Age Islam Edit Bureau
09 May 2017
Iranian Religious Democracy
By Mohammed Al Shaikh
Has Decided, but It Is Far From Over
By Cornelia Meyer
Visit to Saudi Arabia and Gulf Unity!
By Dr. Khaled M. Batarfi
Is Not Just Americans Who Know So Little Of The Arab World
By Chris Doyle
Significance for Syria of Erdogan-Putin Meeting
By Yasar Yakis
of Differences between Egypt and Saudi Arabia
By Turki Aldakhil
to Establish Safe Zones in Syria Comes Into Effect
By Maria Dubovikova
Clash within Civilizations
By Hussein Shobokshi
Tony Blair Back?
By Dr. Azeem Ibrahim
West's Obsession with Itself
By Donald Collins
By New Age Islam Edit Bureau
Mohammed Al Shaikh
8 May 2017
Iran’s agents (mercenaries) in Arab
countries, particularly the Lebanese ones, say that Iran is a model of a real
democratic country since candidates compete freely and fairly for the
presidency every four years. I don’t need to say that these are lies as the
Iranians’ elections have nothing to do with the well-known rules of democracy
and they’re rather a funny and fabricated charade that hides pure dictatorship
Iran is a religious state that’s controlled
by the guardian of the jurist. This cleric rules absolutely with no one
monitoring him or holding him accountable. He controls the executive,
legislative and judicial authorities. Anyone who thinks – just thinks – about
opposing him will be eliminated under the pretext that’s he’s one of God’s enemies.
The so-called president is chosen via a
fabricated charade that’s called “the presidential elections” and this is
merely a formality as the president’s jurisdictions are limited and he’s more
like the secretary of the guardian of the jurist, Iran’s real ruler.
The relation between the president and the
guardian of the jurist resembles the relation between a minor and a headmaster
as he does not dare discuss anything with him and he does not ask him about
anything he does or says because according to the Iranian constitution, the
guardian of the jurist’s status is like God’s representative on earth so who
dares object against God?
Therefore, anyone who discusses his
decisions – let alone object to them – whether it’s the president or anyone
else, would be objecting to God almighty. This is exactly how Catholic popes
governed Europe during the Dark Middle Ages.
Illusion of Democracy
Iranian elites, who are not clerics, know
that Iran’s democracy is just empty talk as there’s no democracy as long as there
is a sacred cleric who solely governs all authorities. Therefore, the tale of
democratic competition over the presidency aims to throw dust in the eyes.
He who reads the history of religious
countries can assert that their future is demise as this is inevitable no
matter how long it takes.
The Revolutionary Guards in Iran is
tantamount to the church’s guards in Europe during the time when the church
ruled. Has the suppression and might of the church guards at the time succeeded
at confronting people when they realized that priests’ governance was the worst
forms of dictatorships?
Back then the pope governed on the basis
that he was God’s representative on earth. I don’t think there’s any difference
between the pope of the Catholic Church back then and the Islamized “pope” of
the Shiite church in Tehran. There’s no difference no matter how much Iran’s
agents try to market this fake democratic Islamic republic.
What will also lead to Iran’s demise is its
strong ties to terrorism whether directly or indirectly. Its relations with
many terrorists, particularly from al-Qaeda, have been exposed and there is
evidence that proves these ties.
Sunni Islamic terrorism would not have
emerged and solidified if it hadn’t been for the sahwa (awakening) phenomenon
which emerged after the success of the Khomeini revolution in Tehran. This
phenomenon imitated the latter revolution and politicized Islam on Sunni bases.
Terrorism was born out of the womb of sahwa
and it grew in incubators to politicize Islam. Therefore, the world will sooner
or later realize that eliminating terrorism cannot be achieved unless by
eliminating the phenomenon of both Sunni and Shiite political Islam.
9 May 2017
On May 7, France elected 39-year-old
Emmanuel Macron as president, the youngest in the country’s modern history. He
won with over 66 percent of votes cast. As a former Rothschild banker,
presidential adviser and economy minister, he is very much a scion of the
French establishment. He is part of the urban elite and value system. He won on
the back of a movement, not an established party. He founded En Marche! just a little
over a year ago.
