Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Muslims Also Feel Unsafe, But Go AWOL
By Bashir Goth
Anger, frustration and helplessness; this is the feeling of the majority of sound-minded Muslims and Arabs I spoke to over the last few days. With people in the Middle East starting their summer vacations, many of them dread the harassment, humiliation and abuse waiting for them in Western airports. If it is difficult for the West to answer the recurring question of “Why do they hate us?” it is even more difficult for the majority of Muslims to find an answer as to why these terrorists decide to act in their name. There is indeed something rotten in the Muslim world, but the tragedy is that no one wants to point a finger at the source of the evil. They rather bury their heads in the sand and let the West do the dirty work and live with the consequences.

It looks as if the Arabs are used to the West fighting on their behalf all the time. One has to remember that it was the West that liberated the Arabs from the Ottoman Empire when Hitler was dinning with their leaders, the West that defended their oil fields and their kingdoms against communism when most of the Arab and Muslim countries were sleeping with the Soviet Union, the West that created and installed most of the Arab states, the West that stopped Israel and its allies from taking the Suez Canal when Nasser of Egypt nationalized it, the West that found and struck Arab oil, the West that defeated the Red Army in Afghanistan, the West that liberated Kuwait from Saddam Hussein, the West that rescued Bosnian Muslims from annihilation, the West that removed Saddam Hussein, a tyrant who killed thousands of his people and was a perpetual source of threat to the peaceful oil producing Arab countries, the West that gave education, a respectful source of income, citizenship and dignity to millions of Arabs and Muslims who would have otherwise lived in poverty and ignorance or languished in the jails of Arab dictators.

It is no wonder, therefore, that the Arabs see the current war as a war between the West and Al Qaeda. Why should they bother to resist Al Qaeda when the West can fight on their behalf? It is not that they see bombings taking place in far away places such as New York, London, Madrid and elsewhere; nor it is a matter of parasitism. The terrorists also hit Arab and Islamic capitals everyday. I can see the breaking news as I write this piece that a suicide bomber killed foreign tourists and Yemenis in the ancient Yemeni city of Mareb. Yes, these people do not discriminate between a Muslim and a non-Muslim. They kill their fellow Muslims everyday in mosques. Their sole mission is to spread as much fear as they can. But it is easy to blame their actions on the West. It was the West that always defended the Arabs, so why should they worry now?

But imagine what will happen if the West withdraws all its troops and aircraft carriers from the Arab and Muslim world, if the U.S. troops leave Iraq and Afghanistan tomorrow, if America closes its bases in the oil rich Gulf countries? It will be Al Qaeda that will take over, and guess what? The new Al Qaeda-installed regimes would still need to sell oil to the West because they cannot survive without Western money, Western technology, Western arms, Western medicine, Western goods and Western education. So who will be the loser? The answer is anyone’s guess.

So the answer to the question is yes, Arabs and Muslims everywhere feel unsafe when Islamists bomb Western capitals, but they just go AWOL and pass the buck to the West. It may be time, therefore, that the West rethinks its strategy of fighting on behalf of the Muslim world and let the Muslims face their demons by themselves.Read more at Newsweek/Washington Post.