A propagandist-in-chief's war on intellectual imperialism and pursuit of a resistance episteme

Posts Tagged: Muslim Brotherhood

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Many have decried the millions-strong uprising in Egypt, and the military coup which rode on this popular anti-MB wave, as being antithetical to the basic precepts of democracy. Underlying this argument, is a distinctly western liberal conception of democracy which preoccupies itself with such procedural matters as elections and constitutional legitimacy. The problem with this view isn’t merely that it lacks a substantive understanding of democracy, but that it also overlooks the fact that the Western/GCC-penetrated, post-Spring Arab world is hardly one conducive to procedural democracy, let alone substantive democracy. When a nation that lacks sovereignty holds winner-takes-all- type elections, the results will be nothing short of deeply polarizing, as every single election in the region, from the Lebanese “Cedar Revolution” in 2005 on, has illustrated. When elections revolve around reinvigorated identity politics rather than issue-based politics, discontent will be expressed in identity-driven ways rather than at the ballot box. When a government, or its opposition, is denied popular legitimacy no amount of constitutional legitimacy or foreign support can grant it the perceived “right to rule”. So long as the imperialists and their Arab lackeys are active participants in the “democratic” process in the region, there can be no civil peace, internal stability or national security, which are the preconditions for that democratic process.

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It isn’t merely the [overwhelmingly Muslim], Arab people who reject Islamic extremism; The Egyptian army’s “coup” against the MB is but the latest manifestation of a political trend that began in Syria in 2011, and was also recently witnessed in Lebanon: Arab armies taking on the role of the guarantors of national unity and internal stability by refusing to allow their nations to succumb to the divisive and sectarian agendas of Amerikan Islam, be it in extremist takfiri or “moderate” MB form. The fact that Obama expressed his “deep concern” over the Egyptian army’s decision , only reinforces this reality and confirms the moral rightness of this trend . Nasrallah repeatedly warned of the US’ aversion to strong Arab armies who are capable of thwarting its sinister schemes in the region. And no matter how distasteful wars and coups are to the bleeding- heart -liberal- brigade, let us face it: there can be no genuine participatory democracy when US/petrodollar- backed sectarian agitators, disguised as democrats are presented as the only alternative.

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Aside from developments in Syria and Libya, nothing showcases the complete bankruptcy of “Arab Spring” discourses in media, academia and policy-making circles, or calls for a redefinition of the concepts/Western buzzwords of revolution, democracy and moderation, as much as the millions of Egyptian protesters today who are staging a “Tamarod” or rebellion against [the results of] the “revolution”, calling for the overthrow of their “democratically” elected regime, and denouncing the religious intolerance and sectarianism of the so-called “moderate” Muslim Brotherhood.

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The Israeli commentator Ben Caspit writes “In its Middle Eastern-Islamist version, democracy comes off as a recipe for riots, trouble, extremism and instability.” I know many secular Arabs are now repeating this mantra but if we think more deeply about such sweeping Orientalist generalizations about the Arab and Islamic world, we should lay the blame for this “recipe” for chaos on the imperialist-Arab axis rather than on our political culture. It isn’t that our region is incompatible with democracy. It is just incompatible with mega doses of imperialist interventions masquerading as democratization.

This chaos is the outcome of half baked revolutions that have been overtaken by the Empire and its Arab lackeys who have turned newly created “democratic” spaces into open arenas for naked [mainly sectarian] power struggles, leaving a security void that Al-Qaeda and other extremists flourish in, and a political void that only well-organized Islamists backed by petrodollars, can fill.  

This chaos is what happens when the hegemonic liberal brand of democracy is grafted onto our societies, albeit in procedural form only.

This chaos is what happens when find ourselves still under the yoke of economic and political imperialism, despite having unseated authoritarian leaders, as our economies remain beholden to the IMF’s dictates, while  the US/NATO and  their regional allies continue to manipulate our domestic politics by propping political parties which serve their geostrategic interests.

Support for Islamists and others with sectarian agendas is not the product of political choice and pluralism, but the product of military intervention that arms and empowers these groups, granting them influence over locales they control.  Sympathy for the more extreme of these religious and/or sectarian agendas is not the natural outcome of democratic elections or popular uprisings, but of the intellectual and political colonialism that has been mediated by Arab monarchies. And they have done so by means of overtly sectarian media campaigns and narratives which aim to de-prioritize the Empire and its Zionist outpost as the Arabs’ main enemy by replacing them with the “Shi’ite threat.”

The real recipe for riots, trouble, extremism and instability is not democracy but the lack thereof. This is the product of the de-democratization of the region that has accompanied Empire-sponsored and/or Empire-hijacked, uprisings, and the ensuing military struggles and political processes whose micro-management is subcontracted to its GCC allies.

Our region and our political culture have never been averse to democracy, for what could be a greater expression of popular sovereignty than our rejection of imperialism and our resistance to Israel? This has been the cornerstone of OUR understanding of democracy as popular sovereignty and self-determination. It is precisely the undermining of this democratic, freedom and justice-seeking culture—this resistance identity— that has created this chaos and instability. And that is why we call them counter-revolutionary revolutions because they constitute a revolt against the once widespread revolutionary movement against our imperialist oppressors.

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A friend on Facebook just asked me how tolerant Iran was of the Syrian MB given  Iran’s 6 point plan solution. I answered this: The Iranians have to accept the Syrian Brotherhood just as they did in Egypt. Iran’s biggest threat today comes from the sectarian scourge. As I keep repeating, sectarianism is the new Israel for the Resistance axis. When we consider the amount of popular support the MB enjoys—as much we may dislike this fact—and the fact that the other option are the Salafis and Salafi Takfiris, Iran has to build bridges with the less intolerant and violent of the two. For all its “Islamic awakening”” rhetoric with regard to the Arab uprisings, Iran is of course much more secure with the type of secularism represented by Assad than the Sunni Islamism represented by these increasingly sectarian mainstream trends. But if Iran hopes to neutralize some of these sectarian tensions, it has to embrace the inevitable ascent of Islamism in the region, just as the Americans and NATO countries have. Islamic unity is not merely desirable on the doctrinal or ideological levels, it has now become a strategic necessity to thwart Empire’s divide-and-rule tactics. Israel was an easier enemy to defeat than sectarianism.

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Not that we ever needed further proof after Libya and Syria, but as Mursi’s power grab demonstrates today, neither individual rights nor real participatory democracy can be attained when imperialism still holds a firm grip over our region. There can be no freedom from (individual rights) or freedom to (social and economic rights) without the national right to self-determination.There can be no freedom or dignity of any kind so long as there is US domination.There can be no freedom for any Arab so long as Palestine is not free.

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A MUST READ by Ibrahim Alamine on how the US and Israel want to transform Hamas into a Sunni weapon against the Resistance Axis by reducing the latter to a “Shiite Front”. Highlights from this very illuminating piece:
"There is also impatience in the US and Israel to push things further – to get the resistance in Palestine to break off its relationship with Iran and, by extension, Syria and Hezbollah. The aim would be to employ Hamas’ popular legitimacy and record of struggle in the confrontation with the opposing camp, seeing as it is the involvement of the Iran-Syria-Hezbollah axis in resisting US and Israeli occupation that gives it sway in the wider Arab and Islamic worlds.

The harsh truth is that there are growing indications that such prospects need to be taken seriously. We need to take into account that Arab attitudes to the Palestinian cause and resistance are changing. It must be noted by the pro-resistance camp, for example, that not one Arab capital witnessed a serious demonstration in solidarity with the Gaza Strip. There was also the accompanying spiteful row between supporters of the two camps, with the Iran-Syria-Hezbollah axis seeking a public expression of gratitude from the Palestinian resistance, and Hamas leaders deliberately avoiding such mention. This all points to an impasse. Anyone who believed the battle with Israel would unite everyone is mistaken…”

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Much is being said and written about Khaled Mishaal’s press conference yesterday in which he thanked Egypt, Qatar and Tunisia but failed to mention Iran, Syria or Hizbullah. Here is what he said: "I salute President Mursi’s decision to stand by us from the first moment and sending the Prime Minister Dr Hashim Qandil [to Gaza], and I salute the Tunisian Foreign Minister’s visit and salute once again the Qatari Emir for breaking the political siege on Gaza.” When cornered by a journalist who asked about Iran, Mishaal responded "Our dispute with Iran over the Syrian crisis is no secret, but we will not forget Iran’s support for us in the past.

