By Dr Shireen M Mazari
be dangerous, especially when those who wield power
possess it. What we are witnessing today is a most
dangerous ignorance accompanying US imperialism,
which seeks to destroy existing structures in the
Muslim World -- targeting primarily the Middle East
and Gulf region, including Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Some of us have been writing for a while now about
US intent to break the larger Muslim states into
smaller entities and to cut some Arab states "to
size" for the sins of al-Qaeda and 9/11, as
well as for gaining greater control over the energy
resources of these states.
While Secretary of State Rice most callously referred
to the death and destruction wreaked on Lebanon
by Israel as the "birth pangs of a new Middle
East", US commentators are now increasingly
writing about the need to break the very structures
of the existing state system in the Greater Middle
East (GME) -- which includes Iran, Afghanistan and
Pakistan. Leslie Gelb and Peter Galbraith have been
writing about the need to create three states out
of Iraq and other analysts have followed suit as
the US gets more deeply pulled into the Iraqi quagmire
which it created by invading that country.
Perhaps the most explicit expression of what the
US intends to do in the GME region has been the
article written by a retired US army intelligence
officer, Ralph Peters, which appeared in the US
Armed Forces Journal of July 2006. The article,
"Blood Borders", scales new heights of
ignorance and imperial hubris. The author talks
of a boundaries project that would redress the so-called
wrongs suffered by "the most 'cheated' population
groups" -- all Muslim of course. He says that
borders have never been static through the centuries
and in true imperial fashion then goes about suggesting
how, presumably the sole super power, the US, can
set about changing the borders of the Muslim World.
He declares the US and its allies "missed a
glorious chance" in Iraq when they did not
set about dividing the state in the immediate aftermath
of the invasion.
Of course, like any sanctimonious imperialist, Peters
couches the new imperialist design in terms of righting
historical injustices -- though why the US should
set itself this task without being asked by anyone,
is inexplicable. But if we were to take Peters on
his own intent, then surely the US should begin
by undoing the historical injustice to Native Americans
who now have only officially sanctioned reservations
to call their own in North America. And what about
asking major US allies like Britain and Australia
to do likewise? Britain should give independence
to Scotland and Wales and return Northern Ireland
back to the Irish Republic. Australia's original
white settlers, who were mostly convicts sent to
the faraway penal colony and killed a large part
of the native aborigine population, should return
Australian territory to the aborigines, while New
Zealanders must restore ownership of their country
to the indigenous Maoris. After all, if the US is
going to undertake the righting of historical injustices
in terms of territories it must begin with itself
and its allies.
Western Europe too will then have to undo the injustice
suffered by "cheated" people like the
Basques of Spain -- to cite just one example. Coming
closer to the Middle East, Peters' own focus, surely
the most cheated people are the Palestinians. The
British imperialists decided, through the Balfour
Declaration, to give the Jews a homeland and then
they began shifting them to Palestine -- with the
local people forcibly ejected from their historic
lands. To atone for Hitler's crimes, the Palestinians
were made to pay as the "unnatural" state
-- a term used by Peters for Pakistan and other
Arab states -- of Israel was created. Peters cannot
be ignorant of this history but makes no suggestion
of giving back the Palestinians all their lands.
He should know that if he is examining how a "better
Middle East would look", he should focus on
righting the great injustice done to the Palestinian
people. Ironically, the Israelis have adopted a
policy of lebensraum or "living space"
and have sought to continuously expand their borders
-- such are the lessons learnt from history!
His ignorance comes out clearly when he refers to
the need to break up Saudi Arabia to create a separate
"Muslim super-Vatican" out of the holy
cities of Makkah and Madina to be ruled in rotation
by the world's major Muslim schools and movements.
To begin with, the Vatican model is good for one
school within Christianity -- that of the Roman
Catholics. Can one imagine the Pope periodically
handing over the Vatican to the Archbishop of Canterbury
or the Orthodox Church?
The punitive factor is also present when Peters
talks of how the "unnatural state of Saudi
Arabia would suffer as great a dismantling as Pakistan"
-- the latter being the only Muslim nuclear state!
He proposes that Jordan be expanded at Saudi expense
and the Shias populating the coastal oilfields of
Saudi Arabia be given control of this area while
Yemen would take some of the Saudi territory adjacent
to it. All this so that the "House of Saud
would be capable of far less mischief toward Islam
and the world". It is time the Saudis worried
about the massive military access they have given
to the US and Britain in their territory.
As for Pakistan, Peters' ignorance is highlighted
when he talks of compensating Afghanistan, for its
loss to Persia in the West, with Pakistan's NWFP.
Had he studied history, he would have known that
people have moved from Afghanistan to Pakistan,
not the other way round. So if there is to be territorial
adjustment, Pakistan should be gaining more territory.
But then Pakistan is a nuclear power and this rests
uncomfortably with Christian America! And of course,
Free Balochistan would also be created along with
Kurdistan! As for Iran, it would be truncated into
a purely Persian state with the fate of Bandar Abbas
still undecided because Peters also sees the creation
of a Shia Arab state and the US may choose to give
the port to that state.
Peters may sound ridiculous, but if we were to recollect
how many absurdities have become official Bush Administration
policies, then we should take this seriously and
take measures to counter this agenda before it is
fully operationalised. I say "fully" because
if one looks at the instability both within Muslim
states that fall into the GME region and within
the region, one can see the beginnings of the operationalisation
of this new imperial design. After all, the intent
is to create dissent and polarizations within our
states as well as between the states of the region
so that eventually total anarchy reigns in the GME.
Israel failed to do this in its latest military
assault on Lebanon but Iraq is heading in that direction
and the Gulf States are overwhelmed with the US
military presence which will cost them dearly in
the long run if the US imperialist design continues
How to counter such designs from succeeding? A two-pronged
strategy for all these states: One, strengthen the
domestic consensus through greater civil society
participation. Political solutions to political
grievances of all segments of civil society so that
the space is not available for outsiders to exploit.
Two, to evolve defense treaties amongst Muslim states.
Here Pakistan can take the lead by initiating security
treaties with the GCC collectively or with Gulf
States bilaterally and also seek a greater strategic
partnership with Iran. The US imperial threat targets
all of us and a collective proactive response is
required by the Muslims states of the GME.
(The writer is director general of the Institute
of Strategic Studies in Islamabad. Courtesy The