Khush Amdeed (Welcome)

Welcome to Chowraha - crossroads!

Chowraha is the crossroads of thoughts, events, opinions and feelings...all that have been shaped by individuals living in an increasingly complex world inter-connected through various means of communications.

This blog is about the crossroads in society - whether it is those of a diaspora community, global media complicating the structure of nations and cultures, or individuals finding parallels in spaces unknown to them.

Note:
The above picture is courtesy a much-admired photographer (Ali Khurshid) whose work is a source of inspiration and reaffirms the belief in the complex beauty of this world.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Post Bin Laden: A Neo - War on Terrorism

Monday morning, last day of bank holiday weekend, and I was sleeping in late when a message from a friend in Egypt woke me up - "Osama bin Laden is dead" it read.  Being my mother's daughter, any such news on TV and my first reaction is to run to the TV and staye glued to it for the next several hours, if not the next few days, flicking between news channels and hearing every political analysis possible.

My first reaction? I thought Osama bin Laden died a few years ago! The next slightly saner reaction? Pakistan is screwed now! But the more and more I think about it, the conspiracy theorist within me continues to stare back at me saying "The war on terrorism is so not over...it might just be the beginning!"

Victory is like an opium you get addicted to. The death of bin Laden is a symbolic victory as many are calling it, but it is a huge symbolic victory which makes his enemies feel more addicted to winning, and definitely invokes a stronger self-belief in their method of struggle against him and his allies. What's the message? The 10 years of war on terrorism seem to have been well-spent! (Although in reality, it took 10 years of billions of dollars spent across the world, an ugly war in Afghanistan and a falsely waged war in Iraq, operations after operations and thousands of deaths around the world every year to find one Osama bin Laden on May 2nd 2011).

There's a huge debate on whether this is a set-back for Al-Qaeda or not? Some claim this is de-moralizing news for the terrorists while others claim that Osama was a mere symbol, and Al-Qaeda had moved on and will continue. There is a huge relief in the fact that "the Arab awakening" as it is being called, had already proven that Al-Qaeda had weakened. The Arab youth has shown that an "Al-Qaeda inspired jihadist revolution" is not what is needed, when people power without arms can topple Pharoahs like Mubarak.

Some time ago to my blog post on Egyptian success at toppling Mubarak's regime, someone had left a comment asking whether I believed it was as simple as people power or whether there were "outside" hands involved in fueling the Arab awakening. Was this a set-up for the Arab world? I must be a strange combination of a conspiracy theorist and an optimist but I still strongly believe in the power of people and in the purity of the intentions and actions that led to "the Arab Spring" which is still flourishing. Any thing to rid the likes of the heartless, authoritarian rulers like Mubaraks and Qaddafis cannot be any thing but a happy revolution for me.

But I cannot ignore the way the world is shaping in 2011 and to me it almost embarks the launch of a new era. What better timing could fate have chosen for Bin Laden when the Arab world is so involved in its own revolutions and mayhem, and when Pakistan does not have a proud face anymore to say any thing. Afghanistan is just relieved that its not involved in this story. The timing is just perfect!  

My google alerts set on Egypt, every day send at least a few articles and blog posts that focus on the rise of Muslim Brotherhood and "the likes" in the country..read "Islamists", "hard-lined", "right-wing", "extremists" at the same time - all words that do not exactly connote any positivity thesedays. Since the death of Osama bin Laden, there have been ominous maps being shared and discussed on channels ranging from BBC and CNN to AlJazeera and Geo all showing countries where Al-Qaeda is active - Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and never to forget Pakistan. Pakistan is an epoch story in itself - if it knew where Osama was, it has obviously pretended to be an ally while aiding terrorism, hence doomed! If it did not know where Osama was, that's a seriously faulty army and intelligence, hence not believable and so doomed! But what's common between the rest? Algeria and Yemen and to a certain degree Saudi Arabia have all been impacted by the Arab revolutions.

Sure, Ayman Al-Zawahiri is Egyptian but that's where the story ends. Where the story picks up for me is with the alarm bells these sort of statements accompanying Egypt's involvement in the reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah. "If Cairo’s desire for a more ‘independent’ foreign policy translates into warmer ties with terrorists, America’s own long-standing support for the Egyptian military may eventually need to be reconsidered," wrote the neoconservative Wall Street Journal Tuesday in an editorial that called Egypt’s latest moves "an unsettling preview of what could emerge" from the so-called "Arab Spring". The Egyptian Foreign Minister has announced that within the next 10 days the border between Palestine and Egypt will be opened, first time since Mubarak's fall. There are already analysts saying this is worrying for the US that does not want to see warmer relations between Palestinian "terrorists" and Muslim Brotherhood.

One world less of Ben Ali was fine. Mubarak going away was undoubtedly great! But a whole big Arab region devoid of ugly but nevertheless extremely strong (and strong-headed) leaders like the Qaddafis, Assads and Mubaraks (not to mention Saddam although he seems out of the "Arab Spring" symmetry here) is also a world with a huge vaccum. 

As Imtiaz Gul, a Pakistani political analyst pointed out on Al-Jazeera today, and I would like to expand on - the Arab protests cannot be seen to be a complete tangent from the world we knew with "Al-Qaedas" around. It took 10 years of the world swinging between war on terror, Taliban and Al-Qaedas to prepare a field where the revolutions took place. Human mind and humanity in general does not work in independent steps unaffected by the world and its trends around them. According to Gul, Al-Qaeda's message was or perhaps still is in their perceptions a fight for "justice" against the "powerful" which to me easily reads as the so-called "Arab Awakening".

Ripe in its democracy, the situation can easily be "manipulated" by "Islamists" and "sympathizers" of terrorists. Will it then take long to show that the revolution was certainly backed not by outsiders but the conniving little insiders - it can't be that difficult. Algeria has seen Islamists in the past just like Turkey is the most secular Muslim nation in the world run by an "Islamic" party. Vulnerable as this region is, it will need to be saved from hard-liners and why would the powerful ones not come to aid?

Do I want to doubt the Arab awakening? No, definitely not. Do I want to see others taking advantage of the Arab revolutions? A louder no! But can I help not notice a strong and scary trend? Hmm not really!

...And the conspiracy theorist within me lives on...