2ndlook

Islamic World: Last 100 Years

Posted in History, Pax Americana, politics, Propaganda by Anuraag Sanghi on March 9, 2013

Fundamentalist Islam has, apart from the solitary success of increasing enlistment, delivered nothing on political governance, economic growth, social justice, modernization of education or even military preparedness..

August 1953: Scenes from the coup that Iran will not forget.

August 1953: Scenes from the coup that Iran will not forget.

By the middle of the 19th century (1850), decline of Islamic empires was truly and completely real.

Empires Of Islam

After a 1000 years of expansion and dominance, by 1850 just two declining Islamic powers were left to compete on the world’s imperial stage. One was the Mughal Empire that controlled India. An India, that was: -

The other major Islamic Empire was the Ottoman Empire, centered in modern Turkey, that controlled a geography from the borders of Iran to the outskirts of Europe.

From Western Seas

Opposing these Islamic Empires were the Christian colonial Empires of Spain & Portugal, France and Britain.

The first challenge to the Christian colonial Empires came from India – with the Anglo-Indian War of 1857.

Stretching over a period of nearly two years, the alliance was nominally headed by the Mughal Emperor, and the war was mainly between the Marathas and a mercenary army of Indian soldiers, raised and equipped by the British. The war-chests of Maratha-Mughal alliance were puny compared to the British capital – bolstered by huge capital inflows from slave trade, slave plantations of sugar and tobacco, apart from piracy, loot and plunder.

Within two years, the Mughal Empire was over.

Minor Islamic kingdoms of Egypt and Persia ruled at British sufferance. The Ottoman Empire folded up 60 years later.

In 1920.

Street scenes from August 1953 coup in Iran.

Street scenes from August 1953 coup in Iran.

Under Western Thumbs

Nearly a 100-years after the end of the Ottoman Empire, the Islamic world is still ruled by Western puppets.

In Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, Egypt – or a Turkey which is happy being at the periphery of every Western alliance – CENTO, European Union, etc.

Under Nasser or Yasser Arafat, people mobilization was a political movement – the agenda being independence from Western subjugation.

All these movements succumbed to religious obscurantism after the overthrow of Shah Of Iran. Iran’s incendiary mix of religion and anti-American politics found a Sunni resonance in Saudi Arabia with a Wahhabi revival. Pakistan turned from Deobandi to Wahhabi strains of Islam.

Desperate situations call for desperate …

The use of fundamentalist Islam has been successful in increasing citizen enlistment against the West. Apart from the solitary success of increasing enlistment, the Shia-Sunni consensus on fundamentalism has delivered nothing on political governance, economic growth, social justice, modernization of education or even military preparedness. This uni-dimensional agenda of ‘modern’ Islam has many detractors within and outside the Islamic world.

In the last 40-odd years

Recently released classified information and memoirs by retired spies, provide a more complex picture of the CIA, its effectiveness, and its overall power, suggesting that at times Langley was manned not by James Bond clones but by a bunch of keystone cops. My favorite clandestine CIA operation, recounted in Tim Weiner’s Legacy of Ashes, involves its 1994 surveillance of the newly appointed American ambassador to Guatemala, Marilyn McAfee. When the agency bugged her bedroom, it picked up sounds that led agents to conclude that the ambassador was having a lesbian love affair with her secretary. Actually, she was petting her two-year-old black standard poodle.

But the CIA’s history does include efforts to oust unfriendly regimes, to assassinate foreign leaders who didn’t believe that what was good for Washington and Wall Street was good for their people, and to sponsor coups and revolutions. Sometimes the agency succeeded.

Topping the list of those successes—if success is the right word for an operation whose long-term effects were so disastrous—was the August 1953 overthrow of Iran’s elected leader and the installment of the unpopular and authoritarian Shah in his place. Operation Ajax, as it was known, deserves that old cliché: If it didn’t really happen, you’d think that it was a plot imagined by a Hollywood scriptwriter peddling anti-American conspiracies.

