Saturday, September 23, 2006

... Against Fascism in the Middle East

From GLORIA, September 18, 2006, by Barry Rubin ...

You've heard the bad news about the Middle East. Here's the good news: across the region, people are standing up to the radical Islamist axis of, respectively, the presidents of Iran and Syria....

...The rise of the Iran-Syria-Hizballah-Hamas axis has led to a reaction by a more unlikely alliance than could ever be imagined. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, all the Lebanese non-Shia communities, and others, are coming together to fight radical Islamist forces. While none say this publicly, their interests parallel those of Israel and the United States and they know it.

..... Almost all Arab regimes view Syria and Iran to be the kind of threat Saddam Hussein was in the 1980s, which eventually led them to side with the United States in a war against him. Moderates don't want to see their societies transformed into second-rate imitations of Afghanistan under the Taliban. From Lebanese Shia clerics to Saudi princes, people resent how the radicals dragged them to war. In bizarre alliances, Saudi Sunni royalty funds Lebanese Christians to fight Lebanese Shia.

Lebanon's Christians, Druze, and Sunni Muslims, about 60 percent of the population are lining up for visas or thinking of the need to fight. A poll found 79 percent of Druze and 77 percent of Christians want Hizballah disarmed. Even among Sunni Muslims the figure was 54 percent, while 84 percent of Shia Muslims support Hizballah.

Many developments show similar trends: - Saudi and Egyptian state-controlled media regularly attack Syria, Iran, and Hizballah, including saying that Hizballah lost the war....Even Sunni Muslim holy-war-fighting types, the kind of people who, like Usama bin Ladin, are declaring that the fight against Iran and Hizballah is as important as that against the evil Crusader Americans and the Zionists.

.... The United States should support the anti-totalitarian forces. True, they don't want open American support, but there are many ways to help indirectly and covertly. The United States must also crush misguided attempts to sell out Lebanon and Israel as a way of trying to buy off radicals who seek total victory and view concessions as a sign of weakness prompting escalated attacks. People all over the Middle East understand the danger posed by the terrorists far more than do naive Westerners. What is needed is not appeasement but a united front against the fascism of our time.

Barry Rubin is Director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center, Interdisciplinary Center university. His co-authored book, Yasir Arafat: A Political Biography, (Oxford University Press) is now available in paperback and in Hebrew. His latest book, The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East, was published by Wiley in September. Prof. Rubin's columns can now be read online at:

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