Karla Anguita Falcón of the Irish Republican Socialist Party International department writes an opinion piece for party publication.
Shia & Sunni Islam. Imperialism and the sectarian power struggle behind chaos in the Middle East & What is means to the ‘Terror’ threat in Europe.
In 2017, the Middle East continues to be as volatile as ever. Beset by regional rivalries, multi-ethnic sectarian conflict and a power struggle to dominate the entire region involving the global superpowers. It’s relationship with the ‘West’ remains a problematic one, with western countries deeply embedded in the regional rivalries. Taking sides and arming regimes while at the same time talking of peace, stability and the defence of human rights. The official positions taken by western institutions such as NATO, the EU and the USA are doing catastrophic harm to the whole region, firing up the danger levels which has the potential to engulf Europe and perhaps a worldwide conflict.
The people of the Middle East, have no doubt, are deeply aware and conscious of the West’s hypocrisy , it’s direct actions and responsibility for the ongoing , everyday, killing and dying. For sure, this frames their view of the West and in turn other global powers on the world stage. Meanwhile, western societies, particularly here in Europe, tie themselves up in knots worrying about the threat of Islamic terrorism at home (especially in our large urban centres) instead of focusing on the role our own governments play in creating the conditions for such terror to foment. However, on most media platforms that bring us our ‘news’, commentary invariably misses the point on the ongoing threat of ‘Islamic’ terrorism in Europe. They consistently fail to first ask, and then subsequently deal with a number of key questions:
Why has Islamic terrorism in the last decade grown into such an immediate threat in Europe?
Why does its style generally involve randomly attacking very soft civilian targets?
What exact ideological position is driving this – obviously some offshoot of radical Islam – but which one and why? And of course why now?
These questions are not a part of mainstream discussion about the threat of terrorism anywhere today. Key to all the above questions is understanding the difference between Shia and Sunni Islamic militants. Which are the ones attacking and intent on destroying the West and its ‘Christian/Secular’ traditions? And again of course, why?
Instead of analysis of these hugely important questions, what we generally receive from our western media outlets are apparent security ‘experts’ delivering broad warnings and generalized fear mongering over the threat from ‘Islamic’ terrorists. We may wonder if mainstream news outlets believe reasoned discussion and analysis is beyond most people, or could it be that they are missing the point on purpose here?
Yes, the majority of terrorists threatening Europe today are ‘Islamic’, but when is it ever asked which Islamic tradition they belong to? It is well known, but mostly shielded from the public, that the current Islamic terror threat to Europe (and indeed the Middle East) comes from an extreme form of Islam originating in Saudi Arabia, called Wahhabism. How often do we hear that word after a mention on the mainstream news of ISIS, Al-Qaeda or Jabhat Al-Nusra? Is it ever explained that these terror group share and trace an ideological lineage back to the ancient deserts of Saudi Arabia, the home of Wahhabism. Their goal is the destruction of everything that doesn’t resemble the 7th Century world of the Prophet Muhammad, and the creation of some type of divine heavenly kingdom right here on Earth, courtesy of their own version of Islamic Sharia Law.
Compare this with the ideology of the key Shia Islamic militant groups. Take Hezbollah for example, or Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, both fighting beside the Syrian Arab Army against ISIS and other Wahhabi groups in the Syrian civil war. Iran’s Revolutionary Guards primary ideological position is to defend its own country’s revolution and its achievements against foreign interference. Lebanon’s Shia militant group, Hezbollah, is similarly Anti-Imperialist in nature, and is sworn to defend the multi-ethnic make-up of Lebanon and all its people.
Hold on a minute, we may ask. Is that an Islamic militant group sworn to defend Christians, and other religions besides its own form of Islam? Followers of mainstream news outlets may think that something is not quite right. They’d be correct, mainstream media constantly deceive us and are hiding very important truths.
Hezbollah, Iran, and Syria generally share an anti-Imperialist outlook. While not uniformly the same, they generally demand that the western powers withdraw all their military and coercive forces from the region, allowing them to develop their own societies and economies on their own basis. It is a position not without its own internal problems and contradictions, but it’s a far cry from 7th Century Wahhabism and the Sunni extremists call for the creation of God’s kingdom on all of Earth under Sharia Law.
Anybody new to the politics and history of the Middle East, may find all this a little confusing and hard to digest, but the mind must surely boggle when one considers that the West and its institutions has chosen the Wahhabi extremists as their chief ally in the region.
Furthermore, Europe’s own Muslim population are being bombarded with the loving advances of Saudi Arabia, a despotic regime who are paying for Wahhabi inspired Saudi mosques to be built all across Europe. Most new mosques being built here in Europe are done so with Saudi money, and after construction they come complete with a Saudi-Wahhabi Islamic preacher. Given this, it should come as no surprise to anyone that nearly all the recent terror attacks in Europe have been committed by young Europeans. Young European Muslims radicalized at home in Europe by Saudi-Wahhabi preachers who prey on young men, who more often than not come from disadvantaged and troublesome social backgrounds.
Iran and Saudi Arabia, the two regional giants, are currently locked in a very dangerous power game. Both vying for regional domination and supremacy, separated along sectarian and ideological lines. The Iran-Syria-Hezbollah axis is currently being backed by a resurgent Russia displaying a bold new military and technological confidence and the situation has the potential to degenerate at any time into a global scale confrontation far beyond the scope of the Middle East.
The ‘West’, The EU and European governments, must break with its military-economic inter-relationship with Saudi Arabia and its traditional petro-politics. Citizens should take with a grain of salt when our leaders emerge on mainstream media talking about working with their ‘partners in the region’. This invariably means selling sophisticated weapons to a despotic Saudi regime and its allies. Western arms sales and Imperialist power games mean the current hostilities in the region again pose an existential to humanity’s survival. Humanity demands that we are on the side of progress, and that we choose to support the best path, and the best chance for peace, for all the people of the Middle East.
Karla Anguita Falcón