The West in Syria: The Making of Dar Al-Harb and Dar As-Salam

2013-09-12 22:09

The Western World’s continual use of military actions is dividing the world into two camps: The Dar Al-Harb (land of war) and the Dar As-Salam (land of peace). The Dar Al-Harb represents those countries that are often used for instrumental purposes to achieved particular aims, often Western powers’ aims. In contrast, the Dar As-Salam represents those countries that, whether true or not, are believed to benefit from the continual use of military actions. Another conspiracy theory?--Not this time. Just read to find out.

The recent planned military action of Western countries against Syria in a bid to punish the Syrian regime for its alleged use of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) raised worldwide concerns that another Dar Al-Harb was in the making. These concerns later ignited anti-war protest movements all over the world. As a result of these popular movements and concurrent diplomatic efforts by the Russians, the drums of war have started to die down albeit slowly, leading to a détente.

This détente came as a relief, a big relief for those who refuse to witness another Dar Al-Harb plunging into a comatose state like Libya. Seriously, it came too close when the Syrian people started fleeing their country—en masse, and the military machines that include several  B-52 bombers, B-2 stealth bombers, and F-22 Raptor fighter- bombers started inching closer to Syria. These were credible signs that the die was cast and that military confrontation was imminent despite the repeated denial of president Assad that he is not involved in the use of the WMD. Surprisingly though, the about-turn came when the frenzied rage of military threat against the Assad regime could not receive the necessary support from the citizens of countries whose leaders had initially shown clear determination to go ahead. An answer to Pope’s prayer? Maybe.

That Western leaders decided to back down turn by turn is, I believe, nothing short of a miracle. David Cameron could not proceed because he failed to convince the British parliament about the necessity of the military action. Francois Hollande was enthusiastic about this war at first but the stiff resistance he later encountered from his constituents made him pause to think. Barack Obama who had sought to rally behind him the US Congress, grew weary and, had to concede later that diplomacy was the best option. In the Middle East, however, the about-turn of the ‘Western SUPERMEN’ sounded more like a betrayal.

Most of the criticisms in the last few days have focused on the Western powers. Little if any, has been said about the Middle Eastern leaders who, I hate to say, acted from a resigned position of followers, not leaders. Saudi Arabia would accept nothing short of a military strike. Turkey would go for a strong international response. Qatar in turn, apart from supplying weapons to rebels, desperately sought for a military action to ‘protect the Syrian people.’ You add to that list leaders from Bahrain and Jordan who, like their regional counterparts, endorsed the official position of Western leaders—‘Go To Warism.’ Overall, their complicit attitude is reminiscent of the attitude displayed by African leaders during the 2011 NATO military campaign against the Khadafy regime in Libya.

For those of us familiar with the Libyan story, African leaders, with few exceptions, never saw the toppling of the Libyan Guide (Khadafy) as a strategic mistake. They uncritically endorsed the then French leader Nicolas Sarkozy’s problematic position that Libya needed a ‘savior’ because the Guide was killing his own people. The result of that military strike was not only devastating for Libya; it was equally if not more devastating for the whole Sahelian region. Malians could tell the story better.

As could be expected, the toppling of Khadafy by NATO set Libya back several years and plunged the country into lawlessness and a quasi-permanent insecurity. Like a baobab tree, the magnitude of the fall of the Colonel also compromised the security of several countries across the Sahel like Niger, Nigeria, Central Africa, Chad and of course Mali. Additionally, it created the conditions for the empowerment of religious radicals within Libya and across the Sahara.

In comparison to what happened in Libya, security experts are overwhelmingly unanimous that the planned military intervention in Syria, if it had to go ahead, might have birthed a far more devastating reality both for Syria and the whole Middle Eastern region. It could have shifted the balance of power between the Assad regime and the loose coalition of rebels many of whom hail from Al-Qaeda. The Al-Nusra fighters, for instance, do not make any mystery of their allegiance to Al-Qaeda. Should the Assad regime fall to these terrorists, God forbid it does, what contingency plans are there to rescue the country from their fangs later on? To this question, the West has no answer.

As gatekeepers of their region, one would have expected the Middle Eastern leaders to show more maturity in how they embrace ‘other people’s agenda’ at the expense of their own people’s interests. Western leaders often act with the interest of their countries in mind. It is about time leaders from the Middle East and Africa alike learnt to do the same. Until that happens, the World will be divided between the Dar Al-Harb and the Dar As-Salam.

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