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US-Yemen: Beheading the Dragon

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IS continues to confound. Not only for its ability to outmanoeuver the US (remember it is a rag-tag unfunded collection of wildly courageous jihadists fight a monster Goliath) but for its defiance in pursuing its grim revolutionary justice despite the threats of empire. They believe in the old fashion justice of Muhammad’s time (though Muhammad was very sparing in cuttings, encouraging remorse, forgiveness and financial compensation paid to the victim or heirs of a victim in the cases of murder, bodily harm or property damage.

ISIS have no time for these niceties, but there is no reason to believe that if the US backs off, leaves them in peace, apologizes for its own murders and agrees to pay a (whopping) compensation, with no strings attached, that ISIS could back down and come to a reasonable agreement with the now retreating and humbled kufar. That of course is unlikely at this point, but is the only solution unless the US wants to drop an atom bomb on the whole region, which would bring Muslims (Sunni and Shia) and non-Muslims alike together to attack the US.

IS is ghoulishly depicted in western media as blood-thirsty murderers reveling in violence, mad nihilists intent on destruction. To put things in perspective, the US is killing dozens if not hundreds of Muslims (quite a number of them babies) every day, all of them innocent of anything beyond defending their lands and homes.

Remember the fairytale of Saddam Hussein killing babies on the eve of the 1991 Gulf War? All revolutions logically spill the blood of those who profess to be hostile to the new order, and the oppressor uses every trick in the book to discredit the revolutionaries carrying out their ‘justice’, and IS is no exception. In Cuba, between 500 and 2,000 enemies of the state were executed following the 1959 revolution, and was not swamped by US-backed protestors.

Revolutionary justice

When will the US get it? The Middle East is in revolutionary upheaval, and has been for a century now. Just as the Russian revolution of 1917 was the logical conclusion of upheavals against imperialism in yesteryear, so Islamic revolutions are the logical consequence of imperialism today. The Iranian revolution of 1979 set the stage, and actions of the US in the past two decades (since the first invasion of Iraq in 1991) have ensured that this upheaval will continue and have an Islamic nature.

All revolutions result in revolutionary ‘justice’, seldom palatable to western secularists, who have long discarded revolution as something passé and slightly distasteful, unnecessary in our benign age of postmodern imperialism, where there are no guilty parties, where money is simply ‘made’ according to the law. ‘

But what is ‘the law’? The law’ in each land is refashioned by the new imperial dictator to meet the needs of the economic order, where all economic activity is condoned as long as it is carried out in conformity with ‘the law’.

The driving force behind this ‘law’ is exploitation in pursuit of unlimited profit, leading to world wars which leave humanity and nature in peril. The ‘law’, for instance, includes condoning gambling (both explicit and metaphorical in the form of the ‘stock market’), and regulating various forms of moral degeneration (prostitution, drunkenness)—all anathema to Islam. All the while, legal recourse against crimes committed by the most powerful in this world order is impossible, given their control of the economic and hence political processes, and indeed, the pious United Nations, which lives on only with the sufferance of the Dragon.

It is this enforced ascendancy of economic power over the popular political will that makes ‘political Islam’ necessary today, after the defeat of the communist resistance to capitalism. Nothing short of a new ‘law’ will do, where a code of ethics is embedded. The communist revolutions for the most part failed to achieve this and Islamists became the main force of resistance to imperialism by default.

Islamists learn from the imperialists

The end of communism came by the imperialists wearing down the secular communists through war and subversion until the system was sufficiently weakened, allowing internal dissent to overthrow it. This clever ‘strategy’ was learned by Bin Laden, and despite all the pathological killers in US-Israeli forces, figleafed by learned Princeton scholars, this seems to be the reality of politics today. The man in an Afghan cave is destroying the empire.

If you don’t believe me, just keep in mind that Islamic resistance, based on martyrdom in the defense of religion, is grounded in a much more convincing way than was communism. Post-9/11 CIA counterterrorism head Robert Dannenberg admitted: “It was US officials continue to be stymied by ISIS/IS. General Nagata’s Strategic Multilayer Assessment Committee at the Pentagon called on academics to help out, including “business professors examining the Islamic State’s marketing and branding strategies. We have not defeated the idea. We do not even understand the idea.” Much easier to convince a Soviet that your way of life was better. You could take them to Kmart in the US or to Wal-Mart, because they were driven by many of the same things that we’re driven by.”  Ex-CIA director George Tenet notes in his memoirs, “Al-Qaeda boasts that while we fear death, they embrace it.”

As for IS’s reported atrocities, given IS’s commitment to sharia and the Quran, those Christians and Shia caught in the (Sunni) IS order—if they value their lives and want to remain in their homes—must organize and present themselves to IS leaders as loyal citizens, opposed to IS’s enemies—the West, Israel and Saudi Arabia. Sharia makes allowance for the protection of non-Muslims, who must pay a protection tax (jizya). That will end the sectarianism.

