Issues

Return of the colonialists to their former Muslim-Arab colonies

Soon after World War I, the Europeans (Britrish, French, Italians) with help from their advanced technology snuffed out the Muslim Ottoman empire’s rule from the Muslim-Arab countries. They installed puppet regimes with figurehead Muslim rulers in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Egypt, Jordan and the Arabian peninsula. The puppets served their colonial masters well. The colonialists dictated policies to these Muslim countries, stationed their troops there and made the namesake Muslim rulers subservient to them. Their loot continued. Then in 1950s a series of nationalist revolutions occurred in these Muslim countries. The Ba’ath Party’s leaders overthrew the kings in Iraq and Syria. Col. Gamal Abdel Nasser and his band of military officers overthrew King Farooq in Egypt. Col. Qaddafi overthrew King Idris in Libya.

These nationalist leaders were steeped in the love of their countries and wanted to bring power and the country’s wealth back in the hands of their people. They were young, idealistic and full of patriotic fervour. They literally threw out the western colonizers and thumbed their collective noses at the mighty colonialist powers. Muslims all over the world were overjoyed that finally Muslim-Arabs were incharge of their own lands. The discovery of oil in the region became a boon to some of the new nationalist rulers and they set about implementing a new order. To develop their countries they hired western companies for their technology but gave employment to a large number of people from the third world, many of them Muslims. That was a relief and an opportunity for the poor Muslims of third world countries like Egypt, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Philippines and the stateless Palestinians. They flocked to these Muslim-Arab lands of opportunity. In these lands they were in the midst of an Islamic society everywhere. They felt comfortable and adjusted to living in the Arab lands under the reassuring sway of Islamic culture. It lasted for about four decades.

Then as the 21st century dawned the western powers started planning to recapture power in their former Arab-Muslim colonies and get a hold on their vast oil wealth. They played strange games, sowed seeds of hatred and put the Muslim countries at each others’ throats. Thus Muslim Iraq and Iran were made to fight a very damaging eight years war in which about a million Muslims were killed and much losses to the infrastructure and economy of both the countries took place.

Then came the western invasion of Iraq on a totally false and cooked up allegation and the ruse that they wanted to bring democracy to Iraq. Half a million or more Iraqis were killed, many at the hands of Al Qaeda that mindlessly bombed the Muslim citizens themselves. At the end, the oil rich country of Iraq came under the sway of the western colonialists who maintain a weak puppet Iraqi government that claims to be democratically elected.

The next shoe dropped in Libya where the colonialists similarly instigated a disenfranchised tribal minority population to rebel against the erratic 40 year old regime of Col. Gaddafi. The western colonialists bombed Libya to smithereens and strangled the country from all sides with the support of the ragtag rebels. So now oil rich Libya is again under the control of the western colonialists.

The next scenario is being played out in Syria. Syria has no oil but it is a very strategic country with very rich Arab and Muslim heritage and history. It is a thorn in the paw of the Israeli Zionists. It remains to be seen how this game of democracy and human rights plays out in Syria.

The question arises why the Arab-Muslim nationalist renaissance that lasted sixty long years, and that was endowed with huge oil wealth did not help these countries to build durable, modern, democratic, industrially advanced nations? Nations that could sustain themselves on their own. Why did they suffer such bitter divisions, tribal rivalries, religion-based (Shia-Sunni) internecine feudal conflicts and so much violent in-fighting? Why did the rulers not give opportunities to all and remove complaints of discrimination? Why did the rulers become so brutal against those whom they considered their rivals? Why did the rulers impose one-family dynastic rule without letting other people rotate in top leadership positions of power and let democracy flourish?

As far as can be surmised, the nationalist young leaders of 1950s and their successors who had thrown away western colonizers, squandered away a great opportunity to build their Muslim nations as among the most egalitarian nations on earth. The western colonizers were laying traps for them all along and they did not take actions to undo those traps. Instead of distributing power among their people they concentrated power in their own hands and tried to perpetuate their and their family’s rule. When the western colonizers were sowing seeds of discord among their people the rulers took no counter-measures.

Now that in the name of democracy the western colonialists have forced themselves on their former colonies in Arab World, one wonders how long this western colonialist rule will last in Arab-Muslim lands. What is the worth of the so-called Arab Spring when Arab lands are again about to become colonies, albeit under the façade of democracy, and not be the masters of their own destiny. Is the Arab Spring being exploited by the colonizers? Perhaps a long time will pass until another set of messiahs have the requisite ability, courage and foresight to correct this aberration. Meanwhile the lands of the Muslims continue to remain under the sway of others, the ordinary Arab-Muslims remain disenfranchised and the Muslim ummah laments the loss of six decades of opportunity to make the Muslim commonwealth first among equals among the comity of nations.

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-30 September 2011 on page no. 2

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