 Mishaal’s failure to recall the Resistance Axis—Iran, Syria, Hizbullah—military and political support for Hamas and the Palestinian resistance, was not lost on Nasrallah who responded in a speech a few hours later:

 The question here arises, despite the blockade imposed by some Arabs, how did the weapons reach Gaza, how did Fajr 5s reach Gaza? And how did Grad rockets reach Gaza? And how did anti-tank missiles reach Gaza, Kornet and other types? And how did anti-aircraft missiles reach Gaza? And WHO sent it? And who transported it? This is the big question that needs to be asked today, before we discuss which states are bringing us medicines and giving us a few cents.  We need to ask who enabled Gaza to stand on its feet today , to fight and make surprises and to shell Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and to fire at planes and battleships…The Arabs have acknowledged they besieged Gaza.

We must ask anew about the role of the Islamic Republic in Iran and the role of Syria. And I tell everyone [quotes from Quran here in my rough translation], “he who doesn’t thank the creature, doesn’t thank the creator; and gratitude perpetuates blessings, and if you are thankful we will increase them [the blessings].” However, God says in the Quran that few worshipers thank him.

Iran and Syria and Hizbullah will not abandon Gaza and its people, and just as we were with them over the past several years we will continue to stand by them, even if we disagree on some political positions here and there. We are fulfilling our religious , national and humanitarian duty when we stand with them. The main battle is this battle which requires everyone to stand with them [Gaza].”

The response was clearly critical and even somewhat dismissive of Mishaal’s rhetoric (the allusion to Qatar’s money). But although it was a stinging riposte, it was also a  reassuring one: that despite Mishaal’s ingratitude and Hamas’ position on Syria,  Hizbullah and Iran would continue to support it as a matter of principle and ideology. Supporting Palestine is the foremost duty for both actors . In fact, were Iran or Hizbullah to discontinue support for a Palestinian resistance which is actively resisting, both actors would be undermining their ontological security; that is the security of their political identities as particular kinds of actors. In short, they would be undermining their own raison d’étre.

Nasrallah’s remonstrations should therefore not be construed as a demand for some kind fealty owed to Iran or Syria, which would effectively reduce such support to pure self-interest rather than ideological or political obligation,  but rather, to two central concerns : First, is the fact that Hamas didn’t merely fail to thank its Resistance Axis allies, but that it thanked Egypt, Qatar and other “moderate” Arabs on more than one occasion, and omitted any reference to Iran, Syria and Hizbullah (actually Nasrallah doesn’t mention Hizbullah, only Iran and Syria). Had it not thanked anyone this omission would surely not have been such an issue.

Second, is the fact that this selective gratitude—and a misplaced one at that given Egypt’s token gestures of support for Gaza and the continuation of its blockade, as well as Qatar’s purely monetary support—isn’t occurring in a political void but in the midst of an unprecedented level of anti-Shi’ite sentiment in the region and in the context of a highly sectarian climate. In paying homage to his Sunni Ikhwan brethren in Egypt who have done little more than pay lip service to Palestine while closing more tunnels than Mubarak—and excluding the support of Shiites actors who have never had any problem arming Sunni resistance groups, Mishaal was unwittingly reinforcing sectarian tensions in the region. As has become patently obvious to all, sectarianism has become the new Israel and sectarian sentiment only serves to distract from the struggle against Israel and normalizes it in the region.

But none of this is to say that Hizbullah’s or Iran’s military support for Hamas and other resistance groups will be effected by either of these grievances. Ismail Haniyyeh’s interview on Al-Jazeera Arabic earlier this year is very telling in this respect. Despite the clumsily written title of the video, and the AJ interviewer’s biased and heavily loaded questions,  Haniyyeh’s rather reserved answers actually demonstrate the unequivocal and consistent nature of Iranian support for Hamas, despite the latter’s abandonment of its Syrian sponsors. I have transcribed excerpts from the interview below:   

Q. Many reports claim that Iran changed the nature of its support for Hamas because its asked Hamas for a clear stance on Syria

A. Our relationship with Iran is a good one, Iran stood by our side and supported our people and our resistance

Q: was this only in the past but not at present or in future?

