U.S. Administration: From fighting terrorism to supporting Radical Islam
By Ibrahim A. Ibrahim
The eleventh commemoration anniversary of 9/11 brings to the forefront the issue of “War on Terrorism”. This war had lasted more than a decade and claimed more than the victims’ count of September 11 attacks. Both George Bush and Barak Obama claimed that radical Muslims and their organizations such as Al Qaida were responsible for September 11 attacks.
Following the paths that U.S. has taken since the tragic attacks of September 11, in Afghanistan and Iraq, Yemen and elsewhere, one may wonder about the result of the “War on Terror” and whether it achieved its goals and objectives or not.
Since President Obama declared the war on terror is over, his administration has vigorously taken steps contrary to the objectives behind fighting terrorism which have transformed U.S. policies into a full technical and political support to radical Muslims groups who sought to overthrow their oppressive governments in the wave of the so called the Arab Spring. That dramatic change in policies has put U.S. administration in a delicate game and reduced its influence in the Middle East and the Muslims world.
During the Arab Spring wave in Libya, the Obama administration has been reluctant to arm the opposition, because it knew for sure that the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) is a jihadist group that most of its members joined Al-Qaida, and some of whom were once War on Terror’s detainees in Guantanamo and England or in the top wanted list. Few years ago, some of those fighters led an Islamist insurgency in Libya against Gadhafi, and some fought in the name of Islam in different countries such as Afghanistan, Bosnia, Kosovo, and some of them even joined the Taliban. It is worth mentioning that some prominent leaders of the LIFG were captured by the C.I.A in the past during the War on Terror.
Convinced by France and Britain to intervene, the administration chose to lead from behind the scene and President Obama signed a directive authorizing covert assistance for rebels fighting the regime of the Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. Accordingly, American private security firms aided the Libyan Islamic group fighters and helped in toppling Gadhafi.
In Syria, where the opposition took arms against the oppressive regime of President Bashar Al asad, radical Muslims fighters are getting help from different sources around the world. U.S. private security firms supported by U.S. administration and Turkey are lending technical assistance and training programs to the Syrian radical Islamic warriors known as Free Syrian Army “FSA”. The FSA indeed includes members of Al Qaida some of whom may indeed have been the target of the War on Terror at some times.
In August 1st, this year, The CNN reported that President Barack Obama has signed a similar covert directive authorizing U.S. support for Syrian rebels battling President Bashar al-Assad’s forces. The CNN speculated that the “secret order” which was signed several months ago, allows for clandestine support by the CIA and other agencies. In several occasions President Obama has threatened to step U.S. assistance to the Syrian opposition. As of today U.S. has been providing technical and communication equipment, and the Washington Syrian Support Group under U.S. Treasury Department approval is providing financial assistance to the Free Syrian Army.
Credible reports confirmed that at least half the fighters of the FSA are foreign mercenaries. The Time magazine revealed evidence that militants are leaving France, UK, and Ireland for Syria to join the Islamic FSA in fighting Al Asad regime in a struggle they view as a “holy war”. The FSA objective is to establish and Islamic state and rule by Sharia’s law.
In Egypt Obama pressured President Mubarak, a longtime U.S. ally, to step down and let the way for the Muslims Brotherhood, the only organized group, to win the elections and take power. While Obama was watching the historical events in Egypt, his administration failed to engage with the Egyptian democratic and secular forces to reach a political platform for democratic transformation and support this transition to a stable democracy.
When the political party of the Muslim Brotherhood won the elections, tension immediately came back to hot spots in Egypt such as Sinai desert. Some armed jihadist groups exploited the absence and reluctance of the new authority in the remote desert to implement their own agenda by launching an attack against the guards and threatening the borders with Israel. Israeli leaders were alarmed not only by this incident, but also by the events in Syria and the fear that their joint borders, will turn into a holy war zone against Israel.
The celebration of success of the U.S- West efforts to bring about regime change and democracy and the inauguration of the first ever elected government in Libya started by banning an anchorwoman from broadcasting the historical event because she was not wearing headscarf and her face was full of beauty makeup. The announcer was forced to leave the ceremony hall.
Coincided with the eleventh anniversary of September 11, Protests against anti-Islam film that was produced in the United States triggered a wave of demonstrations in Muslims world and turned violent especially in the capitals of the Arab Spring countries. In Libya a U.S. ambassador and three diplomats were killed after an angry demonstrators fired guns and rocket-propelled grenades and set the consulate in Benghazi on fire. In Cairo, Khartoum, San’aa, and other capitals, demonstrators fortified walls of the United States embassies and tore down the American flags and replaced them with Al Qaida infamous black banner.
This level of violence would have never been possible without the help and reluctance of new radical governments who are lenient with Islamic extremists. Therefore, the attack on U.S. embassies is a product of the West-U.S. policies that installed radical Islamic governments as the winners of the so called Arab Spring.
The recognition and support of the West and U.S. of the Islamic radical groups and movements fighting in the Arab Spring has triggered discussion, scrutiny, fear and suspicions among Arab thinkers and secular democrats. The United States was once accused of unleashing radical Muslims when it assisted and coordinated with them in Afghanistan and Bosnia. Now U.S. is once again being accused in the Arab world of not only helping the fundamentalist Islam, but of taking it to the reign of power.
The current West-U.S. policies favored allying with radical Islamists in the region in order to neutralize them by absorbing their aspiration in the political process and hopefully engage them in fighting terrorism. Arab scholars and activists have warned that these policies will turn the Middle East and other Arab countries into training camps and warm nests for future terrorists and feared militants will find new staging grounds.
The Arab Spring however, has gone out of control because of these flawed policies that neglected the American values and traditions such as freedom and democracy that would have helped in the democratic transition in the region. That hope for democracy, however, has faded and imperiled by lawlessness in the region. It is true what Secretary Clinton has tried to avoid that U.S. “has traded the tyranny of dictators to the tyranny of radical Islam and extremism” in the region.