by Afeef Khan (Special Reports, Crescent International Vol. 38, No. 11, Muharram, 1431)
None of this is easy to say. No one can argue that those humans in history who were in possession of the best ideas were Allah’s Prophets (swt)
It is often said that competition is supposed to make all the engaged parties better. Those who are more innovative and those who execute better are supposed to win. And as such, competition is encouraged in sports, entertainment, business, and even academia. Awards, grades, and accolades are given out for he who can run the fastest, the group that can sing the best, or the company that exceeds all others in piling up revenue. And to this end, stadiums are built, rankings are listed, and market shares are computed. All of these help to quantify the competitive spirit and let everyone know the next time around what they have to do to win.
But what about the competition for ideas, the kind of ideas that go beyond building a better mouse trap, or ideas that lead to a transformational change in the behavior patterns of entire peoples? In what venue do these play out? Are there any civil structures that allow for this free exchange so that the best ideas emerge and thereby dominate? And where are the rankings for those who have the best ideas? Are there any criteria to judge the most innovative ideas? Is it enough to suggest that the best ideas are the ones that translate into the most money for their originators?
The unfortunate answer is that historic and contemporary power cultures have built institutions that systematically squelch the emergence and implementation of those ideas that threaten to equilibrate the imbalance between social classes or the degree of polarity between those who have human rights and those who do not. And equally unfortunate is the fact that the competition for which ideas are going to govern the behaviors of peoples is played out on the fields of battle and warfare, not as many would like to believe, at the United Nations or other international forums for debate and deliberation. In this arena, the teams are standing armies and the coaches are heads of state. If competition were encouraged in this area, then the dominant power players in the world would have everyone at war, which in of itself is not far from the truth; or said another way, if you have the intellectual force to come up with such ideas and have the desire to see them implemented, then you must also have the courage to go to war.
None of this is easy to say. No one can argue that those humans in history who were in possession of the best ideas were Allah’s Prophets (Å). All of them, bar none, encountered stiff resistance to the execution of Allah’s (Â) program for humanity. Many of them were killed by vested interests that preferred to exercise power in a way that anchored into social consciousness class divisions and distinctions, “Indeed, as for those who deny the truth of Allah’s [power] manifestations, and kill the prophets against all right, and kill people who demand justice, announce to them a harrowing castigation. It is they whose works shall come to naught both in this world and in the life to come; and they shall have none to give aid to them” (3:21–22). Not much has changed today, and the prophet killers of old are still around today, albeit in different garb, either killing people of justice (read, elected representatives of the people) outright, or preventing them through various obstacles and impediments from reaching the people with their ideas, or humiliating them with nonsensical harangues that cast them in light of historical pariahs such as anti-semites, leftists, communists, theocrats, and terrorists.
The point left unsaid here is that there is one overwhelming and over-reaching institution in society that — through the coordinated activity of a large number of people, channeling all their aggregate energies into a directed pursuit — can contain, curtail, and bury the expression of good ideas: unprincipled government. In the past, it was corrupt governments that killed Allah’s Prophets (SWT). Today, governments that regard themselves to rival Allah’s (SWT) power on earth kill good ideas by killing their proponents. An Islamic executive order is supposed to personify the prophetic mission on earth. Muslims were taught to set up a government structure — in which the exercise of power is tempered by the taqwa of Allah (SWT) — that can combat and defeat the militaries of taghuti governments, as well as supplant their socialization of humanity to accept other human beings as lords, kings, and rulers.
In replacing a monarchy with a representative government based on Islamic social principles, the Islamic Republic has tried to do just that for the past 31 years. It has put government force behind the exposition and implementation of new ideas in the area of social justice. To this end, it has had to stand up, stand behind, and fight for the liberty to be able to compete in this arena. However, such strength building, self-awareness, and affirmation of Allah (SWT) as the deliverer of social justice is infectious and cannot be contained within the borders of a simple nation-state. And as such those whose power positions happen to be threatened by the liberation of the minds and potentials of vast numbers of people and who count on the perpetuation of the status quo have declared a perpetual war on the Islamic Republic: on the battlefield, over the airwaves, and in the restriction of markets and trade.