Book cover of Ervand Abrahamian's The Coup.

Book cover of Ervand Abrahamian’s The Coup.

Ervand Abrahamian isn’t a Hollywood scriptwriter but a renowned Iranian-American scholar who teaches history at the City University of New York. With The Coup, he has authored a concise yet detailed and somewhat provocative history of the 1953 regime change, which the CIA conducted with the British MI6. If you don’t know anything about the story, The Coup is a good place to start. If you’ve already read a lot about Ajax and the events that led to it, the book still offers new insights into this history-shattering event.

Abrahamian constructed his narrative by analyzing documents in the archives of British Petroleum, the British Foreign Office, and the State Department as well as the memoirs of the main characters in the drama. These characters—British spies and business executives, American diplomats and journalists, Soviet agents, Communist activists, Nazi propagandists, Shiite mullahs, Iranian crime bosses—have double or even triple agendas to advance as they jump from one political bed to another and back, lying, cheating, stealing, and killing. It all makes the CIA-led extraction of the American hostages in Iran, depicted in the film Argo, look kind of, well, boring.

On one side there was Muhammad Mossadeq, the democratically elected prime minister of Iran from 1951 to 1953, a secular, liberal, and nationalist leader who wanted to join the “neutralist” camp that disavowed commitment to either of the superpowers during the Cold War. An aristocratic and eccentric figure who welcomed foreign officials into his house wearing pajamas, Mossadeq introduced many progressive social and economic reforms into the traditionally Shiite society, and sent shock waves across the world when he moved to nationalize Iran’s oil industry, which had been under British control since 1913 through the Anglo-Persian Oil Company.

On the other side there was Kermit “Kim” Roosevelt, Jr., Teddy’s grandson, a legendary spymaster, a self-promoter who dined with major world leaders and business executives but also befriended power-hungry Iranian military generals, corrupt politicians, merchants in the bazzar, and quite a few thugs, who helped him achieve what became Washington’s goal: to remove Mossadeq and his political allies, which included liberals, social democrats, and Communists, from power; to return the oil industry into British hands (with more American presence in Iran’s oil business); and to place reliable pro-western politicians in power.

It seemed to work beautifully. The United States gained a key strategic ally in the Middle East. American companies received a considerable share of Iran’s enormous oil wealth. Other oil-producing Middle Eastern nations got a lesson in what might happen if they nationalized. At a time when the Americans were facing challenges from nationalists such as Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser and were trying to contain the so-called Soviet threat in the Middle East, Our Man in Tehran welcomed American soldiers and investors (and purchased a lot of American weapons). It all looked good until it didn’t.

While the coup did set back the nationalization of the oil resources in the Middle East, the delay ended in the 1970s. In that decade, Abrahamian writes, one country after another—not just radical states such as Libya, Iraq, and Algeria, but conservative monarchies such as Kuwait and Saudi Arabia—“took over their oil resources, and, having learned from the past, took precautions to make sure that their oil companies would not return victorious.”

At the same time, the coup decimated the secular opposition, leaving Shiite clerics as the most viable political force when the Iranian Revolution deposed the Shah in 1979. The pro-American puppet gave way to a radical and anti-American Islamic Republic where the secular and liberal opposition remains weak and leaderless. That, as they say in Langley, is blowback.

The coup also intensified what Abrahamian calls the “intense paranoid style prevalent throughout Iranian politics.” While the Iranian clerics worry that Washington wants to do a rerun of the 1953 regime change, many members of the opposition are counting on that to happen. In Tehran, they still think the CIA makes the world turn around.

via Our Man in Iran – Reason.com.


