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Is the war on the west equal to the war on the rest? What can we learn from the anti-Ethiopians war in Saudi Arabia?

By Seife Hailu - Mekelle University
Tigrai Online, November 20, 2013

What explains the recent event of hunting and shielding Ethiopians in Saudi Arabia? Has anyone attempted so far to go beyond expression of emotional feelings on the event (in most cases deep sorrow and resentments) and search for higher level (system-level) analysis of the possible explanations for it? I, myself, have tried a little bit and here is the general sense I made of it. Strictly speaking, I would say, the event gets its explanation from the works of the two giant analysts on world civilizations- Samuel P. Huntington and Johan Galtung.

Samuel P. Huntington (a well-known American professor of political science and international affairs) and Johan Galtung (again a notable Norwegian-American professor of peace studies) are two giant professors whose analyses on world civilizations and predictions on the future of humanity and our world are now, to many, quotable sources and exceptionally quite influential both to the academia and political elites alike (though at times they also appear to be provocative). The purpose of this piece of writing, however, is not to make a visit or review of the works of these famous authors. It is not either to test the validity and generalizability or lack thereof it of their analyses and predications by taking the aforementioned event as a unit of analysis. In both cases, I can only recommend anyone interested to read Galtung’s book on “The fall of the US-empire and then what: US-blossoming or US- fascism?” and Samuel P. Huntington’s book on “Clash of Civilizations…” (because I feel that it is now time to (re-)read and internalize the two giants’ analyses and predications) and then to arrive at one’s own personal judgments. Nor is it also to document and describe/narrate and share readers about the ALPHAS and OMEGAS of the merciless atrocities committed by the Saudians on the Ethiopians and thereby arose one or another form of feeling out of it.

 But it is only (and this is in relation to the issues I would talk about here) to see to what extent and how powerful the thoughts of the two authors’ can explain the events that we are now witnessing here and there in the Middle East like such as acts of terrorism, spring revolution-modeled uprisings in general and the recent “race hunting/cleansing war” like genocidal killings that Ethiopians are facing in Saudi Arabia in particular.

The point I want to make here is, therefore, this. For want of searching a more system/high-level analysis on the explanations that could justify such inhumane acts as the one we all observed in the case of the Ethiopians in Saudi, a close reading and re-reading of the works of the two authors simply merits a lot. And, if one is to follow the authors’ lines of reasoning then there seems to be nothing earthshaking about what is happening to humanities in the Middle East region for the doers think they are doing it under the mindset that they are at war with the west and hence are doing this and that in defense of their civilization. So, by inference what is being done to the Ethiopians in Saudi Arabia is then part and parcel of this pan-Islamic/Arabic (Islamism and Arabism not in their faith and natural dimensions here but only in their politico-economic dimensions) project of liberating the Middle East region (Saudi Arabia being the heart of it) and putting it in to self-ownership and it is generally premised on this fundamental assumption (no matter how fallacious it might sometimes appear) that the west is equal to the rest in civilizational sense and consequently  war on the west is (or must be) equal to war in the rest.

True to this logic then the Middle East (fairly represented by Saudi Arabia) seems to have been recently waging war on what it seems to have understood it as war of race hunting/ethnic cleansing. It deserves to be described as “war” because of three justifications - the extent of the mass killings (excessively wider and deeper), the modalities of the killings (by all means possible) and the nature of the executers (primarily the state machinery). Given this, then, It shouldn’t come out as a surprise if anyone who is closely and keenly following this event of mass/genocidal killings being exceptionally made on Ethiopians in the Middle East is to ask “whether or not we are witnessing pan-Islamism/Arabism (the guiding politico-religious thought of Middle East elites) being redefined to mean struggle against the rest altogether or in short, if the Middle East is equating war on the west/westernization and christianization to war on the rest”. Because it is in this foundational question that the psycho-political explanation to the event could better be found.

