The Arab World’s Stockholm Syndrome

What is it with the Arab World and its morbid infatuation with its own colonizers?

Why is it that America’s Tomahawks tend to find both helpless victims and overzealous, welcoming enthusiasts all at the same time and on the very same patch of war-torn Arab land?

Bona-fide war criminals of the Bush-variety come to the Arab World; lay complete waste and devastation to one Arab country, drone-bomb the living daylights out of another; only to “sword-dance” their way out of the region with the “grateful” rulers of a third, with pocketful of cash and lucrative oil and “reconstruction” contracts no less.

Even Francios Hollande, France’s “socialist” president, couldn’t resist a few awkward rounds of waltzing, sword in hand, with the Saudis after locking-in an arms deal to the tune of US$ 3 bln.

Not only that; these imperialist blunderers and harbingers of biochemical-death get to temporarily hang their “shock-and-awe” military hats and make multi-million-dollar careers out of trading on their newfound status as advisors, “intellectuals” and “peaceful mediators”; unabashedly touring the very same Arab lands where they’ve previously wreaked doomed havoc and sectarian discord, to preach the virtues of democracy, peaceful dialogue and human rights of all things, to an awestruck GCC sponsored crowd of course, one that’s more than willing to bestow its stock of admiration and exaggerated hospitality; on a scale that seems strictly reserved to those who have a storied history of pillaging the Arab world.

Take Tony Blair for example, a man who was neck-deep in the violent rape of Iraq with hundreds of thousands of victims to his name; after leaving office, he managed to pocket in an impressive £150,000 for two 30-minute speaking events in the UAE, not too far from where he and his then “brother-in-arms” George W. Bush rained all manner of cluster bombs and uranium ammunitions on the civilian population of Fallujah, discussing “global affairs” (whatever that means!) while attempting in the process to sanitize a rap sheet drenched in innocent blood from top to bottom. And that’s what the petro-dollar is for; evidently nothing is too much when it comes to rehabilitating certified war criminals into born-again, Israeli-biased “peace envoys” for the Middle East.

If this is not a chronic case of Stockholm syndrome, I don’t know what is.

How else can we explain the wars on Iraq in 1991 and 2003? How else can we explain Libya 2011, when the so-called Arab League practically groveled at the feet of Western governments and their well-oiled NATO death apparatus to bomb one of AL’s own member states to dust and smithereens? Or the fact that Qatar is practically nothing more than a billion-dollar parking lot/gas station for that very same globe-trotting death apparatus?

How else can we explain Yemen? The second largest country in the Arabian Peninsula reduced to a mere playground for America’s drones and joystick assassination squads? Or that tragic tale of two Sudans?

How is it that an oil rich region is hopelessly caught in an economic death-grip with a debt-ridden, penniless empire?

How else can we explain the fact that the Arab world has been locked into this groundhog-day cycle where foreign interventions are followed almost seamlessly by foreign interventions, most of which transpire violently and upon an extended invitation (along with a blank cheque) from the decrepit Arab League at best or, most commonly nowadays, with an active participation (and a blank cheque) from Arab governments at worst?

That’s the reality of the Arab World today; a rotten visage of adulation and knee-jerk thralldom to foreign occupations and imperial powers.

With the (unfortunate) arrival of the Arab Spring; our demonstrated affinity towards America’s laser-(mis)guided missiles reached its bleak nadir, seeping from the corrupt political class right into the public, when such terms as “no-fly zones” and “humanitarian interventions” became flavors of the month all of a sudden, thrown around with such ease that they quickly morphed into stables in our daily political intake. Libyan “revolutionaries” stumbled over themselves to get photo ops with the likes of McCain, Hillary Clinton, and Zionist-extraordinaire Bernard Henry Levy as the Libyan cities of Tripoli and Sirte were being leveled to the ground courtesy of NATO (and Qatari) warplanes and fighter jets.

Not to be outdone by their fellow Libyans; Syrian protestors were already calling for air strikes against their own country only two months into their ephemeral revolution, “making a pact with the devil to overthrow dictatorships and/or prevent genocide” became the celebrated mantra under which the public was near-completely desensitized to the notion of foreign bombing campaigns or even military invasions if necessary; especially the kind that lacks U.N. authorization, as long as it’s for a “good cause”. We got lulled to the “lesser of two evils” nursery rhyme, with Al Jazeera and Al-Arabiya TV channels providing ringside seats to the wanton destruction and partitioning of Arab nation states. Sykes and Picot wet dreams coming alive.

So instead of being the disastrous cautionary tales that they are; Iraq and Libya became acceptable scenarios ready to be rehashed at a moment’s notice to the slightest of whims of the U.S. and its regional implantations.

Thus foreign intervention became “rationalized” and in some cases even cheered for in Gulf-funded media, at a time when Arab resistance movements are castigated and duly denied the same justifications that are so hastily accorded, almost sight unseen, to the imperial west and its salivating mob of interventionists to liberate us from our own barbarism (which they themselves just so happen to create and foster). Apparently the responsibility to protect is neither as fancy nor as humanitarian when it comes to the likes of Hizbollah, Hamas and the Syrian Army defending their own peoples and lands as it is for good ol’ Uncle Sam and his labyrinthine network of overseas military bases.

