Ronald Reagan Taliban234
Is it the Left that fails to oppose Islamism, or Rightwing Imperialists?

It is commonly asserted that Leftists· refuse to criticise Islam (or theocratic Islam).[1] There are variations on this trope: some claim that Leftists refuse to criticise Islam due to a gratuitous sense of political-correctness;[2] some claim that Leftists are blind to the problems inherent within Islam;[3] and some claim that Leftists are actively supporting theocratic or militant Islam through some kind of insidious political collaboration.[4]

An examination of the relationship between the Right, the Left, and Islamism over the last half-century renders this narrative trivial at best, and deceitful at worst.

The Left and Islamism

It could be granted that due to the post-911 wave of hysterical anti-Muslim bigotry from Social-Conservatives throughout the West, many Leftists have found it difficult to navigate the line between valid criticism of Muslims and anti-Muslim bigotry; in consequence, arguably, many Leftists have been hesitant to condemn the views and behaviour of conservative and theocratic Muslims, for fear of also validating this xenophobia and bigotry.[5]

Ostensibly, however, this situation is extremely recent; over the course of the preceding half-century, the Left (and Left-influenced groups and regimes) actually consistently opposed and battled with militant and theocratic Islamic movements; here are some examples:
· The ʿArab-Socialist regime of Nasser (r. 1956-1970)—despite appealing to Egypt’s Islamic heritage on occasion—outlawed the Muslim Brotherhood movement in 1954 and suppressed the organisation henceforth.[6]
· Following the 1964 Revolution in Sudan, the popularity of the Communist Party—a progressive organisation which had promoted women’s rights over the prior decades,[7] etc.—prompted their Islamist opponents to launch a campaign of violence against the Sudanese Left.[8] Several years later (in 1969), another Leftist coup d’état attempted to reverse the conservative-Islamisation of Sudan and return the country towards socially-progressive socialism.[9]
· The Islamic-Socialist regime of Gaddafi in Libya (r. 1969-2011)—despite appealing to Islamic Tradition in their syncretic Socialist ideology—repressed and imprisoned Islamists.[10]
· The Socialist government of Afghanistan—which gained power in a bloody 1978 coup d’état and continued the modernisation attempts of the prior regime, including the introduction of women’s rights—repressed Islamists and fought against the theocratic Muslim ‘strugglers’ (mujāhidūn) of the region during the 1980s.[11]
· Following the 1979 Revolution in Iran, the emerging Islamist regime of Khumaini was threatened by the secular and progressive Left, which was brutally repressed through mass-executions;[12] in 1983, the Communist Party of Iran was officially outlawed.[13]
· In Lebanon, the Communist Party was perceived as a serious threat by Islamists, who perpetrated numerous mass-killings against their leftwing foes during the 1980s; in 1987, Twelver-Shiʿi clerics in Nabatiye issued fatāwā ordering their followers to kill all Communists in the region.[14]
· At present, one of the most notable groups militarily-resisting I.S.I.S in the Middle East is the socialist Kurdistan Workers’ Party.[15]
A pattern seems to emerge from this history – over the last half-century, the progressive Left (including syncretic quasi-leftwing regimes) has consistently opposed and fought theocratic and militant Islamic movements throughout the Muslim world.

