The "War On Terror"

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Introduction

This essay describes the conflict known in the West as the War on Terror.

People in the West have been told by their media and governments that this conflict arose when Arabs and other Middle Eastern people attacked the West either without reason, for unknown reasons or because they are simply bad people.

This is actually a conflict between certain Western countries (mainly USA, UK and France) and the peoples of the Middle East, the Arabs and the Muslim nations.

This conflict did not begin in the late 1990s or on 11 September 2001 when the West became directly involved. The seeds of this conflict began around 1916 when the UK and France secretly planned to divide the Arab lands among themselves during the First World War. During the 20th century, the USA began taking over from UK and France as the major power in control of the region.

The Arabs

The Arabs are a people scattered over several countries. They speak Arabic, an Afro-Asiatic language related to Hebrew, Amharic and Maltese. They share a common culture, history, art, outlook and literature with regional differences in dialect and food.

The vast majority of Arabs are Muslim - followers of a religion called Islam whose scriptures are called the Quran (also spelt Koran). A significant minority of Arabs are Christian; many are secular in outlook. Family and clan are very important to the Arabs, sometimes more so than nationality.

Historically, Arabic science, astronomy and mathematics was a bridge between the ancient world of the Greek, Roman and Byzantine Empires and the modern world ushered in by the European Rennaisance.

The Arabs gave the world algebra, spherical trigonometry for navigation, the use of sine and cosine tables, cheques, plaster of Paris for setting broken bones, the manufacture of soft soap, nitric acid, acetic acid, ammonium salts, distillation, dyes, water pumps, curved mirrors and lenses. Coffee came from the Arab world, exported from the port of Mocca. Their translations of ancient Greek philosophical, scientific and mathematical writings into Arabic saved many of these works for modern times. During the 15th century, Arabic science formed the basis of Spanish and Portuguese navigation as well as most of the curriculum in northern Italy's universities.

Arab contributions to astronomy can be seen by the fact that many star names are Arabic (Betelgeux, Aldebaran, Algol). Arab craftsmen helped build the Taj Mahal, considered the most beautiful building in the world. Damasq, a type of furniture where wood is inlaid with mother of pearl, was developed by Arab carpenters. The first European hospitals were inspired by returning Crusaders after they had seen them in the Arab world. Falconry and horse breeding came to Europe from the Arabs; even today Arabic horse breeds are considered amongst the world's best horses.

Check the large number of Arabic words borrowed by European languages like English.

Their greatest gift to Europe was the modern numerals. Roman numerials were only used for recording numbers and could not be used for calculations. Calculations were performed on an abacus or on fingures. As numbers grew larger, new symbols were required with no end (for example, X = 10, C = 100, M = 1000). The numerals 1 to 9 and the zero originally came from India. These numerals were easier to use and the Arabs worked out how to use them for arithmatic (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division). What was once the province of highly trained experts became accessible to everyone, even children. These numerals are still called Arabic numerals.

These days, history has been rewritten with the Arab contribution to science wiped out. Western children are taught about Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece and Rome. Then there is a gap (called the dark ages or the middle ages) until the European Renaissance which leads to the modern civilisation of America. No mention is made of the Greek Byzantine or the mainly Arab Islamic Empires that carried the torch of ancient learning and greatly added to it before passing it on to Europe via Moorish Spain, the Cruscades, the Ottoman Empire and Arab trade with the Italian City States.

Western children are taught about the European age of exploration which brought spices and new fruits to Europe. They are not taught about the Arab control of trade routes from India and China to East Africa, which brought oranges, lemons, soap and Indian mathematics to Europe. European chemistry is praised as modern while Arabic alchemy is derided as a superstition. Few Western children know that when they do algebra at school, they are using mathematics invented by the Arab Islamic Empires several centuries before the European Renaissance.

So ingrained is this ignorence, that in the UK, a TV chat show host and politician, Robert Kilroy-Silk, was able to write in a newspaper in 2003 that Arabs had contributed nothing of significance to civilisation.

The following countries and regions can be considered to be Arabic:

The Arabs live in North Africa and, what is known in the West as the Middle East.

There are three other peoples that we need to introduce for this essay. They are mainly Muslim.

Incidently, many Westerners confuse the word Arab (essentially a race and language) with Muslim (followers of a religion called Islam). Some Arabs are not Muslims (for example the Christians of Lebanon, Palestine and Iraq) while most Muslims are not Arabs (examples include the peoples of Iran, Pakistan and Indonesia).

