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Trump: Turning USA into Uncle Sam’s Abomination – Part Two

by Serrano Sianturi

Are Fragile States Farming Terrorism?

The Muslim ban was taken in the name of keeping America safe from the terrorist act by the Muslim extremist. So let’s see whether all or any of the listed countries are harboring terrorist and encouraging terror act around the globe.

The mess in Iraq started when the US took military intervention in 2003. The main concern over such action was not terrorism, but rather on Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD), dictatorship and unpredictability of Sadam Hussein, and democracy or freedom for the people of Iraq. The false intelligence report on WMD during the Bush administration was blamed for the continuing turbulence.

The invasion of Iraq by the US resulted in political conflict between the Sunni and Syiah parties that complicates the effort in establishing a legitimate and stable government. While the conflict continues, an offspring organization of Al Qaeda took the advantage of the dysfunctioning government and established itself as the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) in Anbar province of Iraq in 2006. Their main objectives are to fight against the US (and the Western world), and to eliminate the Syiah Muslims. When the civil war broke out in Syria in 2011, ISI again took the advantage in the absence of functioning government, and established a stronghold in Syria. In 2013, ISI declared itself as Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). From this history, it is obvious that Iraqi government never harbors ISIS; in fact they are in alliance with the US in combating ISIS all along.

Iran has been the nemesis of the US government since Ayatollah Khomeini removed the Shah of Iran from the country. Their firm belief in the Islamic Syariah Law State, opposing view with regards to the US (and Western) thoughts, determination in eliminating Israel as the Jewish Nation State, and their effort in nuclear development, have projected a “terrorist” face to the Western world. Iran’s enemies are not just the West and Israel; being a Syiah Islamic State and aggressively campaigning the Syiah teaching have made Iran the common adversary to the majority of the Sunni Muslims around the world. The closest thing that may be tied to “terrorism” is Iran’s support for the Hezbollah in fighting the Israelis.

In 2011, the people of Libya stood up to the 40 year dictatorship while the NATO-backed rebels overthrew, captured and killed Khadafi. It was a glorious and hopeful moment for both Libyans and most Western countries, but then the transition has failed to establish one stable and functioning government; in fact, it has made Libya plunges into disarray. Armed conlicts and political deadlocks have made Libya dysfunction in all area. Given the facts that some of the rebels are in favor of strict enforcement of the Islamic Syariah Law, and unattended territory due to the chaos, the Islamic State seized the opportunity and proclaimed the city of Derna as one of its quarters. Libya is a potential threat indeed, but it’s not because it harbors terrorism; it is the lawlessness that makes Libya dangerous, not just to the surrounding regions and the world, but first and foremost, to its people.

Like Iraq and Libya, Somalia has also been in a civil war. The power struggle since 1992 among the clan-based warlords has also made Somalia a lawless country. The following UN’s mission in humanitarian relief, and restoration of law and civil governance failed just within three years. The presence of US troops was withdrawn even earlier in 1994, right after gun battles with the militia in Mogadishu.

Such international assistance or “intervention”, depending on how you look at it, was welcome by the Somalian in the beginning, but soon campaigned by Aidid, one of the warlords, as an agenda to convert the Somalian Muslims to Christian. This negative sentiment led to the rejection of any involvement from non-African country.

Although pulling out from Somalia, UN continues its assistance from its relocated office in Kenya. The US intervention also returned in 2007 with emphasis on eliminating Al Qaeda’s elements. The power struggle in Somalia undergoes in two main fronts, among tribes and clans, and between the secular and the Islamist that embeds Al Qaeda operatives. Their distrust of non-African nation apparently cannot serve as a common ground for unity since each tribe or clan shares the animus to each other that exists from the ancient time. Equally divided entities also add to the difficulty in expecting a more sizeable party to lead everyone to unity. Boutros Boutros Ghali, the former UN Secretary General, said that the war in Somalia “is a war of all against all”.

