By: Dr. Walid Phares
Unsur akhaka thaliman kana am mazluma
“Stand with your brother, should he be oppressed or oppressor” -- (Old proverb in the Arab world used by contemporary Jihadists)
Seven years after years after 9/11 the ongoing confrontation between the free world and the forces of Jihadism seems to be revealing another broader more dangerous dimension: the emergence of an undeclared solidarity between regimes and organizations which --despite their enmity for each other -- come together to destroy freedom and obstruct its spread.
This transnational brotherhood is increasingly revealing itself in international relations, despite the assurances of Western diplomats and academics that such a de facto web, doesn’t really exist. While lobbying efforts in the West are attempting to convince the public that the ideology of Jihadism doesn’t exist and that Democracies’ foreign and economic policies are at the roots of terrorism, stunning evidence proves the opposite. Not only Jihadism is alive and thriving, but it is influencing a much larger bloc of countries.
Four years after identifying the Darfur drama as a genocide under international law many around the free world are yet to absorb the power of Jihadism in international relations. Today’s Sudan crisis will only open their eyes to what many in the diplomatic and academic elites are feverishly attempting to camouflage. While many have been arguing that the free nations of the world face a cohort of nations that sympathize with and support the Jihadist networks, many others -- on the apologist side- have been arguing that there is no such thing as Transnational Jihadism.
In my last three books (*) I attempted relentlessly to make the case that an international Jihadi lobby exists -- or rather a convergence of interests between regimes, organizations, and groups seeking the confrontation with the infidels and more importantly keeping their civil societies from pursuing natural democratic processes. Unfortunately, bureaucrats and diplomats in the Western World have been severely criticizing these warnings and pretending instead, that such a “web” doesn’t exist. However, the public has a unique opportunity to see otherwise with the exploding new crisis between the Sudanese regime of General Omar al Bashir and the International Criminal Court (ICC).
After the Darfur Genocide was identified by international organizations (and decades after the African population of Sudan have been submitted to oppression at the hands of the Islamist regime of Khartoum not later than 1989 and possibly as soon as the early 1980s) finally, the chief prosecutor of the ICC filed genocide charges against Sudan’s President, who is chiefly responsible for the ongoing attacks by the Janjaweed militia against black African tribes in the West of the country. A next stage should be mobilizing the international community and expecting the UN Security Council to proceed with the arrest of the head of the Khartoum regime for investigation.
The process shouldn’t be that different from the filing, arresting, indicting and sentencing of other heads of states found guilty of serious breaches to international law, including the highly publicized case of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. But the Serbian leader had no regional and international allies to stand by him. He was alone and alone he was brought down from power and taken to Rotterdam. Omar al Bashir isn’t “alone.” He has a large international “clan” behind him, and of course he has natural resources to fund the war against international justice he intends to wage.
What policy makers in the West –fed by the unhelpful advice of some of their advisors who are oil-funded - have missed in the equation of international relations so far, is the existence of a fault line between blocs of countries. The line is not necessarily and purely “civilizational” but it is highly ideological. There are leaders that world justice cannot indict, cannot arrest and cannot try because they are immune to peaceful compulsion. Those heads of states are part of a “club” of authoritarian leaders of ideological or theocratic regimes who refuse to obey any sanctions the UN and other international organizations attempt to impose, regardless of their offense. These perpetrators belong to a virtual and undeclared caliphate of regimes and organizations. The “perpetrator” may or may not be affiliated with Jihadism as an ideology, but as soon as his opponents are themselves preaching democracy and self determination against Jihadism and authoritarianism, the head of the sanctioned regime will be “protected” by his cohort. Observe the reactions to the ICC charges against Bashir.
Naturally, the first resistance came from inside the Khartoum regime. Opening the first salvo, Sudanese officials responded not with denial of wrong doing, but with threats of dire consequences if the legal actions are carried out. Sudan’s UN ambassador Abdelmahmoud Abdalhaleem said the “prosecutor’s action would eviscerate the peace process.” That is a very telling argument, for it shows that although the accusation came from the ICC, the retaliation of the Islamist regime will be aimed at the victims in Darfur, and perhaps in the south. Otherwise how could the ”peace process” between Sudanese will be altered if Bashir’s forces do not break it? Another official Sudanese argument is also as revealing. “This would lead to disastrous consequences for the entire region” said Abdalhaleem, adding that “without a head of state, with whom are you going to talk.” If anything this is evidence that the regime is dictatorial and worse perhaps, that significant segments of the regime are part of the genocide.
Although al Bashir has many opponents in the region, the “brotherhood” of resistance against human rights laws manifested itself quickly. From Cairo, the Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs Ahmad abu Ghais warned from “the dangers of irresponsibility in dealing with Sudan considering that the ICC action will create insecurity and political instability in general and in Darfur in particular.” In other words, international actions in support of civil societies endangering members of the “club” will be rejected and resisted. From the Arab League, the permanent delegate of the organization to Sudan said the International Court’s action is a strike against peace in Darfur, and accused “international quarters” of being behind the decision.
In other words, peace is threatened if perpetrator regimes are sanctioned not if civil societies are brutalized. From Yemen, President Ali Abdallah Saleh said his regime will stand by the Khartoum regime. Sanaa’s Foreign Ministry said the ICC decision is “a meddling in the domestic affairs of that country.”
Addressing the issue from Jordan, the Muslim Brotherhood organization condemned the court demand, accusing the ICC of putting Sudan under pressure to solve “the oil prices crisis.” In view of the Brotherhood’s international role in penetrating the West, such an argument reveals even more the grand background of the solidarity with Sudan: other oil producers with Jihadi inclinations are concerned to see that one “of them” may have to back off from anti Western economic pressures.
