By Jahangir Mohammed
After the last few weeks there should no longer be any doubt that the Muslim world needs to rid itself of American presence and interference in Muslim lands. There can be no freedom, self-determination or independence in these lands unless that happens.
The United States veto of the Palestinian efforts at recognition in the United Nations, the decision to withdraw aid for Palestinians, as well as continued US military presence, repeated drone attacks and assassination of Muslims without charge or trial in Muslim lands, is surely compelling evidence that its time for a different approach.
Change happens when the majority of people develop a common understanding of their situation and decide collectively to do something about it. The revolutionary movements (not yet revolutions) in the Arab world this year, are the product not just of face book (this was just a vehicle for change), but also of decades of Islamic activism, and challenge to dictatorship and oppression. Small and gradual changes over time produce bigger change. This activism helped produce a common understanding of the nature of these regimes, leading eventually to these uprisings. We must never forget the many Islamic activists and their families who have been persecuted, imprisoned, or killed for exposing and standing up to these regimes.
However, there will be no revolutions in the Muslim world unless and until the Muslim masses understand that their struggle is not just against their own dictators. These dictators are just the local proxies of the United States and the West. To produce revolutionary change requires Muslim masses first to understand that their real struggle is against western presence and interference in Muslim lands, and then to do something about it. In both Egypt and Libya we have seen that removing a Western backed dictator does not equate to removing Western presence and interference. Nor will it lead to freedom and independence.
Nowhere is this relationship between the West and United States becoming clearer than in occupied Palestine. For over 60 years now the Palestinian leadership have been struggling to persuade the West and the United Nations of the just nature of their cause. The Palestinian Authority accepted the United Sates and Britain as impartial mediators, even prepared to accept what amounts to a tiny parcel of land of what was once Palestine. Yet from 1949 -2010 the United States has supplied $106BN of assistance, mostly military, to Israel. This does not include special military assistance on occasions and for joint military projects. Moreover, the economic assistance is provided on more favourable terms than other countries and not to programmes but direct to the Israeli government. This support has continued even when the Israelis have been massacring Palestinians and Muslims in both Palestine and Lebanon.
Anyone with sense can conclude from this, that the Palestinian struggle is not just against Israel, but the United States in particular, and other Western nations that support it. Yet the Palestinian leadership has treated this as a local struggle and the US as their friend. If someone aids and abets your enemy in every conceivable way for over 60 years, it is an act of gross stupidity to consider them your friends and as a solution to your problems. Recognising your enemy is an essential step to putting an end to your misery. That is why the Quran goes into so much detail about the threats and enemies Muslims and humanity are likely to face in this world, and how to deal with them.
So when the US threatens to veto even the tabling of a call for recognition of a Palestinian State, and most of the non –Western nations support it, and almost all the Western nations oppose it, or abstain, its time to realise who your struggle is really against? The United States did not even float the idea of a Palestinian State for the first time until after 911 in the June 2002 speech of George Bush. Even then it laid down so many pre-conditions that it made it virtually impossible to achieve.
Instead of Muslims running to the UN, and, the United States threatening to veto, it should be Muslims who should be vetoing the United States. Every penny that Muslims spend in trade or investment with the United States simply prolongs our suffering. Instead of our leaders and scholars pleading for justice with the leaders of Western nations, they should be addressing and mobilising the Muslim masses in a global resistance movement against the United States. They should be calling for the masses to make it difficult for American companies to do business in any part of the Muslim world, not through violence but through legitimate protest, boycott and other means of civil mobilisation and resistance. This would have a major impact. The American economy is already collapsing. Muslim masses could hasten this decline, and as the American people realise that their regimes policies are making them suffer, they will rise up against their own government and the State of Israel, and force change. It is this global resistance against the US and capitalism, inspired by Muslims, rather than elections or lobbying that will bring about revolution and change not just in the Muslim world but in the West too.
The despots of the Muslim world will not support such calls against the US, but the global Muslim Ummah of two billion people will. Our scholars and leaders of movements need to learn to address them not Western instruments of power. It was to them we should always have turned. In one of his last commands to Muslims before he passed away the Prophet Muhammad (saw) asked the believers to “ Expel the Mushrikeen[i] from Jazeera ut- al Arab” ( the Arabian peninsula, extends all the way to Syria). This order remains to be fulfilled even today. Revolutions first occur in the mind before they can be established on the ground. Its time for a change in mindset and strategy.
Jahangir Mohammed is the Director of the Centre for Muslim Affairs and can be reached at [email protected]
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect New Civilisation’s editorial policy.
[i]NB The definition of Mushrikeen does not equate to ordinary people or Christians and Jews. It means those who subscribe to other than the authority and power of Allah (swt) and try to impose it on Muslims or mobilise against them (whether they are Muslim or non-Muslim).