Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and Syria: US and Islamist policies creating daily instability
Murad Makhmudov and Lee Jay Walker
Modern Tokyo Times
In the 1980s the United States, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, the United Kingdom and some other nations began to fund Sunni Islamic terrorism in Afghanistan. This meddling came hot on the heels of the Siege of Mecca in Saudi Arabia in 1979. Therefore, funding Sunni Islamism in Afghanistan came at a very opportunistic time for the rulers based in Saudi Arabia.
Pakistan became the central base in training international jihadists and spreading Islamism in Afghanistan. Irrespective of the motives in Afghanistan and the rights and wrongs, it is clear that the convulsions from intervening in this nation are still being felt in many nations today. The United States and Pakistan unleashed the CIA and ISI respectively, in order to create an Islamist fighting force which could take on the Soviet Union. British special intelligence played its part in this covert war but turning the clock to 2012 and it is clear that a stream of failed states and terrorism “filled this vacuum” created by outside meddling.
In the case of Pakistan then the ISI and central government have created their own Sunni Islamist nightmare because this nation can no longer contain the forces it unleashed. This means that the Islamist agenda now deems the government of Pakistan to be anti-Islamic and the knock-on-effect is increasing hatred towards all minorities and moderates within Sunni Islam. Therefore, all minorities irrespective if Muslim or non-Muslim are facing the wrath of Sunni Islamism and this can be seen by attacks against Ahmadiyya Muslims, Shia Muslims, Hindus, Christians and against Sufi Islam.
When brave Sunni Muslim voices in Pakistan speak out like Salman Taseer, the former Governor of Punjab, then death follows. At the same time Christians have been burnt alive and an alleged Muslim blasphemer was also burnt alive recently. The most worrying aspect is that these crimes against humanity are not happening only in areas of chaos because of the power of several Islamist organizations – but it is happening within mainstream society.
This means that all the past funding of Sunni Islamism by nations who supported the war in Afghanistan, have collectively created a nightmare which was filled by the dreams of Saudi Arabia. It is clear that while the United States and United Kingdom were focusing on the sole issue of Afghanistan. At no point did either nation appear to understand the dynamics of Sunni Islamism which were altering the religious and political landscape. Decades earlier in Afghanistan prior to outside meddling it was clear that women had much greater freedom and likewise indigenous Islam varied from region to region. However, the oppressive nature of chaos and hatred was alien and major cities like Kabul were places whereby individuals had ample choices.
Yet dangerous past political leaders in Pakistan like General Zia ul-Haq along with Saudi Arabia and its petro-dollars, would alter the dynamics within the Muslim world in this part of Asia. The repercussions continue today with various Sunni Islamist movements causing mayhem in Afghanistan and Pakistan respectively. At the same time the roles of women have suffered greatly in areas where Islamists have strong powerbases. Likewise, sectarianism, terrorism and weakened central states in Afghanistan and Pakistan, have followed the vacuum which was unleashed by powers which supported the international Sunni Islamist agenda in Afghanistan during the 1980s and early 1990s.
Therefore, in the last few days you have seen more Islamist attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan. On top of this, the US led invasion of Iraq which led to the exodus of vast numbers of Christians and other minorities, was also filled by Sunni Islamism. Iraq despite the brutal dictatorship of Saddam Hussein was staunchly secular and internal terrorism was not a threat to the government based in Baghdad. However, once the US entered the equation then the vacuum once more was filled by various Islamist organizations including al-Qaeda. Also, just like September 11 was done by mainly Saudi Arabian nationals, this nation also witnessed the majority of foreign Islamists who went to Iraq in order to kill US soldiers and other allied forces, alongside killing the Shia.
The angle from Saudi Arabia was that the control mechanisms of the new Iraq had installed a Shia led government. For Sunni Islamists who follow the Wahhabi faith in Saudi Arabia this was tantamount to treachery. Once more, just like American citizens had been killed on September 11 because of mainly Saudi nationals, this time it was American soldiers who would die in the thousands because of Saudi Islamists and the funding that came from this nation irrespective if from organizations or because of wealthy individuals. The irony now, and a sad irony for American soldiers, was that the majority of American deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq were because of the policies of their so-called friends in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia respectively. Once more, however, the United States and elites within Washington appeared to allow this confused policy to stand by ignoring the ratlines that were killing their own soldiers.
Today Iraq falls into the “failed state domino system” that often follows outside meddling by other nations. Therefore, terrorism is a daily reality in Iraq, vast numbers of minorities have fled, women have suffered in parts of the country, the north is de-facto under Kurdish rule and sectarianism blights the nation state. However, political leaders once more in Washington have now unleashed another brutal vacuum in Syria despite the ongoing problems in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan.
At no point during the leadership of Bashar al-Assad did religious minorities have to worry about their future prior to outside meddling. Likewise, women had freedoms that could only be dreamt about in Afghanistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and other nations within the US orbit in the Middle East. Indeed, unlike in France which infringes on the way Muslim females must dress or in Switzerland which puts restrictions on Muslim places of worship – in Syria women decide how they want to dress and all religious faiths have places to worship.