From Tehran, the other center of Khomeinist Jihadism, the regime’s minister of Foreign Affairs Manushahr Muttaki also attacked the “selective decision.” And from Asia, the Chinese Government, a financial partner of Khartoum understandably “expressed concerns.”
Taking the lead in the offensive against the “ICC decision” al Jazeera’s commentators framed it as a “campaign against the region,” and its panels heated the debate. Writing on the Qatari-funded outlet’s site, Abdel Salam al Jamuhi said “Allah is with us and our swords are ready.” Al Tayyib al Ameen said “Bush and his European tails are waging a third war after Afghanistan and Iraq. Yahya asked if the ICI prosecutor belongs to (pro Israel US based lobbying group) AIPAC. Munzer writes “O brother al Bashir all Arabs and Muslims are with you.” Mohammed Ali Fadl al Sayyed write: “First they controlled the Eastern gate to the Arab world in Iraq and now they are moving on the Western Gate in Sudan.” Ahmad Badawi said this is a conspiracy against all Muslims and we “need to stand together as such.”
An old proverb in the Arab world, used frequently by contemporary Jihadists says: “Unsur akhaka zaliman kana am mazluma” (support your brother, should he be oppressor or oppressed). The rush to support President Bashir’s regime in Sudan as soon as he was accused of genocide is a bright example of how solidarity mechanisms work between the forces belonging to or influenced by the dominant ideology in the region. And that is the real deep end of the crisis of human rights and democratization, let alone terrorism, which awaits the international community in the years and decades ahead.
“Unsur akhaka” is not being applied in
Bashir’s case only. A thorough reinterpretation of many confrontations over the
past few years, particularly as of 2001 shows clearly that solidarity with
oppressors is a real force in world politics. Jihadism’s ideological forces,
including many al Jazeera commentators, frames it as “anti-American attitude”
and attempts to coin it as an –anti-Bush wide alliance. But reality is that this
aggregation against freedom is deeper, wider and more diverse than any other
coalition on Planet Earth. Indeed, the web comes to the surface every time a
“brother dictator” or a “sister ideology” are being pinned down by the
international community. This brotherhood of doom manifest itself each time one
of the “brothers” is caught wrong doing. When the international consensus is
high, the brotherhood is low, and when the latter feels it can counter attack,
it does so with all of its strengths.
Take for example the international campaign against al Qaeda since 2001. Few stood by the Bin Laden movements worldwide, but the “clan” refused to take on the ideology of al Qaeda, meaning the Jihadi roots of it. “Al Qaeda is criminal but Jihadism is innocent” claim many doctrinaires in the Arab Muslim world, as well as their apologists in the West. Hence, the world’s “Brotherhood of Jihadism” was able to get away with saving the doctrines that produced Bin Laden in return of indicting him, not his ideology as Terrorist.
Iraq: When the United States and their allies decided to remove Saddam Hussein, a clear perpetrator of mass murder against his own people, a vast cohort of brothers in destiny opposed the move, even though sympathy for the dictator wasn’t widespread: Not only the Syrian, Iranian, Libyan and Sudanese regimes rose against it, but also Cairo, Riad, Algiers and Qatar advised against it and tried to delay it. Stunningly, both Salafists and Khomeinists stood against the downfall of Socialist Saddam. Automatically, the Western friends of the petro-regimes followed suit.
Lebanon: It took the brutal assassination of Sunni leader Rafiq Hariri in Lebanon to force Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the Arab League and the Organization of the Islamic Conference to not oppose UNSR 1559 calling on Syria to pull its troops out of Lebanon. But none of these governments and organizations helped the Cedars Revolution obtaining UN support to disarm Hizballah in accordance with that resolution. In May 2008, when the pro Iranian militia invaded Beirut and the Mountain, the “regional brotherhood” put pressures on the democratically elected Government of Lebanon to make exorbitant concessions to Hizballah. When the price of disarming the fascist militia was to allow for liberal democracy to rise geometrically, it was judged best to keep the Lebanese crisis “inside the family.”
Iran: Tehran’s regime is perceived as the most dangerous power menacing the Arab Peninsula and beyond, yet when the United States mobilized the international community to go beyond economic sanctions and trigger pressures against the Mullahs, the bureaucracy of the OIC rushed to warn that such an action would be perceived as aimed against the other 50 members of the organization. Evidently many in the region, despite their fear from Tehran’s Pasdaran, still fear more the installment of a democracy in Iran.
Examples abound about this “brotherhood against Democracy.” Sudan’s current crisis is only one in a long chain. But the real problem that democracies will have to face in dealing with Darfur may not be the intentions of the “Jihadi club” inasmuch as it is the counter-productive trends we are witnessing inside the Washington Beltway over the past few months. Many of our bureaucrats and academics are racing backward to downplay the seriousness of the Jihadi global trend. Reacting to the ICC belated statement a former US envoy to Sudan (who was nevertheless among the first diplomats to raise the Darfur issue) criticized the indictment of Bashir. Now a professor at Georgetown Andrew Natsios’ main concern was about “who will negotiate a settlement with the Sudanese Government,” leaving us to wonder if the issue is save the regime or save Darfur.
However more serious failures in our national security and foreign policy estimate are the rising statements made by former intelligence officials that “no such thing as an international Jihadi influence exist,” and the bureaucratic literature negating the existence of the very ideology which in Sudan is behind the genocide.
Dr Walid Phares, author of Future Jihad: Terrorist Strategies against America, of The war of Ideas: Jihadism against democracy and of the forthcoming book, The Confrontation. He is also the Director of the Future Terrorism Project at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies