The following article from Die Welt is an attempt by a major MSM outlet to grapple with the Arab world’s failure to confront the horror unleashed in its midst by the Islamic State. Unfortunately, like all other MSM outlets, it tackles the topic gingerly, without looking the core ideology of Islam straight in the eye.
However, the fact that it is willing to tiptoe up to the subject at all is significant in itself. Its treatment of the mess in Middle East includes a clear acknowledgement that the “Arab Spring” was an abject failure, when most journalists have consigned that topic to the oubliette of history. “Arab Spring, you say? Oh, that’s so 2011!”
A possibility that Die Welt is clearly unwilling to consider is that most Muslim leaders are silent in the face of the Islamic State because the slave-taking beheaders of ISIS have interpreted Islamic law exactly according to tradition, and are acting accordingly. All the despots and Muslim scholars from Rabat to Sana’a are fully aware of that fact.
Many thanks to JLH for the translation:
The Internal Islamic Battle for Interpretive Primacy
What remains of the Arab Spring in light of IS, al-Qaida and the other barbarians? Jordan’s Queen Rania has called for reform. But there is not much to indicate that it will happen.
by Dietrich Alexander
Why is the radical Islamic terrorist militia, Islamic State (IS) so successful in recruiting new fighters? How can this nihilistic and misanthropic brutality have any meaning? And above all, Why is the Arab world so tongue-tied, bereft of ideas and defenseless? The voice of Jordanian Queen Rania falls on deaf ears across the Arab-Islamic world. In an eloquent, emotional and courageous exhortation, she denounced the fanatics of the terrorist militia for stealing the identities of the Arab nations, perverting Islam and altering and damaging the Arab-Islamic narrative.
She also blasted Arab rulers, whose silence has left the field of publicity and ideology, and therefore the primacy in interpretation, in the hands of the murderous sacred warriors.
Such public comments are rare, and there are reasons for that. The IS is in a way a reservoir for the frustrated, those without prospects, the politically and economically disappointed, the losers. How can all the Arabic legal scholars, politicians and power elite be expected to suddenly have answers and strategies to counter such entities as IS, when they have never had them before?
The Coalition of the Obstinate
There are only egotistical and power-obsessed rulers, autocratic religious leaders and economic monopolists, for whom their own hold on power and influence is more important than the general welfare and something as demanding as democracy.
Arab intellectuals do not resist the kidnapping of their religion, because they are afraid. Legal scholars do not resist, because wide arch- conservative circles — above all on the Arabian Peninsula — would desert them. And the rulers do not resist, because they do not want the changes — do not want to arouse the Islamist clientele in their own countries against themselves; and they probably think that the IS is a temporary phenomenon that will take care of itself.
But they are all wrong. If and when IS is defeated by the military superiority of the anti-terror alliance, its spiritual heritage will live on and generate other Islamist terrorist organizations.
Where is the Islamic Reformation?
This will go on until the Arabic world undergoes a Reformation — an Enlightenment, at the end of which not a stone is left standing. But it does not have the courage for that. Like a rabbit facing a snake, it goggles in irresponsible apathy, watching the violent excesses of Islamist killers.
Many had hoped that the “Arab Spring” would bring a renewal, so that the Arab nations would not continue to be the losers in globalization and modernization, but would be able to offer their young people prospects and could become true and equal partners in the world. But the outcome of their courageous rebellions from Bahrain to Libya is sobering and depressing.
Today, Libya is a divided land where a destructive civil war is raging, just as in Syria. The Egyptian revolution is dead and former Field Marshal al-Sisi is the new Hosni Mubarak. Many children of the revolution on the Nile are sitting in prison, or have left the country, or have died for nothing.
Only Tunisia, where the uprisings began, has gained some wisdom and utility from its revolution. This small land is on a good democratic path. The process is painful and costly. But in the end, the small, brave land may well show them all. Its Arab neighbors will regard Tunisia’s success, free citizens and constitutional law enviously. But will there be a second “Arab Spring” because of that? Probably not.
Events in Syria, Libya and Egypt fill people with fear. They prefer to forgo freedom, as well as economic and professional prospects, in favor of relative security. Every revolutionary has a family.
The impulse of self-preservation in the Arabic peoples should dictate reforming themselves, carefully but logically, to present the butchers of the so-called Islamic State with a forward-looking concept which has a promise of success.
The Shi’ite monopolists in Baghdad and Tehran have delayed that as long as the rigid oil monarchies, to say nothing of the so-called republics of Syria, Egypt or Algeria. The kings of Jordan and Morocco, too, are not reforming their countries sufficiently, but they are holding their countries together and moving along socially/politically far enough that their power structure thus far has not imploded.
It is negligent of Arabic leaders to continue their silence about the religious madness of the radical Islamists, or to voice only muted criticism. And it is a fraud for the despots on the Gulf to be sending their fighter jets to join allied forces in fighting an enemy they have contributed much to creating with their policies of repression and denial.
The remaining impetus to the creation of the monster of the IS was contributed but the so-called West with its ruthless colonization of the region as well as an erratic post-colonial policy, which only valued allies if they measured up, and otherwise disenfranchised and humiliated people.
The Interests of the Non-Islamic World
The chronic inferiority complex of Arabic youth is also an explanation for the rise of IS, whose narcissistic style invokes and suggests long-ago greatness and power. Only in this milieu can a retrograde, 1400-year-old doctrine, unfit for the present time, be successful.
This internal Islamic battle is about the primacy of interpreting what Islam is, not what it pretends to be. It is about the Arabic-Islamic cultural legacy, about identity, about complicity through silence, and about the future of 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide. But the non-Muslim world also has a stake in what this ideological competition decides. It will be directly affected by it.