Widening internecine wars in the Middle East and the prospect of opulent so-called Muslim countries being reduced to the congener status of “failed states” — Iraq, Syria and Yemen, among others — have made entirely deafening the silence of the rest of the Muslim world, including U.S. Muslims, in condemning the provocative measures that ignited and now fuel such a scenario.
When Muslims are on the receiving end of depredations (the extermination of the Rohingya Muslims by Buddhist extremists in Myanmar, Central African Muslims by mostly Christian Antibalaka militia men, the near annihilation of Bosnian and Chechen Muslims by Serbian and Russian Orthodox armies, simmering tensions between Muslims and Jews in the Holy Land and between Muslims and Hindus in Kashmir), there is a predictable knee-jerk reaction of outrage by Muslim activists, mostly genuine (popular), and some sanctimonious (“official.”) The selective portrayal of Muslim victimization by some Muslims themselves in the name of Islam is exploited to deride their credibility and their own claims of Islamophobia.
Current events are a nightmare. Hundreds of thousands of civilians have fled the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, the country’s second-largest city, as government security forces fought to reclaim it from ISIS. In the northern Syrian town of Raqqa, U.S.-led airstrikes against the ISIS stronghold have killed a staggering number of civilians and displaced 160,000 more. What might follow in the apparent death throes of ISIS and in the reincarnation of Iran as the focal point of “terrorism” has the potential for even more catastrophic consequences. It may be no coincidence that they come on the heels of President Donald Trump’s gala summit with 55 Muslim-majority countries. Trump quite correctly identified the threat of ISIS to civilizational equanimity and called for a unified front to counter this scourge against humanity. No one disagreed that a multinational, preferably Muslim-led, coalition against a universally accepted cesspool of terror would be the right thing to do. Its elimination would free all Muslims from a collective guilt and allow Islam to regain its role as a leading world religion.
Having received the plaudits of his evidently compliant Muslim hosts, Trump immediately shifted his attention to Iran as the greatest threat to regional peace. Such chutzpah played well with an obsequious audience that had not dared to challenge Trump’s worldview that “Islam hates us.” Certainly not by those who viewed Iran as an implacable foe whose hegemony had to be quashed. Within a few days of the “summit,” Qatar, which ironically has a large U.S. base, was linked as a sympathizer of Iran, supporter of Hamas and accommodator of the Muslim Brotherhood. This immediately galvanized its isolation from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and even the ever-opportunistic government of Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi in Egypt.
The economic isolation of Qatar has set the stage for the potential Saudi invasion of its Muslim neighbor, as has transpired in Yemen. (Parenthetically, while Yemen is being bombed and starved to death, to ingratiate themselves with President Trump, Saudi Arabia and the UAE gifted a largess of $100 million to a World Bank fund for women entrepreneurs led by Ivanka Trump.) It is not difficult to visualize how a single miscalculation could extend the conflagration throughout the region with Muslim nations committed to their own total annihilation. The major beneficiary of such cataclysm would be the U.S.: from the sale of weapons of mass destruction to its vassal Gulf States and then from “reconstruction” with the pickings of leftovers.
Historians will claim that Shia-Sunni antagonism has been as old as Islam itself. That may be true, but it has been low intensity, sporadic and never as foreboding as any impending conflict. The Muslim Brotherhood has been painted as a terrorist organization primarily by countries with totalitarian, anti-democratic regimes that have little concern for social, economic and educational justice and the rule of law. They have a greater vested interest in isolating the Brotherhood than in eradicating ISIS, against which the Brotherhood is the most powerful ideological antidote. Despite its shortcomings, if the Brotherhood is designated a terror group, Muslims in those countries will lose a legitimate key to peacefully reach the ballot box.
If Middle Eastern countries are steered on a deliberate collision course by external forces that are engineered by their own monumental infantilism, there will be multiple failed states with millions of displaced, dispossessed, illiterate, unemployed people. Some, who have lost everything and have nothing more to lose, could scatter from their wastelands, victims of collateral damage. The silence of the so-called Muslim world bodes ill not only for Muslims but also Islam. For this U.S. adventurism, Europe will face a calamitous future. In the accelerated decline of the Muslim world, there may be an element of schadenfreude for some in the binary Western civilization, a deliberately nebulous concoction. But the earth-shattering silence will return to haunt all humanity whose demise it presages.
“In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” — Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
*Image: A destroyed mosque in Palestine. >Flickr/ISM Palestine.