that this part of the world does not produce or export any thing of value except what it pumps out of the ground.

It's Middle Eastern history in the making.

February 2011
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