The recent general election in Somalia, took place just a few days ago on February 9, 2017, successfully picked Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, known by his nickname “Farmaajo”, as the new President. Such success raises hope indeed, and it’s worth celebrating, but it will take tremendous efforts and sacrifices by the warring parties to establish a stable and functioning government.

Sudan has been at war within itself since 2011 when South Sudan gained independence. This separation has not made the condition any better. Within two years after its independence, South Sudan already in ethnic-related civil war – a power struggle between the Dinka (led by Slava Kiir) and Nuer (led by Riek Machar) ethnic groups. Involvement of Uganda and Kenya creates even more complications. The degree of violence and killings in Sudan and South Sudan is unimaginable, but harboring or exporting terrorism is something that they don’t have the time for.

The civil war in Syria was triggered by the Arab spring in Tunisia and Egypt, and also by the longstanding dictatorship of Bashar al Assad and his father the late Hafez al Assad. Syria’s prime objectives are to kick out the US from the Middle East, and to eliminate Israel. Like Iran, Syria is also the main supporter of Hezbollah, the Palestinian militia. The warfare in Syria is triangular; it involves Assad regime, opposition militia, and ISIS. As mentioned earlier, Islamic State again took the advantage in the absence of functioning government, and established a stronghold in Syria in 2013. Assad regime does not support ISIS; in fact, his Russian-backed government also battles ISIS, but at the same time, he also commits war crime by killing thousands of civilians, particularly when attacking the opposition.

Yemen is one of the poorest countries in the world, and has also been suffering from internal armed-conflicts since 2011, in addition to food shortage, chronic corruption and high unemployement. The turmoil started as soon as the transition of power from the previous President, Ali Abdullah Saleh, to Hadi, the Vice President. The loyalists to President Saleh basically refuse to go along while the Houthi that consists of Syiah Muslim minority continues and strengthens their rebel movement. President Saleh himself later joined this group in trying to overthrow his successor. This conflict is worsened by Al Qaeda, a separatist as well as terrorist movement. President Hadi was forced to leave the country in 2015.

Anxious by the growing power of the Houthi, and the suspected Iran’s support, Saudi Arabia and other Sunni Arab nations stepped in with military intervention to restore President Hadi’s government. This intervention receives intelligent and logistic assistance from France, US and UK. As anyone could have predicted, the involvement of these foreign countries adds to the complication and degree of conflicts in Yemen.

These seven countries are at wars for sure; distrust, violence and killings are their daily menus, but the presence of Islamic State in Iraq, Syria and Libya, and Al Qaeda in Somalia and Yemen is not state-sponsored. Armed conflicts and dysfunctioning governments are what enable Islamic State and Al Qaeda seizes the opportunity to exist in these countries. Yes there are elements amid the conflicting parties that oppose and reject Western involvement and values, but they are not terrorists. These power-hungry entities can continue their warring as long as they like, but leave the innocent civilians alone. These people are the majority living in the countries, and they face the horror of not knowing whether they will continue living on the next day.

When nations are proven to be incapable or failing in building good governance, the world needs to engage to help out in the name of humanity, not politics! Armed conflicts leave scars and animosity, and reconcilliation is already arduous due to the problematic choices between “injustice” forgiveness and “retaliating” justice for all. Adding power politics into the equation will prolong and escalate the conflicts. Pulling out or leaving these countries alone will cost millions of innocent lives, and it will be the worst human tragedy in our history.

Refugee, Immigrant, and Native American

Not long after the end of World War II, there was a growing concern over individuals subject to persecution in countries they reside. In 1951, the United Nations responded to this shared moral responsibility, and issued the United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. This Convention was immediately followed by the establishment of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to ensure the implementation on refugee protection and solution that cover voluntary repatriation, resettlement in third countries, and local integration. Moral and legal norms are also emphasized on individuals seeking asylum by ensuring that any state cannot deport a person having a well-founded fear of persecution.

To respond to the growing and urgent concern over a person subject to persecution, the United States in 1980 amended the Immigration and Nationality Act by separating the status of refugee from immigrant.  The amendment defines a refugee as any person who is outside his or her country of residence or nationality, or without nationality, and is unable or unwilling to return to, and is unable or unwilling to avail himself or herself of the protection of, that country because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.

