Saturday, 1 October 2011

Arabian Spring: Global Implications Part 1

Assalaamu'alaikum wa rahmatullah!

Arabian Spring, Ramadan Fannoos - Sameer ar-Ramahi

What is called "Arab Spring" concern very different cases and realities but have in common that it expresses protests against despotic powers, and a call for social justice. None of these insurrections started by referring to al-Qaeda and it aims which in itself is the expression of an apparent fiasco for radical Islamists. But where are going those experiences? What social and political reform can they bring? How deep is the shift? Can some sort of democratic change emerge? Jom tengok apa orang ni perkatakan.  

I listened to a talk by Dr. Gerard Chaliand at the Center for Policy Research and International Studies (CenPRIS) in the university in Friday 30th of Sept. It is not intended but before Friday sermon took place, the mosque administration had heralded the information about this talk at 15:30 and it ended at 16:59 with few questions. Let us see how Western academician think. This guy is not siding anyone, but he sometimes talk like an American. That is normal, everybody is like him so I don't really feel anything offensive in his talk. Only certain parts spark up my thought. That's all.

Honestly speaking, I don't understand what Dr. Chaliand trying to deliver in his talk but I tried to understand it anyway. It's a talk so I guess it is not a structured one but merely a summary of what he did in his research. From what he delivered, it is about Arabian Revolution and he gave some background about Middle Eastern region. It didn't bother me at all since after the changing of our prime ministers. I had not really take any notice about whatever happened around the world nor buying anything heralded in the news papers. 

So, now I have problem to digest whatever is proposed by theories in International Studies. Basically it is a study established by modern Western scholars regarding the politics of the world. I had forgotten great deals about that studies but I think it is also important for a Muslim to understand how people think.

Last time, weren't those Westerners such as Ignatius Goldziher (Ishaq Yahuda) trying to understand what are ideologies and belief of people in the East and gave names to our holy prophet Muhammad s.a.w with their ugly tongue. I don't consider that Orientalist guy a Musawwi (follower of Moses). He thinks himself as a European while Hebrews are not European. Such bias person is a disgrace to Moses a.s and all of Israelite prophets. His foundation of Islamic Studies in Europe does not attract me at all but I read a great deal about Orientalism. They love enmity so much, so they will get enmity. It will stiffen their heart, and they are just being cruel to themselves. I'm also opposing Muslims who tried to learn something in the surface about other faith, and later trying to frame others. This is what Goldziher had done last time. We are people with dignity. We are not the same with that kind of person. So, just devote ourselves to the God, the development of nation, spreading love and peace to every creature through His Mercy. We propagate His Love through hikmah (widsom), akhlak (morality), muru-ah (dignity) and manner, inshaallah. So, as to say, we Muslim must also equip ourselves with other knowledge, not only the knowledge of science and technology. Science has a very broad meaning. Do not think that by being an engineer, you'll stay in a comfortable office.  

Jangan pikir lah contohnya bahawa kalau kita menjadi seorang jurutera, doktor, sebagainya itu kita akan duduk di atas kerusi yang empuk bilik berhawa dingin. Ini antara penyebab dulu-dulu ramai pelajar aliran agama berasa rendah diri terhadap kawan-kawan dari aliran sains kerana kita pernah dimomokkan mengenai kejayaan dalam bidang sains dan teknologi. Pelajar aliran agama atau madrasah semua akan memarut kelapa di kampung-kampung. Tidak, saudara-saudari saya. Nasib semua orang tidak lah sama. Makanya sebarang kesempatan yang lalu di depan saudara-saudara tidak mengira apa jenisnya maka saudara-saudari ambil sahaja sambil bersyukur kepada Allah Azza wa Jalla. Jangan dengar cakap-cakap orang sahaja. Jalankanlah kajian atas segala perkara, pikir dan pertimbangkan, ambil tindakan. Saya pun tidak lah menyukai pengajian politik akan tetapi saya dapat melihat beberapa manfaatnya walaupun tidak lah semua. Sekurangnya kita tidak bercakap mengenai sesuatu hal yang berlaku dalam dunia seperti perbincangan di meja kedai kopi sahaja.

