Monday, February 06, 2006

Cartoons and Politics

No one would argue against the latent hostility and anger in the Middle East towards the West. Much of the anger justified, it is not surprising that the Denmark incident has sparked protest. However, the scale of violence speaks to homegrown political encouragement, more than it does spontaneity:
"This is an organized attempt to take advantage of Muslim anger for purposes that do not serve the interests of Muslims and Lebanon, but those of others beyond the border," said Lebanese Social Affairs Minister Nayla Mouawad, a Christian, after riots in Beirut yesterday...

The fact that the biggest riots occurred in the Syrian capital and in Beirut also raised questions: Syria has an extensive security network to make sure little happens inside its borders without the approval of the national leadership...

In Iraq, many protests that have not turned violent were organized by radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, who is believed to have ties to Iran.

The Syrian government has tight control of its citizens, little happens without their endorsement. The protests in Syria and Lebanon are state sponsored, or at the least state encouraged, exercises that encouraged violence. Political considerations were at play to intensify and fan the flames. Of course, the anti-west sentiment in many Arab countries is genuine and doesn't require promoting. But, governments and organizations with agendas, can decide whether these protests remain relatively benign or manifest into something more.

The protests in Iraq were primarily fueled by Iranian backed al-Sadr, who has been a flashpoint since the American occupation. Again, genuine anger and hostility is used for political purposes by those with agendas. The goverment's of Syria and Iran have the most at stake with regards to their relationships with the West. Syria has a vested interest in ensuring Lebanon remains unstable, same is true of Iran with regards to Iraq.

The violence has caused a serious wedge between the Muslim world and the West. It may serve as another watershed moment in the movement to a war of culture. What is increasingly disappointing is the way in which people are manipulated to spur division, by those who have narrow political agendas.

No comments: