Τετάρτη 28 Αυγούστου 2013

The Battle of Yarmuk, then and now

Nikos Biniaris

The month of August is, according to the history of the Arab nation, the turning point in its history. It is the month of the battle on the area of the river Yarmuk tributary of Jordan River between the Imperial Byzantine army and the Arabs from the Peninsula who had very recently become Moslems. The year is 636 BCE or the 14th of Hegira. The forays against Syria had started when Prophet Mohamed was still alive but continued after his death and succession by Abu Bakr the first of the elected four Caliphs. Syria as well as Palestine, Egypt and North Africa at that time were part of the Byzantine Empire which has just come victorious out of a life and death struggle with Imperial Persia. The city states of ancient Hellas were at war with Imperial Persia since 490 BCE. Alexander the Great finally took over the Persian Imperium and due to his sudden death various Hellenistic kingdoms were established, all of which later on became Roman provinces. The split of the Roman Empire to Eastern and Western resulted in the Eastern Roman Empire-Byzantium founded 325 ADE by Constantine the Great. Since then, Rome was sacked several times by Germanic tribes, and Byzantium itself was under constant attacks by consecutive waves of Slavs, Avars, Turkish tribes, Bulgarians, Petzenegs, and a host of migrating Asiatic people to the Balkans. The war between Byzantium and Persia ended in 628 and a year later the Persian army withdrew from Egypt. In 630 Emperor Heraclius entered Jerusalem restoring the true Cross and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.
As Heraclius was going to Jerusalem he had four problems in his mind: the rebuilding of the ruined holy places which involved raising money out of a destroyed economy, the Christological disputes of the Church, the Jewish problem in Syria and Palestine, and the arrangements for the Patriarchate of Jerusalem. He would solve none of these. In the small city of Mutah, just a year ago, a foray of Arabs was repulsed. It was an insignificant event one amongst the many in the area.
“…but actually was the first gun in a struggle not to cease until the proud Byzantine capital had fallen (1453) to the latest champions of Islam and the name of Muhammad substituted for that of Christ on the walls of the most magnificent Cathedral of Christendom, St. Sophia.”[1]
The economic reconstruction of the Empire after the loss particularly of Egypt was addressed much later by a lesser Byzantium. All the same modern West after its long wars and profligacy is in dire economic condition. The Christological dispute: the problem of Christ’s nature and the subsequent heresies (?): (Arians, Nestorians, Eutychians) was never resolved since it couldn’t by definition receive a coherent non-contradictory ontological answer. Today, this dispute is as if it never existed. Christendom is back to its paganist tradition: the idolatry of the flesh.  The Jewish problem at the time of Heraclitus; massacres between Jews and Christians due to the presence of the Persians in the area was left to the Arabs to settle. Today the same problem is still present in the same area and with the same ideological vehemence. The Jews actually were always present in the area. Now they have a state. As for the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, after the Holy City capitulated to Caliph Omar Byzantium had no much to say about it. Today the Hellenic Orthodox Patriarchate is just an entity that struggles to survive amongst the Israeli state and a sea of Moslems.  
The two Empires the Persian East and the Byzantine West were totally exhausted, economically, militarily and in terms of internal administrative structure. They were both trying to recuperate. The Arab onslaught which befell on both totally destroyed the Persian Imperial entity and forced the Byzantine to retrench to Anatolia, the Balkans and the Black Sea area. Byzantium survived due to its geostrategic positioning, a population which was distinctively Hellenized and Christian and because the structures of the remaining parts of the Imperial rule were well accepted institutions by the people.
The battle was fought in a terrain suitable to the Arab invaders. The Byzantine army was assembled in the spring of 636 by Armenian, Hellenic, Christian Arab, the Ghassanid tribe, and perhaps some Persian troops. The generals were Hellenes, Armenians, the Arab Ghassanid king, and the Persian Niketas.  “The battle’s final decisive combat took place on August 20th but it was a battle not of this one day but possibly of month and a half duration.”[2] The armies were trying to outflank but also to bribe generals and tribes away from their alliances. The actual number of troops from either side was no more than 20,000 far away from the reported numbers by historians of the later period as 200,000 from the Byzantine side and 3,000-20,000 from the Arab one. The Arabs had also several leaders but it was Khalid-ibn-al-Walid whose star rose to become one of the greatest generals in history. What was quite remarkable was that after the Byzantines retreated many surrendered to the Arabs. However the victors instead of taking them as hostages for ransom, which was the usual practice at the time, slaughtered them. This indicates the resolution of the invaders to pursue their policy of conquest by eliminating enemy forces for any future engagement: “the Byzantine troops caught unaware…gave way under the impact and were massacred almost to a man.”[3]
When the outcome of the battle was communicated to Heraclius who had set his base in Antioch he immediately ordered a retreat to the Taurus Mountains exclaiming as tradition has it: “Syria, what a beautiful country I leave to my enemy.”
The historians and chronicle writers of this historical event come from Hellenic sources: Theophanes, Nikephorus, Armenians: Sabeos, and Arabs: Al-Baladhuri, al Tabari and several others. There are serious problems for the historian to reach an accurate description of the events for the histories were written two centuries after the events. The histories are based on traditions and actually one writer draws some material from the other without critical study. On the other hand Professor David Woods has argued that there has never been a battle at the river Yarmuk but rather that the Byzantine army was annihilated before the battle by bubonic plague in 637 at Gabatha near Emmaus.[4]
The legacy of the battle