The Right and Islamism
In stark juxtaposition to this recurring Leftist legacy of struggle, the imperialistic Right—particularly the U.S.A and the U.K—consistently supported militant and theocratic Islamic movements and regimes (diplomatically, logistically, and financially) throughout the last half-century, usually against the Left and secular-nationalism; here are some examples:
· 1953 – The C.I.A of the Republican Eisenhower administration attempted to collaborate with the theocratic ayatollah Kashani (an inspiration to Khumaini[16]) to overthrow the irreligious, secular-nationalist Prime Minister of Iran, Muhammad Musaddiq.[17][18]
· 1957 – In order to counter and undermine secular-nationalism and socialism in the Middle East, the Republican Eisenhower administration attempted to style King Saud as the ‘Islamic Pope’.[19] Saudi Arabia is one of the most theocratic Islamic states in history, and despite some occasional disagreements and tension, the U.S.A strongly supported Saudi Arabia from WW2 onwards.[20]
· 1965-1966 – The Democratic Johnson administration of the U.S.A—as well as the Liberal Menzies administration of Australia and the Labour Harold administration of the U.K—supported the coup d’état of Suharto and his conservative-Islamist alliance in Indonesia, which entailed the mass-killing of up to a million leftists, workers, peasants, students, and others by the Indonesian military and their militant Islamist allies;[21][22] the C.I.A. even advised these Muslim executioners to identify atheists and Communists as ‘unbelievers’ (kāfirūn), whose deaths were necessary to religiously purify Indonesia.[23]
· 1970 – The Conservative Heath administration of the U.K attempted to undermine the Marxist rebellion ongoing in Oman by spreading religious Islamic propaganda and air-dropping leaflets with slogans such as: “The Hand of God Destroys Communism.”[24]
· 1970-1981 – Successive Republican and Democratic administrations of the U.S.A (from Nixon to Reagan) heavily supported the Islamist regime of Sadat in Egypt, which introduced Islamic Law (s̠arīʿah) into Egyptian state law and the national constitution[25] and encouraged Islamist groups (such as the Muslim Brotherhood) vis-à-vis the secular-nationalism and socialism predominating in the country.[26]
· 1977-1988 – The Pakistani general Muhammad Ziyaʾ al-Haqq—an emphatically pious Muslim—seized power in a coups d’état and undertook a policy of conservative-Islamisation in Pakistan, including the implementation of Islamic Law (s̠arīʿah);[27] he was extensively and enthusiastically supported by U.S-Republican Reagan[28] and British-Conservative Thatcher.[29]
· 1980s – The Republican Reagan administration of the U.S.A and the Conservative Thatcher administration of the U.K both heavily-supported the mujāhidūn (including proto-Qaʿidah) in Afghanistan against the secular, progressive, socialist government. [30] [31] [32]
· 1988-1992 – The Likud administration of Israel enabled and supported the rise of Hamas vis-à-vis the hitherto-dominant secular and leftwing Palestinian groups.[33][34][35]
From all of this history, an inverse pattern seems to emerge vis-à-vis the leftwing legacy described previously – over the course of the last half-century, the Right—and especially, socially-conservative governments in the U.S.A and the U.K—has consistently supported and collaborated with theocratic and militant Islamic movements and regimes throughout the Muslim world, usually against the progressive and secular Left.

Analysis: Imperialism & Media
This set of facts raises two obvious questions. Firstly: why does the Right consistently support theocratic Islamism, and the Left consistently fight it? No simple answer will suffice to account for either, but the following quote from Chomsky provides some insight:
“The U.S. has always supported the most extreme fundamentalist Islamic movements and still does. The oldest and most valued ally of the U.S. in the Arab world is Saudi Arabia, which is also the most extremist fundamentalist state. By comparison, Iran looks like a free democratic society – but Saudi Arabia was doing its job. The enemy for most of this period has been secular nationalism. U.S.-Israeli relations, for example, really firmed up in 1967 when Israel performed a real service for the U.S. and Saudi Arabia. Namely, it smashed the main center of secular nationalism, (Gamal Abdul) Nasser’s Egypt, which was considered a threat and more or less at war with Saudi Arabia at the time. It was threatening to use the huge resources of the region for the benefit of the population of the countries of the region, and not to fill the pockets of some rich tyrant while vast profits flowed to Western corporations.”[36]
Secondly: why isn’t this reality reflected within the popular media discourse? Once again, a quotation from Chomsky sheds some light on the subject:
“In short, major media—particularly, the elite media that set the agenda that others generally follow—are corporations “selling” privileged audiences to other businesses. It would hardly come as a surprise if the picture of the world they present were to reflect the perspectives and interests of the sellers, the buyers, and the product. Concentration of ownership of the media is high and increasing. Furthermore, those who occupy managerial positions in the media, or gain status within them as commentators, belong to the same privileged elites, and might be expected to share the perceptions, aspirations, and attitudes of their associates, reflecting their own class interests as well. Journalists entering the system are unlikely to make their way unless they conform to these ideological pressures, generally by internalizing the values; it is not easy to say one thing and believe another, and those who fail to conform will tend to be weeded out by familiar mechanisms.”[37]
For an institutional analysis of the media and the various pressures which distort information, see: Edward S. Herman & Noam Chomsky, Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media (New York, U.S.A: Pantheon Books, 1988).

