Despite weeks of claims in the West that the war in Afghanistan is over, that its main objectives have been achieved and the Taliban decisively defeated, that al-Qaeda is destroyed and a ‘civilized’ government installed in Kabul, hundreds of Afghans are still dying in ongoing US air attacks. Most of these deaths are barely noted or reported in the Western — and therefore the world’s— media. The deaths of about 100 civilians — many of them attending a wedding party — in the village of Niazi Kala in eastern Afghanistan on December 30 followed a familiar pattern, with the Pentagon insisting that it was a military target (in this case an active Taliban camp with a weapons dump). The scale of that tragedy attracted attention, but even more are likely to be dying in numerous smaller atrocities that simply go unnoticed. This reality must not be forgotten as the focus of the West’s ‘war on terrorism’ — read the Islamic movement — moves away from Afghanistan.
Where the West’s war will go next is the question. Washington has denied reports that American aircraft have been supporting the Yemeni government’s operations against tribal Islamic groups, demonstrating the point that the US can be involved without admitting it, provided the targets are movements rather than governments, and the governments of the countries involved cooperate with the US. Such actions can be totally ignored by the media. Whether higher-profile actions against targets such as Iraq, Somalia and Sudan will go ahead remains to be seen, but the war is clearly being fought in other ways, through crackdowns on Islamic movements in places such as Pakistan and Egypt, the increased pressure on jihad groups in Chechnya, Kashmir and Mindanao, for example, and actions against Islamic groups, institutions and activists in Western countries such as the US, Britain and France.
It is notable that the West is not only trampling over all the ‘civilized’ values that it claims to be defending: democracy, human and civil rights, rule of law and the security of individuals from attack or abuse. It is also killing thousands of people directly; causing the death or unimaginable suffering of many more indirectly, by starvation and economic hardship; totally ignoring international law and any kind of moral code or natural justice; demanding that some of the most repressive and dictatorial regimes in the world take even stronger action against dissidents and opposition movements; and introducing procedures and laws against Muslims, both local and foreign, in Western countries that totally ignore their civil rights and which it would denounce vehemently if they were introduced in other countries against Westerners. The fact that the scale of the West’s hypocrisy and criminality can only be expressed in broad, sweeping statements should not obscure the reality of millions of individual personal tragedies, each of which cries out for recognition and justice that will probably never be achieved in this world.
The scale of these latest Western crimes is shocking, indeed overwhelming, even to those familiar with the West’s record. But what we are seeing is only an intensification of the brutal and ruthless strategies that the West has long used to protect its interests and allies whenever necessary. Recording, reporting, condemning and opposing such actions are indeed important, but must not be allowed to distract the Islamic movement from its main task: the establishment of Islamic states and social orders in Muslim countries, and the preparatory work required in order to achieve that goal. Contrary to the easy assumptions of many Muslims, the achievement of these goals is not a simple affair; rather it requires intellectual, social and political groundwork and planning, which need to be maintained despite the wider political circumstances, which are specifically designed to prevent such groundwork from being done and leading to its intended conclusion.
What the Islamic movement must avoid is the situation in which the task of countering the West’s attacks diverts all attention from such work, for this is precisely what the West wants. The Islamic Revolution in Iran showed us what is possible when an Islamic movement succeeds in removing a Western puppet regime and sets about building an Islamic order. What the West is most desperate to avoid is the repetition of that process anywhere else. That must always be the main goal of Islamic movements everywhere, which we must pursue regardless of the fires raging round us.