Friday, December 16, 2005

Rand Report Birthday - The neo-colonial project.

In the year 2004, two Rand Reports were published outlining a divide and conquer policy for the United States' so-called "war on terror" (or, as many have accurately called it: a war on Muslims, and Islam).

The first Rand Report neatly divided up Muslims into four categories:

Support the modernists first.

Support the traditionalists against the fundamentalists

Confront and oppose the fundamentalists.

Selectively support secularists.

This Rand Report (I) was widely publicized due to certain "progressive" and "moderate" Muslim groups that appeared to exactly follow its recommendations - as they engaged in wild media publicity stunts slamming/attacking existing Muslim groups, and traditions.

And an April 25th, 2005 article in US News and World Report confirmed that tens of millions of $$$ were being poured into a "religion building" project.

After repeated missteps since the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. government has embarked on a campaign of political warfare unmatched since the height of the Cold War. From military psychological-operations teams and CIA covert operatives to openly funded media and think tanks, Washington is plowing tens of millions of dollars into a campaign to influence not only Muslim societies but Islam itself.

A second Rand Report was released on December 13th 2004. This Report is, in someways, even more insidious and goes deeper into exploiting the diversity, divisions, complexities within Muslim communities. While many Muslims quickly understood the implications of Rand Report (I) especially with regards to the "reform Islam" agenda; the implications of Rand Report (II) has not been as widely discussed.

A primary objective of Rand Report II was to:

...identify the key cleavages and fault lines among sectarian, ethnic, regional, and national lines and to assess how these cleavages generate challenges and opportunities for the United States.

The key "cleavages" identified includes "Shi'a Sunni" divisions and "Arab non-Arab" Muslims.

A recent article in the American Conservative magazine discussed exploiting Shi'a Sunni divisions in greater detail, and gives some insight about the mind of those conducting the "war on terror."

The United States did not create the Sunni-Shi’ite split in Islamism, just as it did not create the earlier Sino-Soviet split in communism. It can, however, put itself in a position to take advantage of the divide as it very likely will develop, as it did with the analogous split during the Cold War.

Abdus Sattar Ghazali's recent article, marking the birthday of Rand Report (II) has pointed out the neo-orientalist agenda behind both Rand Reports, and does an excellent job of analysing the imperialist aims of belitteling Islam.

December 13th marks the first anniversary of the Rand Corporation report “The Muslim World After 9/11” that suggests exploitation of Sunni, Shiite and Arab, non-Arab divides to promote the US policy objectives in the Muslim world. This was the second Rand report about Islam and Muslims in 2004. The first report was Civil Democratic Islam: Partners, Resources, and Strategies. The Rand reports are the latest in a long series of policy papers dedicated to further the military, economic, and cultural onslaught of the West on the Muslim World. Dig a little into the reports and it won’t take long to find the real objectives. Writers of these reports are neo-Orientalists with clear intention to belittle Islam and its adherents to achieve ambitions of the empire like the Orientalists of the 19th century who co-operated hand-in-hand with the imperialistic aims of the European colonial powers.

The Bush administration, and the neo-cons have been greatly weakened because of the invasion of Iraq. And the notions of "progressive Islam" "moderate Islam" "reform Islam" etc. etc. have found little or no support/resonance within Muslim communities. Indeed, if anything, amongst many Sunni Muslim communities, there is a resurgence of "classical Islam" as represented by institutions such as Zaytuna.

A similar trend can be seen amongst Shi'a Muslims with a growing number of websites now offering courses on traditional fiqh.

(I'll discuss some of the implications of this trend in a later blog entry, inshallah).

Yet, the danger that divisions, and complexities within Muslim communities will be exploited by nefarious elements remains. And it behooves Muslims to become familiar with both Rand Reports, discuss the implications, and take corrective measures so that while we may have internal debates - we be mindful of our own conduct and not allow these debates to be used for divide and conquer US policies.

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