by Zafar Bangash (Editorials, Crescent International Vol. 43, No. 3, Rajab, 1435)
The emerging, new Muslim East (aka the Middle East) is not the one Condoleezza Rice had envisioned; it is more confident and assertive and pursuing an agenda to serve the interests of the people rather than imperialist/Zionist powers.
The old order in the Middle East is crumbling. The Sykes-Picot agreement of 1916 on which it is based should not have lasted 100 years but for the fickle nature of Arabian rulers and the poison of nationalism injected into the body politic of Muslim societies in the Middle East. A number of factors have converged to make the present order untenable.
The self-proclaimed superpower, the US, has lost on all fronts. While created by Britain and France, the mantle of guardianship for the old order in the Middle East was assumed by the US after the Second World War. There were three major pillars that sustained this set-up: Iran under the Shah, secular Kemalist Turkey and the Wahhabi kingdom of Saudi Arabia. There were other bit players also that were part of this order but their role was minor. The primary function of this order was to protect and sustain the illegitimate entity, Zionist Israel. This remains the principal objective even today but the pillars of the old order have either been demolished or badly shaken. Israel’s first Prime Minister David Ben Gurion had openly proclaimed that the Arabian regimes are Israel’s first line of defence. He should have added Turkey and Iran as well. After all, Kemalist Turkey immediately recognized the Zionist occupation of Palestine in a fit of revenge since the latter used to be part of the Ottoman Empire. British-Arabian conspiracy severed it from Ottoman Turkey facilitating the implantation of the Zionist entity.
The first major blow to the old order was delivered by the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979 turning it into a two-legged stool. Instead of welcoming the Islamic Revolution, the reactionaries went into a huddle to conspire to maintain their grip on power. Egypt signed a peace treaty with the Zionist entity; Turkey was taken over by a military junta while the Ba‘thist terrorists led by Saddam Hussein were encouraged, supported and armed to attack the fledgling Islamic State of Iran. The establishment of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) comprising Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Oman quickly followed. The aim of all the Gulf monarchies, singly and jointly, was to preserve their illegitimate hold on power, surround the Islamic State by providing military bases to the imperialist powers, and as a result guarantee the continued expansion of the Zionist cancer in the Holy Land.
Intoxicated by military might, the Zionists and their imperialist sponsor, the US, attacked Lebanon in June 1982 to destroy the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). Tens of thousands of Palestinians were massacred including the gruesome slaughter at Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Beirut. The PLO was driven out of Lebanon, and hence had to set up shop in Tunisia, far from the borders of Occupied Palestine. The Zionists and the imperialists thought they had solved the problem of Palestine permanently. American, French and British military forces occupied Lebanon under the cover of the UN flag, to keep Israel safe.
The emergence of Hizbullah inspired by the example of the Islamic Revolution in Iran not only drove the imperialist forces out of Lebanon but also took on the Zionists giving them a bloody nose. They were driven out from all of Lebanon except Sheba Farms in the south where a tense standoff continues to this day. In the summer of 2006, when the Zionists attempted to destroy Hizbullah, they were given such a beating that they retreated in disgrace. Then American Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice had pompously claimed that these were the “birth pangs” of a new Middle East. Ms. Rice obviously had a miscarriage. Instead, a new Muslim East is emerging that is asserting itself forcefully in global affairs.
The PLO has become marginal to Palestinian affairs, supplanted by Hamas and Islamic Jihad that are determined to continue the struggle against Zionist occupation. Saddam’s conspiracy against Islamic Iran failed; the Iraqi dictator had to pay the price with his head in December 2006 for failing to carry out the task assigned to him. Zionist attempts to crush Hamas in December 2008–January 2009 and again in November 2012 ended in resounding failures.
The war on Syria launched in March 2011 was the third attempt to destroy the Resistance Front — comprising Islamic Iran, Syria, Hizbullah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad — against Zionist occupation. The imperialist-Zionist-Wahhabi conspiracy against Syria has also failed despite causing immense human suffering and the destruction of much of its infrastructure. A number of other alliances, especially the GCC, and Turkey’s role in NATO, are fraying. The Saudi regime is teetering on the brink and thrashing about like a wounded beast unable to find relief. The Resistance Front has expanded to include Iraq as well although it would be premature to add too much weight to it just yet. Even GCC members are scrambling to patch up differences with Islamic Iran, the real power in the region.
The old order is about to collapse. What shape the new order will take will depend on whether people in the region adopt the principles of fairness and justice based on the teachings of Muhammadi Islam, or allow themselves to be consumed by the hate-filled ideology of takfirism promoted by Wahhabism. The takfiris can delay but not prevent the rise of universal Islam and its pristine values in the broader Middle East that should rightly be called the Muslim East.