In the Name of God, the Kind, the Beautiful
As the fallout of the massive WikiLeaks release of State Department cables continues to play itself out, there has been much commentary about the hypocrisy and shame of Arab and Muslim governments. These commentaries totally echoed my own personal sentiments, and they were much more eloquent that whatever I could have written. Thus, I will reproduce them here, starting with Muqtedar Khan, Associate Professor of Islam and Global Affairs at the University of Delaware:
The revelations so far about the Muslim world are eye opening. Muslims, even some American Muslims have raised criticism of American foreign policy to the level of religious ritual. Often Muslim radicalism and alienation is explained as a direct consequence of US foreign policy alone. The point being, US foreign policy is anti-Islam and subversive of Muslim nations. Therefore Muslim anger and radicalism against the U.S. while often expressed in unjustifiable ways is still understandable.
But now that the Shenanigans of Muslim nations, most importantly their collusion with America’s so called anti-Islam foreign policy, is exposed, what will Muslims do? Will they also hate Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Egypt, Qatar and other nations just as much as they hate America? Or will they recognize that nation states, have interests and they pursue them in whatever ways they can; and understand that US foreign policy neither advances nor targets any religion.
The preliminary review of the cables by New York Times and the Guardian reveals the duplicity of many Arab nations on foreign policy, especially in the case of Iran. For example in the past few years, Arab nations have publicly countered Israeli propaganda that Iran is a bigger threat to the world, than the resolution of the Palestinian issue, with claims that the failure to bring a just solution to the Palestinians was the number one issue for Arabs and Muslims. But apparently, privately these same nations have been parroting Bibi Netanyahu’s mantra to the U.S., repeatedly asking the US to bomb Iran and even invade it with ground troops.
The Saudis refer to Iran, a fellow Muslim and “Islamic nation” as “evil” and have requested the U.S. to “cut of the head of the snake”. The same cables also reveal that even now the main financiers of Al Qaeda are Saudi donors. American Presidents, George W. Bush and Barak H. Obama have identified Al Qaeda as the biggest threat to the U.S. and yet they collude with the nation whose citizens are its biggest financiers. Why don’t the Saudis cut off the head of the real snake, Al Qaeda, by arresting and imprisoning its financiers? Most Americans know that fifteen of the nineteen terrorists that attacked the US on September 11, 2001, were Saudis. None were Iranians. A significant number of foreign fighters who joined al Qaeda in Iraq were Saudis. This is a classic case of “the pot calling the kettle black!”
Professor Khan finishes his fantastic piece by saying:
Anyway now thanks to WikiLeaks, at least Muslims who hate America for its foreign policy must realize that their own countries are collaborators. Perhaps their hatred will now be more evenly spread rather than just focusing on the U.S. If they don’t, then they will be like their own governments – hypocritical.
I could not agree more.
Rami G. Khouri, Editor-at-large of The Daily Star and Director of the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs at the American University of Beirut, has an even more scathing assessment:
A collective Arab policy of covert appeals for American and Israeli foreigners to carry out aggression against a (Muslim) neighbor without evidence of that neighbor’s culpability — affirming that one’s own immense, nearly immeasurable, Arab national wealth spent for security in the end is not able to provide that security — is a sad testament to the poor quality leadership in the national security realm, to say the least.
Public opinion in the Gulf, Egypt, Jordan and other Arab countries is varied, not monolithic. Many Arabs support Tehran’s policies, and many others oppose them. Some Arabs covet American support, others distrust it. Some Arabs want to make peace with Israel, others want to fight it.
This variety, however, is totally detached from the policies and the public or private statements of Arab leaders — which weakens the leaders, keeps Arab countries vulnerable, and leads to the sort of sad, shocking and even pitiful examples of behavior we now read about. Wasted billions, perpetual vulnerability, chronic non-credibility, duplicitous policy pronouncements, and, in the end, no success to show for all these, adds one more serious and priceless, if intangible, casualty to the list: national dignity.
Yet, as I read about the actions of these mainly Arab Muslim leaders, a thought comes to mind: this sort of behavior is exactly what Islam was supposed to erase: the wanton disregard for human life and putting national/tribal rivalry above the common good. Did these leaders forget this essential command of Islam?
That any country would privately urge a military attack on its neighbor, inevitably causing the loss of innocent civilian life, is reprehensible. Just because Iran is an ethnic (Persian vs Arab) and religious (Shiite vs Sunni) rival, that is no justification for the desire to see it attacked which, by all accounts, would be a total disaster for the entire region. And this by the person who’s title is "The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques."
Just as Professor Khan wrote, decrying the Saudi King’s call to "cut off the head of the snake" does not constitute my support for Iran. Far from it. But, our world, and the Middle East, has seen too much war, too much discord, too much bloodshed. Thus, when Arab leaders are privately calling for war – when that is the absolutely last thing the region needs – it is nothing short of horrific.
We will see what other juicy tidbits the coming weeks and months will bring as more of the cables are revealed. But, if what was released so far is any indication of what is to come, I should stock up on my Alka Seltzer…because I will probably be sick to my stomach.