Based on these moral and legal grounds, any nation in the world that has capacity to help must engage accordingly in protecting refugee. Closing the door means that we are victimizing human lives.

Immigrant, by legal definition, is anyone who departs from one’s native land and gets settled at another place with the intention to remain permanently. The United States is a nation of immigrants. The flow of immigrants has taken place for more than 200 years. The German immigrants already swarmed the US in the first few decades after the Independence, followed by the Irish in mid 1800s, then the Russian Jews and Italians in the early 1900s, and later the Hispanic and Asians.

Up to the present, the incoming immigrants always raise the anxiety among the earlier immigrants with regards to their existing “comfort zone” on many grounds. They fear that the incoming immigrants will implicate their economic, social, political and cultural lives. This fear, of course, never happens, at least not in the United States.

It’s truly mind boggling that the overwhelming numbers of scientific findings that prove otherwise cannot eradicate this mythical fear. Abundant scientific data has affirmed that immigrants do not undermine anything in the US; in fact, they have enriched American life in every front. Immigrants do not “rob” jobs, most fill in the works that Americans cannot and will not do. Immigrants keep the fresh blood flowing since they keep America demographically productive. Immigrants also keep America the most innovative nation in the world because they bring in new ideas. What’s more, they expand and strengthen America’s international networks that in turn give more weight to the influence of the US to the world. Last, but equally important, immigrants also keep the nation’s culture vibrant, enabling Americans continue to generate incredible cultural creations.

Being the land of immigrants, it is unthinkable that the United States would issue a travel ban, but Trump administration did. Let us view this ban from another perspective, and see how even more ridiculous it is. The US population consists of two main categories. First is the foreign-heritage based immigrants like British American, Chinese American, French American, Japanese American, Mexican American, Russian American, and so on. Second is the Native American. Let’s say that we were Native American, and how would we view this immigration ban? The ban is nothing but an act of (earlier) immigrants rejecting the incoming immigrants, and this is really hilarious. If anyone ever had the right to refuse immigrant, such right should be solely ours. Not only that, we would be the only American who could tell everyone else to get the f#ck out of our land!

Understanding Trump

From personality wise, most of us perhaps are able to draw a basic description of Donald Trump. A megalomania, very thin skin when it comes to critiques, quite allergic to incoming allegation but so easy to allege others, ignorant and/or naive in many issues, unapologetic, exaggerating, etc.

How about understanding his mind, and how he views the world? Well, the following description perhaps would suit the level of our understanding:

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In other words, most of us share a common understanding about Donald Trump: we don’t understand a thing.

Confronting Terrorism

The presence of Islamic State in Iraq, Syria and Libya, and also Al Qaeda in Yemen, are not state-sponsored; in fact, their existence and actions in the area are quite disturbing and horrifying to the people of these countries. The civilians are the ones who suffer from the bitterness and agony of the conflicts; they are the ones who always become the victims. Al Qaeda and Islamic State act in the name of Islam, but terrorism and killing innocent civilians contravene Islamic teaching. So anyone doing terrorism cannot be a part of Islam, thus cannot be a Muslim.

Terrorism by the so-called “Islamic fundamentalist” has its roots in the views of the 13th century Islamic thinker, Ibn Taymiyyah, but it wasn’t until mid 18th century that this idea found its shape in a reform or repurification movement called Wahhabism. This name is taken from its founder and leader, Muhammad Ibn Abd al-Wahhab or Abd al-Wahhab in short. His teaching rejects most of the mainstream Islamic thoughts that have been practiced well over eleven centuries before his presence. This movement also demands a complete obedience upon its own views and rules; there is no room for ijma or consensus that has been one of the virtues of Islam. Those who are not in compliance with their teaching are considered as infidels, and that includes the Muslims.

