Originally published at Gatestone Institute.
According to the Arabic proverb, “If you honor and respect a noble man, he will become your friend, but if you honor and respect a villain, he will rise up against you.”
One view of diplomacy, deemed misguided by leaders such as Churchill, is to abandon one’s friends and court one’s enemies in the assumption that the friend is yours and will not abandon you. The United States deserted the Shah for the Ayatollah’s Revolutionary Guards; it abandoned Mubarak for the Muslim Brotherhood Islamist Mohamed Morsi, and it has abandoned Iraq and Afghanistan to domestic chaos, growing terrorism and the approaching Islamist takeover.
Now, voices from the West and the Middle East have suggested that the status of the United States may be in jeopardy in countries where it previously had influence, such as Egypt.
The U.S. is withholding funding from the new Sisi regime, which may be the only chance of keeping Egypt from slipping back into the religious autocracy of the Muslim Brotherhood. America explained that its decision to cut funding to Egypt was due to lack of democratic process in Sisi’s advancement to power. Ironically, however, America has weakened the defenses of the world against violent Islamism, which can be defined as a militant political version of Islam, that outspokenly desires to take over the Arab-Muslim countries and turn them into a united base from which to bring Islam to the rest of the world. This goal, according to the Islamists, can be accomplished through irhab, or terrorism, with the eventual aim of converting everyone to Islam, using force if necessary. As it is written in the Noble Qur’an, Al-Anfal 8:60, “Against them make ready your strength to the utmost of your power, including steeds of war to strike fear into (the hearts of) the enemies of Allah, and your enemies…” Neutralizing the fight against Islamism in the name of democracy and pluralism sounds like justifying theft and drug dealing in the name of freedom to earn a living.
Neutralizing the fight against religious autocracies and the terrorists they sponsor exposes to attack the right to life, the democratic institutions and the freedom that every citizen of the Western world enjoys, and that others, lately from North Africa, have risked, and often lost, their lives on broken-down boats in the hope of enjoying as well.
In allowing Iran time to become a nuclear power, the United States, as the leading power in the West, and filling the vacuum that other nations could well be hoping to fill, could be in serious danger of losing the last remaining vestiges of its deterrence and influence in the Middle East, especially in the Sunni Arab world, as seen last month by the Saudi refusal to accept its two-year term on the United Nations Security Council.
America’s recent choices seem to have improved Iran’s status both at home and abroad, so that now Iran is demanding, as a regional power, to participate in the Geneva 2 conference to determine the fate of Syria, alongside Russia and the United States. Iran’s request has apparently made Assad newly self-confident; he no longer sees himself as a despised ruler and the murderer of his own people. He says he does not plan to give up power, and, taking advantage of his Iranian patron’s newly-found status and strength, has announced that he intends to run for president again in 2014.
America’s failure to support the Syrian national opposition as the alternative to the Assad regime, according to critics such as Senator John McCain, has enabled gangs of armed Islamists to flock to Syria from all corners of the Arab-Muslim world and take over the revolution. By abandoning the Syrian opposition, he claimed, the West sealed its fate. The opposition’s demands to open safe passages to the besieged civilian enclaves for humanitarian purposes have also not been addressed. The Syrian opposition’s request to turn the Syrian skies into a no-fly zone to stop the aerial bombing of civilians went similarly unanswered.
The Syrian population is being decimated, gradually but persistently destroyed by famine, disease and bombing, eating dead cats and dogs (for which permission has been given by Islamist clerics) and this is even before the cold winter. For some reason, the usually outspoken voice of the people is silent and it is business as usual.
About the Author: Ali Salim is an expert on Islam; he resides in the Middle East.
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