A: No this remains the case, in one form or another, it continues

Hamas was always careful that whoever supports the Palestinian people should not ask for anything in return in terms of political positions or political blackmail

Q: So you were subjected to blackmail [by Iran].

A: No I am describing reality. The reality is that Hamas’ relationship with Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt and Jordan is a balanced relationship based on the [principle that] support for the Palestinian people is a duty and that Hamas can’t be in anyone pocket in exchange for this support….

Q: So you have no intention of making any concessions in return for the continuation of support?

A: WE HAVE NOT BEEN ASKED TO MAKE ANY FUTURE CONCESSIONS


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Don’t be fooled by the outraged Israeli response, Al-Thani’s visit— reported here— marks HAMAS’s official inauguration as a “Moderate” Islamic movement. The Qataris similarly “moderated” the MB’s spiritual leader, Youssef al-Qardawi, despite initial outrage by Israel and the US. 
Haniyeh: “Today we declare victory against the blockade through this historic visit,” he said. “We say thank you, Emir, thank you Qatar for this noble Arab stance … Hail to the blood of martyrs which brought us to this moment.”
After initially earmarking $250 million for the schemes, a smiling Haniyeh announced the fund now stood at $400 million…”
Indeed Haniyeh, this is precisely what Palestinian martyrs’ blood was shed for—petrodollars and re-integration into the fold of Zionist-enabling Ikhwani Islam.

Full article 

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Morsi, the Israeli normalizer

I don’t care how many denials Morsi’s spokesman issues about his letters to Peres, this statement of his says it all: “[Egypt] supports the demand of the people for freedom from oppression and occupation in both Syria and Palestine.” 

Nothing is more destructive to the Palestinian cause than equating Zionism with other authoritarianisms. The effect is to naturalize Israel’s oppressive entity as just another authoritarian regime in the region, which ipso facto normalizes Israel’s very existence. 

As for his reference to “occupation” in “both Syria and Palestine” one can either dismiss it as a linguistic/grammatical error or as adopting the FSA’s “liberated areas” discourse. Either way, Morsi’s words and actions (which are by no means limited to the statement in question) have proven he is no less of a normalizer of Israel’s existence than Mubarak was, and no more a friend of the Palestinian people than his predecessor. 

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And here’s the face of “moderate” Islam (and grandson of the founder of the Muslim brotherhood) whom the West loves to dialogue with and honor with awards , recognition and prestigious academic positions. Islamist scholar, Tariq Ramadan’s take on the Syrian “uprising” below. The part about the Syrian MB not being supportive of America is especially disingenuous: 
"In Syria, for eight months—and this is why I’m saying it’s not all under control—all the people who are saying, "Oh, it’s all done by the U.S., and it’s a conspiracy." I say, no, in Syria for eight months, President Barack Obama and the European administrations were hoping Bashar al-Assad was going to reform the regime from within, and it appeared that the people were more courageous. They didn’t want him to stay. So they were trying to find opposition and people with whom they can deal, because they had two problems. The driving force of the opposition in Syria was also the Muslim Brotherhood and leftists who were not very much supportive of the Americans. So they were trying to find who are the people with whom we can deal. And it took eight months. Now they want to change the government, but it’s as if they are facing Russia and China, and both are in agreement not to agree on what to do.”

It is no coincidence that Ramadan declared in 2008: "To call for a boycott does not mean to deny the existence of Israel. I do not deny Israel’s existence. I do oppose its policy of occupation and the inhuman and repressive campaigns undertaken by successive Israeli governments. I have always fought anti-Semitism and racism in all its forms, and will continue to do so." 
How else does a scholar get appointed as Chair of Islamic Studies at Oxford? 

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Mursi’s non-non-aligned position on Syria:
Mu’allem described Mursi’s reference to the Syrian government as “oppressive” and the Syrian opposition as “actively seeking freedom, dignity and human justice,” as expressions emanating from “the leader of a party” and not “the leader of a non-aligned movement”.

