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Washington's Un-winnable War in the Middle East
The Bush administration’s “War on Terrorism” has been a failure. Years later, the world is gripped by greater fear of the next terrorist atrocity than ever before. By focusing on military action against the jihadists Washington’s diagnosis has been like voodoo medicine. 

The making of walking bombs

Interconnected religious and political causes stand behind jihadism and terrorPoliticians dressed-up in garbs of piety, from Muhammad bin Abdulwahhab to Osama bin Laden, and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi have been invoking jihad injunctions, predestination dogma, and promises of paradise to produce walking bombs. 


Jihad injunctions + predestination dogma + paradise’s delights = Dynamite.


To explode, the dynamite needs a spark. 


The dynamite alone is harmless. Similarly, the sparks alone are harmless. It is the combination of the dynamite and the sparks that triggers an explosion. 


The spark can come from any number of frustrating, despairing domestic and/or foreign fires. The domestic spark can be triggered by the injustice and human rights abuses of Arab tyrannical non-representative rulers, poverty, unemployment, sexual frustration, hopelessness, etc. The foreign sparks can be anger over American support of Arab tyrants, Russian destruction of much of Syria in defense of the Alawite Asad regime, Shi’ite/Sunni wars in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen, Israel’s humiliation of Palestinians and Arabs, etc. To brush these causes aside or pretend that they are unconnected is to breed more Jihadists.


Military solutions alone will fail to end terrorism

Military action alone will not succeed against fanatics whose greatest ambition is to be martyred. Fighting Al-Qaeda and the so-called Islamic State will not be effective unless military action is combined with three strategies: 1) Pressure Arab kings and presidents to implement genuine religious and political reforms. At the top of the list is taming Wahhabi indoctrination of extremism and violence against other Muslim sects and non-Muslims. 2) De-politicize the Bible and the Quran in order to end the century old conflict in Palestine. 3) Repair the damaged Shi'ite/Sunni relations that the Bush administration created in Iraq, wittingly or unwittingly.


Are these strategies attainable? To be realistic, the answer is negative to each one. Why?


Genuine reform is a mirage 

Genuine reform in Arab countries requires separating religion from the state. Shari'a laws need to be replaced by modern laws. Control by the ulama (Muslim clerics) over the masses must ease. To secularize, a towering charismatic leader, a combination of a Martin Luther and a Kemal Ataturk is needed. However, standing in the way of genuine Arab reforms is oil and God in Wahhabi Saudi Arabia and the rest of GCC States. 


As long as oil imports by America’s rivals, like China, continental Europe, India, and Japan are strong, Washington will want to influence/control Saudi/GCC oil production volume and price politics, not because the US needs Arab oil, but because oil can be a strategic non-lethal weapon of mass destruction in the event of a serious conflict between the US and its major oil-importing rivals. To this end, the US has for the past seventy years, protected Saudi non-representative dictatorships before and after 9/11, despite their archaic reign, institutional corruption, and human rights abuses. To protect the oilfields and the kings, emirs, sheikhs, andsultans, 35,000 American soldiers are stationed in air force and naval bases in Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates. 


Washington would not seriously pressure the Saudi King and the other GCC rulers on religious or political reforms for two reasons: First, dealing with one absolute ruler who owes his throne and life to US protection is far easier than having to manage the scores of parliamentarians and religious and political leaders in democratic settings. Secondly, the fear that confrontations with the rulers could weaken their hold on power and cause chaos in oil markets.


Not only the oil exporters must remain under dictatorships, Egypt in particular among Arab countries near the Arabian Peninsula must remain under military dictatorship as well. Egypt is the Arab world’s center of gravity. It has a profound influence over the Arab world in general, but especially Saudi Arabia/GCC. 


Religious and political reforms in Saudi Arabia and the rest of GCC States and Egypt must wait until demand for oil by the world’s big oil importing rivals of the US is replaced by sustainable sources of energy.