Conclusion
The popular narrative that Leftists shy away from criticising Islam or Islamism, or that the Left actively conspires with ‘Islamism’, is superficial – since WW2, leftwing movements and governments—including quasi-leftist regimes—have consistently opposed militant and theocratic Islamism. By contrast, imperialistic rightwing governments in the West—particularly the U.S.A and the U.K—have a long and sordid history of supporting some of the worst theocratic and militant Islamic movements and regimes in recent history.
· Meaning: Marxists, Socialists, Anarchists, Communists, etc. ‘Liberalism’ is a pro-capitalist ideology, and therefore on the ‘right wing’ of the economic spectrum; the ‘left wing’, by contrast, is anti-capitalism. Consequently, the common conflation of ‘Liberals’ and ‘Leftists’ (as if the two terms were synonyms) demonstrates a confusion in the claims of those articulating the narrative under consideration; this is exemplified in the following article: Nick Cohen, ‘The Great Betrayal: How Liberals Appease Islam’, Standpoint (January/February, 2015): http://standpointmag.co.uk/node/5886/full

[1] For example: Rick Santorum—in a 2007 speech at the University of Oklahoma—claimed: “I will tell you, I am absolutely perplexed that the radical Left in this country—or even the mainstream Left in this country—does not join in opposing the ideology that we confront: radical Islamists.”

[2] Thus, for example, Harris claims that “the political correctness of the Left has made it taboo to even notice the menace of political Islam, leaving only right-wing fanatics to do the job.”

[3] For example: George Jochnowitz, The Blessed Human Race: Essays on Reconsideration (Lanham, U.S.A: Hamilton Books, 2007), p.35: “Leftist writers now feel free to attack Stalin and Mao, and maybe even Castro, but they remain blind to the excesses of Islamic regimes.”

[4] Notably suggested in Unholy Alliance (2004) by Horowitz and The Grand Jihad (2010) by McCarthy; this is also approximately the thesis of John Miller, Siding with the Oppressor: The Pro-Islamist Left (London, U.K: One Law for All, 2013), which purports to identity a concerted efforts amongst some British-Leftists to support or defend militant and theocratic Islamism, which is allegedly viewed by some as a legitimate “anti-imperialist force”; these same Leftists also allegedly defend Islam in general—which they hold to be “an oppressed religion”—by means of vilification and false accusations of “racism” and “Islamophobia” (Miller, p.6). Although Miller sometimes relies upon insinuation and inference (e.g., the insinuation of perfidy on the part of German for saying “not condone” instead of “condemn”, and their not explicitly citing Washington and Pennsylvania; Miller, p.7), there are three passable examples of this approximate phenomenon chronicled within his report. Firstly: according to an article written by Tina Becker at Weekly Worker, the leadership of the ‘Stop the War Coalition’—whilst condemning Western imperialism and terrorism—declined to condemn ‘the terrorist attacks on the USA, opposition to the Taliban, for democracy and secularism everywhere’, to maximise their support-base. (Miller, pp.7-8; Miller incorrectly attributes the view of Hoskisson to the StWC at large, however; cf. http://weeklyworker.co.uk/worker/406/building-for-november-18/) The StWC also collaborated with the Muslim Association of Britain, an organisation with some dubious affiliations such as Qaraḍāwī (Miller, pp.8-24.) Secondly: the largely StWC-derived ‘Respect Party’—co-founded in 2004 by George Galloway—has connections to Islamist individuals, groups, and governments (Miller, pp.25-46). Thirdly: the leadership of the ‘Unite against Fascism’ coalition—founded in 2003 and dominated by the Socialist Workers’ Party—has collaborated with Islamist individuals, groups, and governments (Miller, pp.46-56). Vis-à-vis the grand narrative of Leftist betrayal, however, these three examples seem meagre and sporadic.

[5] Thus, Miller’s claim (p.6) that some Leftists consider Islam to be “an oppressed religion.”

[6] Ray Takeyh & Nikolas K. Gvosdev—The Receding Shadow of the Prophet: The Rise and Fall of Radical Political Islam (Westport, U.S.A: Praeger Publishers, 2004), pp.60-61—note that despite their participation in the 1952 Revolution, the Muslim Brotherhood was outlawed by Nasser in 1954, given the conflict of their Islamic ideology with Nasser’s ʿArab-Socialism (Nasser also conflicted with proper Communists). In 1965, a mass wave of arrests saw the imprisonment of many seminal Islamist theoreticians, and in 1966 the state executed Saʿīd Quṭb, Muḥammad Yūsuf Awas̠, and ʿAbd al-Fattāḥ Ismāʿīl. Despite this, Nasser still drew upon Egypt’s Islamic heritage in order to appeal to conservative Muslims. However, Islam was only really referenced as a facilitating-factor for ʿArab history and civilisation.