This backdrop is necessary to better understand the situation in Yemen. It is just one of the fronts in the war of ideas between the just exercise of power represented by the Islamic Republic and the unlicensed concentration of power and wealth represented by the confluence of special interests in Saudi Arabia, Zionist Israel, and imperialist America. Overshadowed by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are the many other wars the US is involved in. These others are often euphemistically characterized as the war on drugs, peacekeeping missions, low intensity warfare, and nation building. In 36 of the 45 active military conflicts around the world, the US is directly involved; and it is known to sell weapons, surveillance, and intelligence information to both sides in regional warfare.
In South America, for instance, the war on drugs is just a platform to funnel money from drug sales — cocaine and heroin are now cheaper than at any time in history, not because their value has gone down, but because the market for their use, and addiction, is much greater, and because the penetration into the popular culture of a hedonistic West is greater than it has ever been — into financing regional instability in order to gain control of oil resources away from the people and their elected representatives, as in Venezuela. The same is true in Afghanistan for pipeline ownership rights and associated tariffs. And increasingly, the same geopolitical considerations are now applying to Yemen. The US has been involved in running a proxy war against the legitimate rights of the Yemeni people for well over a year now, trying to secure an area that figures into the larger geopolitical designs Washington and Tel Aviv have in mind.
Yemen is a country of about 23 million people located in the southwest corner of the Arabian Peninsula, bordered on its west by the Red Sea and to the north by Saudi Arabia. Along with Somalia, Yemen is situated along Bab al-Mandab, the narrow waterway which is the gateway to the Red Sea, the Mediterranean, Europe and points beyond. For this reason, this waterway is an important geopolitical “chokepoint” in the movement and distribution of fossil fuels (see the figure, below). Yemen is the only poor country in the Gulf and the poorest of all the Arabian countries, with the majority of its people earning less than $5 a day. After refusing to join the “coalition of the willing” in Desert Storm (the Second Gulf War to expel Saddam Hussain from Kuwait), 850,000 Yemeni migrant workers were expelled from the oil-producing regions of Saudi Arabia.
Yemen’s population is split almost evenly between Sunnis, mostly Shafi‘is, and Shi‘is, mostly Zaidis. And because of this fairly even split, many of its indigenous tribes consist of both Sunnis and Shi‘is. Also because there is quite a bit of cross marriage between Sunnis and Shi‘is, many families have both Sunni and Shi‘i members.
Ali Abdullah Saleh, the US-backed strongman in Yemen, was originally, since 1978, the ruler of North Yemen during the Cold War era, but after unification of the North and the South in 1994, became the ruler of all of Yemen. Two years ago, information surfaced that Saleh permitted the CIA to establish some of its “black sites” inside the country, where “terror” suspects would be renditioned and then brutally tortured.
Fossil fuel explorations reveal (see figure to the right) that Yemen’s natural gas deposits actually exceed its underground oil capacity, which is considerable. Estimates suggest that Yemen’s oil deposits could satisfy the world’s oil requirements for the next 50 years. In order to develop the country’s oil potential, Saleh accepted loans from the World Bank and IMF, both of whom have instituted Western-style banking “reforms” through the agency of the Islamic Development Bank, the forerunner of “Islamic” banking. The end result of these reforms is that a country that was only two years ago $800 million in debt now owes $5.9 billion to various global power brokers such as the Paris Club, OPEC, the European Union as well as the World Bank, the IMF, the IFC, and the Islamic Development Bank.
Typical of these Western banking reforms is the privatization of windfall oil profits (which will ultimately accrue to Saleh, his cronies, and US contractors and oil corporations), and the socialization of the debt upon an already cash-strapped populace. Without country-wide improvement in the standard of living, access to vital services such as electricity, water, communications, and education; and with the creation of a luxury class, which has access to all of these and more, the country has had to deal with indigenous resistance movements, especially over the past five years, against these types of “reforms,” and increasing levels of class polarization.