The Ottoman Empire

The Ottoman Empire was a Turkish based empire that controlled much of the lands of Arabia and North Africa. They also made serious forays into Southern Europe. The empire was at its height during the 16th century after which there was a steady decline. The Arabs had revolted against Turkish rule on several occasions but these had been crushed.

The Arabs had always considered themselves one people, divided into clans and tribes. Their aspiration was to have independence and recreate the Caliphates (empires) that ruled between the 8th and 12th centuries AD.

In 1914, Europe descended into a conflict known as the First World War. The Ottoman Empire joined the war on the side of Germany and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. They fought against the UK, France, Russia (for the first three years) and USA (for the last year).

The UK decided that it was important to break up the Ottoman Empire. A British military officer, T E Lawrence (known as Lawrence of Arabia), spent time in the Arabian provinces of the Ottoman Empire attempting to persuade the various Arab leaders to fight the Turks. The UK offered help with arms and money. The Arabs were promised that at the end of the War, they would be granted independence.

However, the UK and the other European powers had no intention of granting the Arabs their independence.

The Sykes-Picot Agreement

During the First World War, the UK and France put together a plan to split up the Arab lands between themselves at the end of the War. The Sykes-Picot Agreement (dated 1916 and named after the ministers involved in the negotiations) provided for the following:

The Sykes-Picot Agreement
The Sykes-Picot Agreement
Note that the Agreement ignores the cultural and linguistic realities of the region. The historic land of the Kurds (Kurdistan) would fall in the northern part of the Blue Zone and in the eastern part of Zone A. No regard was made of the aspirations and unity of the Kurdish people by the Europeans. Similarly, Arabs would find themselves split over several different regions; often families would end up on opposite sides of the border.

In the 2003 invasion of Iraq by the USA and UK, there was much talk in the media about "foreign fighters" in the country. To the West this meant people crossing the artificial borders from Syria to Iraq rather than the English speakers from half way around the world (USA and UK).

To the people of the region this was a return to the policies and aspirations of the Crusades of 900 years earlier.

At the end of the First World War, Turkey declared its independence and managed to hang on to a large region of Kurdistan (including the bulk of the northern Blue Zone).

France captured a region in the north that became Syria and Lebanon. During the War, the Arabs had taken Damascus from the Turks and declared independence. After the War France re-took the city and made it into a colony.

The UK created Iraq and Transjordan (later Jordan). Both began as colonies but were eventually turned into monarchies with the installation of pro-West kings. Iraq itself was an artificial entity made up of a Kurdish north, a Sunni Muslim heartland and a Shia Muslim south. The Sunnis and Shias are different sects of Islam (much like Catholic and Protestant in Christianity).

Palestine and Yemen (then known as Aden) also became UK colonies.

The UK created or recognised a number of Gulf states, each with a pro-UK monarch in place: Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and Saudi Arabia (with an absolute monarch) were all under UK influence.

Egypt had long been a UK colony while Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia were French colonies.

Both UK and France massacred any dissidents agitating for independence. The puppet monarchs ensured that foreign (mainly UK) companies prospered and, essentially, policed their populations for the European (and later USA) rulers behind the scenes.

The Balfour Declaration

The Zionist Federation was a Jewish group based in Europe and the USA dedicated to settling Palestine with Jews and creating a Jewish state in the region.

In 1917, the UK Foreign Secretary, Arthur James Balfour, wrote a letter to the The Zionist Federation. This became known as The Balfour Declaration. The text cuts through Arab national aspirations like a knife but is virtually unknown in the West:

"His Majesty's Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country."

In 1917, the Jewish population of Palestine was 56,000, or 10% of the total. The remaining 90% were mainly Palestinian Arabs; the majority were Muslims but there was a substantial Christian minority. The remaining population was a mixture of Kurds, Greeks, Turks and Armenians.

The UK had, essentially, given permission for Arab territory to be used to create a state for a people whose claim to the land was religious, and dated back to nearly 2000 years before.

By 1948, the Jewish population had increased by immigration to 600,000, but that was still only 31% of the total.

Between The Wars

Between 1918 and 1948, the Arab lands were ruled in three distinct ways.

Some like Yemen and Algeria were colonies ruled by UK and France respectively. In Algeria, the French settled in the region while the indigenous people were treated like second class citizens. Both countries would be used for military bases and for access to resources.

Others (like Syria) were ruled by a President either directly appointed by the ruling European power (in this case, the French) or armed and supported by them. Their role was to police their country and keep the population quiet so that foreign companies could do business safely. Neighbouring countries were encouraged to be suspicious of each other rather than see each other as fellow Arab peoples.

