in WorldAffairs

Of Hornets and Terrorists

More blood in Baghdad, more suicide bombers and more raids against the occupying forces.

It is billed as Shia on Sunni violence (or Sunni on Shia). But these two groups have never conflicted. Not before Saddam nor indeed during his regime. Iraqis are not civil war enthusiasts, their history has not shown this. Even under the tyranny of Saddam when the Shia were terribly repressed, there was no civil war. Not the Shia, the Sunnis or the Kurds (who across the border in Turkey have maintained a freedom fight).

This makes the current talk (principally from the US) of civil unrest and ethnic tensions all the more questionable. What has been proven though, are the attacks against people deemed to be collaborating with the occupation forces – clerical staff, informers, translators etc. This is not an Iraqi phenomenon , it happened in France under Nazi occupation, it happens in Palestine under Israeli occupation and I suspect it would happen in New York City if it were under occupation. It is just the nature of distrust among people under occupation.

As a reaction to this escalation in violence (or freedom fighting?) and as part of its separate War on Terror, the US occupation force (A.K.A the coalition) headed by Mr Paul Bremer has reportedly detained over 10,000 Iraqis – men and boys, peasants and professionals – without charge in detention centers in their own country. This same tactic of detaining so many has been employed in Afghanistan where thousands are held without charge. What could the possible aims of this be? Well there are many. It may be the continuation of the pre-emptive strike strategy on a smaller scale – detain them before they get a chance to attack us. It may be valid intelligence exists that those detained present a risk to US national security (I doubt this though). Or one aim of this that I feel is far more credible, given the announcements by the Bush administration , is that wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are election winners, they make budgeting easier (there are no limits in a war economy, as the rubber stamping of the war bill by US congress as shown). Mr Bush has said he is ‘a war president’ after all. His re-election campaign is using imagery of the burning twin towers of the World Trade Centre, almost saying ‘…I’m getting them for this, re-elect me’.

In fairness, the troubles of the middle east cannot be pinned solely on the US, any regional or imperial superpowers. There are well researched and much documented histories of the issues that have mixed and mingled to lead up to the current troubles.

These are not traditionally democratic societies.

Nomadic tribes and desert fiefdoms evolved into kingdom states, which under pressure from western trading partners, mutated into some parody of democracy – by having elected representatives, appointed cronies and ultimate veto held by a dynastic monarchy. Well it looked good on paper and eased the requirements of the west to allow trade to proceed at the cost of human rights and social progress.

The abuse of Islam by fundamentalist mullahs and so called guardians of the word has further fermented the frustration of the suffering masses. Who this frustration and its attendant anger and resentment is aimed at depends who you speak to. How it is manifested is anyone’s guess. Who can predict the trajectory of an explosion of such pressure? Terrorism is only one very visible manifestation of this force.

Anger and resentment runs deep in the psyche of the middle east. Not just against the west – seen ,dually, as encouragers of state oppression and strategically unwilling to apply its considerable pressure to require Arab states to respect democratic principles and human rights. There is also considerable anger at the governments of the countries of the middle east, partly because of the lack of accountability and their complicity with the west in pillaging the national resources (principally oil!) without equitably sharing the wealth. So long as these injustices persist domestically within Arab states, regionally and internationally against Arabs and in a wider sense, Moslems; there will be anger and hatred. Those who manifest this anger through terror will be continually fuelled.

With particular regard to Israel-Palestine, the political will to resolve the underlying political issues that feed the cause of the liberation groups (Hamas, al Aqsa and the rest) has never been there. Not with the Camp David accords nor for Oslo and certainly not for this new roadmap (the over optimistic timescale and the simplistic approach to the whole thing is evidence enough of this). If a fair (not necessarily equal) agenda was adopted and the realisation that failure to resolve this mammoth issue was not an option then a solution would be found. Instead all we are left with are failed circus performances imitating peace, dashed hopes , more death and greater oppression.

There is a stirring of a hornets’ nest of the frustration of millions of oppressed. It is not just in Iraq and Afghanistan but in every continent of the world. From Israel to Sudan, from Colombia to Mexico, there are those who have legitimate grievances that have been ignored, repressed and manipulated for generations by those who have done so for their own ends but at the risk of the world.

The hornets are maddened and the stinging is underway. A hornet sting generates an alarm that invites other hornets to join in the attack. Its a venomous sting , born of the frustration of generations and delivered with a rabid fury and determination only possible by those who feel there is no alternative.

What do you think?