November 10th, 2009 23:00 EST
A Clear Sign Al Qaeda is Losing Influence Among Muslims
In an admirable model of breakthrough journalism CNN today recasts the West`s conflict with militant Islam in a way that challenges our assumptions and points to a new dispensation.
Nic Robertson and Paul Cruickshank report that out of a notorious Libyan prison a new jihadist code has emerged that renounces Al Qaeda`s tactics, reinstating Islam`s more traditional refusal to wage war on innocents.
A 417-page document called Corrective Studies asserts that the true mission of jihadis is to expel non-Muslims from Afghanistan, Iraq and Palestine but not to attack the West.
The code emerges at a time when Iran is projecting Shi`ite influence into Yemen, eliciting warnings from Sunni clerics in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere that expansionist Shi`ism is a greater threat to Islam than Christians and Jews.
I`ve been a bitter critic of CNN, ignoring Fox, which I regard as a propaganda machine and unworthy of critique, and MSNBC, which I regard as Fox`s shadow cabinet. But the Robertson-Cruickshank report is enterprise journalism at its best, and it will be interesting to see what print and broadcast competitors do with it. Will they go on yammering about 40,000 more troops in Afghanistan and a general shilling for chicken hawks? Or will they recognize the CNN report for the lever for change that it is?
While the reporters obviously understand the importance of their scoop, I`m not sure CNN`s editors do. The story appeared briefly on the CNN web site earlier today as a priority, but by evening it had disappeared from the editors` list of top stories. When it comes to Islam this happens routinely; the big picture is assiduously drowned in the daily news stream. This is a story that should be developed, its nuances explored. What could be more important to East-West relationships than a serious re-examination of the meaning of jihad?
The Libyan code lays down the gauntlet to the West. Are we in Iraq and Afghanistan to protect ourselves or are we there in pursuit of neo-colonial ambitions? Are we there to defend ourselves or to feed our military-industrial machine?
In Iraq and Afghanistan the issue is simpler than in Palestine and Israel, as usual. We have again and again backed off our opposition to Israeli expansionism, and again and again Israel has been encouraged to remain intransigent and to build more settlements rather than seek an accommodation with the Arabs.
Our support of Israel`s refusal to return to her 1967 borders is the underlying cause of rising Muslim militancy, because in Muslim eyes Israel is the puppet state of Crusaders, just as they perceived the Kingdom of Jerusalem.
So what do we want? Accommodation with Islam or colonial war slathered over with slogans about national security and democracy? The choice is becoming clear and stark. Is Islam the enemy or is Al Qaeda? Do we want job-creating war, opium-creating poppy fields and convenient and cheap distractions from our challenges at home, or do we want a common-sense path out of confrontation?
Will our policy be made by Sen Joseph Lieberman, Israel`s senator in Washington, and the Israel and defense lobbies, or will it be made by courageous politicians eager to build a diverse and socially just economy?
We have another model to consider: a lone Republican congressman from New Orleans, Joseph Cao, who bravely voted for health care reform simply because he has so many poor constituents who need affordable care. He put his own interests and his party`s ideology aside to do what he thought best for the people who sent him to Washington.
Let me propose a test of whether we have an independent press or a servile slavey of our Wall Street-Washington elite. If this story and its ramifications are not explored on tomorrow`s front pages and in tomorrow`s television and radio shows you can pretty well bet the ranch that it`s business as usual, which means giving the rest of us the business. Why? Because anyone who knows anything about Islam and the Arab world knows this development is far more significant than the next day`s news out of Baghdad or Kabul.
Djelloul (jeh-lool) Marbrook was born in 1934 in Algiers to a Bedouin father and an American painter. He grew up in Brooklyn, West Islip and Manhattan, New York, where he attended Dwight Preparatory School and Columbia. He then served in the U.S. Navy.
The pioneering Online Originals (U.K.), the only online publisher to receive a Booker nomination, published his novella, Alice Miller`s Room, in 1999. Recent fiction appeared in Prima Materia (Woodstock, NY), vols. I and IV, and Breakfast All Day (London, U.K.).In his younger days his poetry was published in literary journals including Solstice (England) and Beyond Baroque and Phantasm (California). Recent poems appear in Arabesques Literary and Cultural Review (www.arabesquespress.org), Perpetua Mobile (Baltimore), and Attic (Baltimore). He is the English language editor of Arabesques Literary and Cultural Journal (www.arabesquespress.org).
He worked as a reporter for The Providence Journal and as an editor for The Elmira (NY) Star-Gazette, The Baltimore Sun, The Winston-Salem Journal & Sentinel and The Washington Star. Later he worked as executive editor of four small dailies in northeast Ohio and two medium-size dailies in northern New Jersey.