Monitoring comments made by US citizens over their country’s role in the Middle East today reveals their profound understanding of the underpinnings of US policy towards the region.
The recent crime committed by the terrorist Islamic State, which claimed the lives of 21 Egyptian citizens, and Egypt’s retaliation in the form of air strikes launched on the organisation’s locations in Libyan cities, unearthed how the discussion between American citizens featured on US media outlets – especially right wing ones – has reached an unprecedented point. US citizens have expressed reservations with Barack Obama’s policies as well as accused him of avoiding a statement condemning the Islamic State’s crimes. Moreover, they denounced the indifference he exhibited over the fact that 21 Egyptian citizens were beheaded.
Instead of making any announcements on the matter, Obama was seemingly busy playing golf. Concurrently, Egypt was launching air strikes on Islamic State locations, receiving the support of a number of countries, including Russia, France and Italy.
Obama and his administration’s stance towards crimes committed by the Islamic State and specifically those that took place in Libya and targeted innocent Egyptian citizens, raise an array of questions. One such question is preoccupied with the roots of and responsibility for the phenomenon known as the Islamic State, which in reality extends a number of centuries back, especially to the time of the Cold War.
Usually, our writings on US responsibility for the production of international terrorism, and the fostering of radical groups, leaves some Egyptian and Arab liberals angry. Some argue that these writings comprise incriminating the US. However, it must be said that we deliver these opinions based on our experience as Egyptian researchers who studied the history of old and new international relations as well as the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
During my visit to Washington as part of the “International Visitor” programme in 1996, I posed a direct question to a US official about how Omar Abdelrahman had secured entry into the US. I informed this US official that we suffer from “the returnees from Afghanistan” phenomenon in the Arab World and in Egypt in particular; a phenomenon which was moulded by the US as part of its war against Soviet forces in Afghanistan. The official answered, calmly and plainly, iterating that the Soviet forces’ defeat in Afghanistan was the beginning of the disintegration of the Soviet Union, which was an American strategic goal. As for the impact of this phenomenon on the Arab world, he asserted that this was not for the US to worry about. “We do not care,” he bluntly told me.
Moreover, former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had confirmed, in front of a congressional committee once, that the US took part in the making of fanatic groups in Afghanistan, which were the nuclei of Al-Qaeda, and that the US embarked on such a project with the intention of fighting Soviet Forces in Afghanistan.
The US has not stopped producing this commodity since then. In fact, it has continued to carry out its project in the Balkans, especially Bosnia and Kosovo, for reasons having to do with the disintegration of Yugoslavia and the annihilation of the Serbian regime in 1999.
Only after the disaster of 9/11, did Washington realise the danger of the game it was playing and hence decided to halt its production of this commodity. But it was not long before it resumed this production again as part of its preparations for the Arab Spring. It was a plan which Egypt deposed during the June 30 Revolution. Confusion in US policy ensued. This is when the US began to utter accusations, while in reality it was the first country to blame for all these crimes.
The truth is that the radical terrorist organisations in this region are generally US products in both a direct and indirect way. A number of Arab countries assist with this production too. If the United Kingdom is to blame for the production of the Muslim Brotherhood, then the US is also to blame for the production and nurturing of terrorist organisations that saw the light after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. This production was executed in the apex of the Cold War and at the height of the confrontation between the East and West camps.
US intelligence, which targeted the Soviets in Afghanistan, decided that Muslim youth will be employed as the tool of confrontation and the fuel of war there. It therefore planned to ignite the religious component within Muslim youth. US intelligence spread information that the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan was an invasion by an atheist country to a people who held onto religion, and that Afghanistan must be liberated from the Soviet invasion. US intelligence, Saudi intelligence under the leadership of Kamal Adham, former Egyptian president Anwar Al Sadat and former Pakistani president Zia-ul-Haq all finalised a pact. They collaborated to found the “Afghan Mujahideen” organisation and recruited Muslim youth from Arab and Muslim countries.
Washington supplied them with developed weaponry, including developed surface to air missiles (SAM) from the Stinger model; weapons that the US had not supplied its closest allies with. The weaponry played a huge role in crippling the role of Soviet aircraft. The issue ended by the defeat of the Soviet forces there, and the Soviet president at the time, Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev, pulled back his forces from Afghanistan. Washington responded by halting its activity and decided to depart from the region leaving the Mujahideen to kill one another until the Taliban (the students of religious schools who studied in Pakistan) took control of the scene and hosted Al-Qaeda until 9/11. This was when Washington decided to invade Afghanistan.
Washington, it seems, had not learned their lesson and thus repeated the same experience in both Bosnia and Kosovo – leading to the appearance of the groups of returnees from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bosnia, Chechnya and Kosovo. As part of its preparations for what was dubbed “the Arab Spring”, Washington collaborated with the leader of radical groups, namely the Muslim Brotherhood. It helped provide for the influx of militants into Egypt, Libya, Syria and Iraq in an attempt to completely alter the region’s map.
Turkey played a huge role in fostering and embracing the Islamic State for power, which included the Caliphal dream and Ottoman aspirations to acquire Syrian and Iraqi lands. For its part, Qatar sponsored the funding process of the project. The Islamic State controlled vast areas in Syria and Iraq, and was also pushed into Libya to collaborate with terrorist organisations based there. Next, Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis (Supporters of the Holy House) and Libyan militant organisations pledged allegiance to to the terrorist group.
There were ongoing preparations to open a new war front with Egypt. Then came the beheading of 21 Egyptian citizens in an attempt to offend the Egyptian state and its people. Egypt delivered a quick and firm response. Moreover, political moves on the international level aimed to put the Islamic State and those behind it in an embarrassing position. For his part, Obama could not find the courage to offer condolences to Egyptians. He also failed at finding a political or ethical cover up to the veto of Egypt’s draft to the Security Council, which called for legalising military action against the Islamic State in Libya.
Egypt is fated to carry on its historical role as a place where the dreams of sought-after control and aspired hegemony continue to be challenged. In my own opinion, Egypt took its first step towards the annihilation of Libya’s Islamic State. This will pave the way for the eventual eradication of the organisation in Iraq and Syria and hence frustrate the plan of employing “the Arab Spring” to fragment the area.