In 1998, former US President Bill Clinton ordered a missile strike on al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden’s camps in Afghanistan, and six missiles were subsequently launched. This move launched a storm in Washington, whereby Clinton was accused of fabricating a crisis to draw attention away from the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Clinton’s actions in Afghanistan were described as an attempt to “wag the dog”, in reference to the title, and plot, of the 1997 American-made film.
Today the same scene is being repeated in our region, specifically with the burning of US embassies, and it is clear that there are those seeking to take advantage of this state of anger striking our region. Of course, there is nothing wrong with defending the Prophet, peace be upon him, for this is the highest honor, but not in the manner that has been displayed in response to the offensive film. Unfortunately there will be many beneficiaries from what is currently happening in our region; there are the governments of the Arab Spring countries, the Muslim Brotherhood, Iran, Bashar al-Assad, the Sadrist trend, Hezbollah, al-Qaeda, Russia and even Obama himself. The issue is simple, but where should we start…Iran for example? Is it conceivable that demonstrations have broken out in Tehran, condemning the offensive film about the Prophet, whilst Iran itself intends to produce a film about the Prophet Mohammed, and has employed an Iranian actor to embody the Prophet’s role for the first time in history, in order to provide an account contrary to that of the Sunni doctrine? Is there anything more hypocritical than this?
For Bashar al-Assad, the offensive film has come as a timely lifeline. Now al-Assad has more time to choose an escape route, despite the deaths of approximately 27,000 Syrians. The world is preoccupied with the burning of embassies, not the killing of Syrians, and here we see Russia berating Washington, in defense of al-Assad, with Moscow saying that Hillary Clinton’s policies have put America’s embassies in the eye of the storm. This does not only constitute a lifeline for al-Assad, al-Qaeda also stands to be one of the largest beneficiaries. Contrary to what the West may think, or Time magazine, which published its latest US edition under the headline “The End of al-Qaeda?”, the truth is that the terrorist organization is witnessing a mad moment of resurgence today, with demonstrators in Kuwait chanting “Obama, we are all Osama”! As for the Muslim Brotherhood, they are trying to get the Jordanians to understand what they missed out on with the Arab Spring, and are trying to strengthen their positions in the country whilst Jordan is preoccupied with managing the influx of Syrian refugees and al-Assad’s threats. The same applies to the Sadrist trend, which wants to strengthen its position against Nuri al-Maliki! Then there are the Arab Spring states that are seeking any form of escape from their internal crises. Everyone wants to take advantage of the crisis surrounding a film made by a nobody, albeit offensive to the Prophet, pbuh, but he cannot be defended by burning and killing.
As for Obama, this is a larger story, especially during the period of a presidential election. Obama now can divert attention away from several issues, whereby he can escape from the deteriorating economy, Syria, and also those who have criticized him for “leading from the background” in Libya. The Republicans are fishing for pitfalls at every opportunity, especially when Hillary Clinton says that the Arab revolutions did not happen to “trade the tyranny of a dictator for the tyranny of the mob”. In truth, Obama is fortunate that he does not have a heavyweight competitor for the presidency, especially as he is now being labeled as being responsible for bringing the Brotherhood to power in our region.
This is the state of affairs as things stand, but is anyone paying attention? Obviously no one is!