Macron painted a picture of hope. His was a
positive vision of economic reform, social inclusion and multilateralism. He is
a strong proponent of the EU and the euro, and wants France to assume her
rightful position in the union. He said he wanted to take the best ideas of the
right, left and centre of French politics. In his detractors’ words, he wanted
to be all things to all people, which down the road might become the undoing of
Macron’s opponent Marine Le Pen of the
populist, far-right Front National (FN) managed to get shy of 34 percent. She
may have lost, but her party managed to gain close to 11 million votes. Last
time her party made it to the final stage of the presidential election, it only
managed to obtain 7 million votes. That was in 2002, when her father faced off
against President Jacques Chirac.
Her vision was one of a France in the olden
times. She ran on a platform that put security, anti-immigrant and anti-EU
sentiments front and centre. She wanted to leave the euro should she be
She was popular in rural districts and had
fans on the international stage, namely Presidents Vladimir Putin and Donald
Trump. When the result of the vote was announced late Sunday night, one could
literally hear and feel the sighs of relief emanating from the capitals of
Europe, especially Berlin and Brussels.
Last year saw established party landscapes
in many Western democracies put into question. It was the year of movements:
Brexit and Trump’s election. Traditional parties did not reach their goals, and
pollsters fared even less well. There was a marked shift to the right: The Tea
Party and alt-right in the US, the Alternative fuer Deutschland in Germany, the
Freedom Party in Holland and the FN in France.
In France, the left was deeply divided
between the far-left Jean-Luc Melenchon and the Socialists, who were riding on
the back of President Francois Hollande’s unpopularity. The traditional
centre-right Republicans party moved to the right when it nominated the socially
conservative, Euroskeptic Francois Fillon as its candidate. He was popular.
But a scandal about overpaying family
members out of state coffers for political services rendered became Fillon’s
undoing. So for the first time in modern France neither of the established
parties, the Socialists or Republicans, made it to the final round of the
It broke with the tradition of the
presidency alternating between the two parties. It was essentially two
movements, one on the extreme right and one in the liberal center, which made
the race to the finals.
Europe was deeply shaken after the Brexit
vote, and taken aback when Trump got elected. Anti-EU sentiment seemed to be
gathering momentum on both sides of the Atlantic. The turning point came when
Dutch elections returned Prime Minister Mark Rutte back into office. His
People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy decisively beat the ultra-right
Freedom Party of Geert Wilders.
The French presidential election reinforced
the reversal of fortune in anti-European sentiment. Still, Wilders’ party ranks
second in the Netherlands. Britain is poised for Brexit, which will prove to be
a painful experience on both sides of the Channel. As for France, it is not
over yet: On June 11, the French will elect a new Parliament. Whereas France’s
president has sweeping powers, experience tells us that coalitions tend to
It will be hard for Macron to obtain a
majority in Parliament, given that En Marche! does not yet have the apparatus
of an established party at its disposal. Furthermore, during the last stage of
the presidential election both the Socialists and Republicans supported Macron,
mainly in opposition to Le Pen’s extreme views. Now they will run their own
candidates on their own tickets. The FN and the Left Party are also back in the
For the time being Europe may have stemmed
the tide of populism, but between fickle majorities, German elections, Brexit,
the Greek debt crisis and the Italian banking crisis, the summer of 2017
promises to be politically hot.
Dr. Khaled M. Batarfi
May 9, 2017
I WAS trying to clarify the positions of
the Gulf states on main Middle Eastern issues, and to explain the differences
of opinion in some areas, such as Egypt and Syria, when my Algerian friend
announced: The Gulf position is one … regardless of details! Unlike in the
Maghreb union and other Arab regional blocs in modern history, GCC states are
but one entity!
I confirmed the validity of her impression,
and reminded of the European Union, which, despite the occasional divergence in
some policies, they are one big family. The mechanisms they created would take
care of opinion or interest differences in orderly fashion.
Yes, the Gulf is one entity, and perhaps it
is on the way to full unity. Times prove this fact to our friends and foes at
every turn. Those in Tehran who betted on the breakup of our alliance and tried
to penetrate it by drawing closer to some of its members, thought at some point
that they succeeded.
