Of Dictators and Liberators

Of Dictators and Liberators

SOURCE: Crescent Magazine Online

Zafar Bangash*, Reflections

With notable exceptions, dictators rule much of the Muslim world. They carry many fancy titles: kings, amirs, presidents, prime ministers and, of course generals and colonels. What is common between them is that they are all subservient to the West even while they terrorize their own people.

The uprisings that erupted in the Muslim East (aka the Middle East) more than a year ago have changed the political landscape in radical ways. Old equations have been disrupted and Middle Eastern tyrants have been forced to adopt a new language and style even as they continue to implement old policies hoping to ride out the storm. They have also been exposed in ways they did not wish to reveal for fear of antagonizing their people further. Thus, while it was always known that the tribal and family-run regimes are subservient to the US, their links with the Zionist State were a closely guarded secret. Barring three countries — Turkey, Egypt and Jordan — that have had open relations with Zionist Israel, others have been coy about these links. The Islamic Awakening sweeping the region has forced these regimes to come out of purdah. Two regimes in particular, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, both family-run fiefdoms stand utterly exposed as not only American but Zionist stooges.

The Saudis were exposed as early as 2006 when Israel attacked Hizbullah in Lebanon. Far from condemning Israeli barbarism against innocent civilians, much less coming to their aid, Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal lashed out at Hizbullah for “provoking” the war. The Saudis have never helped Muslims; their primary specialty is to stoke sectarianism in the Ummah, but accusing Hizbullah was a new low even for their already low conduct. Two years later, the Saudi security advisor to King Abdullah, Bandar bin Sultan (formerly Saudi ambassador to Washington) secretly met then Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert urging him to attack and finish off Hizbullah. Bandar said Saudi Arabia would foot the entire war bill. After being mauled in Lebanon, the Zionists were not going to repeat the same mistake twice, even for a camel sack of Saudi dollars.

In recent months, the Qataris’ Zionist links have also come to light. In January, the amir of Qatar, Shaikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani visited Israel to meet Tzipi Livni, leader of the rightwing Kadima Party and former foreign minister. Why are these Arabian rulers so enamored with the Zionists? These dinosaurs from the desert have always been avowed enemies of Islam. Only now have they been forced to expose their Zionist links because of the common fear of Islamic Iran and the rising tide of Islamic awakening lifting the previously sinking boats of the oppressed.

The Arabian rulers, however, are footnotes to history. The real story is elsewhere: it is in Western capitals — Washington, London and Paris — where their masters reside and dictate policies. When the West’s two favorite dictators were driven from power in quick succession early last year, it caused great panic. Controls that had been in place for more than 60 years were coming loose under the tidal wave of people’s power in the Muslim East. One must, however, give credit to Western policy makers for their quick adjustment. For decades, the West had maintained such dictators as Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali in Tunisia and Hosni Mubarak in Egypt in power. Overnight, the West led by the US changed course and presented itself as “supportive” of people’s aspirations. It has done more: the West has successfully co-opted some segments of the opposition movements in order to protect its interests.

These are most clearly visible in Libya and Syria. In the former, the long-entrenched dictator Muammar Qaddafi was driven from power and brutally murdered. The West in conjunction with its Arabian clients, is attempting to do the same in Syria, albeit with limited success so far. But like Libya, the West is arming elements of the Syrian opposition to overthrow the regime of Bashar al-Asad. This is proving difficult because the Syrian establishment and military have not disintegrated. Further, the Syrian opposition is fractured and cannot agree on anything. This, however, has not prevented the West from meddling in Syria’s affairs by smuggling in weapons to arm the rebels.

The Western “liberators” have plunged Libya into a bloody tribal war. Heavily armed militias have killed hundreds, if not thousands of innocent people. The killings continue but why should the “liberators” care for Libyan lives as long as they can grab Libya’s riches, especially oil?

Muslims struggling for their rights against brutal dictators would do well to remember that Western “liberators” are even more brutal than their local tormentors. External do-gooders have their own ulterior motives when they come with promises of help; just ask the Afghans or the Libyans. True liberation will only be achieved when Muslims build their own inner strength otherwise the cure they are seeking may turn out to be worse than the disease.

*Zafar Bangash is Director of the Institute of Contemporary Islamic Thought

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