Finally, the day which was foretold has come, a narrative of history has repeated itself, and the US has to square off against ISIL. It is like someone having a snake tattooed on his arm under the false assumption that it will stay tame. Much to the person’s disbelief, however, this heinous, venomous monster comes to life, literally, and becomes fiercely determined to bite his arm.
In the early 1990s when I ran a journal entitled “Safheyeh Avval” [Front Page], a monthly which published an excerpt in Farsi of news and analyses filed by foreign publications, I came across reports in the Western press about the opening and explosive growth of madrassas [religious schools] in parts of Pakistan, like Waziristan, which is a flashpoint today.
The youth trained in these madrassas by Wahhabi mullahs of Saudi Arabia later became Taliban fighters determined to wrest control of Afghanistan from the Soviet Union or local Shiite jihadists. Although the Soviet Union has vanished, the Taliban are still pretty much alive and kicking and have nurtured their own babies of which “al-Qaeda” is the eldest, the one responsible for the 9/11 disaster and the one which has left its nurturers in a state of panic and bewilderment. Nonetheless, there are still some analysts who have serious doubts about al-Qaeda having been the mastermind of 9/11 terrorist attacks.
No matter who is behind such a catastrophe, what matters is that there are some who take pride in igniting such a harrowing disaster and are not ashamed of masterminding it.
With a black mark as such on its record, al-Qaeda became a forerunner, paving the way for potential followers who lived in countries, which in spite of wealth, were the harvesters of the whirlwind and humiliation. Acting as a torchbearer, Osama bin Laden trained the light of the blasts on the path, inviting those blinded by the light to his beacon of hope.
Americans failed to realize that the opening of such schools for Muslims and any Western manipulation of centuries-old fundamentals of Eastern culture can be very complicated and even impossible, a cause which even great scholars find themselves unable to deliver. If lessons had been learned from the phenomenon of Talibanism, ISIL would have never emerged.
The question as to whether everything is under control still remains unanswered for me. Is what we are witnessing in Syria, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Gaza and some other countries what the White House pursues? Perhaps! Or maybe by capitalizing on US naivety, America’s oldest ally is trying to cause the US vessel to run aground on the shores of uncharted waters?! Is the Western power struggle being fought in the form of civil war between ethnic and religious groups in the Middle East? Is it designed to force the bald eagle fly away from the lion’s den?
As a famous Persian saying goes if the listener is alert enough, one small hint will be sufficient for him to get the point. Couldn’t the passports retrieved from the rubble of the Twin Towers unravel the mystery – if there was any? However, such hints failed to lift a great political analyst like Henry Kissinger out of the dark and help him realize that the perception he had of the menace of terrorism was only the tip of the iceberg.
A while ago, it was the Taliban and al-Qaeda; today it is ISIL; and before long today’s moderates will one more time revolt and prove that the good-looking snakes used arbitrarily by America and its allies to flex their muscle in dealing with the White House’s rivals in the region and the world at large are not sterile. As soon as they reach a reproductive age, these serpents will aim at the closest target: America and its allies.
And the last question is whether President Obama and his allies will gird up their loins before it gets too late to have the snakes removed, so that no cloud of ominous, relentless wars will hang over the future of the world. Of course it takes a great deal of explicitness and courage to make such a decision and before that a voluntary entry into the operating room for this minor surgery is required, the operation which is less risky than the inevitable, life-threatening surgery in the not-too-distant future. In the absence of such surgery, the morbid patient will flat-line soon.