The Arab Alliance in Yemen woke them up. So
was the unified position on all issues, such as the unity of Yemen and the
legitimacy of its leadership, and the solidarity against the coup forces and
the advocates of separation. They were also shocked by our success in building
up Islamic and international coalition in the face of their threats to global
peace and security. The alliance is getting stronger by the day, as more
evidence exposed Iranian sponsorship of terrorism. It is clearer now who was
creating and supporting terrorist organizations, whether Sunni or Shiite, from
Daesh (the so-called IS) and Al-Qaeda to Hezbollah and Al- Hashad Al-Shaabi.
Those who believed in Iran’s good
intentions after the conclusion of the nuclear agreement, or were fooled by its
“doves and falcons” play, “reformers and hardliners” act, came to realize later
the truth about its schemes and true intentions.
Actions test words, and facts expose lies.
Iran’s behaviour in the region was enough evidence, but fortunately its leaders
helped too with their arrogant declarations and hasty policies, after believing
their mission was succeeding in controlling four Arab capitals—Baghdad,
Damascus, Beirut and Sanaa.
Thus, it is clear to those who betted on
reforming the Iranian regime from within that the Constitution of the Republic
and Khomeini’s commands do not allow for any leader to break away from the
Safavid ultimate project. This is a project formulated by a clearly defined
ideological doctrine, stipulating that Islam is confined to the Twelver Jaafari
school of thought. The rest of us are infidels who must adhere to the their
sect. The Muslim world, including Makkah and Madinah, must be united under the
leadership of the supreme leader and the deputy of the absent imam. Their
mission is to prepare the world for the return of the “savior imam,” who has
disappeared in a tunnel hundreds of years ago, and should reappear before the end
A sign of the international community
awakening and resolve is how the United States ended an eight-year “secret
understanding” with Iran to conclude an agreement that gave the rogue nation a
free hand in the region. Instead, the Trump administration has decided to
rehabilitate its time-tested alliance with the Gulf and allied Arab and Muslim
states, such as Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Pakistan and Turkey.
This shift was manifested in stronger
cooperation with the Arab Alliance in the liberation of Yemen and the securing
of international waterways in the Red Sea and the Arabian Gulf. The latest
manifestation of this change of track was the announcement by US President
Donald Trump about his choice of Saudi Arabia as the first stop of his first
tour since taking office. During the visit, he is to meet with the Custodian of
the Two Holy Mosques, Gulf, Arab and Islamic leaders. The US president
emphasized the importance of Saudi Arabia, the cradle of Arabism and Islam, and
its leading role in the Arab and Muslim world, as well as, in global politics,
economy and security. He rightly decided that the Land of Islam is the most
effective platform for communicating with the Muslim public, especially the
youth, and for combating terrorism.
Yes, our Gulf is one… It is about time our
bully neighbor puts its hopes and doubts to rest! We will face them as one! And
as one we shall prevail!
Is Not Just Americans Who Know So Little of the Arab World
Should we be shocked that 81 percent of
Americans cannot identify the Arab world on the map? This was the headline
finding of the Arab News/YouGov poll published last week. After all, the US
just elected a man who promised “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims
entering the United States,” and claimed: “I think Islam hates us.” Surveys
show that views of Arabs and Muslims have just merged into one.
More alarming is that over a fifth of those
polled believe in the existence of Agrabah, the fictitious setting for Disney’s
“Aladdin,” one of the most egregious of anti-Arab films. This echoes a 2015
poll showing that 30 percent of Republican primary voters would back bombing
Agrabah (it was 19 percent for Democrats).
Levels of ignorance and apathy are
translating into dangerous prejudice and support for racist and discriminatory
policies. Thirty-eight percent of those polled would be happy with a travel ban
on Agrabah, even it if it is accessible only by magic carpet.
But the US is not the sole bastion of such
ignorance and hatred. European snobbery about American lack of knowledge of the
wider world, not least the Middle East, is not unknown. I would not care to
guess at the level of geographic knowledge of most Europeans about Southeast
Asia, for example, let alone the Middle East. As bad as it is in the US, other
areas of the world often fare little better in their knowledge of the region.
Sixty-five percent of those asked in this
poll admitted they know little about the Arab world. To put this into
perspective, one of the reasons the Council for Arab British Understanding
(CAABU) was created was that there was an opinion poll in Britain that showed
98 percent of the public claimed to know little or nothing about the Arab world.
Then again, in 1967 there were no satellite news stations or the Internet.
