Saturday, February 10, 2007  

Your silence will not protect you...

Robert Fisk on why silence reigns in some corners of the Middle East:
Just as they are silent now over the mutual killings in Iraq. Sure, the mass killings of Iraq would not have occurred if we hadn't invaded the country. And I do suspect a few "hidden hands" behind the civil conflict in a nation which never before broke apart. In Algeria, the French spent a lot of time in the early 1960s persuading - quite successfully - their FLN and ALN enemies to murder each other. But where are the sheikhs of Al-Azhar and the great Arabian kingdoms when the Iraqi dead are fished out of the Tigris and cut down in their thousands in Baghdad, Kerbala, Baquba? They, too, are silent.

Not a word of criticism. Not a hint of concern. Not a scintilla (an Enoch Powell word, this) of sympathy. An Israeli bombardment of Lebanon? Even an Israeli invasion? That's a war crime - and the Arabs are right, the Israelis do commit war crimes. I saw the evidence of quite a few last summer. But when does Arab blood become less sacred? Why, when it is shed by Arabs. It's not just a failure of self-criticism in the Arab world. In a landscape ruled by monsters whom we in the West have long supported, criticism of any kind is a dodgy undertaking. But can there not be one small sermon of reprobation for what Iraqi Muslims are doing to Iraqi Muslims?

Of course, but the real problem the Arabs now face is that their lands have been overrun and effectively occupied by Western armies. I worked out a few weeks ago that, per head of population - and the world was smaller in the 12th century - there are now about 22 times more Western soldiers in Muslim lands than there were at the time of the Crusades. How do you strike back at these legions and drive them out? Brutally and most terribly, the Iraqis have shown how. I used to say the future of the Bush administration will be decided in Iraq, not in Washington. And this now appears to be true.

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