The present day references of the name Yarmuk is the Jamaat Yarmuk, a jihadist organization of the Kabardino-Balkaria province in North Caucasus which threatens with terrorist acts the Winter Olympics of Russia. Also we read this name in the fierce battles at the Yarmuk Palestinian refugee camps in Syria which is strategically located to the southern corridor for the control of Damascus. Finally, Yarmuk is referred in a multitude of articles, books, studies and movies about the battle in Arabic and Muslim media and blogs. The battle for today’s Islam is still a historical event of emotional symbolism and inspiring visions for Islam’s triumph over its enemies.
The names, locations and people involved in the ongoing conflicts force our imagination to draw parallels and even make tentative predictions about the future. What is striking is that the ongoing battle of Yarmuk is Syria for the control of Damascus and the overthrow of Assad involves once again the Persian, or modern Iran. This time the ancient Imperial force is present as part of an ongoing Muslim force engaged in the struggle to redefine the Islamic world. Iran is trying to reassert its presence in its historical sphere of influence, the Mesopotamia and the eastern part of Mediterranean as it was for centuries.
The USA standing for Byzantium is trying to influence the outcome of the conflict through diplomacy, arms procurement for or against combatants. The West’s role in this ongoing clash is described as fraudulent and opportunistic. Actually it can be described by incomprehension and bewilderment.  On the other hand, Iran is well versed in the complexity and nuances of the local alliances, enmities, sects, tribes and nationalities. The West is incapable of understanding the deep roots and historical divides of the area. It is also incapable of understanding the aspirations and the planning of the various factions for the success of their designs. This places the West in the same position as the Byzantines who at that time had no inkling of the Arab drive for conquest. They miscalculated their aspirations and their drive for expansion and even today the traditional cause of all these, the force of the new religious faith, which is professed by Arab historians and by some Western analysts is highly suspect. The Syrian-Arab poet Abu-Tammam born Christian and converted to Islam writes:
“Not for Paradise didst thou the nomad life forsake; Rather, I believe it was yearning after bread and dates.”[5]
Religion is usually a convenient mantle to idealize and obscure other more vital causes for historical events that change the world. The drive of economic advantages and rich booty was a very telling factor of the drive of the ancient Arabs to attack Syria and subsequently Imperial Persia. Today the immense riches from energy sources and fight for transportation routes is another cause for both Western involvement in the area and intra Arab fighting for the allocation of these revenues which leave tens of millions out of the oil wealth.
Even if we look at the religious factor of the old and the new we can detect some analogies. The fervent newly enlightened Muslims of the ancient Arab world fighting with dedication and self-sacrifice for their faith appear to be close to today’s mujahedin who still are inculcated with the vision of a Muslim Paradise. The resurgence of the fanatical and extremist Islam is a reminder of the force emanating from the newly proselytized to a faith that promises eternal salvations and release from the insignificance of a life without meaning or personal fulfillment. This movement, funded and inculcated by Saudi Wahhabism, just one of the interpretations of Orthodox Sunni tradition, is analogous to the ancient spirit of the neophytes of Islam in the early days of its appearance on the scene of the Middle East out of Arabia. The angry messages of defiance and revenge against the Imperial West, which is considered the invader of Muslim lands and a threat to its way of life and holy traditions, are constantly repeated in various forms all over the Muslim world. Lately there was a peaceful demonstration, of all places, in Simferopol, the capital of the Ukrainian Black Sea region of Crimea by Hizb-ut-Tahrir (the Party of Freedom).[6] A woman was carrying a poster: “Stop U.S Imperialism Support a Caliphate”. It seems that the utopia of a Caliphate is also a remedy for the evil American Imperialism. What is a Caliphate? Isn’t it a certain political system which joins together diverse people, races, and ethnicities under a certain administrative structure? There is no difference between the political notion of Imperialism, American, Roman, Chinese, Arab, Persian and the notion of Caliphate.
The battle of Yarmuk created the Umayyad Caliphate in the Middle East and in Cordoba, and also the Abbasid, Fatimid, Mamluk and finally the suspect Caliphate of Constantinople, which was abolished in 1924.[7] All these political entities were by all means imperial. The political legacy of Byzantium and Persia passed on to the Arabs who reproduced an imperioum no different than any other imperium in history. Islam’s worldview that the Caliph is a representative of the Prophet and the defender of the faith is more or less similar to the Byzantine’s view that the Emperor is the defender of the Christian faith and equal to the Apostles (Isapostolos).
The battles fought after 9/11 were an exercise in futility. They have nothing to do with Yarmuk and its accomplishments thereafter: an Arab Imperium as an Islamic state, an Islamic culture and a vibrant civilization. What is trying to reemerge under the rubble of Syria, the bombed souks in Iraq and the maimed children in Afghanistan is at this moment too confusing and dangerous. Shortly after the demise of Byzantium, science, technology, progress, of all sorts, personal freedom and dignity became the guiding principles of our lives: Abrahamites, Hindus, Shamanists and atheists alike live and act according to these new gods’ demands. The ancient battle of Yarmuk is finished, even if some are still trying to refight it with selfimmolation, executions, humiliation of women and denial of education for children. As for the Imperial West, its fate is still a matter of coordination among the leaders of its various factions, something which the Imperial Byzantine army failed to secure. It must also attain an understanding amongst its politicians, intellectuals and economic planners so that it can make peace with itself and come up with some fresh ideas.