A quarter of Canadians wanted a Donald
Trump-like ban, and most Canadians do not hold positive views of Muslims. In a
survey of 10 European countries, 55 percent wanted a ban on immigration from
mainly Muslim countries, with only 25 percent opposing it.
Most polls show that in the US, UK,
Germany, Italy and France, there is a grossly exaggerated sense of the size of
the Muslim population. In France, a poll found that most people thought 31
percent of the population was Muslim; the real figure is 7.5 percent. Trump
tapped into this sentiment, but so have many far-right politicians across
Just like him, European politicians have
seen Muslim- and Arab-bashing as a vote-winner. The leader of a fascist party,
Marine Le Pen, just got 34 percent of the vote in France. Geert Wilders, the
“Dutch Trump,” came second in the Dutch elections in March. Only in last year’s
London mayoral elections did Muslim-bashing fail, when Sadiq Khan triumphed to
become the city’s first Muslim mayor after facing a torrent of dog
The implications remain alarming as the
situation deteriorates. More Daesh-inspired atrocities and negative attitudes
will gather pace, with innocent Muslims bearing the brunt. Already many Arabs
and Muslims anglicize their names in the US, from Muhammad to Mo or Walid to
Wally. European Arabs and Muslims are increasingly fearful.
Arabs appear to have the worst reputation
among those who do not follow news of the region. Improving news quality and
coverage can help, but for those who do not pay attention to news, it is vital
to reach out to them culturally. There is also the issue that for decades,
Hollywood and television have largely dehumanized and stereotyped Arabs and
Muslims. This must be challenged even more vigorously.
Whatever PR and education drives are
mounted, little will be truly effective while conflicts, terrorism and
extremism blight the Middle East. Daesh killed more than 6,000 people in 2015
in 28 countries. The overwhelming majority of the victims are Muslim, but
attacks in developed countries are on the rise. It will probably not make much
impact to point out that in 2014, gun crime accounted for 1,000 times more
American deaths than terrorism.
This is an emotional, not a logical
challenge. The narrative of the “Arab-Muslim” threat is powerful, and has been
exaggerated all too often for political gain. Powerful Arab and Muslim role
models are a vital asset. Leadership on this issue will not flow from the White
House under Trump. Other leaders must step forward to heal these rifts before
it is too late.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and
German Chancellor Angela Merkel appear willing to a degree, but the new French
President Emmanuel Macron must also challenge these prejudices. Likewise, Arab
and Muslim leaders must become partners and active ambassadors to tackle this
ignorance and prejudice, and not wait for the next crisis to act.
To Establish Safe Zones In Syria Comes Into Effect
On May 4, Russia, Turkey and Iran signed an
agreement in Astana, Kazakhstan, establishing four “tentatively designated
de-escalation zones” in Syria, where the three will act as guarantors to stop
hostilities for six months, extendable if all parties agree. The two-day
meeting between the Syrian government and opposition groups led to Moscow,
Tehran and Ankara agreeing to establish the zones in northern, central and southern
The agreement is an important step in the
peace-building process, and has great potential to end six years of Syrian
bloodshed. The zones will provide refuge and humanitarian aid to many displaced
But the agreement is not quite clear about
how the guarantors will monitor the zones; this is its Achilles heel, like all
previous initiatives. Thus many doubt the zones will be a successful move
toward resolving the conflict. Some believe such zones will be targets of
increased violence, and will limit the military action that could pave the way
for a comprehensive cease-fire and a political process.
The UN special envoy for Syria, Staffan de
Mistura, said the agreement “is an important, promising, positive step in the
right direction.” This signals that it has been given the green light by the UN
as a last chance to stop the bloodshed.
But representatives of the armed opposition
stormed out of the meeting, rejecting the agreement because it “fails to
guarantee the unity of Syria.” Syrian unity remains a key issue. All proposals
that could lead to the division of the country have been continuously rejected
by all parties to the conflict.
Russian negotiator Aleksandr Lavrentyev
said his country will send observers to the safe zones, and all parties
involved should “work more closely.” He voiced hope that the US and Saudi
Arabia will cooperate to achieve peace in the region. Apparently both countries
support the idea of safe zones.
Lavrentyev said the Syrian government will
honor the agreement, which has been in effect since May 6, as long as armed
groups do not attack the zones. But the US believes his statement has a
“loophole which allows violations in these zones.” The high level of mutual
distrust explains the skepticism over the zones’ prospects.
