by Waseem Shehzad (Special Reports, Crescent International Vol. 35, No. 11, Dhu al-Hijjah, 1427)
Throughout history, Arab rulers have repeatedly betrayed the interests of the Ummah by aligning themselves with the enemies of Islam. Since the division of the Middle East into nation-states by the West at the turn of the last century and the installation of tribal chiefs as rulers, these rulers have done everything to undermine the Ummah. From aligning themselves with Britain to destroy the Uthmaniyyah khilafah to facilitating the implantation of Israel in Palestine, and more recently supporting the Western-backed Iraqi invasion of Islamic Iran (1980) and then joining the West’s onslaught on Iraq in 1991, they have never failed to indulge in treachery. When gangs of zionists were driving Muslim and Christian Palestinians out of their homes, the same Arab rulers did nothing to help the Palestinians except lob rhetorical volleys that played straight into the hands of the marauders.
The Western-created monarchies in Jordan and Saudi Arabia and the tiny sheikhdoms on the shores of the Persian Gulf alike, their raison d’etre appears to be the protection of Western interests. Their latest concern is aroused by the “plight” of the Sunnis, who they allege are threatened by the Shi‘as coming to power in Iraq. They also claim that they fear Iran’s peaceful nuclear-power programme and Tehran’s emergence as a regional power. They have been scurrying back and forth between their own capitals and Washington to create an anti-Shi‘a front against Islamic Iran and thus prevent the Shi‘as (who are in a numerical majority there) from consolidating their power in Iraq. When Israel’s onslaught against Lebanon was underway last July and August, at least three Arab rulers—the two Abdullahs and Mubarak—condemned Hizbullah for “provoking” Israel, while others secretly hoped that Hizbullah would be crushed. They cared little for the plight of the Lebanese civilians subjected to a brutal military assault.
The Arab rulers’ latest attempt to undermine Islam and Muslims occurred at a meeting early last month in Manama, the Bahraini capital, where members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) decided to pursue their own nuclear programmes because they said they felt threatened by Iran’s, now that the US is on the verge of total defeat in Iraq. The GCC members (namely Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the UAE) also said that they fear the rising tide of “Shia power” in the region that allegedly threatens the interests of the Sunnis inIraq. Their concern would be touching were it not for the fact that these same Arab rulers had aligned themselves with the US to destroy Iraq, then ruled by “Sunni” Saddam Husain, in January 1991. Almost all the Arab regimes sent armies to join the US assault on a fellow Arab country; others, like the Saudis, opened their country to American forces to trespass in Islam’s heartland, the Hijaz, without showing the slightest concern for the plight of the Sunnis in Iraq, who were being murdered by the hundreds of thousands. Further, these same “Sunni” rulers have never lost any sleep over the brutal treatment meted out to the hapless Palestinians—all Sunnis—by the zionists. The West Bank and Ghazzah have been turned into vast prisons where Palestinian children and women are murdered daily, yet one does not hear even a whisper of protest from these Arab rulers. One is forced to ask the reasons for this shocking inconsistency: total indifference toward the plight of the Sunni Palestinians but a sudden concern for the Sunnis in Iraq.
Nor have they ever bothered to express any concern about Israel’s stockpile of more than 200 nuclear weapons (and the true figure may well be much larger). Their harshest criticism is reserved for Islamic Iran, despite the fact that it has repeatedly emphasised the peaceful intent of its nuclear programme. They themselves have given the game away: as recently as last October, US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice was fussing about the rise of “Shi’a power” in the Middle East and of Iran’s nuclear ambitions, which are apparently fuelling “concerns” inRiyadh and Cairo. As if on cue, alarmist statements issued from the two Arab capitals. Here is how one Arab political scientist summed up the Arab position: “Iran is a problem. Iraq is a problem. There are so many problems,” said Abdulkhaleq Abdullah following the Dialogue on Gulf Security in Manama. “The issue is Washington. At the moment, Washington is in a state of confusion,” the professor of political science at the Emirates University in Dubai said, revealing deep fears in Arab capitals at the prospect of the US’s defeat in Iraq. These governments understand that when the US’s defeat is complete, they will not survive much longer.
Sheikh Khaled bin Ahmad bin Mohammed al-Khalifa, the Bahraini foreign minister, was even more specific about the possible spread of violence from Iraq into other countries: “This situation is a clear danger to the entire region.” He went on: “There is talk of a long and bloody civil war, of a division of the country along ethnic or sectarian lines,” according to an Agence France Presse report on December 13. These rulers have announced that they are going to launch their own nuclear programmes. This would be laughable were it not for the deadly intent, one moreover launched at the instigation of the US. This is revealing: the US has launched a vicious campaign against Islamic Iran but is urging Arab regimes to go nuclear. Most of these regimes are not capable of assembling a bicycle, much less mastering such sophisticated technology as nuclear energy. These policies are dictated by Washington, their real master. The most ludicrous assertions have come from the Saudis, who have threatened to support the “Sunni insurgency” in Iraq to fight the Shi’as. They are also opposed to any contact between the US and Islamic Iran. Although Tehran is not likely to fall for a US ‘charm offensive’ any time soon, the Saudis’ opposition reveals the depth of their antipathy to the Islamic state.
The Saudis’ threat to support the Sunni insurgency in Iraq is like cutting their nose to spite their face. After all, these insurgents also oppose the Saudi regime; moreover, they are being targeted by the US. As if this were not bad enough, the US is also scheming to put together a coalition of “moderate” (for which read “subservient to the US”) Sunni Arab regimes to confront Syria and Islamic Iran. Such an alliance would have the backing of the US and Europe. No greater proof of their treachery to Islam and Muslims is possible.
What all this noise from the Arab capitals indicates is the great fear these regimes are gripped by. They are urging the US not to withdraw troops from Iraq because that would result in civil war. Perhaps they do not understand, or do not wish to understand, that the near-civil war situation is the direct result of the American occupation. Once these forces are gone, Iraqis of all persuasions will have the opportunity to sort their problems out themselves. They need neither the Saudis nor any other outsiders to teach them how to live together. After all, of the estimated six million married couples in Iraq, at least one quarter are mixed marriages between Shi‘as and Sunnis; left to themselves the Iraqis are far more tolerant of each other than the narrow-minded Saudis. They are quite capable of sorting out their own problems without the disruptive ‘help’ of the Saudis or other Arab governments.
What the Iraqis want most is to be left alone. The sooner outsiders realise this and act upon the realisation, the better for everyone involved.