On the onset, to elevate the issue to such an extent might seem to simply play an “extrapolation game”. Yet, when one considers that people (because of no other claimed or recorded fault of their own apart from the fact that they don’t belong to  the racial and civic identity of that region) who have long been selling their mental and physical labor to the all rounded development of the Middle East region (note in this case that it is very difficult to imagine such giant petrodollar countries in the middle east where you rarely see investments on human development  had it not been for the migrants’ cheap labor) are being openly and mercilessly slaughtered  day and night in those very lands and by citizens and state machineries alike on one hand and the total silence (save some self-motivated efforts in the social media) given to the event as a response by world giant medias and institutions of human  and democratic rights’ activism, he/she would find that the issue is not a mere “humanitarian issue” on which simple “moral reasoning” is to be made and mourning and moral condemnations” are to be suggested as solutions thereof. The issue rather needs a deeper penetration – one that can show us the bigger picture.  What then is this big picture in the Middle East?  The following points are worth mentioning in this regard.

  1. The rising philosophy of  “Neo-Hitlerianism”  in the Middle East world

We all learnt from history that our world has once terribly experienced what one can call it the philosophy of “Hitlerianism”. This philosophy was Hitler’s brain child and it is primarily about categorizing planet’s humanity and its role in to race-based typologies. According to Hitlerianism thus the world is made up of three basic races; the history/culture creators/makers (the Aryan race/white Germans), the history/culture bearers (generally the western (American and European) and Asian Mogolloides) and the history/culture destroyers (the Jewish). Then, as if it seems that a lesson is drawn from this history the Middle East is now in the process of cultivating a rising psyche-political outlook of a “Neo-Hitlerianism” type.

What might be modified from the orthodox Hitlerianism is probably only that this time the race is dichotomized in to the Arabs and the rest. Yet, the basic philosophy is still intact. So is also the foreign policy orientation and strategies towards each race category. Hitler used to believe that only the Aryan race is a pure race in the world and since this is the only race capable of making world history it must be the master race of the world. For him, the Mogolloides race is only a history bearer one and so as long as it continues to bear the already made history it is harmless to bear it. Yet, he argues that the Jewish race is a history destroyer and so it must be destroyed before it destroys history. It is then widely believed that such foreign policy strategy of Hitler towards the Jewish had eventually led to the genocidal death of about 6 million Jewish people in the WWII period.

The case seems to be not very different from this in the case of the Middle East today. Here, the Arabs seem to have considered themselves as history creators –hence deserving the title of “the master race of the world” whereas the rest are history destroyers and hence they are sooner or later destined to be destroyed. Because of the Middle East’s assumption of “the west equals the rest” the Ethiopians also seem to be designated as history destroyers and hence a race to be destroyed. Unfortunately, there seems to be no culture bearing race for the Middle East civilization. The general understanding is that if there is one it would only be a bearer of the western culture/history. Which history is this then and how is its destruction linked to the Ethiopians? Generally speaking, “Islamism and Arabism” defined in the political economy sense. We all now know that Saudi Arabia is the champion (in terms of financing and coordinating) of pan-Arabic/Islamic radicalism/extremism and even terrorism both within and outside the Middle East (especially the horn of Africa). And, that Ethiopia (a country that Saudi wants to make its headway to) has radicalism/terrorism–phobic citizens who don’t welcome the political economy of Islamization and Arabization in to their land seems to be not to the likening of the Saudians. Added to this is also the story of the ALAHBASH which in the eyes of extremists in the Middle East is considered as anti-thesis to what they call “True Islam”.  So, the understanding is that the Ethiopians are checking the Middle East’s long term journey towards “race purification” from two angles; at home by struggling against extremism and radicalism and in the Middle East by being at least culture/history bearers (the ALAHBASH culture). So, to them, the Ethiopians must be destroyed before they destroyed history/culture in the Middle East (note that this might not be an impossible theorem given that Ethiopian  migrants to the Middle East is almost exponentially increasing and a substantial number of them have established and  begun to own wealth there). It is, therefore, from this angle that the inhumane acts facing Ethiopians in Saudi Arabia are to be philosophically justified. The whole issue is only a manifestation of the deeply entrenching negative psycho-political outlook of the Arabs towards outsiders in the region in general. It is like the anti-Semitism movement that we once had in history.

