The well-known former Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Dayan was right when he famously said, “rest assured, the Arabs are a nation that doesn’t read, and if they read they don’t understand, and if they understand they don’t act”. How short is the Arab and Islamic memory, as short as a goldfish? We quickly forget and fall into the same traps that we barely escaped. Why do we continue to repeat the hadith (prophetic tradition)”A believer is not bitten from the same pit twice”, but allow the same snake to bite us from the same pit over and over again?
Why have the Islamists not learnt from their bitter experience in Afghanistan? Did America not trick them by volunteering to participate in the historic battle against the Soviet Union and back them, only to then wipe them out and persecute them once their task was done and they were no longer needed? Did America not promise them the virtuous Islamic state that they thought they were seeking in Afghanistan, without knowing that they were just tools who would have no share of the land?
It was only a short time ago that many applauded Al-Qaeda, and considered its leader a liberator of the Muslims from internal and external tyranny, but what was the result of this? It turned out that despite their ambitions, goals, and slogans, this organisation, as well as others, were merely Trojan Horses, exploited by many. However, once they had fulfilled their roles, they were persecuted all over the world and members of this organisation were detained in the ugliest concentration camps in the world, such as Guantanamo Bay. Why are they repeating the same mistake now while they know that their comrades are still suffering in Guantanamo Bay, enjoying the hospitality of the American executioners?
Some may say that the Islamic State’s (IS) situation is different to Al-Qaeda’s situation in the old days, and that there is no room for comparison between the two. IS is a descendent organisation of Al-Zarqawi’s organisation that originated in Iraq and caused the Americans and their supporters much despair. It prompted the Americans to create the so-called “Sahwat” (literally meaning revivalists) to confront Al-Zarqawi’s organisation.
What did the region, specifically Iraq, gain from this organisation? Has American and Iranian influence in Iraq declined? Of course not, Iran, which the organisation still claims to rival, has control over all of factions in Iraq and its influence has spread to Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and the Gulf, while America still has a tight grip on Iraq and its surroundings.
The most important question is, did the Islamic State actually enter Iraq from Syria and occupy Mosul and other Iraqi provinces against America’s will or with its help and them turning a blind eye? Did the American satellites not detect the Russian vehicles entering Ukraine at lightning speed? Could it be possible that these satellites did not detect the throngs of IS vehicles entering Mosul and the rest of the Iraqi provinces? Could it be that the satellites did not pick up on the groups of IS members moving inside Syria and taking over cities and airports in open ground? It is true that American planes bombed some of IS’ areas in Iraq, but not all areas, only those where IS had passed the US’ red line, especially as they moved towards Iraqi Kurdistan where American and Israeli interests lie.
Will the world, especially the West, allow the establishment of a state between Iraq and Syria in the manner dreamed of by IS? Are they not afraid that the emergence of IS and its expansion would be a new link in the series of hellish Western projects drawn up for our region? Is it not just an excuse by international forces in the region to justify redrawing maps and re-dividing the region?
Are all the “terrorist” groups not being exploited by the major world powers to carry out their projects in more than one place? When America wanted to take hold of the Caspian Sea, rich in oil, it had to occupy Afghanistan. Its excuse was the pursuit of Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. The Americans stayed there for over 10 years and are still there. During the Iraq invasion, America used the excuse of Al-Qaeda being present there as well as weapons of mass destruction. Have all the extremist groups not become an excuse for anyone who wants to seek their interests?
Have they not used these movements well to achieve their strategic ends? Under the pretext of terrorist groups, our entire region has been violated by those near and far in order to carry out whatever they want under the pretext of combatting terrorism. Today, international organisations can commit any crime and pursue any plan in the region on the grounds of combatting the Islamic State, and hence, they are supported out of fear of IS with no opposition for fear that they could be associated with IS and terrorism. Even if IS remains and spreads, just as its supporters claim it will, will this be free of charge or will it be at the expense of the region’s geography?
What international, Arab, and regional deals are being made behind the curtains under the pretext of combatting IS’s terrorism? Is no one concerned that the more IS is amplified in the media, the closer the region is to being dealt a heavy blow? The danger of Al-Qaeda was amplified before it ended when its leader was thrown in the sea to the fish.
Has the appearance of IS and its counterparts in the region not led to the Arab revolutions and the people’s dreams of freedom from tyrants and their sponsors becoming buried? Will it not lead to the exhaustion and depletion of the region and its peoples? Do these groups know that they are merely being used as an excuse? Is history not repeating itself while we sit by and applaud like fools?
Translated from Al Quds Al Arabi, 5 September, 2014
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.