[7] Carolyn Fluehr-Lobban, ‘Human Rights: Sudan’, in E.W.I.C, V.2, p.278: “Historically, the struggle for Sudanese women’s rights was part of the larger nationalist movement. The first organized group of women, the Sudanese Women’s Union, was formed in 1946 as part of the Sudanese Communist Party. After independence, through the 1950s and 1960s, the Women’s Union published its Ṣawt al-marʾa (Woman’s voice) in which numerous issues relating to the political and social status of women were raised, such as polygamy, divorce reform, and female circumcision. Suffrage was extended to women, not at the time of independence, but after the 1964 popular revolution against the Abboud military government, when women openly and enthusiastically demonstrated for popular democracy. Fāṭima Aḥmad Ibrāhīm, a founder of the Women’s Union, was the first woman elected to parliament in 1965. The Women’s Union was also influential in agitating for the reforms in the Sharīʿa law of marriage and divorce that took place in the 1960s and early 1970s.”

[8] Abdullahi A. Gallab—The First Islamist Republic: Development and Disintegration of Islamism in the Sudan (Aldershot, U.K: Ashgate Publishing Limited, 2008), pp.63-64—notes the career of the Islamist politician Al-Ḥasan ʿAbd Allāh at-Turābī, which started in 1964: “Under the leadership of al-Turabi, the Islamists gradually became a mainstay of political activism and agitation, sometimes instigating violent campaigns against the Communist Party both on and off the campuses of universities and other institutes of higher education.” According to Abdel Salam Sidahmed—‘Islamism and the State’, in John Ryle, Justin Willis, Suliman Baldo, & Jok Madut Jok (eds.), The Sudan Handbook (Woodbridge, U.K: James Currey, 2011), p.94—the the Communist Party of Sudan was dissolved in 1965 due to the efforts of Islamists, on the charge of ‘atheism’:

[9] Diaa Rashwan (ed.) (Translated by Mandy McClure), The Spectrum of Islamist Movements, Volume 1 (Berlin, Germany: Verlag Hans Schiler, 2007), p.379: “…following the approval of the first draft of the constitution, the May coup took place, let by the Sudanese communist party in alliance with the Free Officers and the Sudanese left. The first statement issued by the coup leaders announced that they had come to burn the “yellow papers”—a reference to the draft Islamic constitution—and to restore the October 1964 revolution’s original progressive and socialist nature.”

[10] Clinton Bennet—‘Chapter 7: States, Politics, and Political Groups’, in Felicity Crowe, Jolyon Goddard, Ben Hollingum, Sally MacEachern & Henry Russell (eds.), Modern Muslim Societies (Tarrytown, U.S.A: Marshall Cavendish Corporation, 2011), p.163—notes the syncretic Islamic-Socialism of Gaddafi, and also the fact that “Gaddafi has imprisoned many members of Islamist movements.”

[11] For a brief overview of the 20th Century history of Afghanistan and its societal progression (from the Barakzai Kingdom to the Republic of Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan, the Civil War, and the rise of the Taliban), see: Christian Parenti, ‘Ideology and Electricity: The Soviet Experience in Afghanistan’, The Nation (7th/May/2012): http://www.thenation.com/article/167440/ideology-and-electricity-soviet-experience-afghanistan

[12] Jerald A. Combs, The History of American Foreign Policy, Volume 2: From 1895, Third Edition (Armonk, U.S.A: M. E. Sharpe, Inc., 2008), p.269: “The ayatollah arrested, purged, and executed moderates, Communists, and religious and ethnic dissidents.” Marsh E. Burfeindt, ‘Rapprochement in Iran’, in Thomas A. Johnson (ed.), Power, National Security, and Transformational Global Events: Challenges Confronting America, China, and Iran (Boca Raton, U.S.A: C.R.C Press, 2012), p.190: “The resulting purge led to the firing squad deaths of tens of thousands of middle-class professionals and secularists, often within hours of being taken into custody.”

