17/04/2007 - 22:00

Voices from the Middle East

17/04/2007 - 22:00

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The next time you face a screaming leftie on your TV screen, or worse still, in your face, claiming America and President George W Bush are hated across the entire Middle East, keep the following in mind.

The next time you face a screaming leftie on your TV screen, or worse still, in your face, claiming America and President George W Bush are hated across the entire Middle East, keep the following in mind.

Quite the opposite is shaping up to being the case.

Middle Eastern leftists, far from being anti-American, are increasingly pro-American and pro-Bush.

And the signs are that this feeling will intensify after President Bush leaves the White House if his successors don’t adopt 1930s-style appeasement, which is likely.

The man who alerted State Scene to this unpublicised trend is Iranian columnist, Middle East expert and author of nine books, Amir Taheri.

In his syndicated column of March 31 in Arab News – the Middle East’s leading English language daily – headlined Left no longer anti-US, Taheri thoroughly demolishes what local anti-American lefties want us all to believe.

“While elements of the left in the US and Europe are calling on Western democracies to abandon Afghanistan and Iraq to Taliban and Al-Qaeda, and surrender to the Khomeinists in Iran, new alliances are emerging against the jihadists in the region,” Taheri writes.

“What is interesting is that in much of the Middle East, most notably Afghanistan and Iraq, the left is part of these new alliances.”

Now, there’s no doubting Western leftists will find this completely surprising and hard to stomach.

That’s to be expected, however, since lefties beyond the Middle East – where freedom is most under threat – are driven by hateful obsession rather than backing the liberation of people threatened by primitive and bloody jihadism.

Taheri says: “In Iraq, the two communist parties, along with the social democrats and other center-left groups, supported the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, and continue to play a significant role in shaping the new pluralist system.

“In Lebanon, Walid Jumblatt’s Progressive Socialist Party (PSP) is at the heart of the democratic movement against the Islamic republic’s attempt to dominate the country through Hezbollah.

“The Lebanese democratic movement includes other parties of the left, notably the Socialist Salvation Movement (Inqadh) and the Movement of the Democratic Left (MDL).

“In Iran, virtually the whole of the left rejects President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s anti-Americanism, and calls for normalisation with the US.

“The recently created independent trade union movement is emerging as a vocal challenger to Khomeinism.”

According to Taheri, a most interesting new anti-jihadist alliance is now taking shape in Afghanistan, which remains the contested hub state that jihadists would love to again use for attacks on the US and the West.

He says that, after months of talks by leaders of several parties that had been fighting each other since the 1980s, they’ve teamed up to create an alliance called Popular Front (Jibheh Melli).

A key Jibheh Melli member is Burhaneddin Rabbani, an Islamic scholar who was Afghanistan’s president after the communist regime’s collapse in 1992.

“As founder and leader of Jami’at Islami (Islamic Society), Rabbani was one of the first Afghan leaders who started the resistance movement against Soviet occupation,” Taheri says.

“And, yet, Rabbani has agreed to enter the Popular Front along with leaders of Afghanistan’s dissolved communist party.

“Both rival wings of the communist party will be present in the new front.

“One wing, known as Parcham (The Banner) had always been pro-Soviet while the other, known as Shoeleh-Javid (Eternal Flame), had Maoist sentiments.

“The new front will also include center-left figures such as Nuralhaq Olumi and Muhammad Gulabzvi along with anti-Soviet Mujahedeen commanders such as general Muhammad Qassim Fahim, a former defence minister.”

Taheri points out that, before the US-led intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq in 2002 and 2003 respectively, a big slice of Middle Eastern leftists were like their Western counterparts – long-standing anti-Americans.

Taheri then quotes several long-time Middle Eastern leftists.

“We looked to the left in the West and imitated it,” says Awad Nasir, one of Iraq’s best-known poets and a lifelong communist.

“We heard from the US and Western Europe that being left meant being anti-American. So we were anti-American.

“And then we saw Americans coming from the other side of the world to save us from Saddam Hussein, something that our leftist friends and the Soviet Union would never contemplate.”

Another quoted is Mustafa Kazemi, spokesman for the new Afghan Front, who says the same.

“Our nation is still facing the menace of obscurantism and terror from Taliban and Al-Qaeda,” he says.

“Thus, we are surprised when elements of the left in the US and Europe campaign for withdrawal so that our new democracy is left defenseless against its enemies.”

The Lebanese leader, Jumblatt, has pointed out that he realised that his lifelong anti-Americanism was misplaced when he saw “long lines of people, waiting to vote in Iraq, in the first free election in an Arab country”.

Samir Qassir, another Lebanese centre-left leader, had stated that anti-Americanism was “the last refuge of the scoundrel” in the Middle East.

We could add here that the situation in the West, including in Australia is no different.

“Politics is always a question of choice,” Qassir stated in an article before he was killed in a car bomb in Beirut on June 2 2005.

“Here in the Middle East we face a choice between democracy and alliance with the US on one hand and surrender to religious fanatics and terrorists on the other.”

Moreover, Iraq’s leftist parties were quite stunned when Spain’s new Socialist government withdrew from the US-led coalition in 2004 and pulled out its troops in the face of threats by Al-Qaeda killers and Hussein followers.

“We had hoped that with a party of the left in power in Madrid we would get more support against the Islamo-fascists, not a withdrawal,” Aziz Al-Haj, a veteran Iraqi communist said.

“Our enemy is Al-Qaeda, not the US,” Tareq Al-Hashemi, vice-president of Iraq said.

Taheri continued: “In the Middle East, however, a good part of the left, while not especially enamored of the US, sees it as a powerful ally against reactionary Islamist and totalitarian pan-Arab movements.”

Adnan Hussein, an Iraqi leftist writer who was recently picked by London’s Financial Times as one of the 50 most influential columnists in the world, has written: “Anti-Americanism is a luxury we cannot afford in the Middle East.

“Blinded by anti-Americanism, the left in the West ends up on the same side as religious fascists and despots.”

According to Taheri: “George W Bush, the bete-noire of liberals and leftists in the West, might be surprised to learn that he has a better image among liberals, leftists, secularists, and even moderate Islamists in the Middle East.

“While Noam Chomsky and Michael Moore see the US as ‘an evil power’, many leftists in the Middle East see it as a force for good that ended the tyranny of the Taliban in Afghanistan, dismantled the regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq, and forced the Syrians out of Lebanon after 30 years of occupation.”

Jumblatt, who recently met President Bush in the White House, said: “In our region, the US has become a force for the good.”

Nothing Taheri says really surprises.

English Islamic expert, David Pryce-Jones, author of the path-finding study of Islam, The Closed Circle, has alluded to this even though not highlighting that Middle Eastern leftists are not anti-American.

In an article in the neoconservative magazine Commentary, titled ‘The New New Left’ (February 28, 2007), Pryce-Jones wrote: “One of the strangest features of the contemporary political landscape is the convergence everywhere of the left with Muslim jihadists and extremists.

“Those who once protested against the installation of cruise missiles in Western Europe now demonstrate against the war on terror.

“Those who praised the Soviet Union as peace-loving are now busy signing petitions and publishing articles to the effect that Iran’s nuclear program and nuclear weapons (if it comes to that) are a third-world success and nothing to worry about.

“Anti-Americanism has made bedfellows of people whose world views and values are ostensibly incompatible.”

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