Sunday, 18 September 2011

Arab Autumn Anyone?

The reason why Zionism could not be given a bloody nose by its prime victims – over 1.5 billion Muslims – is the lengthening hyphen between Shiites and Sunnis in the region.
Although the level-headed groups in both sects are committed to liberating Palestine, local political compulsions and petty sectarian interests at the home front seldom allow those who feel the pain of Palestine to deal with the issue with the force it deserves.
Shiites’ alleged connivance with Western forces against Saddam Hussein, Iraq’s “liberation” followed by reprisal bomb attacks against Shiites, capital punishments handed to Saddam and his cronies in Iraqi kangaroo courts, celebrations over their executions, tip-offs against resistance fighters resulting in their ruthless killings and the formation of a hardcore Shiite government in Baghdad are some of the recent factors that drove a wedge into whatever semblance of unity there was between Gulf countries and Iran in particular and Shiite and Sunni masses in general.
The Palestinian cause gets a severe beating when Saudi Arabia, which claims to be the biggest champion of Palestinian rights, feels alarmed over Iran’s rising influence in the region and its military and nuclear power. Iran believes in flexing muscles so that Israel and its masters in Washington do not dream of invading it to destroy Bushehr nuclear plant. Israel sees Iran’s peaceful nuclear programme as the greatest danger to its security. But, unfortunately, Saudi Arabia and its allies see it as an existential threat to them and, if Middle East observers are to be believed, Riyadh would not even hesitate to give Tel Aviv Saudi air space to carry out surgical strikes against Iranian nuclear installations.

Iran’s reported role in fanning unrest in Bahrain, its moral support to the Shiite community in the six-nation GCC bloc, its support to Houthi rebels in Yemen against Saudi Arabia two years ago are the main reasons for the unbridgeable gulf between Riyadh and Tehran.
Mutual relations are at the lowest ebb. Saudi Arabia recently refused to receive the Iranian foreign minister. Pakistan, it is learnt, has been playing the role of a mediator, but things are not on the right track yet. Saudi Arabia’s military help to crush the uprising in Bahrain left Iran fuming. Bahrain sees Iran as its enemy No. 1.
As the Arab spring saw dictators in the region being mauled by the oppressed public, the double standard of Iran and Shiite Hezbollah came to light when they failed to support the Syrian masses struggling to end Bashar Al-Assad’s corrupt and criminal Baathist regime. Both backed wholeheartedly Shiite Bahraini protesters against the Sunni monarchy there, but refused to side with Syrian demonstrators because there the Sunnis are rising against the pro-Iran and pro-Hezbollah Alawiites (10 per cent of the population ruling the country for over four decades).
The only silver lining in the otherwise dark clouds of sectarian hatred is the united struggle of Hezbollah, led by Hassan Nasrallah, and purist Sunni Hamas, headed by Khaled Meshaal, which enjoys state support in Damascus for its anti-Israel activities.
Hezbollah alone has the potential to give the Zionist state sleepless nights if it gets genuine financial and moral support from rich Arab monarchies which compete with one another to be in good books of the Pentagon. During the last Israeli aggression against Lebanon, Hezbollah destroyed over 40 Israeli Merkava tanks and caused the Jewish state extraordinary losses. Israeli defence minister had to resign and several other important heads had rolled.

Instead of seeing Iran’s military might as a threat to their existence, Gulf rulers can contribute to the Muslim struggle against Israel by extending unconditional support to Iran whose nuclear programme is an important deterrent against the Jewish state’s designs to alter the map of the Middle East.
As long as the region is divided on sectarian lines, Israel’s safe existence is guaranteed.
Let the Arab intellectuals, scholars and think-tanks seriously think in terms of rolling back what they call Arabism. It is sapping the Islamic solidarity and rusting the Muslim Ummah in addition to torpedoing the Muslim bloc. Let them try to transform the current Arab autumn into a real Arab spring based upon the sovereignty of Allah, the Holy Qur’ān and Sunnah. Arabs must come out of their Arab shell.

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