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Saturday, May 18, 2024

Sinister purpose behind anti-Islamic film

by Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor

Chairman's Message

Should we seriously believe that a malevolent middle-aged criminal on parole with improbable names/aliases such as “Sam Bacit” or “Nakoula Basseley Nakoula and his 65-year-old porn-director partner Alan Roberts (a.k.a. Robert Brownell) would invest time and money to produce “the Innocence of Muslims” a rubbishy film lampooning the Prophet (PBUH) unless there was something in it for them? Those sleazy individuals are hardly modern-day Crusaders and judging from what I’ve read about them, their god is likely money.

The shabbily put together 14-minute-long film has nothing to do with history, art or culture and was never destined to be a commercial success in cinemas. I suspect that the duo are little more than greed-driven tools paid by shadowy figures with fat pockets and a hidden agenda to destabilize the Middle East, thus diverting the world’s spotlight away from the horrors playing-out each day in Syria. If my suspicions are correct, then the plan of whosoever lurks behind Nakoula and Roberts may have been successful. There was nothing complicated about it; its outcome, based on simple cause and effect, was worked-out in advance. It was just a matter of pushing Muslims’ emotional buttons in the film’s script before releasing it to the Internet and sitting back to await the inevitable mayhem. Predictably, the easily-led Muslim and Arab streets never fail to take their enemies’ bait, harming the reputation of their nations and their religion in so doing.

Attacks on the Prophet or the Quran hurt deep-rooted Muslim sensibilities and, more often or not, result in violent protest involving innocent fatalities and injuries. That kind of retaliation is indefensible because not only does it invariably target people unconnected with insulting Islam it implies that our faith is fragile. Islam’s message is solid and growing; it is from Islam that the world’s 2.1 billion draw their strength. God’s word protects the believers, not the other way around.

I condemn the shameful attacks on US, British and German diplomatic missions in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Yemen and elsewhere which appear to have been politically orchestrated using the film as a pretext. President of the Libyan National Congress Mohammed Al-Megaryef concurs. During an interview on CBS News he said his government believes the attack that robbed the US Ambassador and three other Americans of their lives was not a result of spontaneous anger but had long been planned with foreign involvement.

So who could the conductors of this turmoil consuming the Muslim and Arab world possibly be? Without hard facts, there’s no absolute certainty. But in the meantime, let’s examine the losers and winners.

There’s no doubt that US relations with post-‘Arab Spring’ primarily Sunni countries have been damaged. President Obama, who backed the ousting of dictatorial leaders in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and Yemen to various degrees, will be tempted to feel that his pro-democracy policies in the region were ill-advised faced with such seeming ingratitude from sections of newly-liberated populations. The American people are naturally angered by the killing of their diplomats and the US president is being berated by opportunist Republicans for being “soft”, including his presidential rival Mitt Romney who said “it’s disgraceful that the Obama administration’s first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.”

Since, Obama has adopted a harder line vowing to bring the killers to justice and has deployed marines, Special Forces and warships to the area. The atmosphere is no longer conducive for US-led military intervention in Syria, that’s for sure. Americans would rail at sacrificing their finest, not to mention their tax dollars, to rescue Syrians now they’ve witnessed anti-Americanism in Libya, Tunisia and Egypt whose peoples they recall cheering-on in the days when Arabs were rallying in squares. If that is, indeed, the case, the winners are destined to be Bashar Al-Assad and his Shiite allies Iran and all their allies in Lebanon and Iraq keen to maintain and expand the so-called Shiite crescent by keeping the Syrian Allawite rulers in place.

It may be that neoconservative pro-Israel remnants or even members of Congress are conspirators. Al-Assad may be a sworn enemy of Israel but from Tel-Aviv’s perspective better the devil you know than the one you don’t. In any event, despite his rhetoric he has been acting like a guard protecting Israel’s borders with Lebanon and Syria for years.

Moreover, there exists a school of thought that the current push and pull between Iran and the West over the Iranian nuclear program is a precursor to an eventual Grand Bargain whereby Tehran will ultimately concede its uranium enrichment program in return for a dominant regional role.

If such a cozy accommodation were to be sealed on the lines of that between Washington and the Shah, it would be considered beneficial to the US as instead of having to deal with numerous Sunni leaderships, whose reference is the Holy Quran, it could share the balance of power with the Shiite Murshid Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and his Arab puppets. This would leave GCC States vulnerable; a worst case scenario could see parts of the Gulf on which Tehran has concocted false territorial claims, such as Bahrain, subsumed into Iran. Mentions of a covert Western plan to weaken or even dismantle the GCC have come to light making the oil-rich region easier to manipulate.

In conclusion, the violent backlash over the film is abhorrent but we only have to have a basic awareness of recent history to know that the US and its allies cannot be trusted. Arab leaders, in particular King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and Qatar’s ruler Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa, have worked hard to promote interfaith and inter-cultural understanding but thus far their Western counterparts have failed to reciprocate.

The bottom line is that nothing should be taken at face value, not even a poisonous film on YouTube. In the end, we Arabian Gulf nationals can rely on no one but ourselves to protect our homes and lands. We should consider emulating the Turkish model, a militarily powerful country independent of outside influences. Once again, I would appeal to GCC leaders to consider potential threats to our shores and our doors and act to prevent them while they still can.

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