[1] Philip K. Hiti: History of the Arabs, McMillan, p. 147
[2] Walter E. Kaegi: Byzantium and the early Islamic conquest, Cambridge, 1992 p. 114
[3] John J. Norwich: Byzantium, the early centuries. Penguin, 1988, p.306
[4] David Woods: Jews, Rats and the Battle of Yarmuk, Symposium at Potenza Italy, 2005
[5] Abu-Tammam: Hamasah p. 795
[6] Al-Arabiya July 29 2013
[7] Hitti: ibid, p.705

Πέμπτη 8 Αυγούστου 2013

Η εμφάνιση του αντιπληθωρισμού στην ελληνική οικονομία.

του Κώστα Μελά

Σύμφωνα με τα στοιχεία της ΕΛΣΤΑΤ  η  ελληνική οικονομία βρίσκεται για πέμπτο συνεχή μήνα, το 2013, σε κατάσταση αντιπληθωρισμού .  Προσοχή πρόκειται για αντιπληθωρισμό (deflation) , δηλαδή για μείωση των τιμών και όχι για αποπληθωρισμό (disinflation) δηλαδή για φθίνοντα ρυθμό πληθωρισμού.  Στην πρώτη περίπτωση οι τιμές μειώνονται ενώ στη δεύτερη αυξάνονται αλλά με μικρότερο ρυθμό σε σχέση με ένα χρονικό επίπεδο το οποίο θεωρείται επίπεδο βάσης.
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Πρόκειται για  αρνητική εξέλιξη η οποία σηματοδοτεί σοβαρούς  κινδύνους για την ελληνική οικονομία.  Οι οικονομολόγοι , σε μια γενική οπτική, θεωρούν ότι ο αντιπληθωρισμός αποτελεί πρόβλημα στην οικονομία διότι  επιβαρύνει τις υφεσιακές καταστάσεις , οδηγεί σε αντιπληθωριστικό φαύλο κύκλο και στις σύγχρονες οικονομίες, οι οποίες λειτουργούν με υψηλό χρέος, αυξάνει την πραγματική αξία του χρέους καθιστώντας δυσκολότερη την αποπληρωμή του. Είναι γνωστό ότι ο αντιπληθωρισμός ανθεί σε οικονομικά περιβάλλοντα «σκληρού νομίσματος».
Στις σύγχρονες οικονομίες  οι οποίες λειτουργούν με υψηλό χρέος  με  συνέπεια να δημιουργούνται τις περισσότερες  φορές πιστωτικές φούσκες  στα στοιχεία του ενεργητικού , ο εξαναγκασμός σε απομόχλευση οδηγεί σε μείωση ή και σε πτώση του δανεισμού των νοικοκυριών και των επιχειρήσεων κάτι που οδηγεί σε μείωση της προσφοράς χρήματος  ή οποία στη συνέχεια αυξάνει καθώς μειώνεται η ζήτηση αγαθών και υπηρεσιών και βεβαίως η εμπιστοσύνη στην οικονομία. Η μείωση της ζήτησης προκαλεί μείωση και των τιμών. Όλες αυτές οι εξελίξεις μετατρέπονται σε αντιπληθωριστική σπείρα όταν οι τιμές των στοιχείων του ενεργητικού πέφτουν κάτω από  το κόστος αναχρηματοδότησης  τους (αντικατάστασης) ή η αποπληρωμή των χρεών αντανακλούν τα προηγούμενα επίπεδα χρεών.  Οι επιχειρήσεις  δεν μπορούν να παράγουν κέρδη όσο χαμηλά και αν θέσουν τις τιμές και συνεπώς οδηγούνται σε πτώχευση. Τα τραπεζικά ιδρύματα βρίσκονται αντιμέτωπα με τη δραματική μείωση των τιμών των στοιχείων του ενεργητικού τους  και αν προχωρήσουν σε πωλήσεις απλά  πιέζουν περισσότερο τις τιμές λόγω υπερπροσφοράς  και χειροτερεύουν την κατάσταση. Η παραγωγή μη αποτελεσματικών δανείων είναι δεδομένη και συμβάλλει αποφασιστικά στη χειροτέρευση της κατάστασης.  