  1.  The “free Middle East” project and Saudi Arabia’s strategy

The Middle East is now at a time that it is dedicatedly struggling to realize its vision of “free Middle East”. And, for obvious reasons Saudi Arabia is taking a leadership role in this regard. The question is then Freedom from what? Well, following Johan Galtung’s and Samuel Huntington’s analyses and predictions the “freedom” broadly conceived is to be from “westernization and christianization” and also in an extended manner from “civilizations of other sorts” in the rest of the world as well.

So, from this, one can also infer that the Middle East is simply in deeper thought of first making itself free from the project of “Christian (in all its variants) ethos-based westernization of its whole life-politics, economics, social and cultural values and civilizations” and secondly expanding and selling its own civilization and style of life possibly to the rest of the world.  And, the strategies for this are de-secularization, de-Christianization (more generally de-westernization) of the entire life of its people and replace them instead by Islamization and Arabization of the life of the region and possibly also the life of the rest of the world. In a sense, then, it is exactly the same formula that normally comes to the mind of any victim that it is upholding.  First is to struggle by any means possible and secure liberty and then to consolidate one’s self and begin to attack, illiberate or even colonize the enemy (simply to revenge and victimize). This is what happens when there is only a change of place between the victim and the oppressor in a given system. It can thus be inferred that it is this simple thought that is on process in the Middle East. And, the one that is happening on Ethiopians in Saudi Arabia is only a manifestation of it.

In a manner of speaking, it could also be said that what the Saudians are doing on the Ethiopians is an act of re-strategization of their “civilizational war” against the west (or more inclusively the rest). Just to attempt to regain what they seem to have been desperately losing because of their earlier strategies.  What were these earlier strategies? Broadly put, they are two. One is the idea of “civilizing mission” which is emulated from their enemies (the west themselves) and the way it works is (like it did in the west) via assimilationsim and homogenization. To this end, the Middle East and more importantly Saudi has been a welcoming nation especially to emigrants from countries like Ethiopia whom because of their historic (religiously speaking) linkage are considered as fertile grounds for the civilization mission. And, the second is through an attempt of selling the ideals of political Islam and Arab identity together with their petrodollar to those who couldn’t reach them daily-i.e to those who lead their daily lives in the horn Africa region in general and Ethiopia in particular. And the way it was meant to work was to use the so called “Arab spring revolution” in the Middle East as an opportunity to cultivate and articulate citizens’ resentments over governments and then (by recruiting, financing, training and coordinating a network of forces of extremism/radicalism and terrorism) to help mount up pressures on governments, break government-citizens linkage, destabilize nations and finally establish a country and government systems of their likening. Exactly the same strategy as what is in political science known as “George Soros’ strategy”- the strategy of making fun and joy out of toying countries, governments and collapsing economies. How? Well, by employing such concrete action- establish “hidden organizations” in the name of civic organizations; humanitarian organizations …etc, missionize, train, finance, coordinate them, tacitly use them to galvanize mass pressure over duly instituted governments, to create crack down between governments and citizens so that crisis is born out, to enable them to capture state power as puppets and eventually control them to serve the purpose of their creators and financers.

Both the “civilizing mission” and the “George Soros’ styled” strategies thus seem to have not worked well for them-hence the need for re-strategization. This new strategy (broadly conceived) is then meant to work like this. Firstly, create “moral shock” on the part of Ethiopians at home and elsewhere in the world by undertaking such inhumane acts as hunting and shielding Ethiopians in mass (as they are doing it now). Then, this sends a message that the Ethiopian government is failing in this regard and hence is in need of domestic pressure. Then further, galvanize (using all forces possible from within and outside) mass resentments, pressures and protests over the Ethiopian government because the calculation here is that citizens would feel that what is happening to Ethiopians in Saudi is purely and merely an expression of Ethiopian government’s failure. And, finally, work to replicate the so called “Arab spring revolution” in Ethiopia and the horn in general by possibly toppling down the Ethiopian government and installing a government and governance style of their likening instead. It is thus in an attempt to meet such long term grand goal that the Saudians and also others in the Middle East world have suddenly stepped in to an exercise of  “Moral decadence” on  Ethiopians. And, more so since recently.