When I arrived at the meeting room, the talk had already began for about 20 minutes since I took the bus and performed ghusl for 'asr prayer service that to come. So, I could only remember and jot down whatever he delivered after I sat down. He talked about revolution in the Middle Easts, and I only could heard about Khomenei Revolution in Iran about 1979. It was said as a turning point and the end of social revolution in the Middle East. The collapse of pan-Arabism and the defeat of Egypt under Mr. Gamal Abdel Nasser. This issue about the radicalization of Islam.  

Hurmm, saya tak berkenan lah sebutan mengenai Islam sebagai satu ajaran melampau or any notion whether there is a radicalize Islam or not but for these political analysts, it possibly could be radicalized and used by people who aim worldly matters but coating it with religious terms and the result is everybody get the impact. They divide life with religion but in the East, religions no matter Islam, Christianity, or Hindu-Buddhism are all the center of life. Evil or sincere people perhaps being branded together. The East perceive things differently from them and there are many kind of Easterners. I do not know if it is hard for them to think out of their way of thinking but their way of thinking could be seen around the world. For me, personally, Islam itself is life, it is the divine law of nature and guide to the hereafter which the atheists and hedonists believe as the death cult (hereafter). They are afraid of the death so that is their problem, don't impose their paranoia to others. I do not want any worldly matters but only using them to bridge me to hereafter. I don't even live like a normal person. However, I don't care about others who do not believe in the God. They can live all they want.

It is said that radicalization of Islam is largely supported by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). The KSA pays a lot for new madrasas ranging from sub-Sahara to Indonesia. Then after the collapse of the US in Central Asia, the KSA became the agent of transformation. In 1979 too, the USSR invaded Afghanistan so it opens up the opportunities for the Wahhabists, the self-proclaim champion of Sunnis to get involved. They also trying to find opportunity to counter the Iranian or Persian Shi'ites. The US recompense their defeat to Soviet in Vietnam 1975 war. Pakistan sort of turning for radical Islam under Zia-ul-Haqq, and there is a contest between India and Pakistan which still goes on until now. So, terrorism is not only confined to the Arab world but terrorism is worldwide where we can see it in Pakistan and Indonesia. Indonesia in South East Asia is very important in term of economy though indirectly participated in it.

The world was blocked because of the Palestine-Israel issue and the radicalization of Islam among others led by the al-Qaeda or formally led by the Ikhwanul Muslimin. North Africa was under dictatorship for three to four decades and there are corruptions where it needs justification while preventing the country from radical Islam and some dictators were supported by the West. Mr. Sadat in Egypt who made compromise for peace with Israel was shot dead by radical Muslim around 1970s. So, it really begins in the mid 1970s until today. And the achievement of this wing of particular radical Islamism.

What do these radical Islamists want? Is it because they want to return to caliphate? Reconstitute the ummah (religious society) against nation state which was the creation of colonial period? Or because they are trying to get back their lost might? Is it the same thing of the Chinese civilization might? By the end of 19th century, the Chinese had already produced one third of world production and they are economically very strong. Their period of humiliation nowadays had already finished, according to Dr. Chaliand. The Indians restored their victory in 1947, where the power to rule was given by British lord to the Hindus. India was previously ruled by Muslims under Moghul dynasty.

Khomenei also posed up threats not only to the West but also to the Sunnis. Saddam Hussein contained Shi'ism. In the beginning of this century, the result and the trauma of 9/11 was unbearable and only Americans can understand that. Yang lain-lain peperangan dan kemusnahan dalam dunia ni tak ada trauma kah kepada orang ramai selain rakyat Amerika Serikat? At one point, the US was invaded by the French, and suddenly their symbol which is the World Trade Center (WTC) was also being hit. Now everything turning to be normal again, business runs as always.