Η παγίδα ρευστότητας αποτελεί κατάσταση η  οποία εμφανίζεται σήμερα σε πολλές οικονομίες  ως συνέπεια του αντιπληθωρισμού  ο οποίος είναι αποτέλεσμα  της ασκούμενης  οικονομικής πολιτικής της   απομόχλευσης.  
Ο αντιπληθωρισμός συνδέεται επίσης με τον κίνδυνο, όταν η προσαρμοσμένη στον κίνδυνο απόδοση των στοιχείων του ενεργητικού γίνεται αρνητική κανείς δεν επιθυμεί να επενδύσει και παρουσιάζεται διακράτηση της ρευστότητας από τα νοικοκυριά, τις επιχειρήσεις και φυσικά το τραπεζικό σύστημα.
Στην ελληνική οικονομία οι λόγοι που την οδήγησαν στον αντιπληθωρισμό είναι γνωστοί και οφείλονται στην ασκούμενη βίαιη πολιτική της δημοσιονομικής  πολιτικής. Όμως αυτό που αξίζει να σημειωθεί είναι ότι οι σημερινοί διαχειριστές της ελληνικής  οικονομίας δεν διαθέτουν σχεδόν κανένα από τα μέσα οικονομικής πολιτικής με τα οποία θα μπορούσε να καταπολεμηθεί ο αντιπληθωρισμός και η ύφεση.
Η νομισματική πολιτική ασκούμενη από την ΕΚΤ με τον  πολύ γνωστό και  συγκεκριμένο τρόπο παρέχει ρευστότητα ικανή μόνο να διατηρηθεί το τραπεζικό σύστημα σε οριακό επίπεδο επιβίωσης και η οικονομία να προσγειωθεί μέχρι του  χαμηλού εκείνου σημείου το οποίο θα προσδιορίζεται από τη δημιουργία πρωτογενών πλεονασμάτων, μέσω δραστικών μειώσεων των δαπανών και αύξησης της φορολογίας,  αδιαφορώντας για την κατάσταση οποιασδήποτε άλλης μακροοικονομικής μεταβλητής.     
Η ασκούμενη δημοσιονομική πολιτική είναι απολύτως συσταλτική και επομένως είναι εκτός παιχνιδιού.
Απομένουν μόνο οι επενδύσεις, οι οποίες όπως δείχνουν τα στοιχεία, ούτε από το χώρο των ιδιωτικοποιήσεων  δεν μπορούν συγκυριακά να προσφέρουν  την πρώτη ύλη για την πολυπόθητη επανεκκίνηση  της οικονομίας . Έχει μεγάλο ενδιαφέρον να δούμε την πορεία των επενδύσεων παγίου κεφαλαίου  μέχρι το τέλος του 2013 και αν η συνεισφορά τους στο ΑΕΠ θα συνάδει με τις προβλέψεις της Τρόικας.
Σύμφωνα με  τις προβλέψεις του ΔΝΤ, της ΕΕ αλλά και του ελληνικού Υπουργείου Οικονομικών   για το έτος 2014 ο αντιπληθωρισμός θα συνεχισθεί (-0,8%) ενώ παράλληλα η μεγέθυνση του ΑΕΠ θα περάσει σε θετικά επίπεδα (+0,6%). Παρότι στην ιστορία ανιχνεύονται περιπτώσεις μη (αρνητικής) συσχέτισης μεταξύ αντιπληθωρισμού και ύφεσης , εντούτοις είναι πολύ δύσκολο σε μια χώρα, όπως στην περίπτωσή μας η Ελλάδα , να περάσει σε θετικούς ρυθμούς μεγέθυνσης της οικονομίας σε συνθήκες αντιπληθωρισμού.
Πάντως είναι εντυπωσιακό το ότι η κυβέρνηση δεν σχολιάζει το γεγονός της ύπαρξης  του αντιπληθωρισμού και χειρότερα ακόμη δεν φαίνεται να την προβληματίζει σε αντίθεση με ότι συμβαίνει σε παγκόσμιο επίπεδο.