[13] Ihsan A. Hijazi (‘Communist Party in Lebanon Hurt’, The New York Times (4th/March/1987): http://www.nytimes.com/1987/03/04/world/communist-party-in-lebanon-hurt.html) noted: “Shiite enmity for the Communists heightened after the Iranian Government of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini outlawed Iran’s Communist Party four years ago and arrested 75 of its leaders on charges of spying for Moscow.”

[14] Hijazi (‘Communist Party in Lebanon Hurt’) noted the mass-killing of Communists by Islamists, the fatāwā of the clerics to purge all Communists, the persecution of Communist due to their alleged ‘atheism’ by Islamists, and the Iranian involvement.

[15] ‘PKK joins battle against Isil’, Gulf News (15th/July/2014): http://gulfnews.com/news/region/syria/pkk-joins-battle-against-isil-1.1360183

[16] Edward Willett—Ayatollah Khomeini (New York, U.S.A: The Rosen Publishing Group, Inc., 2004), p.37—notes that “Khomeini greatly admired Ayatollah Seyyed Abolqasem Kashani” (who opposed British imperialism): “After the Allied invasion, Kashani was arrested for his anti-British opinions. That made him a hero to the younger members of the clergy. When he was released in 1945, he became closely associated with the Feda’iyan-e Islam. Khomeini paid frequent visits to Kashani’s home.” Elsewhere, Willett (p.34) notes: “Khomeini’s friend Kashani supported Mosaddeq for a time. However, Mosaddeq would not support the Feda’iyan’s demand to apply shari’a law. Kashani withdrew his support and went on to help General Fazollah Zahedi—with the help of the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the British—overthrow Mossadeq in August 1953.”

[17] Algar, ‘Kās̲h̲ānī’, in E.I.2, V.4, p.696: “With the beginning of the campaign for the nationalization of the oil industry, Kās̲h̲ānī’s importance grew as he came to be one of the chief organizers of mass support for Dr. Muḥammad Muṣaddiḳ’s National Front. He had, too, a number of representatives in the Mad̲j̲lis, a group known as the Mud̲j̲āhidīn-i Islām. Personal differences arose between Kās̲h̲ānī and Musaddik, and Kās̲h̲ānī became alarmed, moreover, at the militant irreligiosity that showed itself in the last days of Musaddiḳ’s rule. He therefore supported the royalist coup d’état of 19 August 1953 that overthrew Muṣaddiḳ.”

[18] According to C.I.A records, the C.I.A attempted to collaborate with religious leaders such as Kās̠ānī: Stephen Kinzer, All the Shah’s Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror (Hoboken, U.S.A: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2008), p.178: “The indispensable Assadollah Rashidian, however, was worried that the mob would not be big enough. He urged Roosevelt to strengthen his hand by making a last-minute deal with Muslim religious leaders, many of whom had large followings and could produce crowds on short notice. The most important of them, Ayatollah Kashani, had already turned against Mossadegh and would certainly be sympathetic. To encourage him, Rashidian suggested a quick application of cash. Roosevelt agreed. Early Wednesday morning he sent $10,000 to Ahmad Aramash, a confidant of Kashani’s, with instructions that it be passed along to the holy man.”

[19] Rachel Bronson—Thicker than Oil: America’s Uneasy Partnership with Saudi Arabia (Oxford, U.K: Oxford University Press, 2006), p.27—notes a letter from Eisenhower to King ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz mentioning “a shared interest in fighting “godless communism.”” Saudi Arabia was also held to be a counter to the revolutionary secular-nationalism of the Middle East during the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. Thus, “Eisenhower encouraged Saudi Arabia’s King Saud (reigned 1953-64) to become a political and religious counter to the charismatic Nasser, and the White House began referring to King Saud somewhat optimistically as “an Islamic pope.””

[20] Wynbrandt (A Brief History of Saudi Arabia, pp.195-197) notes the replacement of the U.K by the U.S.A as Saudi Arabia’s key backer during WW2, despite the Saudi opposition towards Zionism (which Roosevelt supported); Wynbrandt (pp.213) further notes the straining of U.S-Saudi relations under the pro-Israeli Truman and later during the 1973 War (Wynbrandt, p.231), but these differences were overcome: the 1979 U.S.S.R intervention in Afghanistan brought “Saudi Arabia and the United States together in creating an army of Islamic fighters, the mujahideen, to battle the Soviets” (Wynbrandt, p.233).