And therein lies the rub; the Syrian government has been fighting ISIS, in its different (but equally acrid) incarnations, for three years now; at the time the Syrian state was lambasted for so-called human rights violations and subsequently accused of waging a sectarian war against Sunnis. The Syrian government’s persistent declarations that it was fighting terrorism fell on deaf ears, more than that; waves of well-armed and well-funded extremists were sent en mass to Syria to fight a war of attrition (the most vicious of its kind in recent history) against the government of Bashar Al Assad on behalf of the west. Operation: regime change via terrorism.

Then came that chickens are coming home to roost moment when the western created minefield of terrorism in Syria began to spread out of the designated bounds; and three years of worth of GCC-imposed narrative was abandoned at the flick of an American switch.

Way before James Foley (AKA the moment our conscience suddenly awakened), beheadings have been a matter of course ever since 2011 for the majority of pro-western, “moderate” Syrian rebel groups, who now happen to form the rotten nucleus of ISIS’s terrorism. Oddly enough our sympathy did not extend to the “non-blonde/non-blue eyed” headless victims back then.

At the time Syrian soldiers and Alawite civilians were the prime targets of these beheadings; the internet was awash with countless of videos showing gory decapitations and executions not too unlike those depicted in ISIS videos, one of which at the time even showed a 12-year-old kid beheading bound captives the “Islamic way” using the dull edge of a rusty sword and chanting “Allahu Akbar”, these videos didn’t raise an eyebrow with the international community even when the severed heads of the victims were “neatly” displayed provocatively in front of the cameras for all the world to see, on the contrary; millions of dollars were funneled in to the perpetrators of these ISIS-esque crimes via the formerly known “Friends of Syria” alliance (currently known as… hold your breath… the international coalition against ISIS). Just ask Joe “slip-of-the-tongue” Biden.

Whether the target is the Syrian regime or the west’s former darlings ISIS, which is essentially an American/GCC Frankenstein monster on Wahhabi steroids, as long as an Arab country is being bombed or invaded, apparently it makes no difference; it seems that we are just gluttons for Western intervention whatever shape or form it takes and under whatever pretense it cloaks itself; we seem to fetishize it even; the fact remains that there hasn’t been a single war waged on the Arab world where at least several Arab states weren’t complete accomplices in it whether logistically, diplomatically or even militarily.

Thus the Arab World’s Stockholm syndrome’s is no longer only manifested in positively identifying with wars of aggression waged on the this part of the world, but in the fact that our seemingly insatiable appetite to gnaw at our own flesh and blood seems to even surpass that of the aggressor’s.

I still remember the celebratory frenzy Gulf-funded media went into once the Obama administration declared its intentions to bomb Syria last year in its pursuit for regime change a la Libya after the rather shoddy “chemical massacre” stunt, and conversely the subsequent disappointment and utter frustration that prevailed those same circles following Obama’s change of heart.

Now the same unabashed exuberance can be seen, albeit on a wider scale this time, as America’s tomahawks are revisiting Iraq, with Syria added to the hit list as well for good measure, two Arab countries for the price of one; and why not? As long as the bill for “services rendered” will be footed by the GCC. Collateral damage and destruction of infrastructure will be just feeble afterthoughts. If that.

Our state of “self-lynching” reached its inglorious pinnacle during and after the latest Israeli war on the Gaza strip, not only Arab solidarity was considerably watered down, alarmingly bordering on nonchalance even (at least compared to the massive protests that swept through the rest of the world), or limited to cyber space activity where Gaza was duly turned into a sob story and nothing beyond that, but after the war and in a bizarre reversal of concepts in Arab political discourse akin to that which emerged on the heels of Hizbollah’s victory in 2006 albeit on a wider scale this time; the Israeli Army’s embarrassing performance and military failure in Gaza (its criminality notwithstanding) was somehow turned into a resounding victory for the occupying power, while the Palestinians’ resistance and heroic humiliation of the IOF and its “elite” units, despite the blockade and the dire circumstances, were turned into a defeat with heaps of blame placed squarely on the resistance for the loss of civilian lives and the destruction of the strip as armchair logic of comparing casualties on both sides and cold analysis with the sole aim of demoralizing the Palestinian resistance reigned supreme.

Billions of (petro-) dollars were poured into the systematic destruction of Syria (again, take Biden’s word for it); while Gazans were left to their own devices against the Israeli invasion save for a few boxes of rat-infested food aid and expired vaccines while further tightening the screws of the Israeli-imposed siege on the strip, then we mocked Gaza’s victory over the military might of the world’s 4th most powerful army only to be instantly taken with (and moved by) Hollywood’s ice bucket challenge.

GCC countries bail out American banks while Somalia languishes in an endless abyss of extreme poverty and famine. Our preachers customize religious fatwas tailor-fit to best suit America’s interests in the region on a routine basis but when it comes to the Palestinians; their well of fiery fatwas (per dollar) seems to dry up, we relished Bush’s “liberation” of Iraq (for a while anyway, until Iran came out on top of that one), then we belittled Hizbollah’s victory in the 2006 Lebanon war, we hailed sending Libya back to the stone age as an undisputed triumph of good over evil (the evil of a sovereign Arab state apparently), only to downplay the military effectiveness and political significance of the Palestinian resistance in Gaza against the Israeli occupation.

This is not politics, worse yet; it’s the clinical definition of Stockholm syndrome.

Ahmad Barqawi is a freelance columnist and writer.

Ahmad Barqawi is a freelance columnist and writer.