Also, standing in the way of genuine reform in Arab countries is God. Arab rulers and ulama turned Islam into a shield against the emergence of a Martin Luther or a Kemal Ataturk. 

To the ulama, maintaining Shari'a’s rigidity maintains their jobs and privileges. To the rulers, Islam helps prolong their non-representative tyrannical rule. Pandering palace ulama preach “Obey God and obey God’s messenger and obey those of authority among you” (Quran 4:59). They also quote the Prophet on every turn: “Hear and obey the emir, even if your back is whipped and your property is taken; hear and obey.” The ulama teach that obedience to Arab presidents and kings is a form of piety. Arab kings and presidents fear that genuine religious and democratic reforms will end their rule. They keep the masses glued to Islamic dogma and superstitions. 

Under such conditions, it is unlikely that genuine religious and democratic reforms would evolve in Arab countries before green energy succeeds in replacing Saudi/GCC oil exports. 


De-politicizing the Bible and the Quran is a fantasy 

Politicizing Genesis 15:18 politicized the Quran. Genesis 15:18: “The Lord made a covenant with Abraham, saying, unto thy seed have I given this land from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates" radicalized despairing Arabs. Defeated, humiliated, and powerless, many Arabs took refuge in Islam, fueling a Jihad war that could possibly last for a thousand years. 

A purely Jewish state is impossible to attain. The Palestinian Israelis are around a quarter of Israel’s citizens. If the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip are added, the Palestinians become close to a majority.

Western democratic and secular ideals ought to inspire a single, democratic, and secular state for Palestinians and Jews instead of the two-state solution. Having lived together generally peaceably for 1300 years, Arabs and Jews can live together in peace again. 

Islam venerates Judaism. Arabs believe they share a common ancestry with the Jewish people. The Quran praises Abraham as the first Muslim and describes Islam as the Religion of Abraham. The Quranic Chapter 14 is named after Abraham and the Quranic Chapter 12 is named after Joseph. 


A single-state eliminates the obstacles that have bedeviled the two-state solution since the 1993 Oslo Agreement: Jerusalem, borders, security, water, settlements, and the refugees’ right-of-return. 


President Trump’s decisions to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital(December 6, 2017), and stop financial aid to UNRWA, the Palestinian Authority, and East Jerusalem hospitals have effectively put an end to the two-state solution, leaving the single-state as the only alternative. 


The likelihood of de-politicizing the Bible and the Quran is discouraging. Confident in its superior military might and unlimited U.S. support, Zionism is not likely to give up the Bible any time soon.  


The march of Shi'ism is real 

Iraq will be remembered as Mr. George W. Bush’s gift to Shi'ite Iran: a watershed since Saladin ended the rule of the Shi'ite Fatimids in Cairo in 1171, a triumph for the Khomeini revolution and for Shi'ism. 


Iran’s goal to control southern Iraq is age-old. Southern Iraq houses seven of the holiest of the Shi'ite holy shrines, plus ninety billion barrels of crude oil. Shi'ites in Bahrain, Kuwait, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia’s oil rich Eastern Province, and Yemen would seek Iran’s help to end Sunni dominance--Witness Bahrain's Shi'ite activities for equality, the Houthi rebellion in Yemen, and Hizbollah in Lebanon. Egyptian President Mubarak charged in 2006 that Arab Shi'ites were more loyal to Iran than to their own countries. Continued sectarian conflicts threaten to destabilize the region and breed hoards of Jihadists. 


There can be as many scenarios for Iraq’s future as a fertile imagination conjures. Iran’s hegemony over the oil rich eastern shores of the Arabian Peninsula has become difficult to reverse. If the U.S./Israel/Saudi Arabia attack Iran, the Iraq disaster would by comparison be like a child’s play. Al-Qaeda and the so-called Islamic State must be praying for such a catastrophe to happen.The Bush administration's misadventure in Iraq allowed Iran to become the new top dog in the world's richest oil region. 


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