Thursday,16 August, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1149, 23 - 29 May 2013
Thursday,16 August, 2018
Issue 1149, 23 - 29 May 2013

Ahram Weekly

If Daniel Pipes were Middle Eastern

When neo-imperialist “experts” want the Middle East to be perpetually at war, it is beholden upon Muslims to respond by coming together in union, writes Aylin Kocaman

Al-Ahram Weekly

Some neo-imperialists in America have long had the Islamic world in their sights. They know that the real problem lies with extremist Muslims, yet their strategies aimed against the Islamic world as a whole are extraordinarily destructive. They regard the source of the problem as radicals who appear in the name of Islam — and to a large extent they are correct. Unfortunately, they make the mistake of thinking that genuine Muslims are a minority and that they will always therefore be defeated by the radicals; because of that error they direct a general rage towards the Islamic world. They always imagine that the elimination of the ultimate “foe”, or the severing of relations between the Islamic world and Western countries, such as America, will make the world a better place.

Let us become better acquainted with this mindset. Recently, Daniel Pipes, one of the spokesmen of the clique in question known for his analyses of the Middle East, provided a terrifying description. According to Pipes, the Middle East needs to be kept in as much disorder as possible and brought down from within, not through external intervention. To that end, the US and the West should always keep the fires of war burning by supporting the weak. Pipes maintained that so long as “devilish forces” in the Middle East were at war, the less of a threat they would be to the West. In the article in question, published in The Washington Times, Pipes stated that this idea had been applied to Stalin in World War II and to Saddam in the Iran-Iraq War. This latter example, which lasted for eight years, in which there was no winner and in which millions of innocent Muslims were killed, was a triumph for this strategy in Pipes’s eyes.

In Pipes’s view, the same strategy should be used in Syria and the ever-weakening Bashar Al-Assad regime supported on the grounds that the more Al-Assad is supported by the US, the longer the Syrian war will go on.

These were Pipes’s plans for Syria. Let us imagine had Pipes been a Middle Easterner born in the town of Al-Bayda in Syria; if the troops of the communist Baathist regime came spreading terror one day; if his aged parents were dragged from their home and disemboweled; if his sister were raped and savagely murdered before his eyes; if his home, livestock and all his worldly goods were burned, and if the same thing were done to every other home in the village: then what kind of Daniel Pipes would Daniel Pipes be, I wonder? Let us further imagine he survived among the people of the village. If he were forced to leave his home with a few salvaged possessions and to leave his country and relatives — if he were forced to live in a tent in a refugee camp in a country he did not know, whose language he did not speak; then what kind of Daniel Pipes would he be? Then if while that was happening, various Western “Middle East experts” from the “global powers” stood up and said, “Do all you can so that war in the Middle East goes on as long as possible, as we will assuredly be better off.” I wonder what kind of Daniel Pipes the Daniel Pipes who heard that statement would be?

I know that the Middle Eastern Pipes could not hold those views written in The Washington Times. It is not hard for me to imagine the Middle Eastern Pipes, but it would probably be hard for him.

It is no secret that for some people the Middle East is merely a stage for grand strategies and cynical plans. The people of the region are as worthless as pawns on a chessboard and they are using that community as experimental subjects for that great war they dream of in the Middle East. The region, the Middle East, must be kept in disorder, fragmented and weakened until a great war breaks out and all Muslims can be annihilated. The infrastructure for this war in which Muslims will be massacred must prepare itself, in their view, by the killing of innocent people, women, children and the elderly.

I’m not saying that this is also Pipes’s plan. I just know that such ideas like those written by Pipes will serve them implicitly.

The Islamic world may be going through tragedies but there is an important detail that Pipes fails to see: difficulties always lead people to take profound decisions. That was the reason for the Arab Spring awakening. The Arab people rose up against the oppression of totalitarian regimes. A new consciousness is forming for a struggle against the remaining communist regime, the Al-Assad dictatorship.

And what is happening in the Middle East right now?

As the disorder in Syria goes on, those lonely countries in the Middle East have suddenly begun speaking of unity. Egypt and Israel have drawn closer to Turkey. America, which used to act unilaterally, has begun seeking a solution together with Middle East countries. This was the basic subject during Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s recent American trip. As Jordan and Israel have grown closer, Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal reversed a longstanding policy and said, “If the conditions are right, we are ready to talk with Israel.” In Palestine, Fatah leader Mahmud Abbas revealed he might go to Gaza together with Erdogan for negotiations. Although they support different sides in the Syrian civil war, it was enough for Turkey to make trade agreements with Russia, Iraq and Iran to send messages of “friendship”. In the Western world, it is Muslims, not the “experts”, who regard Islam as an enemy whose opinions are now most actively being sought.

Things are not working out as Pipes prognosticated: the Middle Eastern countries he thought would fall apart have begun coming together. America, which is unable to send troops to Syria because of economic considerations as well as its military being overstretched, is seeking a solution in partnership with the Middle East countries. For the first time in a long while, efforts are being made to convince others to find peaceful solutions rather to reach a solution through war and conflict.

These developments are fine, but Pipes’s words are also an important reminder for Muslims. The plans for the Middle East conceived by many more or less neo-imperialistic politicians are no longer secret, nor peaceable. The Islamic world needs to be united more than ever before in the face of these terrifying ideas. It needs a democratic and loving union that embraces all ideas, nations and faiths. The world is waiting for such a move from Muslims. And it is clear that if the Islamic world becomes a world of love and unity, then the whole world will change.


The writer is a commentator and religious and political analyst on Turkish TV and a peace activist.

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