See quote in Arabic here on al-Mayadeen’s Facebook page

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Israel's president Peres receives letter from Egyptian President Morsy

If this was the result of a genuine intifada in Egypt (and no it wasn’t a CIA colour-coded revolution in Egypt) then it doesn’t take a giant leap of the imagination to envisage what a post-Assad Syria would look like:

President Shimon Peres received today (Tuesday, 31 July 2012) a first official letter from Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy. In his letter, President Morsy writes: “It was with deep thanks that I received your congratulations on the advent of the Holy Month of Ramadan.   I take this opportunity to reiterate that I am looking forward to exerting our best efforts to get the Middle East Peace Process back to its right track in order to achieve security and stability for all peoples of the region, including the Israeli people.”

Source: Israel’s foreign ministry here

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Muslim Brotherhood's rise in Egypt could push Hamas to lay down its arms

Very disturbing yet unsubstantiated Haaretz report about Hamas offering to provide intel to Washington on the Syrian army’s movements (assuming it has such info), among other concessions. Not sure how accurate the cited Rose al-Yussuf story is, but if true, then it looks like there is no going back for Hamas, and it’s unlikely the movement won’t break into two or more factions in future. Al Mayadeen, which is by far the most balanced tv station on the Syrian crisis, also published the Haaretz report on its Facebook page. Some excerpts:

"The relationship with the new Egyptian leadership, abandoning of the Syrian power-base and cutting off relations with Iran along with the recognition of the hopelessness of an armed resistance against Israel, is compelling Hamas to examine different strategic alternatives.

Unlike Mubarak who did not hesitate to cooperate in imposing sanctions on Gaza, Morsi will not want to be in a position he is forced to maintain Mubarak’s policy regarding Gaza. For this purpose, he needs Hamas to make concession primarily in its armed operations, something which Mashal must have understood.

In a meeting held last week, Egyptian weekly Rose al-Yusuf reported that Hamas’ Khaled Mashal had presented Muslim Brotherhood leader Muhammad Badia with a plan to end Hamas’ armed operations within a year. The details of the plan were not specified; however Egyptian sources believe that the plan represents Hamas’ willingness to announce an arms reduction (in exchange for an Israeli assurance to cease its actions against Hamas), disengagement from extreme Salafis operating in Sinai, and a gradual transformation of Hamas to a political movement, exclusive of a military wing.

According to the report, what surprised the Brotherhood’s leader was Mashal’s request that Egypt would ask the U.S. to pressure Israel to release 220 Hamas prisoners, handing over a list of their names to his host.

Mashal had also offered detailed information regarding the deployment of the Syrian army - information which he said could “determine the outcome of the campaign.” 

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So much for Hamas’ excitement about the ascendance of the Muslim Brotherhood. While Syria, Hizbullah and Iran have supported the movement and fiercely criticized Mubarak’s Egypt for its stranglehold over Gaza in Israel’s onslaught in 2008/2009 —and let us not forget how Hizbullah operatives were detained by the Mubarak regime for smuggling weapons and supplies to Hamas via Egypt— Egypt’s MB won’t even lend rhetorical support to removing Egypt’s blockade on Gaza. Excerpts from AP’s report here:

Egypt’s new president holds the key to blockaded Gaza, but he is signaling that he won’t rush to help the territory’s Hamas rulers by striking a border deal with them, even though they are fellow members of the region’s Muslim Brotherhood.

A bilateral border agreement between Egypt and Hamas could hurt chances of setting up a single Palestinian state, made up of the West Bank and Gaza, alongside Israel.

"I don’t think they (the Egyptians) are ready for that," said Palestinian economist and business leader Samir Hulileh.

Hamas was jubilant over Morsi’s election in neighboring Egypt in June, hoping the Egyptian leader would lift years of travel and trade restrictions that have hit the Gaza economy hard.

But for now Morsi is keeping Hamas at arm’s length, focusing on his relationship with Egypt’s powerful military and with the U.S., which gives Egypt $1.3 billion in annual military aid.

The Egyptian leader reiterated in a weekend meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton that he would honor all of Egypt’s international obligations.

He has also avoided preferential treatment of Hamas. This week, he’ll receive Abbas in Cairo, while Hamas leaders are still waiting for their invitation.

Morsi would like to lift the blockade, but is worried about violating international protocols, said Egyptian security officials familiar with Gaza policy, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.

Read more here: http://www.thenewstribune.com/2012/07/15/2215884/hamas-seeks-new-gaza-policy-from.html#storylink=cpy

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