The most prominent of these principled movements against government graft and the wholesale transfer of the country’s resources to outside markets, are the Houtis (mostly Zaidis) in the north, and al-Fadhli’s followers (mostly Sunnis) in the south. To this end, in order to protect their economic and geopolitical interests, the US (oil corporations, the World Bank, the IMF, the Paris Club, et. al.) and Saudi Arabia (Islamic Development Bank) are trying to crush the resistance movements by force, and by trying to incite a sectarian war as they did in Iraq, and tried to do in Lebanon and Palestine. The public presentation of these facts is buried under the rubric of fighting terrorism instigated (according to Western officials and executives) by Iran (the Houtis) and al-Qaeda (the movement in the south, the attempted Christmas-Day bombing of a US airplane by Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdul-Muttalib).
By its very existence, the Islamic Republic is providing ideological and inspirational support for indigenous and regional Islamic movements all around the world; in addition, its strength in dealing with the United States has provided a broad platform to unify all anti-imperial forces globally, Muslim and non-Muslim alike. This it is doing not through the sale of arms and munitions, but through the force of its ideas and by inspiring the self-confidence that comes through the awakening of the human spirit as it begins to address the larger problems of social imbalance and generational insecurity.
Given that they thrive on worldwide imbalance and insecurity, this is the WMD that Zionist Israel and imperialist America cannot tolerate. Were it not the nuclear issue, they would have invented something else to rationalize a war to abort Islamic Iran’s drive to universal social justice. Both the US and Israel have been beating the drums of war ever since the emergence of the Islamic Republic 31 years ago. Islamic Iran has always been the main target; the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the potential war in Pakistan are all designed to unsettle Iran, encircle it, and move it away from its directional course. The mounting pressure and the impending fear of destruction has brought out of the woodwork those inside the country who were pretending to be on board with the universal Islamic mission to social equilibrium, but were harboring internal nationalist tendencies.
Lately, as both the US and Israel have become very public in talking about an outright war against Iran, it could mean that an invasion or surgical air strikes are imminent. The psychological preparation for launching this war started decades ago, and the on-going geopolitical preparations are also proceeding apace even as this article is written. In the event of an attack on Iran, one of the main questions on the attackers’ minds is what to do when the Strait of Hormuz in the Gulf, through which 60% of the world’s oil passes, is blocked strategically and rendered impassable by Iran. This would drive the entire Western economy into ruin, and this is why securing Yemen and Somalia is a geopolitical necessity for America and its Zionist outpost in the Holy Land.
If the Strait of Hormuz is blockaded, then oil traffic normally coming out of the Gulf is expected to be redirected to sea ports on the Red Sea. An east-west pipeline already connects the oil-rich eastern part of Saudi Arabia to the Red Sea port of Yanbu‘; more pipelines are surely in the works to divert oil distribution channels to the same area. Thus, for the imperial/Zionist alliance, it is vital to keep the shipping lanes open to the north and south of the Red Sea, that is, the Suez Canal and Bab al-Mandab between Yemen and Somalia. The BTC pipeline from the Caspian Sea goes through Azerbaijan and Georgia, and ends at the Turkish port of Ceyhan; similarly, one new Iraqi pipeline will go through Jordan and end in Israel and another is planned from Iraqi Kurdistan to points west, perhaps through Turkey as well.
With Iran destroyed and the Gulf blocked, Israel is expected to join Saudi Arabia as one of the major distribution hubs of fossil fuels in the Middle East. It already has military cooperation agreements with Georgia and Azerbaijan. According to Michel Chossudovsky, “While the official reports state that the BTC pipeline will ‘channel oil to Western markets,’ what is rarely acknowledged is that part of the oil from the Caspian Sea would be directly channeled toward Israel. In this regard, an underwater Israeli-Turkish pipeline project has been envisaged which would link Ceyhan to the Israeli port of Ashkelon and from there through Israel’s main pipeline system, the Trans-Israel Eilat-Ashkelon pipeline also known as Israel’s Tipline, to the Red Sea . The objective of Israel is not only to acquire Caspian Sea oil for its own consumption but also to play a key role in re-exporting Caspian Sea oil back to the Asian markets through the Red Sea port of Eilat. The strategic implications of this re-routing of Caspian Sea oil are far-reaching.” Israel already has state-of-the-art refining capacity in Haifa, and is expected to expand those capabilities with Iran out of the way. Such developments would put Israel at the gateway of the West as well as the East, enabling it to make insane profits off the distribution of oil both to eastern as well as European markets (see the figure, left). This vision of the world makes the Red Sea the new Persian Gulf.
