By GHASSAN KADI*
When the so-called “Arab Spring” took off, Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi, son of Muammar Gaddafi, made a televised speech to Libyans warning them, and the world, of what would happen should the central government in Tripoli fall apart.
His predictions included that Al-Qaeda would come in and Libya would be partitioned into at least three states. Apart from being unable to predict that the resurrected Al-Qaeda was going to rename itself as Daesh, he was accurate in every detail. But the West did not listen.
Gaddafi himself warned the EU that should his government be toppled, the EU would end up getting inundated with Jihadists. . “If I go down, Europe will go down” he said, but the West did not listen again.
Before him, the unsavoury ex-Egyptian President Mubarak has made many such similar statements. In his own “after-me-the-flood” warnings, he told his American allies that should he be removed forcefully or by means of a revolution, the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) would step in. Even though Mursi was later on deposed, Mubarak’s predictions were indeed accurate to a high degree. And even with the heavy clamp down of current President Sisi on the MB, the spectre of their return to power is very plausible.
When the “Arab Spring” reached Syria, it became clear to the eyes of observers and knowers of the macro and micro politics of Syria that the only way for the enemies of Syria to reach their objective is by mobilizing an Islamist Jihadi sensation.
Syrian officials, including Army officers, diplomats and key personnel were all approached by recruiters offering high sums of money for them to defect and join the so-called “revolution.”
At that point in time, pro-Syria activists did not “exist.” There was no call for their “existence.” When it became clear that there was a struggle within Syria, the first wave of activists came from the pro-Palestine line of activism.
That was a very sad moment of time indeed as some of those “activists”, especially Western ones, were unable to see the forest from the trees. They fell into traps of the Sykes-Picot lie and decided that Palestine should be the first priority up the ladder, not really knowing or caring to learn and know that Palestine is historically and geographically an integral part of Syria, and also not really caring to learn and know that had it not been for official Syrian Government support, the Palestinian cause would have been lost and forgotten. Many of them supported the “revolution”, not seeing that it is primarily a war between sectarianism and secularism. Some of them woke up later on and changed their position but, others kept up their stand, despite the many twists and turns of the war.
Activists, both Western and indigenous, who were able to see beyond the slogans and the narratives of colour revolutions, knew well, from the early days, that the support that the Syrian anti-government forces were receiving from Western media, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the EU and the USA was not about implementing political reforms in Syria. They were able to see what was behind the very transparent façade.
Some activists alleged that it was the preferential treatment of the “Syrian regime”, one that favoured Alawites against Sunnis, that gave rise to the sectarian tension. Many pro-Syrian activists, including myself, hopelessly tried to explain to those activists (who were mainly Western and did not know much about Syria at all other than what they have read and heard on the Murdoch media) that what was happening was in fact a war between secularism and sectarianism; and neither a civil war, nor a sectarian war, but those Western activists did not want to listen.
Now, the advent of Jihadism into the EU shoots this allegation in the heart. I would like to go back to those activists and see what interpretation they can give for the rise of Jihadi fundamentalism in the secular democratic EU.
As supporters of Syria emerged from nowhere, they made their position known. They made all the communications they could make. They set up Facebook groups. They expressed their understanding and vision. Syrians in Damascus marched in the streets carrying huge flags showing to the world their knowledge of the conspiracy against Syria and their support to her President and government. But the West did not see or hear anything.
We have to stop here for a moment and give real credit to Syrians who took to the streets, if not a salute. Many of them had an axe to grind with their government security apparatus (Mukhabarat). Many others were genuinely seeking political reform including political plurality in the state that had been under a single-party rule for nearly half a century. Many others had grown sick and tired of corruption and cronyism. But when these and those realised that the conspiracy against Syria was bigger than all of those issues, big as they are, they decided to stand behind their nation and against the mass conspiracy.
They told their stories, each in his/her own way and capacity, but the West did not want to listen.
The message that the genuine and savvy people of The Levant wanted to relay to the West was clear. It was a message of warning of dire consequences if the message was not heard and taken to heart. All the cries went out to no avail. The West went deaf and blind.