However, the so-called “Arab Spring” was usurped by powerful forces and for Saudi Arabia and Qatar it was a time to fill the vacuum with Sunni Islamism. The Libya crisis once more is unleashing forces which are still ongoing and this applies to chaos and no central control. Alongside this is the destabilization of northern Mali because of forces unleashed by Libya. It is still too early to say which way the future will go in Libya but clearly Islamic terrorist groups and Islamist religious organizations are intent on filling the vacuum. In northern Mali they have already altered the landscape and clearly this area will be a base for further chaos throughout the region.
Syria therefore remained the most powerful and independent Arabic speaking nation which was staunchly secular and free from outside control. Neither America nor Saudi Arabia could pull the strings of this nation but once demonstrations began in Syria then outside forces soon entered. The emergence of “a ghost Free Syrian Army (FSA)” soon emerged rapidly just like the rise of the Kosovo Liberation Army and rebels in Libya. Clearly, all these forces rose far too quickly for them to be spontaneous therefore long-term policy objectives had been waiting in the wings to fill any vacuum that may emerge – or, to create a vacuum by unleashing powerful forces quickly.
From very early on in the Syrian crisis many soldiers were killed and clearly they were not killed by peaceful demonstrators. Bashar al-Assad admitted himself that mistakes were made in the early period but if it wasn’t for outside forces then the situation would have been contained. The crisis in Bahrain remains because the Shia feel neglected and forces within the Sunni population also have many misgivings. Despite the brutal crackdown in Bahrain it is clear that the death rate is much lower than Syria because no outside nation gave military arms to the demonstrators. On the contrary, Saudi Arabia was allowed to get involved in order to crush the uprising which was spontaneous.
In the case of Syria the nations of Saudi Arabia and Qatar are funding international terrorists and mercenaries. Also, Turkey is another aggressor to Syria because this nation is allowing the FSA and various Islamist organizations to have bases near the border with Syria. The CIA and Islamist agenda, unlike in Iraq and Afghanistan after September 11 (before this both were allies), have once more converged in order to destabilize Syria. Just like in Afghanistan it is clear that America’s only interest is to reduce the power of the Russian Federation and Iran respectively, with regards to geopolitics. However, just like in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan; the Saudi Arabia objective is Sunni Islamism and spreading the Wahhabi/Salafist version of Islam.
The upshot of all this is that Syria is being destabilized by many forces which are supporting sedition, sectarianism and terrorism. Once more, this policy is impacting on the region and Lebanon remains very delicate and terrorist attacks have also started to increase in Iraq. Now in modern day Syria both the FSA and Islamists are beheading people, killing minorities, killing Iraqi refugees who fled to Syria, killing individuals who support Bashar al-Assad, killing journalists and TV reporters. Recent videos taken by the FSA show dead people being thrown from rooftops and captured individuals being photographed before being murdered.
Collectively, the deaths that people are currently reading about in the news or seeing on television in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and now Syria; all relate to the policies based in Washington and whereby other allies like Saudi Arabia have funded the carnage. Pakistan also continues to be blighted by Islamism because of dangerous policies which were enacted by past leaders. Other nations like Mali and Lebanon are feeling these shockwaves while closer to home Islamists are also spreading radicalism in major cities throughout Europe. Therefore, the powerful tremors of the Siege of Mecca in 1979 when Juhayman al-Otaibi and his followers stormed Mecca continues to reverberate around the Islamic world within the religious arena.
This single event galvanized America and Saudi Arabia to further bankroll Sunni Islamic terrorists in Afghanistan and bordering regions of Pakistan from 1979 onwards and up until the demise of the Soviet Union. After all, the elites in Saudi Arabia needed a distraction and America was worried about the repercussions of this extremely important event. It could well be that internal convulsions in Saudi Arabia are also behind events in Syria just like what happened after the Siege of Mecca with Afghanistan. After all, it is clear that the Shia community and elements within the Sunni population are unhappy with the current leaders of Saudi Arabia. Likewise, Saudi Arabia is supporting sectarianism in Bahrain and Yemen respectively and this helps to fill the “restive Islamist void in Saudi Arabia.”
Irrespective of all the factors of why America, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, France, Turkey and the United Kingdom are destabilizing Syria; it is clear that the forces that they unleash and the vacuums that they create will not be able to be contained if central forces in Syria collapse. America is worried about this because of what happened in Iraq but clearly this nation allowed Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey to destabilize Syria. After all, these nations by themselves would have worried about the repercussions of supporting such a policy of destabilization. Yet clearly just like in Iraq it is Saudi Arabia and the spread of the dangerous Islamist ideology which will have the long-term influence if Syria succumbs to powerful forces being unleashed against this secular state.
One thing is for sure, the current carnage and daily terrorist attacks in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and Syria are all linked with the policies of Washington and the money emanating from Saudi Arabia. All the above nations were once mainly free from international terrorism (some happened from time to time) but once the United States and Saudi Arabia entered the equation then this all changed. The destabilization of Syria is following an all too familiar pattern and the same applies to the spread of terrorism and sectarianism once political elites in Washington and Riyadh get involved.