Within 10 days of the signing of the
agreement, the guarantors will set up a joint working group to monitor the
zones and their borders. By late May, maps will be drawn to help implement a
lasting cease-fire between the Syrian government and the armed opposition.
The zones are in Idlib province and some
adjacent territories, including Latakia; Hama and Aleppo to the north of Homs;
Eastern Ghouta; and Daraa and Quneitra provinces in the south, by the border
with Israel. Checkpoints will be set up at the zones’ peripheries to ensure
security, safe passage of civilians and delivery of humanitarian aid.
As soon as the agreement was made public,
the US State Department said: “The United States supports any effort that can
genuinely de-escalate the violence in Syria, ensure unhindered humanitarian
access, focus energies on the defeat of ISIS (Daesh) and other terrorists, and
create the conditions for a credible political resolution of the conflict.”
But it added: “We continue to have concerns
about the Astana agreement, including the involvement of Iran as a so-called
‘guarantor.’ Iran’s activities in Syria have only contributed to the violence,
not stopped it, and Iran’s unquestioning support for the Assad regime has
perpetuated the misery of ordinary Syrians.
“In light of the failures of past
agreements, we have reason to be cautious. We expect the regime to stop all
attacks on civilians and opposition forces, something they have never done. We
expect Russia to ensure regime compliance.”
Will US-Russian distrust lead to the
agreement’s failure? This depends on Turkey, which is a gatekeeper for NATO but
has close ties with Russia and is deeply involved in Syria, supporting certain
opposition groups and fighting Kurdish forces. For the time being, the US wants
to continue dialogue with Russia to end the Syrian conflict, and strongly
supports the UN-led Geneva process.
Building trust, in Syria and among the
global and regional players involved, is a must under the current
circumstances. The number of guarantor countries should be extended to include
the US and Saudi Arabia, considering the latter’s influence on certain
opposition groups. Another right thing would be for joint international
observer groups, with a UN mandate, to monitor implementation of the agreement.
Observer groups operated by one guarantor
will lack credibility. International observer groups with a UN mandate would be
more significant and credible. Peace in Syria should be guaranteed by more
countries than just Russia, Turkey and Iran, the most dubious player in this
situation. Global cooperation should prevent escalation in Syria and among the
foreign players involved.
Safe zones could bring about reconciliation
and peace-building in Syria, but only if given a chance by all the players, who
need to put aside their ambitions and geopolitical egoism. Unless there is
regional and international will to solve the roots of the conflict, the problem
will persist militarily and politically. Ending the Syrian conflict has become
a global concern.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had
talks with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin last week in Sochi, Russia.
The most important item on the agenda was the creation of “de-escalation” zones
in various parts of Syria. Turkey had long promoted the idea of establishing a
safe zone in northern Syria. Russia and the US were also interested, but
perceptions regarding the content of the idea varied.
Erdogan had in mind a safe zone preferably
in areas controlled presently by the Free Syrian Army (FSA), with the support
of the Turkish Army. If possible, this zone would be protected by a no-fly
zone, meaning Syrian regime aircraft would be prevented from flying over the
zone and bombing targets in it. However, Turkey could not gather sufficient
support for it.
The US said on several occasions it was in
favor of such an idea, but with a different scope. It wanted to protect the
Kurds from the regime. Turkey tried to persuade the US to create a zone free
from Kurdish fighters of the People’s Protection Units (YPG), which the US
views as a valuable ally.
Last week, Erdogan and Putin agreed on an
entirely different concept. Russia wants to draw a line between the warring
parties in four places: Idlib in the north, next to the Turkish border; Homs,
north of Damascus; the Ghouta neighbourhood of Damascus; and a region near
Daraa close to the Jordanian border. De-escalation is not expected to become
operational at the same time in every region.
Russia, Turkey and Iran will be the
guarantors of the plan, but other countries will be invited to contribute to
its implementation. The aim is to end the hostilities and create favorable
conditions to advance a political settlement of the crisis in Syria.
Hostilities will be controlled by the
parties in the de-escalation areas, including weapons. Unhindered, immediate
and safe humanitarian access will be provided under the supervision of the
guarantor. Conditions will be created to provide medical aid to the population.