[21] Robert W. Hefner, ‘Chapter 7: Religion: Evolving Pluralism’, in Donald K. Emmerson (ed.), Indonesia beyond Suharto: Polity, Economy, Society, Transition (Armonk, U.S.A: Asia Society, 1999), p.223: “With covert military support, several Muslim youth groups organized violent attacks on PKI headquarters—opening actions in a fiercely anticommunist campaign that would consume the country. By the middle of 1966, hundreds of thousands of real or suspected communists had been slaughtered and the party leadership had been liquidated. Although associations representing Indonesia’s minority religions took part in the killings in some locations, Muslim youth groups working in cooperation with the armed forces were often at the forefront of the campaign.”

[22] Mike Head, ‘Interviews and documents show… US orchestrated Suharto’s 1965-66 slaughter in Indonesia’, World Socialist Website (19th/July/1999): http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/1999/07/indo1-j19.html

[23] Olaf Schumann—‘Multifaith Dialogue in Diverse Settings’, in Viggo Mortensen (ed.), Theology and the Religions: A Dialogue (Grand Rapids, U.S.A: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2003), pp.202-203—notes that when Suharto and his Islamist allies took power, they were influenced by the C.I.A: “Communists and atheists and those accused of sympathizing with them were now, according to the advice of the CIA and Western economic “experts,” treated as “infidels” (kâfirûn) and therefore killed or confined to prison camps, and thus the Indonesian nation had become a truly religious one, a “nation of believers,” in accordance with the Ketuhanan Yang Maha Esa.”

[24] Ian F. W. Beckett—‘The British Counterinsurgency Campaign in Dhofar 1965-75’, in Daniel Marston & Carter Malkasian (eds.), Counterinsurgency in Modern Warfare (Oxford, U.K: Osprey Publishing Ltd., 2010), pp.182-183—notes that the British military realised “that Islam could be used against PFLOAG at the very moment that the government information service was being established by Captain Tim Landon. Constantly re-iterated themes were “The Hand of God Destroys Communism” and “Islam is Our Way, Freedom is our Aim.” Leaflets were air-dropped on the jebel. Notices were also predominantly displayed in towns and markets, notably where inhabitants queued at perimeter gates for the customary searches looking for weapons and excessive amounts of food or medical supplies. There was a new government weekly, Al Watan, and, even more importantly, Radio Dhofar began to broadcast throughout the province.”

[25] Anthony McDermott, Egypt from Nasser to Mubarak: A Flawed Revolution (Abington, U.K: Routledge, 2013), p.192: “In 1971, Sadat had the second article of the constitution amended, making sharia a major source of law. In 1977, in the face of the mounting extremism, the government announced legislative proposals such as the death penalty for apostasy and adultery, and whipping for drunkenness.” Some of these laws were not actually implemented, but in 1980 “the People’s Assembly approved an amendment in the second article of the Constitution, taking the whole issue an important stage beyond Sadat’s 1971 amendment – for the change made sharia the rather than a main source of legislation.”

[26] Joel Beinin & Joe Stork, ‘On the Modernity, Historical Specificity, and International Context of Political Islam’, in Joel Beinin & Joe Stork (eds.), Political Islam: Essays from Middle East Report (New York, U.S.A: I. B. Tauris & Co., Ltd., 1997), p.11: “Similarly, there was no hint of any US reproach in the 1970s when the Egyptian government of Anwar al-Sadat, then on its way to becoming the second largest recipient (after Israel) of US economic and military aid, encouraged the Muslim Brothers and its radical offshoots to organize against nationalists and leftists.”

[27] Michel Boivin—‘Ziyāʾ al-Ḥaḳḳ’, in E.I.2, V.11, p.518—relates the political rise of Muḥammad and his overt religiosity, before noting the following: “From 1979 onwards, Zia promulgated a series of Islamic laws hailed by Mawdūdī as the first steps towards the installation of an Islamic state. The first series, known as the “Hudood Ordinances”, created a category of “Islamic crimes”, such as adultery, rape, theft, fornication, etc. These crimes were to be dealt with by special courts with the task of applying the Ḳurʾānic penalties. These courts were themselves placed under the authority of the Federal S̲h̲aria Court, made up of judges and ʿulamāʾ. In 1980, the second series of measures envisaged the Islamisation of the economic sector. Two Islamic taxes, the zakāt and the ʿus̲h̲r, were created. Bank loans were regulated on a basis of the Ḳurʾānic prohibition of usury, ribā. The law envisaged a division of the risks run by the borrower and the lender. Interest was fixed on the basis of a common agreement, and indexed according to the financial performance of the banks.”

