Current Affairs Featured — 04 August 2014
Gaza and the Muslim World

by Asif Iqbal



Saudi crown has given a statement condemning Israeli violence in Gaza as War crimes. The crown seems to be quite moved by civilian casualties in Gaza but it took a total of almost 1500 civilians and three weeks of bombardment to invoke a response from a country that views itself as the head of Sunni Islam. Not to mention this country’s apathy to diplomatic efforts to halt the same atrocities which indicates otherwise. The crown also condemned religious terrorism taking place in the region. Here again it took almost three years of civil war in Syria and recent upsurge in sectarian strife in Iraq and rise of ISIL to break his silence, notwithstanding accusations of Saudi support to Sunni extremists in Syria and Iraq and not-so-obscure defense dealings with Pakistan to provide ammunition to support the same. It is very likely the case that diplomatic actions by non-Muslim states like Brazil, Ecuador, Chile, Peru and El Salvador  against Israeli atrocities have forced the crown into speaking to win back Sunni support base. But it is that only, a statement, never backed by concrete actions when you view factions like Hamas against your kingdom’s and your master’s interests in US.

The middle- eastern Muslim world remains divided along sectarian and regional rivalries that have emboldened Israel to persist in Gaza. The turmoil and turbulence left by invasions of Iraq ,Libya, support for civil war in Syria by US and its allies, compounded by Arab spring has destroyed social fabric of these countries and led to a weakening in political stability. The subsequent regimes have failed in providing pluralistic structures to minority populations so rule by one sect leads to safeguarding its own interests at expense of alienating the other. For doing this, the ruling sects also had economic and military support from arch-rivals i.e. Iran and Saudis, thus becoming embroiled in the so-called Shia-Sunni rivalry. In this cold war among rival Muslim sects, Hamas has been at loosing as it lost its closest associate Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. In this context, is not surprising that even on diplomatic front pressure on Israel is emanating from non-Muslim countries, mostly South Americans and Middle East countries have failed to unite even in response to Israeli aggression.

Current global political order is driven mainly by US and its allies who have dominant control in multi-lateral institutions like World Bank, IMF and even the United Nations. Islamic countries remain pawns in this larger economic and political game to protect US regional interests. However, this lack of potent power is a failure of Muslim countries to organize themselves politically and economically. So the organizations like OIC and Arab league don’t have much say in global affairs. Even the control over dominant oil reserves and an organization like OPEC has not resulted in corresponding political power on global stage for Muslim countries. This failure has cost Muslim world immensely as they look to US controlled institutions like UN for resolution of all their disputes from Palestine to Kashmir. So it is not surprising how in this world of western democracies championing cause of so-called ‘human rights’, a state like Israel with support from US  can get away with ruthless murdering of civilians in name of self-defense.

The failure of Muslim states to potently and diplomatically challenge Israeli atrocities in Gaza, apart from occasional statements of condemnation from countries like Turkey and Pakistan, is matched by lack of political protest in these countries. Resistance in Muslim countries to Gaza genocide remains mostly confined to social media while huge rallies are held in Western world even the US. It is quite intriguing to note that controversial obscure movies and pictures in west seem to evoke more outrage among Muslims than murdering of children and women forcing one to think whether human life has lost its sanctity and become so ordinary? Muslim governments and people’s lack of response/protest to Gaza gives space and opportunity to Islamic militant organizations who start rallying their cause and recruit in name of ‘Ummah’.

Consequently, lack of diplomatic action/political protest in Muslim world eventually leads to strengthening of radical Islam as a response to Israeli and US atrocities against Muslims worldwide. With this vicious cycle of violence countering violence, no wonder Muslims are either left praying or fighting for Gaza!

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(1) Reader Comment

  1. Considering the intense media coverage of the carnage in Gaza obviously permitted by the authorities, it is clear that this is a deliberate move by Israel to test and expose the impotence of the ‘Ummah’ and its governments. Despite the over a billion people and nearly 60 Muslim majority countries, no one has the conscience or more practically the guts to do anything to save the children of Gaza. For perhaps the first time in history such brutality is on prime time television across the world and not a finger is lifted. Rather some western governments and even ‘Islamic’ ones are defending Israel’s stance. This will put to rest all the myths of an ‘Islamic’ comity to rest and in future they can dispense with the niceties entirely. We can find solace in a German proverb: Who bathes his hands in blood will have to wash them with tears.