Measures will be taken to restore social
infrastructure, water supply and other life-supporting systems, and conditions
will be created to ensure the safe and voluntary return of refugees and the
work of local governing bodies. Along the borders of the de-escalation zones,
there will be safe areas to prevent incidents and direct clashes between the
warring parties. This part of the plan vaguely resembles Turkey’s original
Daesh, Al-Qaeda-linked opposition groups
and other terrorist organizations listed by the UN will not be covered by the
plan, so they will continue to be targeted by the Syrian and Russian air
Putin said he discussed the plan and other
ways to consolidate the cease-fire with US President Donald Trump, and that he
supports the ideas. But State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said the
US had reasons to be cautious, including Iran’s role in the deal and the Syrian
regime’s failure to fulfill past commitments. “The US appreciates the efforts
by Russia and Turkey, and supports any effort that can lower violence in
Syria,” she added.
A working group will be established five
days after the agreement is signed by Russia, Turkey and Iran. It will
determine the boundaries of the areas of tension and security, and will
finalize technical issues related to the implementation of the plan. The maps
of “areas of tension and de-escalation areas” will be completed by May 22.
The deal reached in Sochi is a major
breakthrough, and makes Ankara an officially involved party in the
de-escalation process. It also solves the dilemma of whether Turkey will
cooperate with Russia or with the US, because both support the plan.
This cooperation will help mend the damage
in Turkish-Russian relations caused by Turkey’s downing of a Russian fighter
jet. It will also readjust Ankara’s Syria policy to reflect the realities on
the ground, and send a message to the West that its snubbing of Turkey has
Of Differences Between Egypt And Saudi Arabia
During the past few months, many have
spoken about an alleged “dispute” between Saudi Arabia and Egypt. However,
Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman put an end to these allegations
when he said during an interview last week that “relations with Egypt are
It’s no secret that Egypt and Saudi Arabia
have different visions regarding some affairs. This is widely known. And here I
emphasize the word “some,” since those who are drowned in illusions celebrated
these differences and viewed them as the basis for “severing relations” when in
fact there are only differences and not a “dispute.”
Egypt has its own vision regarding the
Syrian crisis and is different than Saudi Arabia’s. Everyone knows that. Having
different points of view regarding an affair or two does not mean abandoning
cooperation on 100 other affairs which they agree on.
Amid this uncontrolled media criticism,
Egypt announced that its operations with the Arab coalition to restore
legitimacy in Yemen will continue and condemned the malicious roles which some
parties in the region play. Egypt is also one of the founding members of the
Arab and Islamic alliances. News reports are one thing but the wisdom and
awareness of Egypt and Saudi Arabia’s leaders are something else.
Egypt and Saudi Arabia are the wings of the
Arab world. Wisdom among any two brotherly countries is always based on
“organizing differences” until the reasons behind these differences end.
Differences are the norm, but what is
strange here is the practice of exaggerating them.
The results of the first round of the
presidential elections in France brought to the fore the growing signs of the
end of the traditional party system in the world, whether it is the right-wing
party or the left-wing party; both of them have decisively been hit.
Today, there is the emergence and
ascendancy of one-person political system of governance rather than a
Individuals, who decide to walk against the
mainstream politics and read what the street wants, are taking the reins of
governance. We saw it in Britain’s vote and its exit from the European Union.
We also saw it clearly in the election of Donald Trump as the president of the
United States of America.
They managed to convince the people of
globalization that the world is flat — as described by writer Thomas Friedman —
and is full of twists and turns formed by the sectarian, ideological and
religious affiliations and far removed from the idea of coexistence, tolerance
Even the notion of the end of the world, as
propagated by American author Francis Fukuyama in his famous book with the same
tile, that the fall of the Soviet Union is the end of the world as we know it.
The only one had foresight is famous
American writer and historian Samuel P. Huntington, who raised the slogan of a
“clash of civilizations” in his book with the same controversial title.
What we see today is also the clash of
civilizations and cultures in absolute terms — ideas, religions, creeds, and
sects that collide and wrestle in a crazy and bloody way. It may be the
beginning of the collapse of traditional institutions as defined by humanity in
its recognized forms and may be the beginning of the formation of new
The clash of civilizations is old, not new,
and the conflict has turned different historical stages into clashes and
battles between the east and west, north and south, religions and sects.
Sometimes it is for political reasons, sometimes for economic factors and
sometimes for religious and cultural reasons. It can also be for employment and
re-employment according to objectives of the situation.