[28] Samina Ahmed—‘Reviving State Legitimacy in Pakistan’, in Simon Chesterman, Michael Ignatieff, & Ramesh C. Thakur (eds.), Making States Work: State Failure and the Crisis of Governance (Tokyo, Japan: United Nations University Press, 2005), pp.157-158—notes the strong U.S support for the Ziyāʾ al-Ḥaqq regime, despite its brutality: “Benefiting from billions of US military and economic assistance, as well as US diplomatic support, the Zia regime successfully warded off its civilian contenders for 11 long years.”

In a 1982 speech to Muḥammad, Reagan proclaimed: “President Zia, Begum Zia, distinguished guests, it’s an honor for me to welcome you to the White House this evening.

Mr. President, our talks this morning underlined again the strong links between our countries. We find ourselves even more frequently in agreement on our goals and objectives. And we, for example, applaud your deep commitment to peaceful progress in the Middle East and South Asia, a resolve which bolsters our hopes and the hopes of millions.

In the last few years, in particular, your country has come to the forefront of the struggle to construct a framework for peace in your region, an undertaking which includes your strenuous efforts to bring peaceful resolution to the crisis in Afghanistan — a resolution which will enable the millions of refugees currently seeking shelter in Pakistan to go home in peace and honor. Further, you’ve worked to ensure that progress continues toward improving the relationship between Pakistan and India. And in all these efforts the United States has supported your objectives and will applaud your success.”

Reagan went on to claim: “Our relationship is deep and longstanding.” Finally, Reagan concluded: “And, Mr. President, I propose a toast to you, to the people of Pakistan, and to the friendship that binds our nations together.”

[29] In a 1981 speech to Muḥammad, Thatcher (cited in: Margaret Thatcher, ‘Speech at banquet given by Pakistan President (Zia Ul Haq)’, Margaret Thatcher Foundation (8th/October/1981): http://www.margaretthatcher.org/document/104716) proclaimed that due to the threat of Socialism and other reasons, “Pakistan deserves the support of Britain and of all the nations of the world who are genuinely interested in bringing about the withdrawal of Soviet troops. On behalf of Britain, let me confirm to you—Pakistan has our support in the great problems you are facing. As Prime Minister of the country which at present holds the Presidency of the European Community, I can say too that the ten member states of that Community support you. We admire deeply the courage and skill you have shown in handling the crisis.”

[30] William Blum (‘The Historical US Support for al-Qaeda’, Foreign Policy Journal (10th/January/2014): http://www.foreignpolicyjournal.com/2014/01/10/the-historical-us-support-for-al-qaeda/) notes the U.S support for the mujāhidūn in Afghanistan during the 1980s, along with other brutal groups around the world.

[31] Owen Bowcott (‘UK discussed plans to help mujahideen weeks after Soviet invasion of Afghanistan’, The Guardian (30th/December/2010): http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2010/dec/30/uk-mujahideen-afghanistan-soviet-invasion) notes: “Within three weeks of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan the cabinet secretary, Sir Robert Armstrong, was negotiating how to channel covert military aid towards the “Islamic resistance” that was fighting the Russians. Details of how swiftly clandestine weapons routes were opened up to aid the mujahideen emerge from secret cabinet documents released to the National Archives today under the 30-year rule.” Bowcott also records: “Armstrong said intervention “would make more difficult the process of Soviet pacification of Afghanistan and [ensure] that process takes much longer than it would otherwise do; and the existence of a guerrilla movement in Afghanistan would be a focus of Islamic resistance which we should be wanting to continue to stimulate”.” Finally, Bowcott also notes: “The west’s arming of the mujahideen in Afghanistan has been seen as one of the contributing factors in the rise of al-Qaida. Osama bin Laden was a prominent Saudi financier of the mujahideen.”