  1. Saudi’s anti-Ethiopians “war”, Ethiopia’s response and the lessons for future course  

I presume not all of us would necessarily have the same approach of understanding and even tone of feelings on how the Ethiopian government is responding to the event. Initially, I have found myself belonging to those who could blame the Ethiopian government for being less assertive on the matter. In fact there was also a time I posed this question to myself “Why is that the PM of Ethiopia has not at least delivered a press conference on the matter to express his  government’s feeling about, understanding of and stand on the matter to the Ethiopian people and also the international community?”. I felt there could be no serious rationale for him not to do this. The justification that the Ministry of foreign affairs is taking up the issue and is dealing with it well couldn’t suffice in this regard. I also ask “why not the government has arranged even public demonstration at least in our major cities to condemn the event and send message to the world?” I think this could have been done. What it needs is only precaution. Why precaution? Because, normally in demonstrations it is the feelings and emotions that tend to come out more boldly than rationality. So, in this case, there could be a possibility that average Ethiopians would understand (in fact, misunderstand) the inhumane acts of the Saudians on the Ethiopians as if it is one of “Muslims’ war on Habeshas” (which is actually not the case as they are also murdering our Muslim brothers and sisters too). And, consequently, there could be an unnecessary horizontal tension between the Muslims and the Christians in Ethiopia (which is also what those in the Middle East want to see). I then believe that given that all necessary preparations and arrangements are made in this regard undertaking the demonstration could have paid us a lot both diplomatically and politically. 

In any case, the way the Ethiopian government is treating the issue and responding to it also has many commendable points. The government generally seems to be more calm, apolitical and strategic in its way of handling and responding to the event. It is calm because there are no even “wars of words” between governments on the issue. It is apolitical because the focus on the part of Ethiopia seems to be only on facilitating the “safe return” of citizens and not on criminalizing and politically condemning the Saudi government. It is strategic because the future attention of the Ethiopia government seem to be to focus on re-habilitating, re-establishing and re-integrating the returnees in to the development process in their country and thereby to dry up labor force source of Saudi Arabia and Middle East in general from Ethiopia and in the end to put the latter in to the “Not with them, Not without them” dilemma. If this works well then it means that Middle East (especially Saudi) will be paying the price for its acts on Ethiopians now. So, the current inhumane acts being made by the Saudians would eventually turn out to be “blessing in disguise” for them. In contrast, however, I shall argue that the current event is but only a “blessing” for Ethiopians because in the long run “they have nothing to lose except their chains” out of it.

  1. Concluding remarks

As I have argued in some details above, the Middle East (led by Saudi Arabia) should now be understood as a region in fierce “civilizational war” against the west. And, in strategizing this war, the region has fallaciously build this assumption that “the west equals to the rest (i. e all others outside it) and thus war on the west means also war on the rest”. So, as a result, it seems now that the region has already begun its war on the rest from the Ethiopian front by having Saudi Arabia to heavily engage in this war and do the assignment for it. The recent anti-Ethiopians “war” like inhumane act of mass killings in Saudi is thus better to be comprehended from this general system level perspective of analysis. i’e the region is generally now at civilizational war, its end is freeing Middle East and its strategies are many-folds ranging from Civilizing mission (the petrodollar for value assimilation project is worth mentioning here), to George Soros’ strategy to the latest form of “Neo-Hitelerian” styled act of race hunting and cleansing as recently witnessed from the experiences of Ethiopians in Saudi Arabia. So, it simply is the case that the recent event is only a manifestation of the broader project that the Middle East is now heavily engaged in-  i.e “to free the region both from the west and the rest!”. This is what I think we must learn from it.

As to what lessons can be drawn from, I think first and for most the issue is not merely a humanitarian issue and thus our struggle as citizens and government should not be only on grounds of morality. But it should also be understood as a long term political issue that deserves strategic political and diplomatic attentions and interventions. In other words, both the government and the citizenry alike, need to have well-articulated understanding about the long-term visions, projects and strategies of those in the Middle East (primarily Saudi Arabia) when they seriously and massively engage in such acts of “moral decadence” on humanity. Only then, I believe, can we as a nation thus be able to stand together and be able to develop counter-checks and eventually sustainably prevail over future eventualities of this sort from every corner of the world.

Seife Hailu

Mekelle University

Department of Political science and Strategic studies

E-mail: seifehl @yahoo.com