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The Middle East Faces The Most Dangerous Triangle Of Extremists.

*** US Administrator In Iraq Bremer Has Overruled A Fatwa By Shiite Leader Ayat. Ali Sistani On The System Of Elections To A Constitutional Assembly; Washington Insists That A Regional Caucus Will Be Applied, Rather Than Direct Elections, Which The Najaf Theologian Wants, Because Of Fears That Polling Will Lead To Violence Among Shiites

*** Confrontation In Iran Over The Banning Of 80 Reformist Majlis Deputies From Feb. 20 Elections Can Get Violent

NICOSIA - APS sources in the Middle East point Bremer to a gradual consolidation of a triangle consisting of radical Islamists worldwide networked via Al Qaeda, the neo-conservative hardliners and their Christian Coalition allies in the US, and the most inflexible Zionist right-wingers of Israel. The triangle reflects a vicious cycle in which the Zionists and neo-cons are opposed to the Islamists, but they benefit from the actions of the opposing side in terms of public opinion. Although this triangle has global ambitions, now its focus is on the Greater Middle East - from Russia/ Chechnya to Pakistan to Morocco - which is the main theatre of the confrontation.

The objective of each group is different from what is publicly stated. It has more to do with global ambitions than the threats that are highlighted as a means to consolidate its power. Thus fear and insecurity are generated by pointing out - often by exaggeration as in the case of Iraq - the threats posed by the opposing side. The Islamists project the combination of the US and Israel as the source of all evil, while the neo-cons, the Christian Coalition and the Zionist right-wingers paint the Islamic World as a largely medieval danger zone poised to use weapons of mass destruction against America, Israel and their allies.

Mutual demonisation feeds the atmosphere of fear and insecurity as it fuels terror strikes by the Islamists, instigated either locally by groups like Hamas or on a larger scale by the Al Qaeda network which is still surviving in various parts of the world. In retaliation, the neo-cons and their allies are now orchestrating the deployment of American troops across the globe, but with emphasis on countries in the Greater Middle East including the Central Asian Muslim states. The presence of these troops, combined with the ongoing propaganda of the radical Islamists, has created the climate for further confrontations. This will reinforce and fulfil the threat perceptions inherent in confrontational scenarios articulated by each of the three corners of the triangle.

If the consolidation of extremism continues, the sources warn, the Middle East will enter a period of instability unparalleled since the era of colonialism. This is because even those who are considered moderate Muslim allies of the US will resist the neo-con/Christian and Zionist hardliners' agenda for the region.

The resistance will not be in the form of military confrontation. It will simply be a refusal to carry out reforms being demanded as part of a US-guided democratisation process in the Middle East.

The sources maintain that because the changes being demanded are fundamental to the societies affected, and because they are expected to happen rapidly, public opinion will not be prepared to accept them. Many ordinary people will find themselves attracted to the rhetorics of the Islamists, who base their propaganda on the logic of justice for the less powerful, and to their concept of suicide attacks.

In an article published in the International Herald Tribune of Dec. 29, 2003, Australia-based academic Amin Saikal writes: "If these extremists are not marginalized, they could succeed in creating a world order with devastating consequences for generations to come. Al Qaida and its radical Islamist supporters, believing in Islam as an assertive ideology of political and social transformation, want a re-Islamisation of the Muslim world according to their vision and their social and political preferences... On another side are groups of internationalist activists among American fundamentalist Christians and neoconservatives who... wish to reshape the Middle East and defiant political Islam according to their ideological and geopolitical preferences".

The implications of mutual demonisation, and the hardening of attitudes in the Middle East as well as in the US and Israel, could even be catastrophic - especially if weapons of mass destruction come into play. The neo-cons and their Christian Coalition allies believe, and insist in their utterances, that Al Qaeda activists have the capability to use a dirty bomb (a radioactive bomb without the nuclear punch) against American or other Western targets. Whether or not Al Qaeda has this capability is not certain. But the APS sources believe that, if they do have it, they will not hesitate to use it either as "grand statement" like 9/11 or as an act of vengeance if Osama Bin Ladin is killed.

Currently the confrontation between the Islamists and their opponents is centred in Iraq, which is seen as the main battleground despite the capture of Saddam. Daily attacks continue to take place against the US forces in the country. This war of attrition will not drive the US out of Iraq, but it will be a constant nuisance - which will feed the anti-Islamic sentiment in the US and generate anti-Americanism in the Middle East.

The neo-cons in the US and the hardline Zionists in Israel have been boosted by the successes in the American military campaigns and the parallel policy of diplomatic coercion. The ouster of the Taliban in Afghanistan, the end of the Baathist regime in Iraq, and the way in which Iran and Libya have agreed to open up their nuclear facilities for inspection, have confirmed the neo-con worldview - that America needs to get tough in the Middle East if it is to get the results it wants.

The sources note that, ironically, the Islamist radicals are helping to fuel the strength of the neo-cons and their allies in the US while giving greater credibility to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Saikal noted in his article: "Prime Minister Tony Blair recently declared that Iraq would define the future of relations between the West and the Muslim world. This is also precisely what Osama Bin Laden and his leadership associates have said from the Islamic side".

The consolidation of the triangle of extremism began in early 2001 with the election of Ariel Sharon to the Israeli Prime Ministership, soon after the Bush administration was sworn into office. The final piece fell into place on Sept. 11, 2001, when Al Qaeda came onto the world scene in way that Osama Bin Ladin had not managed to do throughout his years supporting the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan. By then radical Islam had already been demonising the US and Israel, but the neo-cons did not have an event on the scale of 9/11 to use as their cornerstone on which to base their campaign to create a new Middle East order. Once 9/11 occurred the mutual demonisation process started on an unprecedented scale, despite occasional statements coming from the Bush administration that it was not waging a war against Islam.

It is significant that not all points of the Zionist hardliners' agenda coincide with those of the neo-cons and their Christian Coalition allies, and vice versa. There is, within the hardline Christian groups in the US, a segment that has anti-Semitic strains as well - for example the large number of small, but networked neo-Nazi groups or Aryan supremacy type of organisation. Over the long-term, these will indirectly benefit from the rhetoric being used by neo-con hardliners in Washington who, ironically, include a number of Jewish intellectuals and policy makers.

If, for example, the policy of re-ordering the Middle East does not achieve its objectives and if this results in a serious downgrading of the American image as the globe's sole super-power, it is almost certain that these groups will turn against those in Washington who were responsible for the moves that led to such a situation.

Either way, the whole world will be affected by the triangle of extremism.
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Publication:APS Diplomat News Service
Geographic Code:7IRAQ
Date:Jan 19, 2004
Previous Article:The Middle East Perspective For 2004 - The Arab States.
Next Article:The Middle East Perspective For 2004 - The Non-Arab States.

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