Τρίτη 6 Αυγούστου 2013

The quicksand of self-deception

By Nicholas A Biniaris
 Many well-informed and open-minded analysts in Asia Times Online and elsewhere have for several years described the conditions of Islam and of Muslim states. It goes without saying that these individuals had no agenda and were sincerely studying the social and political events triggered by the Iranian Revolution and the first Afghan war.

Up until now no clear sign of a coherent plan can be seen in the actions of the West, China and India, all of whom are willingly orunwillingly involved in this historic drama. To its credit, Russia kept a consistent real-politic attitude to all events happening in the Muslim world.

However, in this article I shall argue that a pattern of action or inaction, (inaction can be a policy also) emerges as what I shall call the West's policy of creative destruction and deception, internalized as self-deception (CDSD).

This pattern is mostly ad-hoc and formed as a sort of a spontaneous outcome of four causal factors: disruption of the West's economic order, fear of terrorism, fear of a nuclear war and finally fear of sectarian war which may spread in Muslim areas but also in West's own home ground. Moreover, Western policies are driven by the advent of democracy, the rule of law and human rights which also include minority rights. These policies intertwine and enmesh with the four pragmatic factors of insecurity and create an incongruous and contradictory set of policies which are at least ineffective and at most self-destructive.

At this juncture of a historical maelstrom in and around Islam, we reached the ludicrous point of naming meat as fish, so that the pious monks could consume the forbidden food during fasting. We cannot name the Egyptian's army coup as a "coup" for various reasons, one being the possible abrogation of the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty. Another reason could be the "meeting of minds" between Washington and the Egyptian Army about Morsi's acts and plans concerning his policies about Syria and Iran.

