Although I do not agree wholeheartedly with President Trump’s immigration ban, nor with the way it was rolled out, there still may be unintended positive consequences from what I’ll regrettably describe as a political circus, staged by amateurs playing for a top-class audience. In consequence, a diligent vetting process must be in place!
As a former U.S. military officer and a U.S. diplomat, I believe Washington DC over the last four decades has presided over a disastrous Middle East strategy, became intolerably policy corrupt and politically stagnant. D.C. in my view is ripe with political correctness that does nothing to advance the people’s cause but keeps career politicians in place.
I am also a strong believer in that extremist political Islam poses the greatest threat to the world today.
Paradoxically, I came to the United States from Egypt in the late 60s as a refugee, a Muslim at that.
I would like to share my view on the recent ban on travel to the United States with those who would tolerate hearing me out. The challenge we are facing is far greater than allowing refugees in or banning them from travel to the United States. Keep in mind that regardless to where you sit on this issue, the President will be damned if he will, and damned if he won’t take any action on this emotionally charged issue.
The Muslim world in which I grew up is not the Muslim world of today. For those of us in the Muslim community worldwide, who do not recognize that Islam today has a challenge, that person is living in denial. If not aware of the problem, this person essential is part of the problem; a victim of the merger between petro dollars and political Islam as created by both the Muslim Brotherhood and extremist orthodox Wahhabi Sunni sect out of the heart of the Arab Peninsula.
Admittedly, there has been a incessant clash in the last century between those who would favor Islam in a prominent position of governance, and those Muslims who would seek a more secular world. In 1928, that clash had taken a distinctly more political direction with the establishment of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.
With the collapse of the colonial order post-World War II, there was a window of opportunity where secular, tolerant governance would have taken hold in the Arab/Muslim world. At that time the Arab world’s view of Islamic governance as its savior became subdued and was actually in the decline and favored a more secular form of government.
Unfortunately, with the imposition of authoritarian military regimes throughout the Middle East, coinciding with emergence of Pan-Arab nationalism, we began to witness a life-and-death struggle between the military establishments and the political Islamist. More tragically, however, those military establishments used the real danger of Islamic extremists and extinguished the candle that was secular democracy in the Middle East. As such, in the early 1950s, we began to see the slow strangulation of any hope for a secular, tolerant Islamic region. A region that has always led the Islamic world, and would have been a shining example for the rest of the world to follow.
But the catastrophic events that would snowball into today’s violent, intolerant Islamic world would not have come to fruition if it weren’t for four earthshaking developments.
The first was the catastrophic loss, by Muslim force armies, in the Six Day War. The Arab–Israeli War in June of 1967 was a crushing defeat for the Islamic faithful. It destroyed the faith of the people in the military establishments throughout Middle East Muslim majority countries. These Establishments played not only a leading role but was also the vanguard against political Islamist. This loss was also a devastating blow against secular socialists and liberal nationalists. And here, we have the first geodetic tremor, that would cause a big swing of the moderate population to begin to examine Islam is the solution for their disappointments and predicament.
The second development, which was deliberate and perhaps sinister, was kicked off by none other than my personal hero, and that of the West, President Anwar El Sadat. In the early 1970s, Sadat gradually began to release imprisoned Islamist and enlisted their help against leftist secular groups. The Islamist were tolerated to an extent but remained technically illegal and subject to crackdowns. Ironically, the Islamist were key to Sadat’s success in the 70s and his assassination in October of 1981.
The third event, which was more fateful than deliberate, was the 1973 October war, otherwise known as the Yom Kippur war. That event triggered the 1973 oil crisis and brought unimaginable wealth to Saudi Arabia.
Finally, the CIA’s involvement in the Afghanistan’s proxy war with the Soviet Union. The combination of extremist orthodox Wahhabi Sunni wealth, the Muslim Brotherhood political ambition and the CIA’s supply of weaponry and training, essentially added the militant armed component to Islamic extremism. And this final event, would seal the world’s fate and culminate in the infamous 9/11 terror attack of New York City.
Beyond the obvious militant armed terrorism we face today, lies the real disaster unseen by the broader West in general, and the United States public in particular. I refer here to the catastrophic destruction of moderate Islam as a religion and its replacement by xenophobic extremist fundamental Sunni interpretations. That interpretation seeks conversion, domination or annihilation of anybody that falls outside their understanding. To justify their positions, Islamist used the wealth of the Petro dollars, working diligently to replace moderate scholars throughout the Muslim world, and doing so judiciously, albeit gradually. As such, since the 70s, they have influenced textbooks, starting from elementary to high schools, in most, if not all, Muslim-dominated nations. This gradual indoctrination of generations of young Muslim went beyond the Middle East to include Asia and Africa and has morphed into a tsunami that’s very difficult to stop.
With the guidance of the Muslim Brotherhood, exporters of this extremism also built schools, hospitals, medical clinics and entire networks of social welfare that has grown into place since the early 1970s. These networks, found fertile grounds as military regimes throughout the region ignored the people and brutally suppressed all opposition. That brutality was not limited to the Islamist, but unfortunately included secular liberal opposition that is the vanguard and foundation of any modern civil society. This phenomenon has manifested in Egypt as it has in Syria, Libya, and just about everywhere else in the Middle East.
In of itself, the Muslim world today is more militant and more fundamental than it ever was before. The majority of Muslims today are not the Muslims that I knew in or before the 1970s. These are not the people with whom I grew up. But the question is, are they the villains or victims? I strongly believe that they are indeed the victims. They are the victims of their internal governing oppression, lack of education, lack of economic opportunities, but most of all they are victims of the systematic and gradual brainwashing and indoctrination that has been in place for decades.
I’m the first one to recognize that the challenge to today’s phenomenon of fundamental Islamic extremism needs to be addressed first and foremost by majority Muslim states. There are so many things that call to need, may be difficult to enumerate here.
We in the United States cannot address this world menace solely through military power, although some dose of that is required, nor is it solvable by building walls. But most of all, we cannot further victimize the victims by denying them refuge to the only place on earth where they can seek the freedom, enlightenment, education and economic opportunities; unfortunately, denied to so many for so long.
America has always been the beacon of freedom and hope for the oppressed. There is no one today more oppressed than the Muslims in majority Muslim countries in general, and Syrians in particular. With this, and given the realities of the Muslim world today as explained, the U.S. must have a vigorous vetting process in place. This vetting process must include the cooperation of intelligence and security apparatus in the countries from which these refugees are coming.
On examination, the one common denominator with the seven countries outlined in the executive order is that all of the countries listed have neither an intelligence nor security apparatus with which to coordinate. Security services within these counties are those we do not trust or has proven compromised. And finally, Iran with which we have no relations whatsoever! These circumstances debunk the argument consistently made in throughout the media; that we already have a vetting process in place that requires two years in waiting. Just because it’s a long process, doesn’t make it either accurate nor thorough without the cooperation of local intelligence and security services.
Notwithstanding the legality of the executive order, or in regards to its roll-out, or the hate and bigotry it unleashed, the unintended consequences of this folly of a ban, is that we may very well finally have an honest debate in the West on the actual state of my beloved Islamic world. The irony of all this to me is that President Trump is perhaps the accidental Islamic tutor to the west. I hope his bungling follies may very well force us worldwide, to begin to understand and distinguish between Islam as a religion and political Islam that has destroyed the Muslim world over!