In some occasions in the past I’ve blamed the Italian political system for the many flaws affecting its life but this time I am very happy to praise the Italian position about the Syrian problem: when France, UK and even USA looked like being ready for a direct military intervention in the civil war plaguing that country, Italy tried to cool tempers and to suggest a line of moderation and of possible intervention only under the auspices of the United Nations and this was, in my opinion, absolutely right for at least three main reasons.
First of all, I suppose many of us will agree about the fact that war is never an answer to any international problem and much more in this case. I’d like to try to explain this in very plain terms. It’s obvious that the whole civil world condemns the use of nervine gas by Assad, in general terms and against civilians in particular: it’s a cruel, savage act provoked only by the terror of the president/dictator to loose the power inherited by his father Hafez who, in turn, was for sure not famous for his democratic and peaceful methods of government. This is a point and it is surely undeniable that Bashar Al-Assad deserves the hardest judgment and punishment for his war crimes. Yes, but we are speaking about a judgment and punishment by an international court of justice, not by a bunch of states charged by none to rise to the role of policemen of the world and violently intervening in a country with their supposedly (while the experiences of the past proved the opposite) “intelligent” bombings, only causing other carnages among the population. What would this solve? Would this take peace to the Middle Eastern area? Or, rather, would it increase the spiral of violence shaking those lands? If I had to bet, I would bet on the second result.
And here we come to the second point for which, in my opinion, any military intervention in Syria would be absolutely crazy. I spent quite a long time of my life studying the Arab countries and writing about them and one of the key elements I understood is that the Arab concept of government is really different from ours and this not surprisingly in the light of the different history they had. Democracy, the way we mean it, is a Western concept elaborated by the Western states heir of the French revolution and of a process leading to that elaboration. The Arab mentality, on the contrary, is a product of the Caliphate and of its history: the history of a man invested of a sort of divine power to lead a nation. What is questionable, in this picture, is the investiture of this or that man by the divine power, not the process itself. This is a fundamental concept to absorb if we really want to understand all the movements of the so-called “Arab spring”: the whole history of the Arab world is an history of fighting and wars to affirm the divine investiture of this or that candidate and all the events taking place in the Middle-East in these last years make no exception. Let’s have a look to what happened wherever the “Arab revolutions” took place. On one side you have a dictator, a new caliph almost fanatically beloved by a part of the population, normally promoting a supposed modernization of the state (let’s not forget that, after the end of the Caliphate, the feeling of backwardness in respect to the Western states is one of the most diffused feelings in the Arab world) but never clashing against a deeply religious mentality diffused among the population (think, in example, about what was written in the “Green Book” by Mu’ammar Al Qaddafi). On the other side you have Salafi or Wa’habi groups, which means groups inspired by the most traditional and conservative (and, according to many Islamic scholars, such as the ones of Al-Azhar, wrong) interpretation of Islam, subsidized or inspired by the ultra-dictatorial Saudi Arabian government and life-style, trying to impose a sort of coming back to the foundations of Islam and considering any modernization as the cause of the decadence of the Arab society. The entire game is played on this contraposition in which there is no room (but for some exceptions of minority groups) for Western style democracy: whoever writes and speaks about a “struggle for freedom and democracy” in the Arab fights simply cheats the audience. Can’t our democratic style of government (assuming that we are living in democracies and not in plutocracies) be exported to Arab countries? Of course yes: many of my Arab friends are the living proof that democracy, as any other concept in the world, can be exported everywhere! But, also given the not so sure fact that Arabs really would like to accept a Western concept, a Western life-style, etc. (would you accept to live with a different life-style coming from a different culture? Probably no and why should it be different for other cultures? Only as our mentality is, in our minds, better than theirs?), also given this, well, the exportation of an idea, of a mentality is very different from the imposition of an idea or of a mentality, more so if this imposition is carried on with “intelligent bombings”: Iraq and Afghanistan are a quite clear example in this sense.
And this is even more true, and we come to the third point, in the case of Arab countries. There is a concept, a typically Arab concept we must keep into account: the concept of “Ummah”. What is it? In itself, in Arabic, this word simply means “community” and it refers to all the Muslim people with a common ideology and culture. “Ummah” is also used in this sense by Allah in the Quran referring to Muslims and, finally, it denotes the unity of all people submitted to God all over the world. The obvious corollary of the concept is that, for the majority of the Arabs in the world, to attack a part of the “Ummah” means to attack the whole of the “Ummah”. And believe me: whichever side you decide to support, a military intervention in the “Dar al-Islam” (“Land of Islam”) by a non-Islamic state or groups of states, is, in the Arab vision, an attack to the “Ummah”, to its integrity, to its autonomy and independence, with all the domino consequences this can provoke. Therefore, if any intervention, always allowed by international organizations and Islamic organizations, should forcedly take place in Syria, the only way to carry it on is through other Arab states, not surely by French, British or American troops and bombs. I’m glad that it appears that, under political pressure by other states (Italy included) these countries (France, UK, USA) are, perhaps, backtracking from a resolution whose consequences could be unimaginable and, in any case, negative for the World peace and for the life of the common people of the involved areas but what I really can’t understand is how these governments, with all their political analysts, can’t see such evident things like the ones I mentioned. Honestly I can’t help thinking that some economic interests beyond the “call to principles” stand behind the risk of a new contraposition between Western countries and Arab world (Bush and the Iraqi oil-pipes could teach something to us) but I really pray with all my strength that, at least just for once, economic interests may give way to common sense and humanity… at least just for once…
- Italy takes back seat on Syria (thelocal.it)