The view of this author is that the generals are as incompetent as Morsi was. They deposed him as the scapegoat for the looming bankruptcy of the country. Instead they secured a lifeline of US$12 billion from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, which I shall call the untouchables. At the same time Syria's Bashar al-Assad has declared that political Islam is defeated and Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is lamenting the demise of democracy in Egypt. We definitely need an Aristophanes to write an Oscar winning comedy for the foolish West versus the unfathomable developments in the Moslem world.

Turkey, in particular, the model of "moderate" Islamic government was surprised to experience the first full scale attack against neo-Ottomanism. This was an assault on the "disposable idiots", as Burak Bekdil, the influential Turkish journalist, refers to the secularists who repeatedly voted for Erdogan. [1] The premier's holier than thou attitude has enraged the young and educated Turks who perceive that their way of life and choices for the future are diminished by his grand visions of world influence through a Muslim agenda.

Beyond any attempt to lighten up the ambiance of the recent events, what is emerging is a bleak and dangerous future for all. The stable, ironically speaking, the untouchables, are major suppliers of gas and oil worldwide with Saudi Arabia exporting about three million bbl/day to China. For that matter, plus the fact of their investments in Western bourses and corporations and the lavish procurement of weapons from the West, the two pillars of a make-believe stability are untouchables by Western, Chinese and other governments and world media.

Actually, the untouchables are the attested sources of instability and strife. These are the bankers of Islam's extremist views. They propagate and disseminate Salafism and Wahhabism which steer Islam to its most incongruous path with modernity that is science, technology and political and individual rights.

They profess an Islam in direct conflict with freedom and human dignity. In addition, they propagate hatred and intolerance for other Muslim traditions, as the Shi'ites, the Sufis, and the Ahmadiyya of Pakistan supporting a religiously inspired apartheid. Christians are targeted: Copts, Orthodox, Catholics and other denominations. Most of them are abandoning the war torn areas. This is a total abrogation not of Koranic Verses preaching peace but of the West's professed belief in minority rights.

Never before in human history, so few held in captivity so many, with such an obscurant credo and way of life. This unholy alliance of the West and the untouchables is practiced through deception. We deceive ourselves by aligning with the perpetrators of all we consider to be unacceptable: terrorism, bondage, laws of the desert and the tribe, cultural exclusion and intolerance of the other.

Fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan, in Mali, blacklisting Hezbollah, Hamas, and al-Qaeda as terrorist organizations - embargoing Iran - is just deceptions. All these acts deceive the citizens and planners themselves into believing that we fight terrorism and we propagate democracy and human rights.

What the West actually practiced was primarily reactive creative destruction in Afghanistan and Iraq and very lately in Libya. We fought asymmetrical wars, which we were bound to loose anticipating the creative part to emerge in due time if and when societies attain the consciousness of a working democracy according to our standards.

Foreign policy and its implementation has one purpose: to protect its vital interests and safeguard the well-being or the actor. We, and for that matter China and India are faced with the stark reality of a protracted conflict of all against all where the two paragons of stability will be sucked in one way or another. The Untouchables are fighting for their survival paying huge amounts of their easy gained money to support Sunni jihadists, paying for the overthrow of Gaddafi, the Muslim Brotherhood, or the Egyptian Army against the Brotherhood, keeping American bases and mercenary armies for their protection.

Saudi Arabia is paying huge subsidies bribing its idle population, student stipends and social handouts to keep its people quiet and uses a heavy hand against the Shi'ites who sit upon the main oil sources of the kingdom. In the south, Yemen is in total chaos, with secessionist movements and subject to drone attacks against jihadists. This situation is inherently unstable. Tribal affiliations and family alliances rule with Sharia as the legitimization of their rule.

This deceptive stability is threatened by the selfsame jihadists and Taliban (students of the Koran) who are educated and subsidized by the Untouchables. These jihadists hold them hostage to their pathological views about an Islamic Caliphate, a return to the days of the Prophet, an ossified society where girls seeking education are shot and schools (carriers of western ideas) are destroyed. [2] World history is replete with examples of groups of mercenaries or fanatics who were used by states and political systems to defend and support them. The end result was the overturning of the masters by their guards. Whoever has the resolve to fight and die is far ahead in the game of power grabbing. The future of these Satrapies is bleak and so is ours.