Today, the political West is living in a
striking and important phase. The society that was built and founded on a set
of values, noble and lofty goals is now living in a state of “shock” with
itself first and then it is colliding with other through an unprecedented
series of policies and legislations, which can easily be described as
aggressive, exclusionary and negative. It is exactly the opposite of what the
political West was glorifying itself as the protector of rights and the
fortress of minorities
A clash within civilizations might be a
more accurate description of what is happening within the West. A new identity
is trying to emerge. But the young Emmanuel Macron, who beat others in the
primaries, has now beaten Marine Le Pen, a symbol of racism and hatred.
Dr. Azeem Ibrahim
Since Blair’s intervention in the ongoing
Brexit debate in the interview in the Mirror on 1st May, many in the liberal
centre of British politics have been hailing his announced return as some kind
of providential deliverance from the craziness of our current political
There is no doubt that Tony Blair wants to
return to the political spotlight. He says so himself, and some observers have
traced a pretty credible analysis of the PR campaign being waged to rehabilitate
his public image. We can observe intent and commitment. But this is no
guarantee of success.
Tony Blair is still hailed by his fans as
one of the most successful politicians of his generation. And that is a fact
that cannot be denied, whether you are a fan of his record in government or
not. That record of success is what drives the hopes of the liberal centre-left
that he can do it again. That he will make a success of this comeback, just as
he has made a success of the Labour party in the 90s.
What is missing from the analysis is the
extent to which politicians, and the success they enjoy is a product not just
of their own force of personality or of their policies, but in fact, mostly a
product of the times. In other words, Tony Blair is about as likely to succeed
in his political comeback as Margaret Thatcher would have been if she had
attempted a political comeback in 2001. Which is to say, not very. Though it is
not difficult to why he would appeal to a large part of the electorate
considering the state of politics at the moment in the UK and the Labour Party
It is easy to be nostalgic about the lost
glories of ‘Cool Britannia’, much as we loved to deride its kitch even back
then. In the late 90s and early 2000s, Britain was a self-confident, assertive
and successful country. And Tony Blair was a leader that perfectly embodied the
spirit of that age. Just as many of Britain’s earlier leaders embodied the
spirit of their ages: Margaret Thatcher, Harold Wilson, Harold Macmillan,
Clement Atlee, Winston Churchill, and so on. Tony Blair will be rememberd in
that succession of memorable leaders who perfectly represented the Britain of
But Tony Blair’s Britain is gone. It has
been swallowed whole by the 2008 Global Financial Crisis. Today’s Britain is
petty, meagre, fearful, inward looking and with uncharacteristically illiberal
leanings. Today’s Britain is not looking at how to build a better future for
all of us, but it is looking at who to blame for our society’s failings.
Today’s Britain has a greater affinity to Nigel Farage’s political persona:
small, insular, gobby, and driven by unarticulated, uncomprehending rage, than
it has with the hopeful, confident and assured stride that it used to cut in
the heyday of Tony Blair’s premiership.
And Blair’s revived interest in front-line
politics is not going to change that. All it will do, is exactly all that it
has done so far: give false hope to the demoralised liberal centrists who still
yearn for the glory days of ‘Cool Britannia’. The rest of the country has moved
on. We may lament the direction in which it has moved on. Where we are now is
indeed lamentable. But just as Tony Blair, Peter Mandelson and the rest of the
old Blairite cadre chide the Corbyn wing of the Labour party for living in the
70s, so they are guilty of living in the 90s. And neither will deliver any
success to the progressive cause in Britain while they are stuck in their own
This is why Theresa May is dominating the
political field as she is at the moment. She is a better embodiment of the
spirit of our time than any other political leader we have on the national
stage: that schizophrenic mixture of quiet, reserved, old-school, elegant
British pragmatism of her ordinary character, and the shrill, impotent,
defiant, jingoistic, reactionary rage at our collective inability to pull
ourselves out of the current national malaise. Theresa May dances perfectly to
the tune of modern Britain. Tony Blair’s return, on the other hand, is just as
likely to cheer up the audience.
From the musings of New York Times
columnist David Brooks to the ravings of Rep Steve King (R-IA), there is a
growing sense among many that Western values, even Western civilisation, is in
mortal danger. So-called radical Islamic terrorists are the ultimate threat.
