December 12, 2011
Global Research

Washington's Alliance with 'Moderate Islam': Containing Rebellion, Defending Empire

by James Petras

. . . The key motivation in Washington's and the European imperial troika's (England, France and Germany) embrace of what their press and officialdom hail as "moderate" Islamist parties has been the collapse or weakening of their long-term client rulers. Faced with the ouster of Mubarak, in Egypt, Ali in Tunisia and Saleh in Yemen, mass protests in Morocco and Algeria, the US-EU turned to conservative Muslim leaders who were willing to work within the existing state institutional framework (including the army and state police), uphold the capitalist order and align with the empire against anti-imperial movements and states. In Egypt, the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) (the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood), in Tunisia the Renaissance Party, in Morocco the Justice and Development Party have all indicated their willingness to serve as reliable partners in blocking the pro-democracy movements that challenge the socio-economic status quo and the long-standing military-imperial linkages.

The Islamist collaborators are called "moderate and respectable" because they agree to participate in elections within the boundaries of the established political and economic order; they have dropped any criticism of imperial and colonial treaties and trade agreements signed by the previous client regions - including ones which collaborate with Israel's colonization of Palestine.

Equally important "moderate" means supporting imperial wars against nationalist and secular Arab republics, such as Syria and Libya, and isolating and/or repressing class based trade unions and secular-left parties.

"Moderate" Islamists have become the Empire's 'contraceptive of choice' against any chance the massive Arab peoples' revolt might give birth to substantive egalitarian social changes and bring those brutal pro- western officials, responsible for so many crimes against humanity, to justice. . . .

The US and EU have openly unleashed their fundamentalists allies in order to destroy independent adversaries in the name of "democracy" and "humanitarian intervention", a laughable claim in light of decade long colonial wars of occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan. All target regimes have one crime in common: Using their national resources to develop modern secular states - independent of imperial dictates.

. . . wherever US imperialism faces leftists or secular, modernizing anti-imperialist regimes, Washington turns to retrograde Islamic leaders willing and able to destroy the progressive regime in return for imperialist support. Such coalitions are built mainly around fundamentalist and moderate Islamist opposition to secular, class- based politics allied with the Empire's hostility to any anti-imperialist challenge to its domination. . . .

Emblematic of "moderate Islamiist" collaboration with US-EU imperialism is the role of Qatar, home to the "respectable" Arabic media giant, Al-Jazeera, and the demagogic Qatari "spiritual guide" Sheik Youssef al-Qaradawi. Sheik Youssef quotes the Koran and Islamic moral principles in defense of NATO's 8-month aerial bombing of Libya, which killed over 50,000 pro-regime Libyans (themselves Muslims). He calls for armed imperial intervention in Syria to overthrow the secular Assad regime, a position he shares comfortably with the state of Israel. He urges the "moderate Islamists" in Egypt and Tunisia to cease any criticism of the existing economic order, (see "Spiritual guide steers Arabs to moderation", Financial Times, December 9, 2011 - p5). In a word, this respectable Muslim cleric is NATO's perfect Koran-quoting "moderate Islamist" partner - a dream come true. . . .


James Petras is a Bartle Professor (Emeritus) of Sociology at Binghamton University, New York. He is the author of 64 books published in 29 languages, and over 560 articles in professional journals, including the American Sociological Review, British Journal of Sociology, Social Research, Journal of Contemporary Asia, and Journal of Peasant Studies. He has published over 2000 articles. His latest book is War Crimes in Gaza and the Zionist Fifth Column in America (Atlanta:Clarity Pres 2010)

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Ian Johnson, "Washington's Secret History with the Muslim Brotherhood,", February 5, 2011

Pepe Escobar, "Libya Endgame: Divide, Rule And Get The Oil," Asia Times, March 25, 2011

M K Bhadrakumar, "Next, Regime Change in Syria," Voltaire Network, August 30, 2011

Tom Heneghan, "Arab Spring stretches "Islamist" tag to its limits,", December 19, 2011

VIDEO: "Qatari Emir secretly visited Israelis,", January 19, 2012

"The badly kept secret of Israel's trade throughout the Muslim world,", January 19, 2012

[Persian Gulf countries are slowly, steadily probing their options in the Asia-Pacific to diversify their external relations that have been traditionally riveted to the West. With Europe in serious disarray and the US in decline and its reputation in the Middle East significantly dented, this trend is likely to become pronounced.--M K Bhadrakumar, "Sheikhs fall in love with renminbi,", January 24, 2012]

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