Is there such thing as “oil jihadism” meddling in United States foreign policy?
Comparative analysis can be helpful to answer that. The military coup in Honduras was condemned by politicians around the world. Some of them also reject meddling into Iranian affairs. But the difference between Iran and Honduras is clear.
Iran´s ruling elite is part of an OPEC cartel, exercises influence on the Organization of the Islamic Conference, and has promised many of the powerful multinational companies huge dividends. Tehran´s regime can mobilize the General Assembly of the United Nations and paralyze Western bureaucracies with such global power. The Khomeinist financial-diplomatic web is gigantic.
Honduras’ parliament, supreme court, and military have no religious bloc to incite, no oil to offer, and are facing off with the all-powerful oil cartel of Hugo Chavez and his Iranian allies. Hence, if students and women are brutalized in Iran, assisting them becomes “meddling” in internal affairs, but if a constitutional rift takes place in Honduras, the world’s values and security becomes at risk. It surely looks like the 19th century rather than the once thought post-Soviet democratic order.
There are plenty of other examples that show this inconsistency. The U.S. and the West intervened twice in the former Yugoslavia´s ethnic cleansings in the 1990s, but refrained from intervening in Sudan´s genocides. There has been a relentless effort to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian ethnic conflict but almost none to address the ethnic claims of the Copts of Egypt, the Kabyles in Algeria, or Iran´s ethnic minorities.
In my book “The Confrontation,” I have coined the cartel of oil producing regimes in the region as “oil economic imperialism,” producing what I also defined as “oil jihadism.” In short, this bloc of regimes and organizations acts internationally as a cartel protecting authoritarian elites, including mostly the jihadist regimes (Wahhabis, Khomeinists, Muslim Brotherhood, and exceptionally Baathists). Oil jihadism sets the agenda internationally by pressuring democracies to intervene in some areas but not in others.
The West was pressed to intervene in Bosnia and Kosovo but was denied intervention in southern Sudan and Darfur. The OIC rushes to campaign for the right to hijab in the West but oppose women´s rights in the Muslim world. The hand of oil interests are significantly behind behind this dichotomy. Europeans and Americans should have been on the frontlines of backing the democracy uprising in Iran. But deals over natural gas are among the factors determining why European chanceries hesitate to treat the Ayatollahs as they treated the Apartheid regime in South Africa.
Jihadist and Islamist elites have long ago established themselves as world economic powers and thus took advantage of globalization. Since the oil boycott of 1973, the cartel has been building a formidable powerhouse inside the West and other regions. But this oil jihad stands behind the mass indoctrination of extremism beyond the greater Middle East and West.
Russia must beware of its penetration via the Caucuses and central Asia. India knows all too well it is a target of jihadi terror, as we saw recently in Mumbai. Even China has begun to realize that the radical Islamists are eying the rise of Taliban-like emirate in Xinjiang.
In my book I called for the formation of a counter-jihadism front on the international level to isolate this threat before it leads the world into global tragedies.
Professor Walid Phares is a senior fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies and the author of "the Confrontation: Winning the War against Future jihad." He is now a co-secretary general for the Trans Atlantic Legislative Group on Counter Terrorism. His analysis is found at www.walidphares.com.
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