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Saturday, August 05, 2006

Sowing seeds of dissension against Arabs in American media

Sowing the seeds of dissension
By Khalid Almaeena, Special to Gulf News
August 5, 2006

The attacks on innocent civilians in Lebanon and Gaza continue. The US has freely supplied ammunition and bombs which have only whetted the appetite of the Zionists for more blood.

The world watches and many in the west hope, not very discreetly, for an Israeli victory.

As these events unfold and horrify much of the world, a very sinister campaign of disinformation is going on, aimed at sowing the seeds of disunity among Arabs. I am not a believer in conspiracy theories but I do firmly believe that certain elements in the western media are bent on creating mischief and worse than mischief.

Apart from trying to create dissension in the Arab world, certain sections of the media in America, whose ideological and political affiliations are known to many, are trying to create a bad image of both the Lebanese and the Palestinians.

They keep on repeating the same old words of "terror" and "terrorism". They paint Hamas and Hezbollah as embodiments of evil, denying the fact that both have political legitimacy and are part of the political processes. They use fissiparous tendencies to annihilate and obscure the truth.

Here is an illustration of what I am talking about. When the attacks on Lebanon began, an American journalist remarked to me, "I am sure you Saudis don't care because those people are Shiites."

"Of course, we care," I was quick to answer. "No one would side with the murderous Israelis and, besides, we support them not because they are Lebanese Arabs but because they are being unjustly attacked."

"Yes," he continued, "but your government issued a statement against Hezbollah".

"No, my government did not," I countered. "In fact, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah was very clear in his statement a few days ago about the dangers of a war escalating in the region. Saudi Arabia has clearly condemned Israeli atrocities against innocent women and children."

Guarding ourselves

Many of us get excited and emotional for no reason. People with little knowledge and even fewer credentials make statements and the masses believe them to be true. However, we should guard ourselves against this tendency to create fitna (dissension) which often serves our enemies. The expressions "Shiite Muslim" and "Sunni Muslim" were first widely used by the American press in the early 1980s after the Iranian revolution.

The expressions appeared often during the Iran-Iraq war when Saddam Hussain attacked Iran, resulting in the needless deaths of over a million Muslims. While this carnage was going on, western countries were eagerly filling their coffers by selling arms to both sides.

Then of course to frighten and create dissension, the media in the west began to write at length about hostility between Shiite and Sunni. This is the same media which, after September 11, 2001, played on uninformed fears of "Wahhabism" among Muslims of the world! A Pakistani friend living in the US told me that an American friend of his once asked him, "Are you a Wahhabi Muslim or a Muslim?" My friend replied, "I am simply a Muslim."

Just take careful note of all these labels Shiite, Sunni, Wahhabi, Sufi, etc. These are divisions which we ourselves have created.

The Arabs themselves are also divided and this is the cause of many of the divisions in the Muslim world. The media now is trying to create more mischief in an Arab world that is shaken, weakened, feeling divided, helpless and almost in despair.

People are asking why the Bush-Blair-Olmert plan is not being exposed for what it is. Why are Arab countries silent? Why are Arab writers not attacking the planners and perpetrators of these crimes? Instead they are sermonising and saying this should have been done and that should have been avoided. These are mere words on paper. They are far from any reality.

What the Arabs must do is really review the situation and come to terms with the fact that the attack on Lebanon was well planned, much in advance.

Israel does not recognise any border nor will it. It is clearly and simply an expansionist state. It knows the Arabs are weak and it is slowly and inexorably implementing Benjamin Netanyahu's "one by one" plan. In other words, take the Arabs on one by one since, obviously, they cannot be confronted in groups.

My advice to all those who are critical of the current situation is to read very, very carefully what is being written by American and Israeli think-tanks about the new Middle East.

It will be a Middle East where there will be no equals only master and servant. There is no need to say who the plans envisage as master or who as servant. We must make a choice; it must not be imposed. The choice is ours.

Khalid Almaeena is editor-in-chief of the Jeddah-based Arab News.

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