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New Crusade or WW III -- it is a war against Muslims
By Karamatullah K. Ghori

Toronto:- Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times' regular columnist, recently described George W. Bush's war on terrorism as World War III. Friedman is an establishment man, and a known votary of the Jewish lobby which has been working in overdrive since September 11 to set the administration's anti-Islamic agenda. What Friedman did not say, out of deference to his fellow-travellers in the administration, or did not deem it politically correct, is that this is a war against Muslims, in more senses than one.

The latest anti-Muslim salvo in this war, ostensibly against terrorism, is Washington's decision to freeze the assets of the Holy land Foundation for Relief and Development, a Texas-based Islamic welfare organisation which has been engaged for years in welfare and humanitarian work in the Palestinian areas on the West Bank and Gaza. And precisely because of this, it has long been in the sights of Israel and its myriad influence-peddling lobbies in the U.S. Israel and its American supporters do not like the Palestinians, groaning under Israel's ruthless occupation of their lands, being succoured by anyone. The agenda is to keep the Palestinians backward , shelterless and friendless. Therefore, anyone deemed to be helping or supporting them becomes, instantaneously , a target and fair game for an Israeli-led smear campaign. They have an obliging cohort in the White House whose own agenda of muslim-baiting needs no supplement.

Interestingly, but not surprisingly at all, Bush announced the freeze on the Holy Land assets in the U.S.-and wherever else America can twist arms to follow its example-the day after Ariel Sharon had an extraordinary confab with him in the White House. 

Washington's grouse against the Holy Land Foundation is not that it is doing humanitarian and welfare work in the occupied areas, but that the schools run on funds provided by it are the hatcheries where the Palestinian freedom fighters are bred and suicide volunteers are recruited. The charge sheet also faults the Holy Land Foundation for funding the activities of Hamas-a terrorist organisation on the U.S. list-in the occupied lands, a charge robustly denied by the Foundation. Again, in something reminiscent of the 'evidence' against Bin Laden and his Qaeda network, on the strength of which White House has clamped down on the Foundation, has been declared as ' classified and sensitive', the disclosure of which may hamper security. How very neat and convenient. The same excuse of ' sensitivity and security' has prevented any public airing of evidence against Bin Laden. So, the book will remain closed on the Foundation , too. No, says the president of the Holy Land Foundation. He is appealing the high-handed executive action, and has hired top notch lawyers to challenge it in courts.

It does not matter how the Holy Land Foundation fares in its court battles against Bush's palpably vindictive and authoritarian action. What is germane to this whole scenario is the Bush administration's determination to wage a concerted campaign against anything organised for the welfare of Muslims anywhere in the world. The ban on the Holy Land Foundation is the first action of its kind , since September 11, against a Muslim organisation not linked with Bin Laden's Qaeda. Which means that the Bush administration, flushed with ' victory' against a ragtag Taliban fighting force, now feels sufficiently emboldened to cast its net wider against the Muslims, on any excuse or pretension.

Obviously this targeting of a welfare organisation working to ameliorate the wretched socio-economic conditions of the Palestinian victims of brutal Israeli oppression, has the Israeli stamp all over it. Sharon, in particular, has been tilting on as many windmills as there are sympathetic to him and Israel in America, to put the financial and other squeeze on all the Palestinians-oriented welfare bodies. Hamas, Hizbollah, and others of their ilk, have long been thorns in his side. With a sympathetic president in the White House who shares his enthusiasm to crush Muslims in general, and the Palestinians in particular, Sharon thinks his star is in the ascendancy and he can now implement his diabolical plans to starve the Palestinians in every sense of the word.

But the economic strangulation of the harassed Palestinians is nothing compared to Sharon's other ' catch' in his meeting with Bush. He was given a clear green light by Bush to stampede the Palestinians in whatever manner he deemed fit to pursue his agenda of crushing the Palestinian Intifadah into abject surrender.

This time around, there was no attempt by Bush, and his spokesmen, to put any kind of impartiality or honest-brokerage gloss on their frontal assault on the Palestinian rights, and unabashed espousal of Israeli aggression.

