Ten years on, and two trillion dollars and counting, is the world a safer place for the NATO partners? The security of NATO members has been at the core of actions taken by its components – principally the U.S. – since 9/11. While the absence of a terror attack on the U.S. has been taken as proof of the success of the War on Terror, the truth is that such a criterion is too restrictive to reflect reality. Also, the spawning of newer mutants of terror organisations may have created a base within the U.S. that could host future action.
The change that has come about is this: the complex of ideologies (and organisations owing fealty to them) that get clubbed together as “Al Qaeda” has morphed; from a grouping directed and motivated by a few individuals, it is now disaggregated. The steps taken by the true heroes of the War on Terror – the U.S. Treasury Department and the FBI – to identify and disrupt funding networks for terror organisations has made the former big spenders (on jihad) go into the woodwork to avoid detection. Over the decade, they have been replaced by thousands of smaller contributors, funding a miscellany of organisations across the world, instead of a small number of groups. Many of these funders are camouflaged as “human rights” or as “democracy fighter” organisations. Very often, they have a small number of non-jihadi sympathisers as office-bearers, so that their core ideology gets concealed. As the Libyan overthrow of Colonel Gaddafi and the events in Egypt that culminated in the forced departure of Hosni Mubarak have shown, Wahabbis have mastered an argot that wins them a support base within the populations (and chancelleries) of the NATO members.
In Gateway House as well as in other sites, this columnist has been wary of the Arab Spring from the start, seeing in the ferment a near-inevitable Wahabbi winter. Today, events in Egypt are demonstrating the truth of the view taken six months ago, that the core of the ideology behind the protests is Wahabbi, magnified in lethal power by getting fused to public discontent over the rising prices of essential commodities. The forecast that the Wahabbi nature of the unrest would become evident by October is now materializing with the attack on the Israeli embassy in Cairo. Should an election take place, the balance of power within Parliament in Egypt would shift overwhelmingly towards Wahabbi groups who would be about as sympathetic to the NATO powers as the Taliban is, although they may show this distaste in less robust forms than that particular cohort.
Over the 1990s, this columnist has witnessed the methodical manner in which the Wahabbis of the Kashmir Valley have used the language of democracy and human rights to co-opt liberals such as Arundhati Roy to their side. Diplomatic pressure on India to make terminal concessions to the jihadis in Kashmir is not as strong now as it used to be during the Clinton years. But today, the NATO powers ignore the plight of religious minorities and moderates in Kashmir (for example, the destruction of several Hindu houses of worship by the Wahabbis) in their eagerness to back an agenda – that aims to make Kashmir a state where Wahabbis will enjoy the religious supremacy they do in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. Those backing the numerous pro-jihad organisations in Kashmir never stop to read the numerous tracts brought out by the very individuals who claim to be “fighting for democracy” in Kashmir. This shows an obsessive desire to cleanse the state of “impure” influences (i.e. those not sanctioned by the Wahabbi theology, such as politicians opposed to Wahhabi supremacy) and when relating the rest of India, talk of a determination to “bring back the glory of Mughal rule” over the country. Arundhati Roy may not know this, but that period was not a particularly liberal one in Indian history.
In Libya, the Wahabbi core of the opposition to ‘apostate’ Muammar Gaddafi has mimicked the message that has served their counterparts so well in Kashmir. They speak of “democracy versus dictatorship” and of “modernity versus autocracy.” All this when the so-called National Transitional Council (NTC), of presumed democrats, has been appointed by Nicholas Sarkozy and has about as much popular resonance as the “Iraqi” groups set up while Paul Bremer was Proconsul of the country some years ago. The reality is that the NTC has zero control over the youths with guns on the streets in Libya. As soon as NATO helps them to complete the task of eliminating Gaddafi remnants from the entire country, these youths will form their own leadership councils, several of the members of which will soon get active in ensuring that Libya becomes a jumping-off point for jihad in Europe. In empowering the Wahabbis in Libya, NATO has dug a huge hole in the future security of Europe, the way the Brzezinski-Casey strategy of creating a jihad force in Afghanistan has blown back across the globe.
As in Kashmir, the briefest of glances at the NATO-backed tracts that enabled a defeat against Gaddafi will reveal their mindset. Such samizdat has been circulating across Libya and the Arab world for decades, and few contain any suggestion that Libya ought to become a democracy. Instead, the emphasis is on the “impure” and “impious” nature of a leader – Colonel Gaddafi – who allows women to go about unveiled and refuses to make (the Wahabbi version of) Sharia the law of the land. The writings of several of the “military commanders” (as distinct from the politicians placed there by Sarkozy) of the Libyan revolt against Gaddafi speak of the need to create a society run under religious law; where women will be shown their place, as will all those not Wahabbi, including more than two-fifths of the tribes in Libya. Now that almost all of Libya has been “liberated,” we will see the impact on women and minority rights of the control of the “democrats” enabled to victory by NATO. Only a minority of tribes are active in the battle against Gaddafi, but as these are being backed by Saudi Arabia and Qatar (the way the Taliban was), they are considered kosher by NATO. Within a year, the folly involved in this war will get revealed in a way that will embarrass David Cameron as much as the Iraq war affected Tony Blair.
But by that time, it would be too late for Europe. NATO would have created a state where the instruments of coercion are largely controlled by those who have been trained by their Wahabbi ideology to see the West as sinful and evil. And also as the successor to the Crusaders who took back the conquests of the earlier followers of Islam. While Gaddafi was able to keep such groups largely in check, they have now broken free, and the consequences will soon become obvious.
Europe must also learn the lessons from the U.S. involvement in Afghanistan: George W. Bush and Dick Cheney lost the War on Terror almost as soon as they began waging it in 2001. The first error was to be blind to the fact that the endemic focus of the jihadi infestation was Pakistan, including significant elements of its military. As the Soviets discovered in the 1980s, any action in Afghanistan is pointless without simultaneously tackling the root of the problem, which is Pakistan. By teaming up with the very force that was the principal backer of the Taliban, Bush and Cheney doomed NATO to failure in the battle against that force. Also, by not moving more decisively on Saudi Arabia to shut down the education and propaganda networks of the Wahabbi International, Bush and Cheney ensured that the ideology known as “Al Qaeda” would continue to find adherents across the globe.
The War on Terror has further Wahabbized the Ummah rather than empower moderates. It has helped create an economic crisis that is sapping the will of the NATO powers and their ability to respond to future threats. Most ominously, by its continued credulity in the camouflaged jihadis, NATO is empowering its future foes in the Arab world as recklessly as the Central Intelligence Agency did in Afghanistan in the 1980s.
M.D. Nalapat is Director of the School of Geopolitics at Manipal University, and a regular contibutor to Gateway House.
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