The majority (Iraq, Kuwait, Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia) were ruled by undemocratic and often autocratic monarchs. The kings, sultans and emirs would live in luxury, funded by oil revenue and armed by the UK (and later, by the USA). As long as they obeyed the West, allowed Western military and naval bases and set up economic systems and laws that allowed Western companies to do their business in peace, the ruling powers would turn a blind eye to any human rights violations.

Many intellectual Arabs wanted real independence, democracy, and an economic system that benefited the people rather than foreign companies. These people would often be labelled as dissidents and were persecuted, exiled or killed.

Arabs had no real say in their affairs. They were cut off from their brethren in neighbouring countries by the artificial borders put in place by the West. Their governments were unrepresentative but were kept in place by Western arms and support.

When the Western public was told anything about the Arab countries, the emphasis was on violence, Islamic fundamentalism and the fact that they were not democracies. The public in the West was told that Arabs could not rule themselves effectively because they were primitive or because of their religion.

The State of Israel

1947 Partition Plan for Palestine
The Partition Plan for Palestine (UN Resolution 181, 1947)
In 1947, the UK decided to leave Palestine. Jews and Arabs had been attacking each other and the British.

The newly created United Nations passed a resolution to partition Palestine into a Jewish state and an Arabic state. The area around Jerusalem would remain under international control.

At this time just 33% of the inhabitants of Palestine were Jewish. The population percentage ratio in the section alloted to the Arab State was 10% Jewish to 90% Arab. In the section alloted to the Jewish State the population percentage ratio was 55% Jewish to 45% Arab. Even in the area alloted to the Jewish State the Jews were barely a majority.

At the time, there was a huge emotional movement to allow the Jews to set up a Jewish State in Palestine because 6 million Jews had been killed in one of the world's largest genocides in Central Europe under the Nazis of Germany.

The powerful countries of the world (USA, Russia and Europe) voted for the partition because of the guilt and pity felt for the genocide. Unfortunately, the Arabs living in Palestine would pay (and continue to pay) the price.

In 1948 the State of Israel was set up. It had long been planned that the Arabs living in the Jewish State would be expelled. David Ben Gurion, the first Prime Minister of Israel had written:

"With compulsory transfer we [would] have a vast area [for settlement] .... I support compulsory transfer. I don't see anything immoral in it."

"We adopt the system of aggressive defense ; with every Arab attack we must respond with a decisive blow: the destruction of the place or the expulsion of the residents along with the seizure of the place."

"The transfer of Arabs is easier than the transfer of any other [people]. There are Arabs states around . . . And it is clear that if the [Palestinian] Arabs are transferred this would improve their situation and not the opposite."

This "transfer" (which would now be called "ethnic cleansing") meant that over 1,000,000 Palestinians were expelled and forced into refugee camps in Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. 500 Palestinian villages were depopulated and destroyed. The Israelis attacked parts of the territory allocated to the Arab State and cleared West Jerusalem of its Arab residents. In the end, 68% of the indigenous people of Palestine were expelled and Israel ended up with 78% of the territory after having been allocated less than 57%.

The State of Israel was immediately recognised by Western countries. The (Arab) Palestinians and their suffering were ignored. The Arabs saw Israel as a Western colony on their land and vowed to destroy it - many of the inhabitants of the new state were immigrants from Europe or the USA. In fact, the Arab countries were not powerful enough to stop the creation of the new state. The Arab nations did not recognise Israel, any more than the USA would recognise a Cree or Apache state that was supported by Cuba within its borders.

To the Arab peoples, the creation of the State of Israel and the subsequent exile of the Palestinians is called The Catastrophe and it is the biggest stumbling block to good relations between the West and the Arabs.

The Arabs ended with two bits of land separated by Israel. The West Bank became part of Jordan while Gaza became part of Egypt. This situation remained unchanged until 1967. The map below shows the situation in 1949 when there was an armistice between the two sides.

Palestine
Palestine in 1949

Coups and Invasions

After 1948, several Arab countries revolted and removed their pro-West monarchs. Both Egypt and Iraq had spells of being independent under nationalist Arab leaders. These leaders were considered heros in the Arab world but terrorists by the West. Their human rights records were often no better or worse than the pro-West despots. However, their human rights violations were publicised in the Western media and the leaders demonised. Many of these leaders wanted to take control of their natural resources (often oil). In more than one case, violent coups or invasions were arranged by the West to install pro-West dictators.

Israel was heavily armed and supported by the West and began to behave like a Western outpost on Arab land.

In 1951 UK troops seized the Suez Canal in Egypt. In 1956 the UK with France and Israel invaded Egypt killing 18,000 people including over 250 refugees killed by Israel.