The Great Middle East extending from Morocco to Afghanistan. The expedition to Afghanistan was short though very indecisive. Only Kabul was secured and the agenda was to finish the unfinished war in Iraq. In Iraq, 60% of Shi'ites, 20% of Kurds, and other were dominated. It is noticed that Ahmad Chalabi is a Shi'ite. After the army was dismissed, around 500 people returned home without any pain. Whoever involved in Baath party are not involved in administration anymore just like in Russia where Communists were not given any place in it. What counts is talk. What pushed Sunnis into warfare? Most of all is the need to find people's need. The need for money, sanctuary, weaponry, local support, and foreign assistance. However, this is not in the case of Iraq. They have everything. Sunni is not just a religious sect but they are ruling groups. I personally had read some news too that in 17th C, some Sunni rulers in Lebanon had baptized themselves into Syriac Maronite Christianity because they were not supported by Druze and Shi'ite population in their area. Sometimes, people use religion only for their worldly affairs and it is a sad thing.

During the British mandate, Middle East area was under Ottoman empire. There is also the thought that the US invasion in Iraq made it being controlled by the Shi'ites and Kurds whom are not Arabs. Try to understand Sunni's side. Sometimes, problem is not solved by coming to power. There is a search for fact in the province of Anbar where Sunni tribes were organized, trained, and were crushed locals. The al-Qaeda tries to recruit people through the notion of being real Muslims. Saddam Hussein was not religious. The war between Iraq and the US was a chosen war and there are collateral damage. The propaganda said that the US should back up North Africans as they are allies of the West and most of all, against Islamists. The West hoping that no states supporting al-Qaeda.

Al-Qaeda on the other hand can't stabilize any of states, it costs them lots of money as there will be nuisance at the airport and security from terrorism. Mind too that people are not only killed but there would be also chaos. Mr. Bush had also involved in terrorism and for sure he can't fight something which moves underground. Apart of that, Bin Laden, Zawahari, and others fled to Afghanistan. The result is modest, and the North being considerate. The prove that al-Qaeda has failed never jeopardize the establishment of Arab Spring.

Arab Spring or Revolution in the Arab World happened due to social injustice. There are movements to obstruct leaders and dictators. Arab Revolution is important as it marks the dawn of 30-40 years of dictatorship by youngsters. Taken into account that 20% of people in Middle East are below 25 years old. So, it's not just elderly live under fear for the last few decades. People there knows what is going on. It is viewed as urban rising. People in the urban area are knowledgeable and it is not rural uprising. When people in the neighboring country see, they began to think. The same thing happened to French colonial master during the French Revolution. Countries such as Bahrain, Yemen, Syria, Egypt, and Libya are all different from one another.

Bahrain for example has a majority of Shi'ite citizen while the rulers are Sunnis. Yemen, particularly the Northern Yemen with her tribal society. They are of warrior society so, they are very far from unity. There are some evidence of protests in Syria, and people were killed. However, there is no embargo nor invasion as it is highly probable that it could be the cause for Sunnis to prevail and the West does not want it. Israel does not want it too. This is however not a judgement but about the balance of force. Libya has not been humanitarian for long. They do not respect the United Nation (UN) mandate and they never collaborate. So, what is going to happen in the future? No crystal ball in the talk. It is necessary to find set backs as not easy to get some kind of democracy and bring growth. When a certain regime seized power, they must bring growth. Social justice must be balanced by the economic growth for everyone.

The army in Egypt were not really army. They will never let their country out of the way that they do not want. Governments don't want to go left or could being said as social. The best situation for Dr. Chaliand is in Tunisia despite of the fact of dictatorship.

When the war happened in Afghanistan and after the invasion of the USSR in 1980, the demography is very important. The economic growth is related. What can be seen here is that Egypt is turning back. While for Turkey, they are growing better. They know diplomacy, state tradition, and never buy European Union (EU) view on them where EU thinks that Turkey could channel Middle East and instability to the continent. Turkish have their own perception. Their influence extend as far as Xinjiang in Western China. They are also their consulate for the Kurds. They would have been followed by other leaders especially of Islamic faith if they wanted to follow Turkey.


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