A TRAP? [Archives:2001/39/Viewpoint]

September 24 2001

The retaliation plan that is opposed by the Yemeni public and the majority of Muslims worldwide could be potentially dangerous for the USA. If not well calculated, with retaliation, the USA could possibly lose a lot in the coming war, of which Afghanistan will be a major part.
The Europeans seem to have some sense of understanding of the dangers that lie ahead and that could rise from excessive use of force against a Muslim nation. A prominent EU leader recently said to Al-Jazeerah Satellite Channel, “We are not aware of what the USA is planning in terms of military action. However, we are surely aware that we should not in any way participate in a war that could be understood to be against Islam. Our war is against terrorism and terrorists only. Many of our allies are Islamic and Arab countries.”
Hence, the Europeans realize that it is not wise to wage a war that could potentially be understood to be against Islam. Yes, Arabs, including Yemenis, agreed on fighting terrorism in all its forms. But they assert time after time that terrorism doesn’t exist only in Arab and Islamic countries. There are terrorist organizations all over the world, some religious and some not, some waged by states (such as Israeli terrorism), some by groups. Why should the war only be targeted against Islamic or Arab countries? There are groups in Columbia, groups in Asia, and groups within the USA as well. Arabs are concerned that the words of US President Bush regarding the ‘Crusade War’ have touched the issue of religion more than anything else!
Hence, the retaliation could indeed be a trap for President Bush because of three negative consequences that could emerge from this war. One is the possible defeat in the war, i.e., if the USA fails to bring Osama bin Laden to justice, which if even considered alone could be a nightmare for the USA and its intelligent offices. The second is the possible negative reactions of Arab and Islamic countries to the war because of pressure exerted by the public, which could understand that this war is only a war against Islam. This could force some leaders to divert from their supporting tone to the USA and possibly come against it. The third, and which is also a severe consequence, is the possible killing of innocent civilians leading to mass immigrations that could become a humanitarian disaster. The third consequence will have great influence on the third world countries, which will feel that the USA is using its might to destroy and punish the civilians of the weakest countries of the world. This image of the USA could reflect itself unintentionally in an evil manner. Not only could the USA be the enemy of the developing world, but equally, Osama bin Laden could rise to be the hero of the third world.
Even though the ultimate decision to go on with using excessive force is the USA’s decision, yet it is always helpful to realize the possible consequence of any actions taken before it is too late. In other words, it is clever to study the circumstances carefully and understand whether tushing into a trap that it is unaware of.