In 1952 France began fighting independence movements in Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria. The king of Morocco was exiled. Tunisia was frequently bombed. In Algeria, over a million people would die before independence was attained in 1960, many killed by French troops or settlers.

In 1953 the UK and USA organised a coup in Iran removing the democratically elected and popular leader, Mohammed Mossadeq and replacing him with Reza Pahlavi (known in the West as The Shah of Iran), a pro-West dictator who brutally ruled Iran and gave concessions to Western oil companies for 25 years. The USA helped set up and train the Shah's brutal secret police.

When the Shah was deposed in 1979, he fled to the USA. The Iranians requested his return to face trial but were denied. This event, the reason why USA embassy staff were taken hostage by Iranian students, is rarely mentioned in Western media accounts. During the period after 1979, Iran ran its own affairs outside of Western control. In early 2005, the USA (the country with the largest number of nuclear weapons, including over 400 under its control in Europe) began threatening Iran "for attempting to make nuclear weapons".

During the late 1950s, UK forces brutally put down resistance and independence movements in Oman and Yemen.

In the late 1950s and early 1960s the USA twice attempted to remove the government of Syria. They sent troops to Lebanon to put down anti-West dissidents.

The USA also attempted to destabilise Iraq by arming the Kurdish minority that the West had ignored up to then. Eventually in 1963, the USA backed a coup in Iraq that removed the popular leader, Abdul Karim Kassem. He was replaced (and here is an irony) by the Ba'ath Party. Thousands died in the purges that followed while the USA recognised and praised the new government. Exactly 40 years later, that same Ba'ath Party would be demonised, sanctioned and finally removed by the USA with talk of "bringing democracy to the Iraqis".

The list goes on...

People in the West are frequently told how "Arabs hate us and our civilisation". During the 1950s and 1960s no Arab state attacked or attempted to control any Western country. However, thousands of Arabs were killed as a result of military or covert action by the West or by Israel.

Occupation

In 1967, Israel invaded and occupied the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Gaza. It has since built hundreds of settlements (more accurately "colonies") on this land in violation of the Geneva Convention and world opinion.

The West (especially the USA) backed Israel unconditionally and provided arms and aid. In 2004, Israel was still the largest recipient of aid from the USA. The suffering of Palestinians remains largely unreported in the West. Palestinian resistance to the occupation has always been labelled as terrorism by Israel and its Western allies.

2 million Palestinians were forced to live under occupation while another 2 million were refugees. Over 200 villages in the Golan Heights (taken from Syria) were depopulated.

Even now, Palestinian land in the occupied territories is being confiscated. Thousands of houses have been demolished and whole families made homeless. A wall is being built that creates ghettos. Instead of following the internationally recognised "Green Line" separating the occupied West Bank from Israel, the wall skirts deep inside the occupied territories splitting Palestinian villages from their farm land, schools and services.

Hundreds of colonies (called "settlements" by a sympathetic West) have been built, along with access roads that can only be used by the occupiers and not by the indigenous population. The settlers use over 80% of the water supply to water their gardens while the Palestinians have to suffer water shortages. Israeli checkpoints smother the occupied territories making routine journeys between villages, between home and work, even between patient and doctor difficult or impossible. The humiliation felt by the Palestinians on their own land serves to stir up hatred for the Israelis and their Western backers.

Little of this is shown by Western media, but is shown every day to Arab populations in the region. It is the cause of much anger in the Arab world but is barely discussed in Europe or the USA.

Any Palestinian resistance, even after over 35 years of violent occupation, is labelled as terrorism. Actions by Israel (even when they frequently violate the Geneva Convention regulation protecting occupied peoples and their property) are labelled as self defence or retaliation to terrorism.

On Western TV interviews, Palestinians are always asked when their violence will stop. Palestinians (the occupied and disarmed people) are asked to be responsible for the "security" of the Israelis (the heavily armed occupiers).

The news coverage is such that many people do not realise that it is Israel that is occupying Palestinian territory and not the other way round.

Very few media outlets in the West show maps of the "settlements".

In 2005, the Western media were trumpeting the withdrawal of Israeli settlers and troops from Gaza as historic. The "settlers" who were to be evacuated were interviewed in a sympathetic way, unlike the thousands of Palestinians who frequently have their houses demolished away from the interest of the West's media. What was not emphasised was that all borders, airspace, and ocean beyond a few kilometers would remain under Israeli control.

Al-Qaida and Saddam Hussein

In 1979, Russia (then known as the Soviet Union) invaded Afghanistan. The USA armed and funded Islamic fighters (along with Saudi Arabia) in Afghanistan to fight the Russians. This was part of the Cold War strategy of fighting by proxy. These fighters included a Saudi Arabian businessman called Osama Bin-Laden. His group would eventually evolve into Al-Qaida and turn on its creators.

