As expected, the Saudi-led Islamic coalition excludes a major Islamic Shia country Iran and the next neighbor Oman and war torn states of Iraq and Syria. Boycott of the Shia states implies that the Sunni coalition does not count them as Islamic countries, implying these to be kafirs.
Recently Saudi Arabia announced formation of Islamic Coalition of 34 Sunni Muslim countries from Asia and the African continents coming together to fight the Islamic terrorism that has taken root in both Asia and Africa (The Times of India, December 16). As expected, the coalition excludes a major Islamic Shia country Iran and other minor entity and the next neighbor Oman and war torn states of Iraq and Syria. Boycott of the Shia states and the possible Shia dominating states of Iraq and Syria implies that although these two states are fighting tooth and nail against the greatest foe ISIS, the Sunni coalition does not count them as Islamic countries, implying these to be kafirs. There are two major considerations in excluding Shia countries. First is the arch rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran, both of whom are vying for the prime position among the Muslim dominated states. Second is the internal struggle in Saudi Arabia where the Deputy-crown Prince and Defence Minister Mohammad bin Salman is interested in asserting the current King’s position after the recent ascension and at the same time consolidating his own position for the future rise in the royal hierarchy. Proclamation from Riyadh did not come soon after it entered in war with Houti rebels in Yemen. It has come only after the carnage in America where a Muslim couple, Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife Tashfeen Malik went on killing spree, killing 14 innocents and wounding many others. They carried guns and three thousand rounds of ammunition. As the investigations revealed, Syed Farook although was born and brought up in Chicago, a second generation Muslim, his wife Tashfeen was of the Pakistani origin, brought up in Saudi Arabia and went for higher studies back to Pakistan. She was radicalised there. After marriage, she appears to have radicalised her spouse. They together plotted for internally grown strife in US, which remained free from the terrorist attacks since 9/11 incident. In fact compared to many other countries, US remained an example for implementing the preventive measures. That position remains shattered. US too is no more invincible to the home grown terrorist attacks.
Tracing terrorism to Saudis and Pakistan
Other two US citizens involved incognito in terrorist activities were David Headley of 20/11 attack in Bharat and Times Square bomber Faizal Shahzad. Investigations confirmed that their radicalisation can be traced back to Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. Americans have put both these countries under scrutiny as a result of the latest carnage. It is expected that US must have put tremendous pressure on both of these terrorism source countries to take drastic steps to control the terrorist activities. Looking at the reluctance of American public to deploy troops on ground to fight ISIS and realisation that only the ground forces will ultimately help decimating the ISIS menace, the coalition countries will be forced to deploy their troops. There are countries like Egypt, Turkey with sizable armies in this coalition. Saudi Arabia appears to have unilaterally declared the formation of coalition to fight radicalisation wherever it is getting rooted (The Hindu, December 16).
Although Saudi Arabia included name of Pakistan, quick came the denial on the very next day. Aizaz Chaudhry, Foreign secretary of Pakistan expressed surprise about his country name being included in the coalition without any sounding from Saudi Arabia. Another senior official too confirmed that Pakistan was not consulted. It is not only Saudi Arabia but US too faced denial twice from Pakistan for deployment of troops to fight ISIS. Pakistan’s intransigence stems from the fact that Pakistan is emboldened by the support China is extending keep pressure on Bharat. It appears as through ISI agency in Pakistan has reached understanding with China to prevent sneaking of radicals from Pakistan into disturbed provinces of China. How long Pakistan can hold back these disruptive forces from entering China? In a recent interaction with an expert from China in a delegation to Goa, this author discussed about Islamic radicals from Pakistan infiltrating in China. The expert agreed that Pakistan is a very unreliable and undependable ally. The Gwadar-Tibet road will further ease the infiltration bids to which he agreed and that China is aware of it. Since the first priority of China appears to be containing India by the garland of bases in the Indian Ocean, China is prepared to take that risk and estimates that it will be able to contain the radicalisation menace from Pakistan.
No Shias included, Pakistan looking the other way, cold response from Malaysia and Indonesia, the Islamic coalition led by Saudi Arabia remains truncated fighting force. Tremendous pressure from US has forced Saudi Arabia and the underling states to bark to the tune of their master's voice. It is irony of the fate that the Islamic countries have to come together to fight the Islamic terror they groomed. The situation is on the either side the kafirs are dying.
Tackling terrorism by 2047
Islamic terrorism is a worldwide phenomenon initiated by Americans to fight the invading Soviet armies in 1990s. It propped up Talibans in Pakistan, transforming into al-Quada. US too is to be blamed for the growth of terrorist outfits. At one stage Pakistan was a prime source for training and grooming terrorists to the chagrin of its most valued mentor USA. In spite of that, Americans continue to support Pakistan with arms and fighter planes etc. as if being held at ransom by the rogue state.
Terrorism cannot be fought by arms alone, certainly not by the Sunni Islamic States conglomerate. It is not certain if ever this coalition lasts for a few months. As the history of the Islamic states and the culture shows, the umma—the so-called Islamic brotherhood could never be realised. Participating members in any such activities have always remained divided. As the recent history attests, brute force of US has not achieved success or victory in any wars it waged since the World War II.
The way out will be to question the very basics propagated by the terrorist groups and the new found tenets of Islam. The moderates in Muslim societies have remained unsuccessful in remolding Islam in the context of modern society that evolved in the post WW-II era. Christian countries of Europe have left behind the religious dogmas and the heathen hate based on the religious logic. They evolved the humanitarian ethics. Hindus too have left far behind the old discriminatory smriti texts; they imbibed new constitution formulated by modern Manu Dr B R alias Babasaheb Ambedkar. Muslims too will have to undertake introspection. The mayhem and the carnage that has been occurring in the Islamic countries after advent of the Arab summer (spring no more), doesn’t seem to be leading to self introspection. It is now for the non-Islamic society at a global level to challenge some basic tenets, religious dogmas and practices of Islam. The very first will do away with eye for eye tenet that is deeply rooted in Islamic psyche; although it is borrowed from the Biblical teachings. As Mahatma Gandhi used to say, eye for eye will make the whole world blind. It is no civilised behaviour in the modern times to impart the capital punishments promulgated in Sharia, such as amputating limbs of thieves, flogging of human beings or the worst, stoning of an adulteress. The tradition to witness these being implemented in open has to be discontinued. Islam of the modern day will have to agree upon the coexistence of other faiths and that holding other religious traditions with due honor. It will have to do away with the discriminatory practices towards female folk, kafirophobia and followed by jihad. The last two have been the root causes of the strife worldwide. These changes will not come too soon. One full generation will have to pass before the kafirophibia is wiped out from the Islamic world, be it Sunni or Shia.
A generation these days accounts for three decades. Just as at the recent Paris meet, the countries all over the globe have come together to restrict the global temperature to less than 2 degrees, let a global strategy be drawn to do away with kafirophobia from the Islamic world by 2047. There is urgent need to declare that “nobody can be labeled as kafir” by the Islamic world, to which we Hindus would adhere with “none to be treated as untouchable” and the Christian world would agree to “do away with labeling of human being as heathens”.
Dr Pramod Pathak (The writer is a Goa based Scholar)