Bush gave more than a green light to Sharon to obliterate the Palestinians by saying that Israel had " every right to defend its security." His reference to Yasser Arafat and the PLO barely disguised his utter contempt of both. On signal from him, his minions and cohorts immediately went to town to fulminate to their heart's content against the Palestinians , and in support of their Israeli comrades-in-arms. Colin Powell, who has long been fecklessly trying to be accepted as a global statesman, had the gall to chuckle, with thinly disguised glee, that it was the " moment of truth" for the Palestinians.

Well, the moment of truth it certainly is, not only for the Palestinians but for all the Arabs, in particular for the Arab rulers, many of whom have, until now, been clinging to the fiction of U.S. being an honest broker between the Palestinians and the Israelis. Not by a long long shot; U.S. has never been impartial between the Palestinians and its proteges in Israel who receive 3 billion dollars annually in military and economic aid to go on pulverizing the Palestinians, and bamboozling other Arabs. Is it any wonder that Israel has been using what diplomatic pundits, with their habitual reserve and understatement, have been describing as " disproportionate force" in putting down the Palestinian protest.

That Bush has now decided to cast off that pretensious mould of U.S. being an honest broker between its Israeli Goliath-armed to the teeth with state-of-the-art hi-tech American weaponry-and the Palestinian David armed with rocks and stones only , is because he sees no need to be diplomatic in his undeclared war against Muslims, wherever they may dare to cross the Americans and their global interests. It should be an eye opener to those Muslim leaders who still think that they have a friend in America.

Little surprise, therefore, that armed with his new mandate from Bush, a blank cheque to be precise, Sharon, on his return from Washington, has let loose his F-16s, tanks and gunships to literally bulldoze the peace process, whatever shards of it were still left intact. This time-in a strategy which must have been fine-tuned in his White House confab with Bush-Sharon is going for the Palestinian jugular. He is targeting Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian Authority to force them to their feet. He has the temerity to equate Arafat with Bin Laden and daub the Palestinian struggle for freedom with the Washington-friendly terrorism brush.

But the decimating of the Palestinians, or overthrowing Yasser Arafat, is not an end in itself. The agenda has more to it than that. The end-game is to somehow lure Saddam Hussein into the fray, and thus have an alibi to take the war to Iraq. 

That is the strategy Bush has been working on for sometime. The Anthrax ploy is apparently not working to the end of creating an alibi against Saddam. The latest indicators are that the nation-wide U.S. scare may well be an inside job. The anthrax spores detected match the level of sophistication reached by the U.S. defence scientists before the Biological warfare programme was officially abandoned ( no proof that it was, actually ). Hence the need to lay another kind of trap for Saddam.

There is, at the same time, no let-up in the baying by the hawks in the administration to move the theatre of war from Afghanistan to Iraq, and they seem to be winning over the so-called doves in gaining Bush's ear. A gaggle of ten powerful senators and congressmen have addressed an urgent ' appeal' to Bush not to spare Saddam from the American wrath because, in their callous opinion, the sanctions , which have already killed more than 1.5 million Iraqis in the past ten years, are not enough to contain Iraq.' These valued lawmakers believe that " we must directly confront Saddam, sooner rather than later." Bush is , indeed, getting a hefty whetting for his appetite for Iraq.

The only missing factor in this much-touted Phase Two is a credible, or even quasi-credible, excuse to unleash the dogs of war against Iraq. 

So, the hawks might feel that if the Palestinians were driven against the wall, by a merciless Sharon whose only passion in life is to drive them into oblivion, may be, the only Arab leader who could be provoked to come to their aid would be Saddam. That would be the red rag to Washington to unleash the full fury of its mammoth war machine against Iraq and finish the job left half-done by the Senior Bush.

It remains to be seen if Saddam takes this bait. Or else, Bush and company may have to work out some other strategy to finish him off. But the chariots of war, it is certain, are not going to stop at the gates of Kabul, or Ramallah, or even Baghdad. This is the biggest siege of the Muslim world since the 13th century when Genghis Khan and his successors tore the Islamic world apart from one end to another.

To the dismay of the Muslims who have their finger on the pulse of the time, the lone super power of our age is infinitely more powerful than the Mongol hordes. And Genghis Khan or Hulagu Khan, for that matter, did not have the benefit of the zionist advisers egging on their mentors to exact from the Muslims retribution for the expulsion of Jews from Medina in the 7th century. Who knows how many red pins have been tagged on the map of the Islamic world in the Pentagon war room.

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