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The Future of the Arab-Muslim World

In this column, Johan Galtung, Rector of the TRANSCEND Peace University, writes about the Middle East-North Africa - MENA -, an Arab-Muslim region with a growing Jewish island in its midst. It was colonised for over four centuries by the Sunni Ottoman Turks and for the last half century by the secular West, England-Italy-France -- and is now under Israeli colonialism and U.S. imperialism. Galtung is author of "Peace Economics: from a Killing to a Living Economy" (

LIVERPOOL, Feb 4 2013 (IPS) - The Middle East-North Africa – MENA — is Arab-Muslim with a growing Jewish island in its midst. It was colonised for over four centuries by the Sunni Ottoman Turks, then the secular West, United Kingdom-France-Italy — for half a century and is now under Israeli colonialism and U.S. imperialism.

Johan Galtung

The latter two have controlled MENA through dictatorships, condoning violence and corruption as long as they support U.S.-Israel policies in the area. The Arab awakening is against the violence in favour of democracy, against corruption in favour of growth and jobs, and against U.S.-Israel domination. There is also a Muslim awakening — to believe that Islam tolerates imposed secularism is incredibly naive. But there are many Islams, like there are multiple Christianities and Judaisms.

How does the U.S.-Israel react, and what would be a positive reaction to their reaction — keeping in mind that this is old colonial territory?

U.S. policy is, by and large, state building – with U.S. as model, with multi-party national elections and “free” markets controlled by multinationals in general, private banks and finance banking in particular, also controlling elections. On maps states have one colour, so states are seen as unitary, with one market for the economy, one state for multi-party elections, and one political focus: the capital. Multicoloured maps showing the nations and fault-lines inside might be enlightening.

That reality is used to fragment states that stand in the way: the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia were divided into 15 and seven states, some now members of NATO or the European Union.

States seen as Islamist-terrorist are in for the same: Sudan-Somalia broken into two and three parts. They are both on the list of seven countries the White House ordered the Pentagon to “take out” right after 9/11 (general Wesley Clark, Democracy Now, Mar. 2, 2007): Iraq, Iran, Libya, Lebanon, Syria, Sudan, Somalia; seen as hostile, with state, not private central banks, blocking market globalisation.

For Israel what matters most are the neighbours. From the early beginning this is the usual story of violence and counter-violence read two ways. The Israeli reading is violence against a Jewish homeland becoming a state, legitimised by the Shoa in general; and counter-violence to defend that emerging state. The Arab reading is an Israel established by violence, the Nakba, and counter-violence to contain the expansion of that state. A typical example of two truths that do not add up to one Truth. The result is an endless, fruitless, angry exchange of accusations about who started what, where, and when. A Truth would go beyond fruitless quarrels, identifying a stop. An end to escalation, acceptable to both: like Jun. 4, 1967, with swaps.

However, that symmetry breaks down when Israel still expands – invades-occupies-lays siege – on ever more Arab-Palestinian territory. And even more so when visions of a Greater Israel take shape:

Scenario 1: from the Mediterranean to Jordan;

Scenario 2: from the Nile to the Euphrates (Genesis 15:18), where nine countries are located. Both scenarios are for Jews only, Jewish states.

In search of recognised and secure borders? Only by forcing Arab-Muslim states into submission, dissolving them into mini-states, using internal fault-lines. The list would certainly include Pakistan, a doubly artificial construct, and a nuclear power. Israel’s Mossad and the Indian army’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) cooperate against Pakistan.

Assuming that Lebanon and Iraq – like Palestine – are fragmented, that Jordan is kept for a possible Scenario 1, that Libya is steeped in internal provincial-clan-racial-religious fights, what remains of the seven countries are Syria and Iran. Israeli press mentions a partition of Syria into four states: Shia Alawite, Sunni, Druze and Kurdish (in the Northeast). Egypt, Tunisia are resilient.

The approach to Iran — no colonial construct, fault-lines (Kurds, Azeris, Arabs in Khuzistan) but less vulnerable – is bombing, based on U.S.-Israeli division of labour, the shared accusation that Iran is close to their status as nuclear powers, and the shared, fabricated lie that president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in a speech in Tehran on Oct. 25, 2005: “Israel must be wiped off the map”. He never said that, but quoted imam Ruhollah Khomeini: “The Imam said this regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time”. And mentioned three examples of such regimes: the Shah of Iran, the Soviet Union and Saddam Hussein. History tells us that regimes come and go; countries, even states, remain.

The U.S. strategy in the region, to use existing states and bend them to their economic purposes – like imposing private central banks in all seven — is doomed to fail because of inner fault-lines. The Israeli strategy is more intelligent, using fault-lines to fragment states.

In all these cases how much fragmentation is by U.S.-Israeli design and how much by inner tensions will sooner or later be better known.

What would be the Arab-Muslim counter-strategy?

(1) Federations. Fault-lines are real and most people want to be governed by their own kind in autonomous sub-states with common foreign-security-finance-logistics policies. Forty percent of humanity lives in 25 federations, and there is much to learn from Mother Switzerland.

(2) Confederations-communities. Tie them together in strong solidarity communities resisting divide and rule policies.

Do both, and the Arab-Muslim world is more resilient than today.



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  • Sato Ayame

    The most unilateral claptrap I’ve seen in weeks. Galtung outdoes Limbaugh.

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