First of all, we need to understand that how the neoliberal mindset is constructed. As we know that mass education programs and mass media engender mass ideologies. We like to believe that we are free to think, but as a matter of fact, human beings don’t exist in vacuums; the human mind is always socially constituted and socially situated.
Thus, our narratives aren’t really “our” narratives. These narratives of injustice and inequality have been constructed for the public consumption by the corporate media, which is nothing but the mouthpiece of the Western political establishments and business interests.
The media is our eyes and ears through which we get all the inputs and it is also our brain through which we interpret raw data. If the media keeps mum over vital structural injustices and blows isolated incidents of injustice and violence out of proportions, then we are likely to forget all about the former and focus all our energies on tangential issues which the media portrays as the real ones.
Monopoly capitalism and the global neocolonial political and economic order are the real issues, while Islamic radicalism and terrorism are the secondary issues which are itself a by-product of the former. This is how the mainstream media constructs artificial narratives and dupes its audience into believing the absurd. During the Cold War, it created the “Red Scare” and told its audience that communism is an existential threat to the free world and the Western way of life. Its audience willingly bought this narrative.
Then, the West and its regional collaborators financed, trained and armed the Afghan so-called “freedom fighters” and used them as proxies against the Soviet Union. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, however, they declared the former “freedom fighters” to be terrorists and another existential threat to the free world and the Western way of life. Its gullible audience again bought this narrative.
Similarly, during the Libyan and Syrian proxy wars, the former terrorists once again became freedom fighters – albeit in a more nuanced manner, this time around the corporate media sells them as “moderate rebels.” And the naive audience of the mainstream media once again willingly bought this narrative. It really stretches the limit of human credulity that how easy it has been for the mainstream media to sell “fake news” and false narratives to its uncritical audience.
The Western powers’ collusion and conflicted relationship with the Islamic jihadists in Libya and Syria isn’t the only instance of its kind. The Western powers always leave such pernicious relationships deliberately ambiguous in order to fill the gaps in their self-serving diplomacy and also for the sake of “plausible deniability.”
In the 1980s during the Cold War, the neocolonial powers used the jihadists as proxies in their war against the former Soviet Union. The Cold War was a war between the capitalist bloc and the communist bloc for global domination. The communists used their proxies the Vietcong to liberate Vietnam from the imperialist hegemony. The capitalist bloc had no answer to the cleverly executed asymmetric warfare.
The communist bloc clearly had a moral advantage over the capitalist bloc: the mass appeal of the egalitarian and revolutionary Marxist and Maoist ideologies. Using their “Working men and women of all the countries, unite!” slogan, the communists could have instigated an uprising anywhere in the world; but how would the capitalists retaliate, through “the trickle-down economics” and “the American way of life” rhetoric? The Western policy-makers faced quite a dilemma, but then their Machiavellian strategists, capitalizing on the regional grassroots religious sentiment, came up with an equally robust antidote to the revolutionary communism: the Islamic Jihad.
During the Soviet-Afghan conflict from 1979 to 1988 between the capitalist and communist blocs, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Arab petro-monarchies took the side of the former, because the Soviet Union and the Central Asian states produce more energy and consume less. Thus, they are net exporters of energy. Whereas the capitalist bloc is a net importer of energy.
It suited the economic interests of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries to maintain and strengthen a supplier-consumer relationship with the capitalist bloc. Now the BRICS countries are equally hungry for the Middle East’s energy, but it’s a recent development. During the Cold War, an alliance with the industrialized world suited the economic interests of the Gulf Arab petro-monarchies. Hence, the communists were pronounced as Kafirs (infidels) and the Western capitalist bloc as Ahl-e-Kitaab (People of the Book) by the Wahhabi-Salafi preachers of the Gulf Arab states.
All the celebrity terrorists, whose names we now hear in the mainstream media every day, were the product of the Soviet-Afghan war: such as Osama bin Laden, Ayman al Zawahiri, the Haqqanis, the Taliban, the Hekmatyars etc. But that war wasn’t limited only to Afghanistan. The alliance between the Western powers and the Gulf States during the Cold War funded, trained and armed the Islamic jihadists all over the greater Middle East region. We hear the names of jihadist groups operating in the regions as far afield as the Central Asian States and the North Caucasus.
Notwithstanding, it is generally assumed that political Islam is the precursor to Islamic extremism and jihadism. However, there are two distinct and separate types of political Islam: the despotic political Islam of the Gulf variety and the democratic political Islam of the Turkish and the Muslim Brotherhood variety.
The latter Islamist organization never ruled over Egypt except for a brief year-long stint. It would be unwise to draw any conclusions from such a brief period of time in history. The Turkish variety of political Islam, the oft-quoted “Turkish model,” however, is worth emulating all over the Islamic world.
I do understand that political Islam in all its forms and manifestations is an anathema to liberals, but it is the ground reality of the Islamic world. The liberal dictatorships, no matter how benevolent they are, have never worked in the past, and they will meet the same fate in the future.
The mainspring of Islamic radicalism and militancy isn’t the moderate and democratic political Islam, because why would people turn to violence when they can exercise their right to choose their rulers? The mainspring of Islamic militancy is the despotic and militant political Islam of the Gulf variety.
The Western powers are fully aware of this fact, then why do they choose to support the same forces that have nurtured jihadism and terrorism when their professed goal is to eliminate Islamic extremism and militancy? It is because it has been a firm policy principle of the Western powers to promote “political stability” in the Middle East rather than representative democracy.
The neocolonial powers are fully cognizant of the ground reality that the mainstream Muslim sentiment is firmly against any Western military presence and interference in the energy-rich Middle East region. Additionally, the Western policymakers also prefer to deal with small cliques of Middle Eastern “strongmen” rather than cultivating a complex and uncertain relationship on a popular level of the masses of the Islamic world, certainly a myopic approach which is the hallmark of the so-called “pragmatic” politicians and statesmen.
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Nauman Sadiq is an Islamabad-based attorney, columnist and geopolitical analyst focused on the politics of Af-Pak and Middle East regions, neocolonialism and petro-imperialism. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.