In the 1950s and 1960s, African and Arab countries witnessed the eruption of national movements to free themselves from European occupation and colonialism. Now the West appears to be retaliating.
The first decade of the 21st century witnessed a collective campaign by the US and European countries to minimise – and even eliminate – Arab oil and Islam, which powered the resistance and liberation movements across Africa, Europe and the Arab world. Not a single Arab country seems to be immune to social, economic and religious disturbances.
Like Sudan, where the South has almost seceded from the North, a unified Iraq is quickly fading in the deep labyrinth of its nation’s memory, while Lebanon is on the verge of a new civil war.
The Lebanese government has collapsed ahead of the decision by the international tribunal concerning the assassination of Lebanese prime minister Rafik el-Hariri. Tunisia is in turmoil and its President, Zeinulabedin Bin Ali, is in a real dilemma, as he doesn’t know how to save his leadership.
Libya is deeply concerned that its neighbour’s (Tunisia) unrest might tempt Libyan citizens to act likewise, while Algeria is desperate to placate its angry citizens, who have been protesting the rising cost of living. Morocco does not know how to persuade the separatist Polisario movement to abandon their campaign for independence; Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank is outrageously wasting his and his people’s time in a power struggle with the Hamas movement in Gaza; and the Jordanians are seething over price hikes, forcing their King to scrap taxes on fuel.
Yemen is fighting rebels allegedly connected to the Iranian Shiite regime and Osama Bin Laden’s al-Qaeda; Somalia is a lawless country, where noone’s sure who is fighting whom for what; and people in Mauritania wake up in the morning to discover that the government has been ousted by a coup and they have new rulers, who promise to improve their lives.
But I must confess I’m not sure what’s going on in the Comoros Islands, which are a member of the Arab League. Indeed, I wouldn’t be surprised if AL Secretary-General Amr Moussa shook his head, if I asked him for some information about this
Meanwhile, the Arab Gulf countries are aware that their Shiite citizens are no longer content with their Sunni rulers and this could pose a serious threat.
In the meantime, Egypt is struggling desperately to convince its Coptic citizens that they are not the chief target of a new spate of terrorist attacks. Despite repeated assurances, Copts, led by their radicals, refuse to stop marching in the street and protesting against the religious persecution they allege they are experiencing at the hands of their Muslim neighbours.
In the meantime, Cairo is locked in an unprecedented, tough verbal exchange with the European Union, which has been calling for Coptic Christians to be protected in Muslimdominated Arab countries, including Egypt.
Cairo is angry because, in its appeal for the protection of Christians, the EU and Pope Benedict XVI are putting Egypt in the same basket as Iraq.
All these developments across the Arab world and in Africa make me feel convinced that the breakaway of South Sudan from the North is a new success for the West, which wants to retaliate after being expelled from this region in the 1950s and 1960s. The secession of South Sudan also reminds me of the recapturing of Spain from Muslim rulers in the 16th century.
The people of South Sudan, most of whom are non-Arab Christians, are in jubilant mood, happy that they are on the cusp of seceding from the North, whose Muslim leaders have ignored democracy and religious tolerance.
The West and the US have been quick to support the Southern Sudanese and their bid to secede from the North, while President Omar Bashir’s government in Khartoum has sought to employ, as in the past, Islam and Arab culture to ‘Islamise’ non-Muslims and force them to live in accordance with the Sharia (Islamic Law).
The Sudanese President thinks that religion not democracy will consolidate his power.
Muslims were expelled from Spain, after they became very hedonistic. Hedonism had become the rule in the palaces of Muslim emirs, noblemen and wealthy merchants. The dazzling glitter of the high life dimmed the values of Islam and its culture.
The irony is that the unique architecture of the beautiful palaces and fortresses left behind by these rulers are the only remaining signs of Islam in Spain today.
*Published in the EGYPTIAN GAZETE on Jan. 16, 2011.