What will happen when and if the flow of oil is disrupted by acts of terrorism or by acts of inter-state wars or civil strife in these areas? We have already put in place an embargo for Iranian oil. Iraq is in a "low intensity" civil war with 1000 people blown up only in May this year and most of the fabulous oil riches some 7.5 million bbl/day are still lying in the desert.

If the feared but fully expected -it is a matter of time- upheaval reaches the sands and shores of the sanctum sanctorum of Islamic orthodoxy and the supply of oil, then the West shall be forced to take extreme and painful military and economic measures at a period where its economy is still shaken by the mindless banking collapse of 2008. Europe in particular, with an austerity program and several countries virtually bankrupt, will collapse as a house of cards. The cost of energy, mostly a deficit of current accounts, will skyrocket; industrial production will be cut with millions of unemployed joining the ranks of the already army of millions in Europe's south.

It must become clear that the West and the rest of the rising world powers had not planned to stem or channel the Muslim conundrum to a less self and world-wide destructive path. Preventive diplomacy and intervention, creative destruction and the doctrine of democracy and human rights were applied haphazardly and incoherently.

Human rights and democracy are part of the Western narrative about the telos, the inevitable moral purpose of history. Messiahs and Paradises are the telos of Abrahamic religions. Can the two world views be reconciled? The Western narrative is an advancement of our humanity towards our fellow man. We strive for compassion and solidarity for the victims of inhumanity and humiliation. The three religious traditions profess that they also espouse the same program. Why do we have such a difficulty communicating with each other the same humanistic ideals?

In this context we have reached the point of bitter debate about Syria's civil war. Our option to support the democratically inspired opponents of Assad was blocked by the rise of the Brotherhood, jihadist and the Sunni-Shiite divide. The Syria terrain is a war of all against all, and recently the latest incident is a war between the FSA and the local or the Iraqi Al-Qaeda. At the same time Pakistani Taliban are setting up camps in Syria to fight against Assad and forge ties with local Al-Qaeda. [3]

Turkey feels threatened by this new development. [4] Centuries after the great Ottoman, Arab, and the Mogul Empires, the Muslims should be responsible for their own future.

All the same the issue of a nuclear Iran and the sectarian conflict between Sunnis and Shi'ites brings forth two nightmare scenarios: a nuclear war and a possible nuclear terrorist threat and a war among states. The Saudis can purchase a couple of nuclear bombs from Pakistan or elsewhere as a move against a nuclear Iran, if Israel doesn't act first.

Up to now the turmoil is limited to civil wars and uprisings. However, on May 31 the highly influential Imam Yusuf Al-Qaradawi in a Friday rally in Doha declared that: "anyone who has the ability, who is trained to fight . . . has to go; I call on Muslims to go and support their brothers in Syria". Presently there are 5,000 foreign Mujahedeen in Syria. There were 10000 after ten years of war in Afghanistan.[5]

The heart of the matter is that Syria is becoming the battle ground of Sunni jihadists against the Shiites. The pernicious doctrine of "Shiites are worse than naked women" proclaimed in Egypt's Sura by a Salafist cleric is characteristic of the mentality surrounding the issue. All around the Muslim world. Shiites are blown up in Egypt, Pakistan, in Iraq, in Indonesia, in Yemen.

Concomitant to this is the relationship between Islamic utopian absolutism and the West as they cohabitate the same area, Europe. Recently, an article was written about 1,000 jihadists fighting in Syria from 14 different European countries. The crucial question is what will happen when they return home. The problem of future conduct of people influenced by extreme interpretations of Islam and hatred for the West, people who were born, live and work amongst us is dreadful. [6]

The inertia imposed by stark necessity for oil, the delusional beliefs about the West's invincibility and mastery of the political game world-wide, has produced an inchoate ad hoc policy. The West has painted itself into a corner.

Notes: 1. Hurriyet, April 5 2013
2. Young Malala speaking at the UN. Also, Reuters: July 14, about Boko Haram and terrorism in Nigeria.
3. Reuters: July 14, 2013
4. Zaman: Taliban involvement may further drag Turkey into Syria's quagmire, July 15, 2013
5. Foreign Affairs: How Syria's civil war became a Holy Crusade, July 7, 2013
6. Foreign Policy: "Europe's new time bomb is ticking in Syria", July 9, 2013