During the 1980s the USA backed its puppet leader in Iraq (one Saddam Hussein) in its invasion of Iran. A million people were killed in this 10 year conflict. The USA provided arms, materials for making chemical weapons and political support. It also began provocative naval manoeuvres in the Persian Gulf and attacked oil installations in Iran. In 1986 the USA destroyer, the US Vincennes, in Iranian territorial waters, shot down a passenger airliner killing 286 people.

In 1988, the Iraqi regime gassed 6,000 people in the Kurdish village of Halabja. The USA and UK failed to comment. The USA increased its military aid and the UK secretly sold arms to the country. Only when the West wanted to remove Saddam Hussein would this story be highlighted in the Western media.

Lebanon

In 1982 Israel invaded Lebanon killing 17,500 people. No photographs of the victims were ever displayed in Western newspapers. No minutes' silence were held in any Western city.

Over 1500 Palestinians (mainly women and children) were killed in Sabra and Shatila refugee camps by Christian militia while Israeli forces sealed the exits and illuminated the area. The USA had arranged a deal where the Palestinian leadership left Lebanon for Tunisia, promising that the families left behind would be protected by "the International Community".

As a reminder, the refugee camps were in Lebanon because the inhabitants had been expelled from their homes in Palestine either in 1948 (when the State of Israel was set up) or 1967 (when the West Bank and Gaza were occupied).

The Israeli Defence Minister in charge of the invasion, one Ariel Sharon, was found to be responsible for the massacre by a court in Israel. Such a person might expect to be tried for war crimes. In fact, he became Prime Minister of Israel and, twenty years later, was called "a man of peace" by the USA president, George W Bush.

To add further insult to the pain and indignation felt by Arabs, between 1982 and 1983, the USA vetoed six separate United Nations resolutions condemning the Israeli invasion of Lebanon. One of the reasons the USA gave in 2003 when it invaded Iraq was "to uphold the authority of the United Nations".

In September 2002, the anniversary of a terrorist attack in the USA (known in the West as 9/11 even though most of the world's countries write that date as 11/9) was remembered with silences held around the country and in Europe. A few days later, the 20th anniversary of the Sabra and Shatilla massacres that still anger the Arabs was completely ignored in the Western media.

These double standards are a major cause of resentment against the West.

The Kurds

The Kurds were a people ignored by the West since their land was spliced up after the First World War.

In the 1970s, the Kurds had been armed and supported in northern Iraq because it suited the West to destabilise Iraq. In 1991, a safe zone was even declared for them. In 2003, their oppression by Saddam Hussein was one of the reasons given to justify the invasion of Iraq.

The Kurds living in Turkey did not fare so well, however.

Turkey is a NATO ally with USA bases. For many years in Turkey, the Kurdish language had been banned under penalty of imprisonment or worse. Kurds were referred to as Mountain Turks and treated as second class citizens. During the 1980s and early 1990s tens of thousands of Kurds were killed, over 3000 villages depopulated and 3 million people made homeless. Little of this was ever reported in the West.

Iraq

In 1991, Iraq invaded Kuwait. The West sent troops to "liberate" Kuwait. The autocratic and unelected monarch of Kuwait was returned to power. So much for spreading democracy.

In this war, over 200,000 civilians were killed and 1,800,000 were made homeless. The Western media concentrated on the "smart" bombs used by the West and the 9 UK and 148 USA soldiers killed. When asked about Iraqi casualties, USA General Colin Powell replied: "It's really not a number I'm terribly interested in". So much for the West caring about the Iraqi people.

Remember also that the border between Iraq and Kuwait was put there by the UK.

After the war, the USA sold military hardware worth $100,000 million to neighbouring countries. And to show how important democracy and freedom is to the West, 90% of all the arms sales were to unelected governments.

The United Nations, under pressure from the USA and UK, began economic sanctions on Iraq. The World Food Program and UNICEF reported that 1,211,285 people died of embargo-related causes between August 1990 and August 1997. This figure includes over 500,000 children under 5. Both totals are bigger than the 130,000 people that Amnesty International estimated to have died in Iraq between 1979 and 1989 as a result of the country's human-rights record. In addition, many Iraqis suffer from cancers induced by the Depleted Uranium used by the West when bombing the country.

Between 1992 and 2003, the UK and USA regularly bombed Iraq from the air. This was the longest Anglo-American bombing campaign since World War II with bombing occurring on a daily basis and yet it was almost ignored by the Western media. In one year alone (1999), USA and UK aircraft dropped over 1,800 bombs hitting 450 targets. Consider the media coverage if this was happening in London or Madrid or New York.