In 1928, Wahhabism had its biggest impetus in the founding of Ikhwan al-Muslimun in Egypt. This event has been the cornerstone of the militant movements up to this day. Since then, this militant movement has gained a sizable growth; it is estimated that the movement has converted about 15 to 20% of the Muslims into such belief.

What is so ironic about Wahhabism is the fact that its establishment was initiated and assisted by the West, the British government in particular, and yet they claim to be the West’s public enemy number one. Even more incongruous, their terror acts that create instability, distrust, and disunity among Muslims is exactly what the British government intended to achieve in the first place.

The establishment of Al Qaeda had a similar story. It started in the 1980s when a millionaire-volunteer from Saudi Arabia, Usamah bin Ladin, formed Maktab al-Khidamar (MAK), a front organization to help the Mujahidin in Afghanistan to fight the Soviet Union troops. MAK conveyed funding, fighters, and arm supplies into Afghanistan. The organisation was fostered by Inter-services Intelligence (ISI) of Pakistan that was the main funnel of Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in running covert war against Soviet’s occupation in Afghanistan. The US Senate and CIA were quite aware of what the future troubles that MAK will bring, but decision to support was taken anyway since it was considered as the most efffective way to remove the Soviet’s troops at the time.

Terrorism is the enemy of every one of any religion, race, and nationality that actually sum up the majority of people in the world. In simple arithmatic calculation, the overwhelming majority should easily defeat terrorism, but that’s not seems to be the case. The terrorist groups, like it or not, so far have successfully shaped the world’s view that this is war between Islam and the West, while it is actually a war of terrorist against everybody.

How could it be a war between Islam and the West while the largest victims by far are Muslims themselves? The international media tend to focus on terror acts taking place in Western countries as if they were the ones who suffered the most. If this continues, then Muslims around the world shall socialize the other side by using every medium available, from the mainstream media, online media to social media and let the world knows who the true victims are.

The root of the problem does not lie in the two opposing views between Islam and the West, but in the reality of economic injustice, technological dominance, corrupt governance, low trust societies, power-hungry individuals and groups, and lack of cross cultural understanding and respect. This reality exists everywhere, in Muslim countries and the rest, and this condition is the very fabric of the growth of terrorism. Muslims shall be at the forefront in addressing and tackling such matters instead of becoming the victim and believing that this is a war against the West.

Perhaps it is worth reminding that Islam was the beacon of world’s civilizations for hundreds of years in the past, particularly the Islamic caliphate of Cordoba during the Mudejar period between 8th and 14th century Iberia. Such achievement was not gained by warring the others, but by nourishing ideas, innovations, and cooperations in every walk of life. Muslim believes that Islam is “Rahmatan Lil’Alamin” that means Islam is the blessing for the world and all humankind. This is not a given condition; it is an endeavor to forever nurturing and materializing the betterment of humankind as it was proven in the past. It is a sacred responsibility shouldered by the true Muslim.

Part 1

Serrano Sianturi is the Founder and Chairman of Sacred Bridge Foundation.

Artwork: ytinamuh. Mixed media on paper, by Bintang Perkasa.

Serrano Sianturi

Author: Serrano Sianturi

(1960-2019) One of the Founders and former chairman of Sacred Bridge Foundation.

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5 years ago

For the closing statement, i want to add “…and all of us, who inhabit the earth.”

5 years ago

About “Understanding Trump”, you took the words out of my mouth. Hahaha.. Looks like one of the most powerful country made a big mistake.

So far no article point out the “problems” as this one. It seems that Muslims are hurting themselves. So sad.

5 years ago

So, every conflicts starting to interconnect and form a complex reality that blurs us from seeing the truth… we need to escalate our understanding towards this issue.

I agree with this article. We should be helping one another and finding solution for the greater good, instead of farming conflicts. It’s humanity against terrorism!

5 years ago
Reply to  B

Thank you for your comments TriP and B. Indeed, as we have seen in the events that developed after this article was published, things have become very difficult to understand.

A complex world needs a deeper understanding. Otherwise the truth may remain hidden.

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