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Friday, May 29, 2020

World leaders should hang their heads in shame

by Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor

© Apimages: US President Barack Obama with British Prime Minister David Cameron at the NATO Summit in September 2014
© APimages: German Chancellor Angela Merkel with French President Francois Holland

Oh, what an impressive show NATO is putting on in the Welsh city of Newport! Tom Jones’ Green, Green Grass of Home is now peppered with tanks and missiles while Cardiff plays host to mighty warships. Enemies of the West must be quaking in their boots; except they’re not. They must be chuckling at the hollow rhetoric coming out of the mouths of the Leader of the Free World and his European allies, empty words delivered in the presence of representatives from four Arab countries. Are they there to write a script for one of Adel Imam’s famous humorous parodies on life; this situation is starting to look like fodder for one of this legendary Egyptian actor’s movies?

Our planet is experiencing unprecedented man-made crises. Like me, people everywhere are asking, ‘What’s happening to our world?’ We look at those leaders and think, if these are the people responsible for protecting our lives, then God help us.

As unbelievable as it sounds, here’s the plot. Take note please, Adel Imam!

A gang of losers seeking power, wealth and territory decide to dupe feeble-minded young Muslims with the promise of an Islamist State; a Utopian land stretching from Syria to Iraq and eventually encompassing Lebanon, Jordan, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia where flogging, stoning, beheading, crucifying and burying children alive are accepted norms. In this ‘magical caliphate’ women recognisable only by their eyes are barred from leaving home without a close male relative. Televisions are smashed. Schools are forbidden to teach music, art and philosophy. Smokers are lashed in public. Landmarks are painted black to match the group’s fluttering flags.

This is a place where fake Imam’s tell followers “We will take you to Paradise, even if we have to drag you in chains on the way there”. This hell on earth not only attracts educated fighters from distant shores, it holds an appeal for young western girls eager to become brides and breed a new generation of psychopaths.

Some 10,000 – 15,000 masked and attired in black, of course, initially succeed in taking swathes of Syrian and Iraqi territories larger than the size of the United Kingdom, virtually unopposed. Armies run from those thugs like rabbits; soldiers caught and stripped are mercilessly executed. Tens of thousands of civilians flee to a barren mountain top where many succumb to thirst. Parents weak from hunger and dehydration are forced to abandon elderly parents and young children to the sands during escapes.

In the meantime, the fanatics consolidate their state flush with ‘Made in America’ weapons and a treasure chest overflowing with oil revenues, cash plundered from banks, kidnap ransoms and the sale of women and girls in the local slave market. Nobody can accuse them of being disorganised. They’re managing civil society, overseeing public institutions, passing laws, hiring experts to advise them in various fields and doing a roaring trade in Iraq’s natural resources.

No, Mr. Imam, this isn’t a period movie set in the 10th century; it’s a contemporary reflection of events happening now. What’s that you say? It lacks credibility? Yes, I know that Egyptian audiences aren’t that dumb to fall for such a fantastical, unrealistic scenario…but…

Yesterday, while watching the most powerful men on earth discussing what to do about the so-called Islamic State during the NATO summit, I felt an impending sense of doom. What’s there to discuss! Eradicating a handful of murderous criminals before the contagion spreads is surely no challenge for a superpower. The US and its allies didn’t hesitate in going after Saddam Hussein’s non-existent weapons of mass destruction or to invade Afghanistan to smoke out a cave dweller. In truth, they must bear responsibility for this gang’s rise; ISIS now IS - drew strength and popularity out of Obama’s inaction in Syria to end the regime’s slaughter of its own people. Its seeming success, amplified by its well-oiled propaganda machine, spawns tentacles reaching into dungeons, back alleys and tunnels creating a complex web of danger.

Yet, in the case of IS, President Obama and his sidekick David Cameron have ruled out boots on the ground. Even, their pledge to arm the Kurdish Peshmerga, battling to protect Irbil as well as besieged minorities, has yet to manifest. Dropping bombs on IS convoys won’t cut it. Why? Because those extremists will simply blend with local populations or head back into northern Syria to re-group. And as Obama has controversially admitted, he has no strategy to attack the Islamist State in Syria, where it’s headquartered. Bravo David Cameron! It’s so reassuring to know that the UK government is compiling evidence against Islamic State fighters for crimes against humanity. I’ll bet those cockroaches preferring death to life are suffering sleepless nights worrying about ending up behind bars in The Hague. They deserve pest control not a panel of judges.

If the United States, Europe and NATO are too cowardly to confront this scourge they should hire mercenaries headed by former military/intelligence chiefs to do the job for them, just as security firms like the infamous Blackwater which, in 2003, terrorised populations in Iraq. The Sicilian Mafia would be more effective than Obama and co. Perhaps the Peruvian Shining Path or the Colombian Farc could be persuaded.

However, there is one question that bugs me more than most. Where are the Arabs? This madness is playing out on our doorstep; it threatens us directly and imminently. The fact that it hides under the banner of Islam is nothing short of a sacrilegious assault on our faith. Forget the Arab world as an entity; it’s disunited and in disarray! The GCC has the fire power and expertise to militarily intervene on its own. GCC states don’t need permission from Washington to protect themselves or our brothers in Iraq and Syria. Why aren’t we embarrassed that the Kurds are battling on our behalf? If we don’t stand up to this threat and others, such as the Shi’ite Houthis bent on the destruction of Yemen, not only history will stand judge, so will our great-grandchildren.

There are no heroes in this unfolding script; only rogues, wimps and fools marching us towards Armageddon. And as for Obama and Cameron, they’re nothing but strutting bit part actors in a plot that gives them the jitters. The US President appears to have stage fright desperately seeking cues and lines from the British PM. Neither displays the presence of a leader capable of rescuing the world, like Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill or Dwight Eisenhower, not to mention our great Arab personalities, such as Omar bin Al Khattab and Khalid bin Al-Waleed, whose word was their bond, and whose bravery was beyond reproach.

In this B-rated film, a bunch of bloodthirsty bad guys emerge as victors. I can only pray for a different ending before it hits theatres close to all of us.

Published in the media on Sept 7, 2014

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