The two powers have always maintained that the military action was to police no-fly zones authorised by United Nations Security Council Resolution 688. Dr Boutros Boutros-Ghali was Secretary General of the United Nations when this resolution was passed in 1992. He stated that "The issue of no fly zones was not raised and therefore not debated: not a word. They offer no legitimacy to countries sending their aircraft to attack Iraq. They are illegal".

After 12 years of bombings and sanctions, Iraq was ripe for invasion and occupation. This was achieved by the USA (with help from the UK) against the wishes of the United Nations. In 1917 Lieutenant-General Stanley Maude, a UK general, marched into and occupied Baghdad with the words "Our armies do not come into your cities and lands as conquerors or enemies, but as liberators". In 2003, history repeated itself.

And the reasons for the invasion? Was it weapons of mass destruction? Liberation for the Iraqis? Democracy? Let us attempt to get an answer from those who should know. David Frum is a speech writer for the USA president, George W Bush. He writes:

"An American-led overthrow of Saddam Hussein – and the replacement of the radical Baathist dictatorship with a new government more closely aligned with the United States would put America more wholly in charge of the region than any power since the Ottomans, or maybe even the Romans."

Michael Klare is a USA political scientist. He confirms the truth:

"The removal of Saddam Hussein and his replacement by someone beholden to the United States is a key part of a broader United States strategy aimed at assuring permanent American global dominance."

The War on Terror

The war between the rich and well armed, democratic Western countries (mainly USA, UK, France, Israel) and the peoples of the Arab world has been in progress since the end of the First World War. It has been mainly fought on the lands of the Arabs. It has been fought directly with military force or indirectly with economic sanctions and with the support of puppet governments that serve the interests of the West and their companies. Hundreds of thousands of Arabs have died in this war. Most of these deaths remain unreported in the Western media and unmourned.

This war played little part in the lives of the Europeans and North Americans until about 70 years after the Sykes-Picot Agreement and the Balfour Declaration. Around the mid 1980s, Arab groups began attacking Western targets. These included civilian, diplomatic and economic interests in Europe, North America and the rest of the world.

Western governments and their media had previously ignored the suffering, oppression, death and dispossession of millions of Arabs. Now they were outraged. The Arabs were labelled as evil and fanatical. Their religion was insulted and demonised. The people of the West were told that Arabs were attacking the West for no reason. They hated Western civilisation, culture and standard of living. They hated freedom and democracy. No historical background to the conflict was given. It was important to keep the real reasons behind the conflict away from the public domain.

Westerners were informed that Arabs were unlike the freedom loving Americans, lacked the culture of the French and had no idea of fair play like the British.

Observers who suggest that Arab attacks on Western targets might have something to do with Western foreign policy or the political situation in the Middle East, are accused of being anti-American or anti-Semitic. The official line is that the attackers are terrorists and had no demands that could be negotiated. In addition, the targets of the terrorists are the entire "civilised" world, rather than the USA and its allies and their interests.

Other countries have joined in the charade. Israel has reclassified its occupation of Palestine as part of the "international war on terror". Russia uses the same rhetoric when crushing resistance to its rule in Chechnya. India uses the "war on terror" to justify its continual occupation and oppression of Kashmir. The USA and UK collude with these world views as it keeps opposition to their policies in the Middle East muted.

Islam, the major religion of the Middle East, is demonised and derided so as to make it easier to treat its people as less than human. All Muslims are judged by the actions of a few extremists. This is the equivalent of judging Western society, Christianity or Judaism by some or all of the following:

One of the leading terrorist groups is Al-Qaida, lead by Osama Bin-Laden. He makes frequent statements to the West which are not reported. It is useful to keep up the myth that groups like Al-Qaida have no demands that can be negociated with. For this reason I quote some of their statements.

The following statement was made in 2001 as the USA and UK invaded Afghanistan:

"The Palestinian people have been living under the Jewish and Zionist occupation and nobody moves to help them. Here we are as an Arab land, this is a land that has been desecrated. People have come to take its wealth. The American interests are everywhere all over the world. America must know that the battle will not leave this land until America leaves our land. Until it stops supporting Israel, until it stops the blockade against Iraq. The Americans must know that by coming to the land of Afghanistan, they have opened a new page of animosity between us and the forces of the unbelievers. And they must know that the land of Afghanistan and the Mujahideen are being subjected to a full crusade with the objective of getting rid of the Islamic nation."

