Pre-9/11 Hopelessness (continued)
“The treatment of the Islamists, mostly the Muslim Brotherhood and other Salafists, as a viable alternative to secular and authoritarian regimes was stunning. Hosni Mubarak of Egypt was criticized by liberals in the West, who suggested engagement with the Muslim Brotherhood in order to eventually replace the president-for-life. Ironically, the Muslim Brotherhood’s agenda was to cripple liberal democracy for life. In Lebanon, Hezbollah was praised by many in the West as a force of “change,” a change that would transform Lebanon into a theocracy, a la Khomeini.
In sum, by spring 2001, the state of affairs of the democracy movement in the Greater Middle East was deplorable. There was no hope on the horizon. Westerners in general, and Americans in particular, were systematically brainwashed about the region. The public’s ability to fathom the rising threat of jihadism and the oppression of millions of individuals that it practiced was almost nil.
Several months before the shock of 9/11, while hundreds of thousands of women were brutally dealt with by the medieval Taliban in Afghanistan and millions of females were removed from,the country’s workforce, a mind-boggling development was taking place on America’s golden campuses: A propaganda machine was pushing for an engagement with the fascist militia that had blown up religious sites, shut down movie theaters, and executed artists. Despite this behavior, a delegation of Taliban “scholars” was invited to Harvard to address students and faculty in Boston and other cities. One would imagine that perhaps these turbaned ideologues wanted to learn about the benefit of liberal democracy. But that was not the case. The Taliban were supposed to lecture American and international students on the positive achievements of their regime! It was the equivalent of inviting a delegation of Nazi scholars in October 1941 to U.S. campuses to lecture about the great achievements of Nazism in Germany and the rest of Europe. America had gone totally blind.
This was the state of mind in the United States in the year the Taliban’s proteges, al Qaeda, were preparing their Pearl Harbor attack against America.
The Durban Fallacy
There were many ominous cultural indicators of the suppression of the Middle Eastern democracy movement shortly before the savage jihadi attack against the world’s most powerful democracy. During August 2001, I monitored the so-called UN-sponsored Conference on Racism and Discrimination taking place in Durban, South Africa. Many Western-based NGOs representing Middle Eastern dissidents were extremely concerned that the main body of the United Nations dealing with minorities’ rights was hijacked by sympathizers of oil-producing regimes and groups preaching jihadism and other totalitarian doctrines. The fact that there were no representatives present in Durban from southern Sudan, Darfur, Kurds, Berbers, Copts, Assyro-Chaldeans, Mauritanian blacks, Arabs in Iran, or other persecuted groups in the Arab and Muslim world was a troubling matter. How could a conference claiming to tackle racism and discrimination, and particularly a conference taking place on the African continent, fail to invite escaped slaves from Sudan and Mauritania? These were the actual real slaves, called Abeed (meaning blacks) by their masters in two countries, members of the Arab League and the African Union.
Aside from this horrendous sin of sidelining the black slaves at a conference dedicated to antiracism, there were other noticeable absences. Discrimination against ethnic groups within the Arab and Muslim world wasn’t even on the agenda. Organizers detailed past historical, and of course Western, racism, but didn’t utter a single word on the present-day sufferings of hundreds of millions of disenfranchised peoples from the Atlas Mountains to the Himalayas. Sexual discrimination was addressed, but not sexual apartheid in Afghanistan, Iran, and Saudi Arabia.
In short, the entire Durban process was nothing but a charade to shield the oppressive ideological regimes in the Arab and Muslim world, particularly the oil-producing elites, the propagators of discriminatory ideologies. As expected, the Durban conference hysterically blasted Zionism as the chief abuser of human rights. Jewish nationalism was blamed for all Palestinian miseries, not the Israeli-Arab wars. While Israelis and Palestinians can debate the responsibility of stretching the war for decades, and potentially come to resolve their differences, the hotheaded jihadists, Salafists and pro-Iranians alike, are interested only in stretching the conflicts, regardless of the population’s suffering. Durban’s crowd went ballistic on the subject of Zionism, but not .a word was said about jihadism, Khomeinism, Baathism, and similar ideologies. Zionism demands that all or parts of Palestine become a Jewish homeland, but most Israelis have accepted the partition of the land since 1993, while Baathism, for example, wants all the lands between Spain and Iran as one Arab Umma, with no national rights for non-Arab nations living there centuries before the Arab conquest.
In addition, another hatefest was specifically directed at the United States, portrayed as the “mother of all problems in the world” by the organizers of and the participants in that reunion of radicals in Durban. Oddly, the vicious attacks against everything American were endorsed by some American academics, sympathizers of the region’s regimes. This rambling party, paid for by the international organization, went mute on all the horrors practiced by the oppressive regimes in Afghanistan, Sudan, Iran, and other parts of the area.
The first Durban conference in August 2001 was the height of insult not against the usual targets of criticism by the jihado-totalitarians, Israel and America, but against the real underdogs of the Arab and Muslim world. Not only was the message of Durban reprehensible, but it consolidated the grip of the authoritarians —via their radical subcontractors on the international institutions mandated to address racism and discrimination. By seizing control of the main international tool that raised the issue of mass human rights abuse in the Greater Middle East and using it against the West, the brotherhood against democracy reached the apex of its power worldwide. It was able to silence its peoples as long as no one cited these injustices worldwide. The ceiling was firmly closed.”
Walid Phares, The Coming Revolution : Struggle for freedom in the Middle East, New York, 2010, pp. 68-70