15 Responses

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  1. skopize said, on March 9, 2013 at 2:45 pm

    “After a 1000 years of expansion and dominance, by 1850 just two declining Islamic powers were left to compete on the world’s imperial stage. One was the Mughal Empire that controlled India.”
    really?
    after the death of aurangazeb,mughal empire ruled only delhi not india

    how could they be competing in worlds stage,after marathas came ,after sacking of delhi by nadir shah and ahmed shah abdali,the rise of sikh state,after the british came

    you really need to take a 2nd LOOK at mughal empire they may have ruled at most 200 years,i.e. from babur in 1526 to about a few years after aurangazebs death. that is they ruled for about approx 200 years.

    please correct me if i am wrong.

    • Anuraag Sanghi said, on March 9, 2013 at 8:02 pm

      Conversely, one could argue that the Mughal hold over their conquests even during Akbar’s reign was tenous and distant. Revolts and rebellions were a constant feature.

      An easy way to resolve this point is that Marathas also accepted the Mughal emperor, as the nominal head of the war effort against the British. If Marathas, the prime Indian military power, accepted Mughal ruler as the head of India, can we dismiss it lightly after 150 years?

      Remember that after the War of 1857, large parts of the Maratha territories remained with the Marathas. While the Marathas were the main combatants, they were also the significant beneficiaries after 1857.

      Earlier, after Buxar, the British negotiated the Diwani of Bengal also from Mughal stamp of authority.

  2. skopize said, on March 10, 2013 at 7:32 am

    “Conversely, one could argue that the Mughal hold over their conquests even during Akbar’s reign was tenous and distant. Revolts and rebellions were a constant feature.”

    agreed,

    but during the latter period of aurangazeb’s rule he virtually had no stable control over the central and southern part of the country.There were the five muslim kingdoms in the central india,the nizam in hyderabad,who were nearly independent of the mughal state.Then there was the 27 years war with the marathas,from which the marathas emerged victorious.this should certainly amount to more than some small time rebellions that were there during the rule of akbar,

    after the death of aurangazeb the situation got much worse with the rise of the sikh misls(notably banda bahadur),and emergence of other regional powers.

    the meek response offered by the great mughals to the invasion of nadir shah show that they were really not that great now.

    as for the marathas aceepting a mughal emperor(bahadur shah zafar) as the leader of the 1857 rebellion,because he was acceptable to muslims and hindus.The leadership of the rebellion was thrust on to him rather being chosen by him.The soldiers in the mutiny army neither listened to him nor to his son who was the commander of the rebel army.

    so sum to sum up the points mughal empire was not able to keep its comparably reduced kingdon together,let alone compete on the worlds imperil stage.

    Other than this i get the essence of the article you have written and quite agree with you.

    Islamic societies are +*#@* still living in 7th century,Imprisoned in the cage called islam.

    admin note:
    Comment edited. Please note that this forum works on self regulation. No personal attacks or invective.

    • Anuraag Sanghi said, on March 10, 2013 at 8:06 am

      Other than this i get the essence of the article you have written and quite agree with you.

      Islamic societies are +*#@* still living in 7th century,Imprisoned in the cage called islam.

      Actually, the point is that the lurch towards fundamentalism is a rather recent phenomenon of the last 40 years. For 80 years prior to that Indian Islam especially was moving towards moderation and ‘modernism’.

      Between the oil boom in the West Asia and the overthrow of the US-puppet Shah of Iran we see the trigger for fundamentalist Islam. These to my mind are standout events.

      Going by events in the US, we may see a rise of Christian fundamentalism in the US. These pendulum swings are Desert Bloc markers.

      • JS said, on March 19, 2013 at 3:44 am

        Actually, the point is that the lurch towards fundamentalism is a rather recent phenomenon of the last 40 years. For 80 years prior to that Indian Islam especially was moving towards moderation and ‘modernism’.