At present, these dissidents are sitting ducks, and the crocodile tears of western leaders and the media are making things worse for them. This cynical use of dissidents has long been ammunition in the western arsenal to confront imperialism’s enemies, as the Soviet Union experienced. They are custom-made martyrs for western media--and quickly discarded when the West’s armies and carpetbaggers are welcomed as liberators.

Given the nightmare that US invasions have resulted in during the past quarter century, and that Israeli invasions have resulted in during the past 70 years, the rough edges of the revolutionaries will have to be tolerated by fretful liberals as the lesser of two evils—women and minorities are suffering horrendously under US ‘protection’ now. Over time, the hard edges of the revolution will be worn down and women and minorities will be better accommodated, as even Saudi Arabia crudely shows.

The US model of Islamic justice

The worst country for public executions—beheadings—is Saudi Arabia (79 in 2013). IS is supposed to have beheaded 75+ Syrian and Lebanese troops this year. The real problem is westerners, approximately five of whom were beheaded, including US-Israeli Jerusalem Post journalist Steven Sotloff.

But should IS be expected to simply free its captives, while the US Saudi allies continue to practice this? Is that what the US does when it obliterates a Muslim martyr like Bin Laden, not giving him a Muslim burial, but rather flinging his bits and pieces out into the ocean?

And why is the beheading of an enemy soldier or an enemy reporter intent on defaming IS more reprehensible that, say, the beheading of a Saudi witch? So to meet US criteria for justice, the western ‘bottom line’ is don’t kill people with western passports. Torture is not so much a problem—there is always diyya (compensation). Western media quickly forgets any torture that doesn’t meet the needs of western propaganda. What western media doesn’t even mention is that ISIS never tortures, unlike Saudi Arabia, Syria and other western allies in the war against terrorism.

The Canadian diplomat Robert Fowler, as a hostage in the Sahara in 2009, for example, was surprised at how well he was treated, and saw no evidence of torture. He was awed by the al-Qaeda kidnappers’ selflessness and courage. In his ‘season in hell’ the hostages were treated the same as the captors treated each other. Fowler understood why they became terrorists and why simple Muslims support them: their personal asceticism, disdain for western consumerism, personal commitment to Quranic principles, desire to emulate the great leaders/ followers of the past, and their bravery, vs the venality of the Muslim establishment. His conclusion: al-Qaeda will continue to attract young recruits not concerned with long life (their options in the Muslim world are bleak), but rather authenticity and martyrdom.

IS confirms Fowler’s account. His ‘season of hell’ was in fact paradisiacal compared to the hell that many, many Muslims are living--and dying--through every day. It is time westerners recognize the simple truth of a century of imperial intrigue and end this living hell, not by killing the ‘enemy’, but simply by getting out and staying out.

US does exactly what ISIS wants

The US, by supporting Nusra and training the anti-Assad rebels in Jordan (including IS), by turning a blind eye to Saudi machinations, by flooding the region with arms, above all by kowtowing to Israel, has driven the region to the current impasse. IS promises a way out which at least makes sense, and has the advantage of ridding the region (nay, the world) of the worst violators of human rights—Saudi Arabia and eventually Israel. The loss of Saudi oil is a small price to pay.

Time to give IS a chance to evolve into a world actor. This is what the US should have allowed with the Taliban in Afghanistan and didn’t. That day of reckoning now looms. Time to respect and recognize as legitimate those Muslims who are willing to sacrifice their lives to help bring down the Saudi tyranny and rebuild the caliphate, rather than continuing to slaughter them.

Back when Obama was still a free man, he attended Trinity United Church of Christ where the pastor was Jeremiah Wright. There can be no question that Obama admired and respected Wright; he even adapted Wright’s eloquent “audacity to hope” for the title of his own autobiography. Wright said recently: “President Obama was selected before he was elected, and he is accountable to those who selected him. I’ll never forget one of the most powerful things he said to me in my home in April 2008. He said, ‘You know what your problem is? You have to tell the truth.’ I said, ‘That’s a good problem.’“

The neocon wars of the 2000s were the steel fist approach to subduing Islam: kill millions and terrorize the survivors. But they have been a disaster, made the US and Israel pariahs, and left a trail of terrorism in their wake.

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Canadian Eric Walberg is known worldwide as a journalist specializing in the Middle East, Central Asia and Russia. A graduate of University of Toronto and Cambridge in economics, he has been writing on East-West relations since the 1980s.

He has lived in both the Soviet Union and Russia, and then Uzbekistan, as a UN adviser, writer, translator and lecturer. Presently a writer for the foremost Cairo newspaper, Al Ahram, he is also a regular contributor to Counterpunch, Dissident Voice, Global Research, Al-Jazeerah and Turkish Weekly, and is a commentator on Voice of the Cape radio.

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Eric's latest book The Canada Israel Nexus is available here http://www.claritypress.com/WalbergIV.html