[32] Martin Beckford (‘National Archives: Britain agreed secret deal to back Mujahideen’, The Telegraph (30th/December/2010): http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/afghanistan/8215187/National-Archives-Britain-agreed-secret-deal-to-back-Mujahideen.html) notes the Western support for the mujāhidūn in Afghanistan during the 1980s, including proto-Qāʿidah: “Newly published papers show that one of the country’s top civil servants held a private summit with senior American, French and German politicians at which they decided to provide “discreet support for Afghan guerrilla resistance”. One faction of the Mujahideen fighters, who were also covertly funded by the CIA, went on to become founding members of the al-Qa’eda terrorist network.”

[33] Yael Klein (‘WikiLeaks: “Israel actively supported Hamas”’, Jerusalem Online (4th/August/2014): http://www.jerusalemonline.com/news/middle-east/israeli-palestinian-relations/wikileaks-israel-actively-supported-hamas-6980) notes: “During Operation “Protective Edge”, news leaks website WikiLeaks exposes secret documents which were passed between American diplomats in the 1980’s. These documents allegedly show that Israel was interested in enabling Hamas activity in its beginning, intending to weaken the Palestine Liberation Organization and ending the first Intifada.

Did Israel take part in enabling Hamas to reach its current dimensions and abilities? Documents from the 1980’s belonging to the leaking website WikiLeaks show that Israel enabled Hamas to act in the first Intifada in order to enable it to strengthen, thus to cause a splitting of the Palestinian nation – in order to weaken the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) which was responsible for the Intifada.”

[34] Andrew Higgins (‘How Israel Helped to Spawn Hamas’, The Wall Street Journal (24th/January/2009): http://online.wsj.com/articles/SB123275572295011847) notes: “”Hamas, to my great regret, is Israel’s creation,” says Mr. Cohen, a Tunisian-born Jew who worked in Gaza for more than two decades. Responsible for religious affairs in the region until 1994, Mr. Cohen watched the Islamist movement take shape, muscle aside secular Palestinian rivals and then morph into what is today Hamas, a militant group that is sworn to Israel’s destruction.

Instead of trying to curb Gaza’s Islamists from the outset, says Mr. Cohen, Israel for years tolerated and, in some cases, encouraged them as a counterweight to the secular nationalists of the Palestine Liberation Organization and its dominant faction, Yasser Arafat’s Fatah. Israel cooperated with a crippled, half-blind cleric named Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, even as he was laying the foundations for what would become Hamas. Sheikh Yassin continues to inspire militants today; during the recent war in Gaza, Hamas fighters confronted Israeli troops with “Yassins,” primitive rocket-propelled grenades named in honor of the cleric.”

[35] Robert Dreyfuss (‘How Israel and the United States Helped to Bolster Hamas’, Democracy Now! (26th/January/2006): http://www.democracynow.org/2006/1/26/how_israel_and_the_united_states) chronicles the rise of Hamas, noting: “And starting in 1967, the Israelis began to encourage or allow the Islamists in the Gaza and West Bank areas, among the Palestinian exiled population, to flourish. The statistics are really quite staggering. In Gaza, for instance, between 1967 and 1987, when Hamas was founded, the number of mosques tripled in Gaza from 200 to 600. And a lot of that came with money flowing from outside Gaza, from wealthy conservative Islamists in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere. But, of course, none of this could have happened without the Israelis casting an approving eye upon it.” Dreyfuss further notes: “So there’s plenty of evidence that the Israeli intelligence services, especially Shin Bet and the military occupation authorities, encouraged the growth of the Muslim Brotherhood and the founding of Hamas. There are many examples and incidents of that. But there were armed clashes, of course, on Palestinian university campuses in the ’70s and ’80s, where Hamas would attack P.L.O., PFLP, PDFLP and other groups, with clubs and chains. This was before guns became prominent in the Occupied Territories.

Even that, however — there’s a very interesting and unexplained incident. Yassin was arrested in 1983 by the Israelis. On search of his home, they found a large cache of weapons. This would have been a fairly explosive event, but for unexplained reasons, a year later Yassin was quietly released from prison. He said at the time that the guns were being stockpiled not to fight the Israeli occupation authorities, but to fight other Palestinian factions.”

[36] Cited in: Amina Chaudary & Noam Chomsky, ‘On Religion and Politics: Noam Chomsky interviewed by Amina Chaudary’, Islamica Magazine, Issue 19, (2007): http://www.chomsky.info/interviews/200704–.htm

[37] Noam Chomsky, Necessary Illusions: Thought Control in Democratic Societies (London, U.K: Pluto Press, 1989), p.8.

by Klingschor

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