        I would disagree here, I would say that muslims in the Indian subcontinent were forcibly converted ones and were again returning to Hinduism with the downfall of muslim fanaticism. Then the britards propped up the muslim league and the muslims got a new identity to latch to. Needless to say, the myth of muslim oppression by Hindus and Sikhs was a propoganda created and propogated by britards and their cronies in the muslim league to create this fear of Hindus and Sikhs and carve a separate land for themselves, so that they can live happily in their private “jummah :D”. We all can see how muslims are prospering and progressing all around us in afganisthan,pakistan, bangladesh, malaysia, myanmar and so on… it was the stupidest thing to allow the carving of islamic countries and now that the country is becoming powerful again, attempts should be made to re-integrate these wastelands back to it’s parent country. islam is peaceful only in name and we don’t have to dig much deep to find evidences, aurangzeb’s genocide of non-muslims, 1947 massacre are well known incidents that occured before any jihadi groups were popular or powerful. You are mistakenly ignoring that west and islamics are separate entities, they are not. islamics are just tools that were propped up by britards in the 1900s-1950s in the M.E followed by US policies to support islamics which has led us to the place we are at. Let’s not forget the affinity britards and amreeks had to pakistan in the 1960s and the excessive support that was shown to them in 1965. Ditto with the chinese. It’s basically islamics being backed by westerners to clear ground for christian invansion and looting oil and resources. Keep the islamic savages fighting with each other while they can loot oil and resources for low cost. Saudi arabian and most ME oil is basically US owned with saudis and others acting as gatekeepers and getting their yearly tips for protecting american resources.

  3. skopize said, on March 10, 2013 at 7:36 am

    I am new to your blog,i admire your work,but could due write about the wars between the early arab conqueres and hindu kingdoms, and the history of the hindu afghan empire and the history of that region during that time period

  4. osudrania said, on March 11, 2013 at 6:29 am

    “Between the oil boom in the West Asia and the overthrow of the US-puppet Shah of Iran we see the trigger for fundamentalist Islam. These to my mind are standout events.

    Going by events in the US, we may see a rise of Christian fundamentalism in the US. These pendulum swings are Desert Bloc markers.”

    I fully agree with your article text, which is centred round the Iranian revolution and US CIA role alongwith their western allies.

    I have copypasted an extract from your last comment to extend the discussion a little further. I am not sure, how do you define the fundamentalist Islam in modern terms? I personally feel that Islam by and large has always been fundamentalist ab initio. Perhaps two things kept it aloof from general perception, to my mind.

    One that in those days, the means of communication were (knowing the events as opposed to transportation) very limited. Thus the spread of information was very limited. Secondly the Islamic rulers have been very violent and people were scared to come out openly especially in South East Asia region dominated by Hindus mainly.

    If one goes by the Islamic history in then Arab land (Cannan), Prophet Mohammad himself fought battles in his own life time and he led those battles himself. He massacred people who opposed his marches. Enslaved women and children of his captives and forcibly converted them to Islam.

    Soon after his death, fights erupted between his successor Ali and Prophets cousin, which has kept the Muslim society plagued with internecine fights between Shia and Sunni groups. Thus fundamentalism in Islam is nothing new but as you explain, has taken a worst turn at global level. It is here that role of the post WW II super powers is starkly evident, in aggressiveness in the current Islam as defined by you in your article nicely.

    Islamic nations have the maximum oil wealth yet they are the poorest societies in all other respects except the fundamentalist extremism to kill, plunder, maim, rape, pedophilia etc. I have a faint idea, if I am not wrong that there is a realisation in Muslims about it but the large majority is suppressed by the miniscule minority aggressors. This is what is unfortunate.

    • Anuraag Sanghi said, on March 11, 2013 at 2:54 pm

      All these movements succumbed to religious obscurantism after the overthrow of Shah Of Iran.

      Maybe if you read the post linked in the above extract, you will know where I am coming from.

    • JS said, on March 19, 2013 at 4:10 am

      I have a faint idea, if I am not wrong that there is a realisation in Muslims about it but the large majority is suppressed by the miniscule minority aggressors. This is what is unfortunate.

      To be honest I don’t think there is a distinction between “moderate musims” and “extremists”. The difference is whether a muslim projects his/her religion aggressively or waits for a good time to come.

