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14 Nov, 2010

Why the U.S. “war on terror” is widely seen as a “war on Islam”

Originally Published: 14 November 2010

President Obama’s recent trips to India and Indonesia provide more examples of how the U.S. is seeking to delay and defer its fading global influence. The statements and declarations issued after those visits give clear indications of the U.S. agenda, both overt and covert, and promise further instability in the country’s relations with the Islamic world.

From both a geopolitical and economic perspective, both India and Indonesia are indispensable to furthering American global interests. India is a Hindu-majority country with a significant Muslim minority. Indonesia is the opposite, a Muslim-majority country with a Hindu minority. As a Muslim born in India, I identify with both countries.

The arrangement with India is known as a “strategic partnership” and with Indonesia, a “comprehensive partnership.” The more than 1.5 billion people of the two countries combined are major future markets for American companies seeking to expand their export base in Asia. At the same time, influencing public opinion in both countries is a critical necessity through media, academia, social and cultural contacts.

As expected, in both Indonesia and India, Mr Obama’s agenda placed considerable emphasis on fighting “terrorism.” This of course means only terrorism by the Muslims, not by India’s Maoists and Naxalites who, in spite of blowing up bridges and railway lines and killing civilians and policemen, are not considered terrorists.

The official Indian media refer to them as “left-wing extremists”. The Indian media refers to them as “rebels,” “separatists” or “militants,” never as terrorists. That would not have been the case had the Maoists and Naxalites been Muslims.

The joint Indo-U.S. declaration also contained strong hints about what’s next in the “global strategic partnership”.

“Both leaders underscored that all states have an obligation to comply with and implement UN Security Council Resolutions, including UN sanctions regimes.” This was a clear reference to Iran which has been the target of numerous UN Security Council Resolutions. Although there are dozens of UN Security Council resolutions on the Israeli occupation of Palestine and the unresolved Kashmir issue, “the obligation to comply with and implement” them does not apply in this instance.

Another line in the joint statement says, “Building upon the Counter Terrorism Initiative signed in July 2010, the two leaders announced a new Homeland Security Dialogue between the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Department of Homeland Security and agreed to further deepen operational cooperation, counter-terrorism technology transfers and capacity building. The two leaders also emphasized the importance of close cooperation in combating terrorist financing and in protecting the international financial system.”

For sure, this means more targeting of Muslim communities in India.

One of the most astonishing lines in the joint statement says: “The two sides committed to intensify consultation, cooperation and coordination to promote a stable, democratic, prosperous, and independent Afghanistan. President Obama appreciated India’s enormous contribution to Afghanistan’s development and welcomed enhanced Indian assistance that will help Afghanistan achieve self-sufficiency. In addition to their own independent assistance programs in Afghanistan, the two sides resolved to pursue joint development projects with the Afghan Government in capacity building, agriculture and women’s empowerment.”

Quite a slap in the face of Pakistan where that line was met with considerable outrage and further heightened suspicion about the real Indo-US agenda in Afghanistan.

Over to Indonesia where President Yudhyono told the American president what the entire Islamic world has been telling the U.S. for decades: “Last but not least, we also discussed the issue of the situation in the Middle East, including the issue of Palestine and Israel. And also I conveyed to His Excellency (President Obama) that the position of Indonesia is clear that we need a resolution on Palestine-Israel in a permanent, sustainable manner, a two-state solution and independence for the people of Palestine who are living in peace with the people of Israel, and must be supported by the international community.”

On the same day, Nov 9, the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz reported that Israel has approved more than 1,000 Jewish homes for construction in East Jerusalem, along with a second plan to build 800 homes in the West Bank settlement of Ariel.

In June 2009, in his famous “New Beginning” speech to the Islamic world, President Obama clearly and unequivocally said, “The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements. This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace. It is time for these settlements to stop.”

By publicly humiliating Mr Obama, Israel was clearly showing him who was boss. So, what was the U.S. reaction? The State Department said it was “very unhappy” when it learned of the plans. And Mr Obama’s reaction: “This kind of activity is never helpful when it comes to peace negotiations.”

In the 1990s, Indonesia was forced by a Western-led pressure campaign to end its occupation of Timor Leste which became an independent state in 2002. There is absolutely no reason why Indonesia cannot demand an equivalent end to the Israeli occupation of Palestine, with a specific time-frame for its implementation.

Regrettably, the Indonesians remained silent, even though they had a golden opportunity to condemn the Israeli provocation and make the U.S. President accountable for walking the talk of the so-called “new beginning.”

The outcome of these visits shows clearly how the U.S. government, heavily influenced by the Israeli-linked Jewish lobby, continues to play the Islamic world like a harp, pitting one country against another, mocking its leaders and manipulating public opinion, even as it offers numerous financial, commercial and technological carrots to ensure that opposition remains muted.

It also explains why the U.S. “war on terror” is widely seen as a “war on Islam” and why America’s words are seen as nothing more than hypocritical lies by the vast majority of global Muslims.

The official statements issued after both summits were full of lofty references to “shared values” and creating “a secure and stable world” via “economic development, open government and democratic values.” The reality is that no such thing is going to happen. My forecast for the decade ahead remains unchanged: More violence, chaos, instability and insecurity.