The West had another agenda in mind. Its agenda was to topple Bashar Assad without giving any consideration to the consequences; none, none so ever. The leaders of the alleged free-world acted like morons. They fell for the trick of the regional anti-Assad Islamist coalition. That coalition that was comprised of Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar had no objective other than one that was sectarian, aimed to further promote their business and with Israel’s security in mind. They saw in Assad a threat against Sunnis and an instrument that will serve Iranian expansion. And the West, the stupid West, bought the story of an alleged revolution. It had its own axe to grind with Bashar and had no hesitations to aid and support them and encourage them to create what became ISIS/IS/Daesh.
Later on, President Assad himself warned Europe from the eventual influx of terrorists, but the EU and the rest of the West did not want to listen. The world “warned” has been used so many times in this article. The objective here is to emphasize that the West was made aware again and again of the possible consequences of its actions in Syria, but remained defiant because it did not want to listen
It was as if the West did not learn from Afghanistan, did not learn from Iraq and did not learn from Libya. It was as if the West did not learn from its failed experience with Al-Qaeda. Failure upon failure did not stop the West from embarking on another journey of predestined failure.
The West seems to have an irrevocable contract with stupidity and short-sightedness.
For as long as it adamantly wishes to stick to its guns, the West now deserves to be told by those who tried to nudge it into clear vision: “we told you so”.
On the surface, this will sound like a statement of glee, but it is not.
The recent terror attacks in the EU must have a direct link to the fact that the anti-Syrian coalition, including the EU has 1) ignored all warnings about the rise of Jihadis, 2) facilitated their movement into Syria in the hope of scoring a quick and swift victory against her government, and 3) fell victim to political correctness in accepting refugee swarms that included terrorists that it (i.e., the EU) have helped create in the first place.
Sad but true, no one knows when the wave of terror in the EU is going to end and how. No one knows how much further it is going to spread, to what extent and for how long. No one knows how many more innocent people are going to get killed. What we do know is the fact that if the EU Parliament and individual European governments had put any effort, any tiny amount of effort to put facts and logic together, they would now be in a position that would allow them to understand why they are facing the predicament of terror. All indications point towards the direction that they do not intend to take any real and effective steps towards understanding the nature of the huge problem they are facing, let alone making any steps towards resolving it.
Western leaders continue to run around in circles chasing their own tails. With all the tragedies that have hit Europe, they do not seem to have learned yet. They have got one foot inside the door of the fight against Daesh, and the other foot inside the door of the fight against Syrian President Bashar Assad. They are still carrying the “Assad-must-go” banner. They still do not seem to want to know who is fighting Daesh and who is feeding it, and all the while refusing that they were instrumental in creating it.
And even though their alleged strategy to fight Daesh did not yield any outcome, and despite the fact that the collaboration between the Russian air might and the Syrian Army on the ground has yielded amazing results in a relatively short period of time, they continue to sit and ponder about the most effective way to fight Daesh militarily.
But the West is not the only party that did not listen. It is not the only party that should be told: We told you so.
The Muslim World continues to bury its head in the sand and to refuse to address the Daesh syndrome at its core. Many enemies of Daesh are also still refusing to accept that Daesh is a perverted form of Islam that has roots that go back centuries; long before America was discovered, and much longer before Wahhabism was established.
Muslim clerics keep reiterating that Daesh does not represent Islam, and it doesn’t. But those same Muslim clerics are not 1) identifying that the greatest asset Daesh has is based on misinterpretations of the Quran, 2) they are not prepared to accept that their own doctrine is based on those same radical views, 3) they are refusing to reform their views, 4) and last but not least, they are not condemning radical preachers who are recruiting Muslim youth into the ranks of Daesh.
Very few outspoken Muslim journalists have made stands to the above, but their voices are not being heard, and they are seen merely as trouble makers and/or as self-hating Muslims and even apostates.
What will Muslim clerics who are now refusing to face reality do if/when Daesh attains more strength? What will the Saudis do if/when the ideology they fostered threatens their throne? What will Egypt’s Al-Azhar (which is meant to be the most highly respected Sunni Muslim theological institution) have to say if/when it suddenly wakes up to realize that the Daesh doctrine has become mainstream?
The fight goes on, and those on the side of knowing what Daesh is, look at the confused world that is still denying and refusing to define Daesh and say; but we told you so.
*Ghassan Kadi, a native of Beirut, is an analyst of Middle East affairs. Visit Intibah and Ghassan Kadi’s website.