Arab spring yields to Muslim winter
- January 6, 2014
Sydney Morning Herald columnist
In France, more than 1000 cars were torched across the country on New Year’s Eve. It has become a tradition. As usual, the French media omitted to say most of the damage is done by young disaffected Muslim men and has become a form of protest.
In Iraq, the government has lost control of the city of Fallujah to the fundamentalist group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, giving Islamists open control of a city for the first time since the US-led invasion in 2003. On Christmas Day, car bombs exploded outside three churches, killing 26 people and maiming 38, part of a campaign to remove Iraq’s rapidly decreasing Chaldean Christian population.
In Lebanon, a car bomb exploded in Beirut on Friday, killing or wounding dozens. The blast occurred outside offices of Hezbollah, the Islamic party embroiled in the civil war in Syria and committed to war with Israel.
In Syria, the anti-government uprising remains dominated by Sunni fundamentalists. Opposing them are Shiite fundamentalists deployed by Hezbollah. The civil war has deepened into a Sunni-Shiite schism. More than 100 Australian Muslims have gone to fight on both sides.
In Afghanistan, Islamic repression is increasing while the central government remains corrupt and isolated. It has drawn up a draft penal code in which article 21 calls for lashing or stoning to death for adultery and article 23 specifies the stoning should be in public.
In Egypt, violence continues as the military tightens its suppression of the Muslim Brotherhood. Fire-bombings of Coptic churches by Muslim extremists remain ongoing.
In Libya, a power vacuum exists in the capital and armed militias have divided control of the country.
In the Central African Republic, almost a million people have been displaced since the government was overthrown by Muslim rebels engaged in systemic violence against the Christian majority. Civil war has broken out.
In Somalia, the Muslim fundamentalist al-Shabab movement bombed a hotel in the capital last week.
In Iran, the government continues to move towards acquiring nuclear capacity and uses Hezbollah as a proxy for violence. Hezbollah is believed to have smuggled advanced guided-missile systems from Syria into Lebanon for use against Israel.
Collectively, these events – all recent – tell us something we don’t want to hear.
”We have entered a new era of chaos, the Arab Spring has given way to the Muslim winter,” Israel’s Economy Minister Naftali Bennett said during a recent visit to Sydney. ”The Arab world has never been more unstable. The Muslim winter is here to stay.”
The facts support him. Israel is surrounded by repression, dysfunction, stagnation, mediaevalism and open war among Muslim populations. Among Israel’s strategic responses, it built the world’s most high-tech economy, per capita, becoming a world leader in water technology, medical technology, IT, cyber security and agriculture. The Jewish population of Israel has the highest birth rate in the developed world. The demographic time-bomb, the once predicted engulfing Arab population, has been defused. Another response: Jerusalem has been ringed by Jewish suburbs that represent a fait accompli.
Bennett, who is also leader of the nationalist party The Jewish Home, was in the country to brief the federal government on Iran’s nuclear program as Australia is chair of the UN Security Council committee overseeing sanctions against Iran’s undeclared program to develop nuclear weapons.
Putting to one side his ardent Zionism, there are simply no politicians in Australia with a resume like his: former commando in the Israel Defence Forces; still a major in the reserves; a law degree from Hebrew University; self-made multi-millionaire after founding two cyber security companies; the former chief of staff to Benjamin Netanyahu; the founder of The Jewish Home party that won 12 seats at the last election. He is aged just 41.
Bennett is deeply cynical about the two-state solution pushed by the US since the 1993 Oslo Accords: ”Never in the annals of Israel have so many people expended so much energy on something so futile.”
His cynicism is not an isolated position. Martin Sherman, executive director of the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies, wrote in The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday: ”Prime Minister Netanyahu achieved political prominence largely because of his fierce, and well-argued, opposition to Yitzhak Rabin’s adoption of the Oslo Accords. Yet, inexplicably . . . we see . . . the surreal spectacle of the relentless advance of a grotesque two-state juggernaut of failed formulae and disproven dogma, undeterred by the death and destruction left strewn in its wake, edging ever-closer towards its inevitable destination of catastrophe and chaos.”
Sherman sees instability spreading: ”Not only is [Jordan] facing rising challenges from ascendant Islamist elements and losing support from traditional Bedouin loyalists, the country is being inundated by refugees fleeing the violence in Syria . . . This, coupled with turmoil and disintegration of law and order in Iraq, means Israel could soon be facing the daunting prospect of a vast radicalised Islamist expanse stretching from Iran westward, pressing on its eastern frontier. Whether that frontier is the Jordan Valley or the indefensible ‘Auschwitz’ pre-1967 lines is a matter of life and death for Israel and Israelis.”
Last Wednesday, the Palestinian ambassador to the Czech Republic was killed when a bomb blew up in a safe he was opening in the embassy. Czech police confirmed a cache of illegal heavy firearms was also found at the embassy. Last month, a military court in Gaza, controlled by Hamas, sentenced a man to hang for collaborating with Israeli authorities. It was the third such death sentence in the past year.
What does all this mean? The peace process is a facade.