      I haven’t really seen moderate musims who would see through the stupidity of islam and try to rectify it, they instead choose to ignore what is wrong with their culture and ultimately support the very same minority extremists that you are talking about. Take the hijab wearing girls in west and India for example, who forces them to wear these curtains in a non-islamic society? would it be correct to say that every muslim girl has strict parents who force her to abide by sharia rules? why don’t we see support for victims of terrorism of non-muslim religion being supported by islamic communities? Why don’t we have muslim anchors and news reporters questioning the stupidity of islam and “exposing islam”? Why do muslims insist on people misunderstanding islam instead of just looking into islamic relics for once? The answer lies in “power” and “privilege”.

      Jihadis and terrorist outfits give muslims power that they cannot have without such groups, could a 7th century society be able to influence anyone or any country in 21st century? I don’t think so, most muslims are radicalized and fully believe in creating a sharia prone world, given that 99% of those who follow islam want to see it rule the world, the distinction between “moderates” and “extremists” is only for the consumption of outsiders, sickulars and liberals who believe in such crap.

      It doesn’t matter whether moderates support terrorism or not, the point is, they do nothing to oppose it, which means they passively support the radical islamic groups. You can also see similar parallels between the white race and it’s apologetics who act as moderates in an attempt to create a picture that racism isn’t real anymore. Basically things like white supremacist ideologies, islamic ideologies give these communities power and privilege that is straight up denied to others and when other insist on having a fair chance/ leveled ground to get an equal start these communities get really angry and develop a victim complex where every small change is seen as a major disaster and an attempt to persecute their race/religion. That’s the main reason why some whites talk about thing like reverse racism where they can feel their privilege been taken away and that upsets them.

  5. Manu said, on March 12, 2013 at 5:17 am

    Interesting conversation with an Iranian(ex) techie here in Australia. He was the project lead(IT operations) for the Iran-Pak-India gas pipeline. 5 years ago when ahmadinejad came to power. He was called back for interview with the gov human resource department. The questions asked were how many times he prays , who is his imam.. what mosque he goes to etc. Based on his answer he was demoted and a more ‘Religious’ man was appointed his boss (In his own words). He says many talented techies moved out of Iran during that period. There is definitely a disconnect between the masses of these countries and governing bodies.

    • JS said, on March 19, 2013 at 4:18 am

      that’s not the only thing, a strict watch is kept on whether islamic practices are being followed, literature are filtered to allow only iranian version of islamic narrations. Recently all Buddhist artifacts were revoked by the police to preserve the islamic culture…. its funny that muslims cry about having the right to follow shariah in other countries while their pure muslim countries deny even basic human rights to an average non-muslim

  6. Suren (@surenc1974) said, on April 22, 2013 at 3:03 pm

    My thoughts:
    – The first outward expansion of Islam was through the Caliphate, a phenomenon almost exclusively Arab in nature. It started with the Umayyads in the 6th Century and was carried on by Abbasids until the 13th Century
    – This expansion was more Arab than anything that succeeded it. This resulted in the complete Arabization of their territories and creation of the core Arab homeland
    – In Europe, they were overthrown by the Reconquista and in Central Asia by the various Turkic tribes – Turk, Mongol
    – The great Islamic empires – Ottoman and Moghul were more Turkic than Islamic in nature
    – In fact, the core Arab lands were under Ottoman domination, which makes their colonization way older than the advent of European empires
    – Post WWII, the major Muslim nations are actually re-asserting their Arab identity and actually taking up the project of Arabization from where it was interrupted – note that major Arab leaders after WWII were Baathist – i.e., Arab nationalist
    – Iran has been an exception to this rule, where the identity has been sought in a Shia, Iranian nationalist identity
    – Turkey’s elite has aspired to inheriting the older Hellenic tradition and becoming integrated with Europe, at odds with the people
    – The current Turkish leadership is more in keeping with the majority’s aspiration – of a Islamic, but uniquely Turk identity/


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