Al-Qaida is a violent indiscriminate terrorist group. Their language is flowery and full of religious references. Their actions against civilians cannot be condoned. However, the grievances listed above are real and resonate with much of the Arab world - indeed, the Muslim world. Attempting to crush groups like this will not remove the grievances. Only by removing the many injustices perpetrated by the West will groups like this lose support. Only by treating the Arabs as human beings and as equals and not trying to control their land, resources, governments and culture can there be a just and lasting peace.

The message was clearly laid out after the bombing of Madrid (Spain) in March 2004 that killed 200 people and brought "regime change" to Europe:

"Stop targeting us, release our prisoners and leave our land and we will stop attacking you. The people of the US allied countries have to put pressure on their governments to immediately end their alliance with the US in the war against terror (Islam)."

A month later, Al-Qaida offered a truce to the countries of Europe:

"I am offering a truce to European countries, and its core is our commitment to cease operations against any country which does not carry out an onslaught against Muslims or interfere in their affairs as part of the big American conspiracy against the Islamic world. Whoever wants reconciliation and the right (way), then we are the ones who initiated it, so stop spilling our blood so we can stop spilling your blood."

"Security is a need for all humans, and we could not let you have a monopoly on it for yourselves. People who are aware would not let their politicians jeopardize their security."

"By describing us and our actions as terrorism, you are necessarily describing yourself and your actions. ... Our actions are reactions to your actions that destroy and kill our people in Afghanistan, Iraq and Palestine."

Al-Qaida are aware of the economics behind the 2003 invasion of Iraq:

"This war brings billions of dollars to big companies, either to those that manufacture weapons or those who reconstruct Iraq, like Halliburton and its sister companies. And from here it becomes clear who benefits from the outbreak of wars and bloodshed: war traders and vampires who administer world politics from behind the curtain."

And, of course, there is always Palestine, a continuing sore to the Arabs:

"I plead with the honest people, intellectuals, activists and traders to form a permanent committee to raise people's awareness for the justice of our causes-- on top of which comes Palestine."

Arab and Muslim societies have many problems (like their Western counterparts). They must be allowed to solve their problems and develop at their own pace. If the West is to help it must be as friends and by request; not as colonisers and certainly not by force.

The War on Terror has not just begun - it has just changed location.

It has returned home.

© 2004 KryssTal

This essay is dedicated to Robert Fisk, John Pilger, Noam Chomsky and the late Edward Said.


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Detailed Reports

The creation of the State of Israel and the dispersal of the Palestinians. The event known as "the catastrophe" to the Palestinians.

The Shah of Iran is put in charge of the country by the USA and UK. The USA train the Shah's secret police and Western oil companies get concessions.

UK, France and Israel invade Egypt killing thousands to secure the Suez Canal.

The Western backed monarchy is overthrown in Iraq. The UK and USA make plans...

A western backed coup and the assassination of Abdul Karim Kassem. The USA gives the new regime lists of people to be elliminated.

The six day war and the occupation of the West Bank, Gaza and the Golan Heights by Israel. The dispossession of the Palestinians continues.

Rivalry between the USSR and USA begins in Afghanistan. The seeds of Al-Qa'ida are planted..

USA plans in Afghanistan, funded by heroin.

Invasion of Lebanon by Israel killing thousands; the Sabra-Chatilla Massacre.

The gassing of the Kurds at Halabja (Iraq) and support for Iraq by the USA and UK.

First Western invasion of Iraq. The Shi'ites are encouraged to rise up against Saddam Hussein and then abandoned to their fate.

Sanctions and bombing of Iraq. Half a million die.

Life under Israeli occupation in Palestine.

The Western powers invade Afghanistan, killing thousands. Prisoners are held in USA concentration camps without legal rights.

Discrimination in Western backed Saudi Arabia.

The occupation of Iraq following the Second Gulf War. Prisoner abuse and civilian deaths.

House demolitions and the building of the wall in the Palestinian territories.

Invasion and bombing of Lebanon and attack on the democratically elected government of Palestine.


Maps and Photograph Galleries

A map of Israeli settlements (colonies) in the West Bank, Gaza, and Golan.

A map of Kurdistan.

The Sabra and Chatila massacre of Palestinians in Lebanon by militia allied and supported by Israel. The military incursion into Lebanon was planned and led by Ariel Sharon. The USA vetoed six separate United Nations resolutions between 1982 and 1983 condemning Israel's invasion of Lebanon. In 2002 the USA refers to Ariel Sharon as "a man of peace".

Child Victims of USA power in Fallujah. These images were not shown on Western media but were widely shown around the Arab world. Over 700 civilians died in the attack including hundreds of children.


