Today
Tue 22 June 2021

From Palestine to Myanmar, Xinjiang to Kashmir, CJ Werleman sees a pattern of persecution driven by Gulf rivalries and post ‘War on Terror’ geopolitics

There’s no getting around the fact that certain geopolitical events and realities, including the United States-led ‘War on Terror’ and the bitter rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran, have coalesced to make Muslims the world’s most persecuted religious minority and the most likely to be subjected to the instruments of terror and oppression at the hands of powerful nation-states, including Israel.

The post-9/11 reality has been brought clearly into view as international inaction greets Israel, as its warplanes pound the Gaza Strip day-after-day, pulverizing residential and commercial buildings, and leaving entire Palestinian families incinerated or buried under the rubble. More than 200 Palestinians, including 58 children and 34 women, have been killed in this manner during the past week.

These war crimes, crimes against humanity and violations of international and human rights law are underwritten by the United States, which funds the Israeli military to the tune of $3.8 billion per year, and thus it’s no surprise to anyone that the Biden Administration has stuck hard to boilerplate talking points in defence of Israel’s atrocities. 

The ‘normalisation’ deals that Arab governments signed and endorsed, either tacitly or implicitly, with Israel in exchange for access to Israeli markets but also US fighter jets, weapons, and surveillance technologies have robbed the Muslim majority Palestinian population of their historic Arab-Islamic allies, leaving nobody willing to hold Israel accountable for its theft, dispossession and genocide in the Palestinian Territories.

Palestinians have been excluded from international law, international aid and international solidarity. Their fate remains in the hands of their criminal occupiers, who have become radicalised by their hatred of those they occupy, leaving current and future Palestinian and Israeli generations trapped in a never-ending cycle of violence, which cannot end until Israel is forced, diplomatically or militarily, into either ending its illegal occupation or establishing one state in which both parties are afforded equal rights under the law.


This is the plight of the Palestinian people, but a similar story can be told about Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang Autonomous Zone, and Muslims in Kashmir and India, all of whom who continue to suffer at the hands of powerful states under false narratives borrowed from the War on Terror’s lexicon.

Both the Rohingya and Uighur peoples are subjected to ongoing genocide, whereas Muslims in Kashmir and India find themselves on the brink of genocide according to the world’s leading scholars in genocide and ethnic cleansing. But nobody, no state and no international institution is coming to their rescue. They remain cut adrift and languishing in refugee camps, concentration camps and open-air prisons.

As with the Palestinians, the Rohingya, Uighur, Kashmiri and Indian Muslims have also been abandoned by Western democracies and betrayed by Arab governments, remembering that Arab Gulf regimes have defended China’s network of Uighur concentration camps and expressed support for India’s settler-colonial project in Kashmir.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) even defended the Indian Government for the role it played in inciting and instigating the 2020 Delhi Riots, which left more than 50 Muslims hacked, burnt and shot to death after a BJP politician called upon radicalised Hindu supporters to attack Muslim protestors, by publishing an article through its state-controlled media outlet Gulf News that attributed blame elsewhere.

When Iran-backed Houthi militias overthrew the internationally recognised Government in Yemen in 2015, an overwhelming majority of Yemenis welcomed the Saudi-UAE military intervention, only later to discover the governments of both Arab countries are motivated only by a desire to control and colonise Yemen’s resources, oil fields and seaports.

In Libya, these same governments have funded the warlord General Khalifa Haftar in his bloody insurgency against the internationally recognixed government in Tripoli and pro-democracy Libyans. 


Arab Gulf regimes have also undermined the interests and wellbeing of Muslims around the world by forging alliances with far-right groups that push anti-Muslim bigotry in the United States and Europe as a means to erode support for political Islamic groups that challenge their authority and rule at home.

“They [Arab Gulf regimes] elicit sympathy from the West by claiming to also suffer from the perfidies of radical jihadists and offer to work together to stem the ideological roots of the Islamist threat,” observe Ola Salem and Hassan Hassan for Foreign Policy.

When Arab governments and security alliances, such as the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and Arab League, do issue statements of condemnation against the governments of Israel, India, China, or Myanmar, it’s meant not to call these countries into order but to placate their restive populations and prevent protest against their inaction and rule.

It’s for this reason the Palestinians have given up on international action and support. They are going it alone, taking their voices to the street and onto social media to show the rest of the world the violent barbarity of Israel’s occupation and colonial rule, knowing that change and justice flows from the bottom-up, not the top-down.

“The Palestinian people have decided to move past all the political divisions and the factional squabbles,” observes Palestinian journalist Dr. Ramzy Baroud. “Instead, they are coining new terminologies, ones that are centred around resistance, liberation and international solidarity. By doing so, they are challenging factionalism, along with the shameful Arab normalisation of Israeli apartheid and military occupation”.

The world is now witnessing their horror under social media hashtags, such as #GazaUnderAttack, #SaveSheikhJarrah and #PalestinianLivesMatter.

The question now is will this be enough for the world to finally sit up and care? 

The answer depends entirely upon you.

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