Battle of Algiers: Decolonising the Imperial Elephant in the Room.

“This whole world is a corn field son, look out for flying locusts….” Dead Prez, Psychology

Having attended an event organised by the “Decolonising our Minds Society” commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the film ‘The Battle of Algiers’ subtitled, “Decolonisation and the War on Terror” held on the 14th February at London’s SOAS Brunei Gallery one is compelled to comment on a glaring omission. The film is based on the revolutionary Algerian struggle against French imperialism and depicts the torture meted out to freedom fighters by the colonialists. Dr. Sohail Daulatzai, the main speaker, has written a book commemorating the anniversary of the film.

Parallels and similarities were made between the torture administered by French imperialists to Algerians fighting for their freedom and Muslims in today’s ‘War on Terror’.  No doubt there is and both are morally inexcusable. However, there was a glaring difference or omission that was either not explored or deliberately overlooked: the reason why the ‘War on Terror’ was launched by the United States.

Obviously, we need first to establish how the Algerian revolt came about. French imperialism had been ruling Algeria for over 130 years. One of the speakers, Continue reading

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Trump regurgitates British myths in his Saudi Conference speech.

Anyone with half a brain cell knows that Saudi Arabia shares the same ideology as ISIS and al-Qaeda. Anyone knows that only last year candidate Donald Trump rightly condemned Hilary Clinton’s proximity to the Saudi Arabian ruling clan while at the same time supposedly being a champion of women’s rights. Yet here he was in the capital of jihadism on his visit abroad as President lecturing Muslims on the need to combat extremism in a land were public floggings and executions are a norm. Where campaigners for freedom of speech are met, if they’re lucky, with prison sentences.

But for a moment let’s put aside Trump’s brass-necked and sickening hypocrisy. Early in his speech he regurgitated this myth about the founding of the Kingdom that demands unpacking:

“King Abdulaziz, the founder of the Kingdom who united your great people. Working alongside another beloved leader — American President Franklin Roosevelt — King Abdulaziz began the enduring partnership between our two countries.”

Firstly, the notion that AbdulAziz ‘founded’ the Kingdom is mythic nonsense. The British actually founded the Kingdom and AbdulAziz was merely their puppet. When AbdulAziz expanded into the Ha’il region (in the north) it was because the British drove him there because the then rulers, the Rashidis, rejected the British Empire’s advances to be another puppet. The British even sent in reinforcements for AbdulAziz to capture the region. Continue reading

Fluid Alliances: War on Terror, Yesterday and Today

Within a month of al-Qaeda’s terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11th 2001, a so-called ‘War on Terror’ was declared to combat the source of this outrage. Invasions and occupations of Afghanistan (2001) and Iraq (2003) were promptly executed because the rulers of these countries were considered to be providing support to terrorism.

In the case of Afghanistan, it was obvious the Taliban rulers were providing a refuge for the al-Qaeda leader, bin Laden, and arguably making itself complicit in the attacks on the United States. Whereas Iraq was a supposedly rogue state which potentially could enter an alliance with terrorists like al-Qaeda and supply them with its alleged supply, of what transpired to be, its phantom weapons of destruction.

The United States-British invasion of Iraq in 2003 based on bogus arguments eventually destroyed the Iraqi state, killed hundreds of thousands, created millions of refugees and led to a proliferation of Islamist terrorism. Only nuclear war could have created a better Armageddon. Under the pretext of fighting al-Qaeda and its supporters, the decisions taken by George Bush and Tony Blair within the first two years of the ‘War on Terror’ led to more manifestations of Islamist extremism of the al-Qaeda variety, the most recent being ISIS.

Fast-forward fourteen years and the ‘War on Terror’ has dumbfoundingly been turned on its head. Continue reading

The Myth of Bitter Lake: Did the British Empire foist Saudi Arabia on the United States?

Founding political myths provide reassuring points of reference but they do not provide the full, or even, real reason on why major historical moments occurred. As is popularly known the American Revolution was triggered specifically by the Boston Tea Party in defiance of the British Parliament’s Tea Act of 1773. Yet in a recent article in the New York Review of Books, historian Professor Steve Pincus argues it was a series of economic policies, enforced by the British parliament from the 1760’s onwards that made no small contribution to the colonialist’s rebellion against King George’s tyranny.

Recently in the United Kingdom a commemoration was held to mark hundred years since the Gallipoli expedition during World War One. The British Empire had intended to defeat the Ottoman Empire’s forces by sailing through the straits Continue reading

Was Malcolm X a political Islamist?

The only way we can assess if Malcolm X became an Islamist or his political trajectory was heading towards that direction is to unpack what he said or did not say after his split with Elijah Muhammad’s ‘Nation of Islam’ (NOI). It goes without saying that for as long as he was a member of the NOI he was the leading advocate of its distinctive cultural, social, economic and political theology and/or ideology.

First of all what do we mean by Islamism and/or radical political Islam? According to the scholar Oliver Roy in a study for the United Nations, Islamism “is the brand of modern political Islamic fundamentalism which claims to recreate a true Islamic society, not simply by imposing sharia, or Islamic law, but by first establishing an Islamic state through political action.” Earlier in the study he had unpacked and defined ‘fundamentalism’ as “a call for the return of all Muslims to the true tenets of Islam (or what is perceived as such): this trend is usually called “salafism” (“the path of the ancestors”).” Individuals who uphold this ideology are referred to as Islamists of one variety or another.

Split with NOI

Malcolm X’s split with the NOI began with a suspension for ninety days following his now famous comment, “chickens coming home to roost” with regard to the  assassination of President Kennedy on the 2nd December 1963.[1] The NOI hierarchy had previously sent out instructions Continue reading