Specific Topics

With Iran currently being demonsied and threatened, this table shows what the USA-UK have done to Iran and what Iran has done to the USA-UK since World War II.

The USA, along with its chief advocate the UK, invaded Iraq to put a new regime in place. Why?

This is a list of UN resolutions vetoed by the USA. The record of the USA voting patterns is generally under reported in the Western media. Many of the USA vetos go against Arab or Middle Eastern interests and are opposing resolutions backed by the majority of the world.


General Topics

A group of languages spoken in North Africa and the Middle East. This may help in understanding the relationship between peoples in that region.

Words borrowed by English from Arabic. These include scientific, mathematical and military terms.

This is the trigonometry of triangles drawn on a sphere. It is used for many areas in geography and astronomy including navigation, mapping and sundials. This important branch of mathematics was developed by the Arabs during the European dark ages.

The history and geography of humanity's most important inventions and developments. The peoples of the Middle East have made major contributions to civilisation and science.


Quotes

Osama bin Laden, in a May 1998 interview to the USA broadcaster, ABC Television:

"We however, differentiate between the western government and the people of the West. If the people have elected those governments in the latest elections, it is because they have fallen prey to the Western media which portray things contrary to what they really are. And while the slogans raised by those regimes call for humanity, justice, and peace, the behavior of their governments is completely the opposite."

"It is not enough for their people to show pain when they see our children being killed in Israeli raids launched by American planes, nor does this serve the purpose. What they ought to do is change their governments which attack our countries. The hostility that America continues to express against the Muslim people has given rise to feelings of animosity on the part of Muslims against America and against the West in general. Those feelings of animosity have produced a change in the behavior of some crushed and subdued groups who, instead of fighting the Americans inside the Muslim countries, went on to fight them inside the United States of America itself."

"The Americans started it and retaliation and punishment should be carried out following the principle of reciprocity, especially when women and children are involved. Through history, American has not been known to differentiate between the military and the civilians or between men and women or adults and children. Those who threw atomic bombs and used the weapons of mass destruction against Nagasaki and Hiroshima were the Americans. Can the bombs differentiate between military and women and infants and children? America has no religion that can deter her from exterminating whole peoples. Your position against Muslims in Palestine is despicable and disgraceful. America has no shame. ... We believe that the worst thieves in the world today and the worst terrorists are the Americans. Nothing could stop you except perhaps retaliation in kind."

C. Douglas Lummis, former USA marine and lecturer:

"Since it began its 'war on terrorism', the U.S. government has conferred upon itself three new rights. One is the right of preemptive attack. The second is the right forcibly to bring about regime change in countries whose governments act against U.S. interests. The third is the right to send government agents, civilian or military, into foreign countries, arrest foreign nationals, including some who have never been inside territorial United States, and imprison them, try them, or hold them indefinitely without trial. In some cases this has been extended to the 'right' to assassinate suspects on the spot, for example by firing rockets at them from the air."

Poem published by the Arabic newspaper, Al-Hayat:

"Children are dying, but no one makes a move.
Houses are demolished, but no one makes a move.
Holy places are desecrated, but no one makes a move....
I am fed up with life in the world of mortals.
Find me a hole near you. For a life of dignity is in those holes."

Noam Chomsky, USA linguist and political writer:

"Wanton killing of innocent civilians is terrorism, not a war against terrorism."

Sonja Karkar, President of Women for Palestine in Melbourne, Australia:

"The problem is that the plight of Palestinians, whether enduring the worst excesses of occupation, racism inside Israel or the inhuman conditions of Israeli prisons, elicits no outrage from the international community on any score. It is as if the Palestinians are invisible or somehow not deserving of our humanity. The greatest irony of course is, that while Palestinians are reduced to a sub-human existence, the world stops to remember the Jewish Holocaust at this time without a thought for the “victims of the victims” as Edward Said so aptly described the relationship between the Palestinians and Israel’s Jews. While it is difficult to comprehend that a people so immersed in remembering the atrocities committed against their own in Europe could resort to the degradation of another people, it is worse that the world remains indifferent or even supports Israel in its crimes."


External Links

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Sykes-Picot Agreement
The text of this agreement that began the European control of the Middle East. There is also a map.

The Balfour Declaration
The text of the letter that was the first moden mention of the setting up of a Jewish state in the Middle East.

The UN Partition Plan for Palestine
The text of United Nations Resolution 181.

UN Resolution 242
The United Nations resolution calling for the withdrawal from territories occupied by Israel in 1967.

The Palestinian Refugees
A BBC account of the six million displaced Palestinians since 1948.