In order for this vision to work, transit through the Red Sea must be safe and secure. To the north are Israel and Egypt — no problems there, at least for the near future. In the south, however, are Somalia and Yemen. As if on cue, al-Qaeda Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), now based in Yemen and with two Guantanamo detainees in executive positions, popped up and the Somali pirates are back to their old tricks once again. How are these “pirates” able to get the weapons to overtake and hijack supertankers? And how can they “hide” these tankers in that part of the world to avoid detection and to hold the crews hostage? How is it possible for satellite imagery to miss these tankers while we are told that it can read a license plate from a car on a US highway? All of this goes to show that pirates on the high seas and terrorists at vital choke points necessitate an enduring superpower security presence.
These tactics have now become predictable, though they are camouflaged by a “refined politician” in the White House. First, the administration makes a case for terrorism — usually it pulls out its old friend, al-Qaeda, to do the dirty work. Then, after accusing any US military-presence opponents of being terrorist insurgents, it strongarms Congress into approving military assistance to proxy governments already in place to fight the emerging terrorism. Next, the same proxy governments are used to incite existing cultural or sectarian tensions, so that in the resulting civil war, the native populations in and around strategic areas, oil fields, or pipelines are wiped out, either by ethnic cleansing, genocide, or “transfer.” Routinely, the administration expects to arm and play both sides against each other in the civil war. This is the case now in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, has been the case in Darfur, Chad, and Somalia, and will be the case in Yemen.
Under the cover of “economic development,” “banking reform,” or “democratization” for the host country, Western fossil fuel interests are always secured and expanded. And when all is said and done, US corporations will end up owning all the controlling shares in the developed fossil fuel territories.
Since 2002, Djibouti has hosted a contingent of US soldiers who have now built a permanent military base to coordinate intelligence and military activities on the Horn and East Africa. Numerous US operations, organized, planned and staged in Djibouti, are responsible for the ongoing instability in regional Muslim societies, not least of which are Yemen and Somalia. The Djibouti base is turning into the most strategic cell in the US-led war against Islam and Muslims. The exploding American military presence in Africa is made all the easier by a black man in the White House and the presence in most African countries of ruthless, oppressive dictatorships whose loyalties are open to the highest bidder. As he unrelentingly continues the Bush-Clinton program of US military expansion in Africa, President Obama can expect smooth sailing at home, especially in the form of nonexistent charges of racism from African Americans who are still in ga-ga land over the first black president as the culmination of the civil rights struggle.
What stands in the way of this capricious hoarding of the world’s resources and the partisan manner in which they are routinely distributed? Islamic self-determination. And the nexus of all Islamic liberation activities is Islamic Iran; its motivational influence and its strong anti-imperial and anti-Zionist posture has provided the sound framework to unleash a principled Islamic momentum that cannot be contained. Islamic movements are emerging spontaneously to challenge US and Israeli military expansion in all corners of the Islamic East and Africa. For this reason, the Zionists and their mushrik-imperial allies are working overtime to get at the heart of this Islamic resurgence. This is why they are having to change their plans. Whatever regional crises are being fomented by the combination of Zionist and imperialist intrigue, the target is Islamic Iran; al-Qaeda and terrorism is simply the pretext.
There are only two leaderships in the world today to pay attention to: the corporate Zionist-imperialist alliance headquartered in Washington and the Islamic rulers in Iran. This is where Islam belongs: at the center of things, in the area where new ideas matter. When Islamic representatives talk, the world ought to be at attention.
It is no coincidence that in the storehouse of the world’s most precious and vital resources, the Muslims are in a majority. Allah’s (SWT) plan has located the right people — those with the greatest potential, by virtue of His social law and social system, to justly, equitably, and dispassionately regulate the world’s energy supply — in the right spot. And this potential is just now beginning to come alive. “And thus have We willed you to be the Central Ummah, so that [with your life experiences] you become attestants to other peoples, and the Apostle becomes a witness over you” (2:143). And thus when Muhammad (s) and the Qur’an are at the center of Islamic plans and strategies, and are at the genesis of their directional course, then the Ummah is the central stabilizing core of the rest of humanity. Conversely, when the Ummah is leaderless and drifting, then we can expect a drifting and insecure humanity.