But so too is an education in which any
aspect of Western civilisation is treated as anything less than sacred. Arab
Muslims, Latino immigrants, and African migrants have served as the straw
persons for the economic uncertainties and racial anxieties stemming from
globalisation and the 2008-09 financial crises. And those uncertainties explain
much of the anxiety over the possible fall of Western civilisation to
anti-Western teachings and demographic shifts in the United States and in
This is all part of a larger theme, of the
West's obsession with seeing itself as the pinnacle of everything humanity has
achieved. But make no mistake. White and European populist nationalism has
always been a part of modern Western political thought. With the United
Kingdom's Brexit vote and Donald Trump winning the presidency in 2016, however,
these fringe-group, master race proponents are now fully mainstream, like they
were in the 1930s.
Last month in his column "The Crisis
of Western Civ," Brooks wrote, "Starting decades ago, many people,
especially in the universities, lost faith in the Western civilization
narrative … Now many students, if they encounter it, are taught that Western
civilization is a history of oppression."
King tweeted in March, "Wilders
understands that culture and demographics are our destiny. We can't restore our
civilisation with somebody else's babies." Brooks' column was a half-baked
response to the rise of strongmen in geopolitical affairs, including President
Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin in Russia and Recep Erdogan in Turkey, and the
possibility for others like Marine Le Pen in France.
King's nasty tweet was an indirect reply to
Dutch right-wing politician Geert Wilders, who had repeatedly called for the
"de-Islamification" of the Netherlands, including an end to Muslim
immigration, the banning of the Quran, and the closing of all mosques. Both
Brooks and King perceive the US and the West to be under siege from
anti-Western values and demographic shifts that would reduce European - or
really, White -dominance in the US and in Europe.
Americans, in particular, are obsessed with
the US being #1 and with continued expressions of greatness and patriotism. But
this is the opposite of what Brooks believes regarding the teaching of Western
civilisation at the college and high school levels, that professors have
de-emphasised Western greatness. If anything, many of these courses reinforce
the stereotype of the West as fundamentally good for the globe.
The first time I taught a course in world
history was at Carnegie Mellon University in 1994, and the professor for whom I
taught was Peter Stearns. He, along with Jerry Bentley and Herbert Ziegler,
brought world history as a course to many US high schools and colleges in the
1980s. For at least that long, the issue of a strong Western bias has remained
a big concern among educators. In the sections of the course I taught, we spent
a week on classical India and China (roughly the period between 500 BCE and 500
CE) discussing women's roles in patriarchal societies. After a discussion of
Hindu poetry, one of my students wrote in an essay, "Chinese women
resisted patriarchy, but Indian women were demure."
This was a typical example of what I have
come to call "world stereotypes" - the quick, dirty, and Eurocentric
ways in which high school teachers and college professors teach world history.
It is the idea that Western civilisation is automatically better and that
"non-Western others" can neatly fit pre-existing stereotypes. It
means that courses like world history often serve as tools that reproduce a
strong, pro-Western bias, and reinforce racial, ethnic, religious, and
In the past few years, a number of school
districts have resisted even minor changes in history curricula in which the
idea of Western civilisation as something other than a positive force for the
world was a consideration.
This resistance has included Jefferson
County, Colorado's school board, where one board member insisted that the new
Advanced Placement curriculum for US History should only "present positive
aspects of the United States and its heritage." The Texas state school
board has also been in this mix. They proposed a Mexican American heritage
textbook that suggested Mexican Americans had "adopted a revolutionary
narrative that opposed Western civilization and wanted to destroy this
society". In Tennessee, the state school board stirred controversy in
September 2016 when it gutted Islamic history and culture from its seventh-grade
social studies curriculum for fear of religious "indoctrination."
There is nothing wrong with teaching the
history of Western civilisation. The problem is that millions want the world to
see Western civilisation as sacrosanct. The problem is that Western
civilisation would not exist without the significant contributions of diverse
peoples and other civilisations from all over the globe. The problem is that
Western civilisation has also done much harm to the world. Slavery, global
warfare, and climate change are as much the legacy of Western civilisation and
the US as are industrialisation, feminism, and parliamentary democracies.
White Americans and Europeans should
understand the full catalogue that is Western civilisation. A more white-washed
history and more European babies will definitely not make America and the West