by Yusuf Dhia-Allah (News & Analysis, Crescent International Vol. 42, No. 11, Rabi' al-Awwal, 1435)
Imperialist powers manipulate public opinion and perception about their strengths and weaknesses to confuse people. Muslims must be wary of such manipulation.
In the midst of ongoing uncertainties in the Muslim East (aka Middle East) and North Africa (MENA), a significant part of the global public is misled by Western imperialist regimes through exaggerating or diminishing the capabilities of state power. By carefully manipulated propaganda in the corporate media, these regimes aim to convince the global public that their state power controls all events in the world. This is intended to lead people to fall into what can be labeled as a “bizarre conspiracy theory” trap.
At other times when imperialist regimes are able to convince a significant part of the global public that the power apparatus of their states has minimal influence and control, they are able to create socio-political apathy. Even though the two methods are tactically different, their strategic objective is to steer events in accordance with the interests of the Western ruling elites. In order not to become victim of this type of intellectual manipulation, the analysis of state power in conjunction with specific unfolding events must be conducted within the framework of the following Qur’anic ayat,
And [remember O Prophet] how those who were bent on denying the truth were scheming against you in order to restrain you [from conveying the message of Islam] or to slay you or drive you away; thus they have [always] schemed, but Allah brought their scheming to nothingness — for Allah is above all schemers (8:30).
And the [deniers of truth] schemed but Allah brought their scheming to oblivion — for Allah is above all schemers (3:54).
By trying to convince the masses that Western state institutions are in control of everything, imperialist regimes create doubts about the effectiveness and authenticity of opposition to their policies as well as create fear in the minds of people. Immediately after the start of the Islamic Awakening process (that began in Tunisia in December 2010), Western imperialist regimes covertly began propagating the myth that they orchestrated the overthrow of the Tunisian dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali whom they had supported for decades. As the Tunisian uprising caught Western regimes by total surprise, they had to resort to intellectual sabotage in order to turn the authentic revolutionary process into a controlled project. This was considered necessary because the nature of all state institutions is to control societies by whatever means. In certain cases this control is legitimate and reasonable, in others as revealed by Edward Snowden, the US National Security Agency (NSA) analyst, the plan to control and its mechanisms are illegitimate.
During Islamic Awakening in the MENA region, the US regime pursued tactical and strategic objectives while attempting to portray the uprisings as Washington’s project. One of its strategic objectives was to pacify the masses hostile to Washington’s puppet dictators by telling them that resistance is futile. In any case, the West will end up placing a regime in power that prioritizes its interests, according to this line of thinking.
Historically, the West has been more successful in some cases, but in others less so. Its plans failed in Iran, Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Iraq, Lebanon, Gaza and Syria. In some cases the failure was greater than in others. During the Islamic Revolution in 1979, the West, primarily the US, failed to a greater degree than in Syria today; in Venezuela imperialist failure is greater than in Bolivia. The same applies to its successes. In Yemen its success was less than what it achieved in Egypt.
The fundamental point when confronting the intellectual manipulative position that Western imperialist powers control all processes worldwide is to think within the framework of the above-mentioned Qur’anic ayat. Western regimes may be materially strong but they can never match Allah’s (swt) power and, therefore, do not control everything. Imperialist regimes deliberately exaggerate their own power so that people would become disheartened and lose hope in resisting.
Often the tactic used by Western imperialist regimes that utilize the strategy outlined above is to discredit the intellectual foundations of popular resistance. Anti-imperialist but rationally weak and bizarre conspiracy theories are floated for this purpose. Often these theories are created automatically once a constituency starts to perceive the power of state institutions as all encompassing.
The above position does not mean that states do not act in a conspiratorial manner; they often do. However, there is a limit to their conspiracies because they are not all powerful; only Allah (swt) is.
Another popular method of intellectual sabotage utilized by the US and its allies revolves around the exaggeration of influence and power of non-state organizations. The most popular narrative of this methodology involves transnational corporations. While it cannot be denied that many such corporations are powerful, their power begins and ends where governments determine. By making people believe that it is mainly the corporations that are behind wars, corruption and inhumane acts, governments create operational space for themselves which when properly manipulated and managed diverts the responsibility away from them.
Those that attribute too much importance to powerful non-state actors forget that their power is mainly derived from their comfortable and conformist relationship with state entities. Without the backing of state power, most non-state actors would never be able to exercise major influence. This formula equally applies to powerful corporations, media, think tanks, rebel groups and international organizations.
By analyzing global events within the framework of the above-cited Qur’anic ayat (3:54 and 8:30), Muslims must realize that throughout human history imperialist and anti-monotheistic powers have always wanted to usurp Allah’s (swt) power. From Iblis to Pharaoh and from Hitler to Obama, those that refuse to yield to Allah’s (swt) legislative authority always attempt to turn a natural evolutionary and revolutionary process into their own project.
The same applies to events that are taking place in the Muslim world today where people are actually trying to free themselves from decades of autocratic and illegitimate imperialist and Zionist rule. While the ongoing process of Islamic Awakening is authentic, imperialist and Zionist forces are doing their outmost to turn this process into their project. All means are utilized to subvert this authentic process of Islamic Awakening, but none is more dangerous than a method that utilizes batil (falsehood or half-truth; invalid act or idea). Since batil comes with a veneer of truth, it is batil that Muslims ought to concentrate on when evaluating concepts propagated by Western imperialist powers. The issue of state and non-state power is certainly one of them.
It is not a coincidence that the first ones to propagate the idea that the process of Islamic Awakening is Washington’s project was marketed by Muslim centers associated with the Saudi monarchy. The batil essence of the Saudi regime with its occupation of Makkah and Madinah makes it a convenient tool to spread confusion among the Muslim masses.