Posted 14 Aug 2014 by Walaa Idris
A few home truths we need to know about our relationship with the Middle East.
Firstly, our past actions in Afghanistan then later in Iraq are one of the main causes of recent Islamic terrorism against the West. Attacks on us, whether at home or abroad against our representatives and interests and particularly homegrown terrorism, are direct results of our intervention in that region.
Secondly, our military actions in Iraq and Libya plus to some extend the West’s support of the military in Egypt, did more damage than good. Exporting our style of democracy to that part of the world does not and will never work, because the way the two sides view democracy is very different. To westerners that remark might sound crazy ‘democracy is democracy’ but trust me it’s not that straight forward. Plus, it took the West thousands of years and many trials and errors to arrive to where we are now. Let’s then allow the Middle East the time and space to find their brand of democracy and arrive at it in their own tempo.
Thirdly, we can never win a war in that region. Just look at Afghanistan! We have totally destroyed Iraq and currently our actions are destroying Libya. Avoiding any further destruction in the region should now become our main concern and our number one goal.
And finally, we need to understand the people of the region. Not the sample segment we meet and speak with, the well-travelled that can speak English and to some extend share our ideals – but the Joe Bloggs, or as we say in Arabic the Mohamed Ahameds and those who feel the beat of the street because they live and daily breath it.
We also need to understand, if those we intend to help actually want our help. And before giving any help lets first ascertain how much of it they want. Because unwanted help can be offensive and as we saw throughout history it can at times even be dangerous. We also need to understand that the East’s sensibilities are very different to ours; at times we tend to be blinded by our sense of guardianship to see that. We must open our eyes and stop meddling in other nations’ affairs as a cause of duty, especially when it’s unwelcomed.
Having said that, as a powerful wealthier and compassionate nation, we have a duty to aid those less fortunate than us in their hour of need, sending food and medical aid to the injured and displaced is a duty of all those who can offer it. Gathering intelligence to better deliver that aid is also a way by which we can be helpful. But anything more than that can be easily misconstrued as interference and will not be welcomed and might even have dire consequence in the long run.
That is why when I hear politicos; journos and commentators argue that the British response to the current crisis in Iraq is not enough, I want to scream ‘No, it’s perfect, just find a way to deliver aid and help the victims quicker and better.’
As for those who think Britain should copy France by arming victims on the ground, I say remember Bin Laden? Osama Bin Laden was a freedom fighter armed by the US to fight with them against the Russians in Afghanistan – look how well that turned out! Russia is now long gone from that fight and we’re still fighting and dying there daily by those who were once armed by the West!
Just stop the macho madness. We can’t keep making the same mistakes and not learning from them – that makes us stupid, arrogant and loses us a great deal of respect.
David Cameron is very wise to not call for any military intervention on Iraq. He is even wiser to stand solid as the only western leader doing all he can to deliver humanitarian relief, gather important intelligence and help the Yazidis to escape the Islamic State (IS) fighters and reach safety. This way he has no beef with IS and they have no excuse to send terror our way.
One thing we must also remember is that the whole world is watching, and half of it is comparing our reaction to the Gaza bombings with that of Iraq. Particularly as Gazans are predominately Muslims and Yazidis are mostly Christians. It is therefore crucial to not be seen more angered by one atrocity than the other. That’s how we show and share our democracy, balance, and fairness, that is how we promote our values across the globe.