Operation Allied Force was no doubt a difficult issue for Muslims to tackle. On the one hand, some sort of action had to be taken in order to alleviate the oppression faced by Kosovar Muslims. On the other hand however, allowing NATO to take such action set a precedent in the realm of foreign intervention in the affairs of a sovereign state that left an uneasy feeling in the stomachs of many Muslims. Now that the NATO military campaign is a thing of the past, Muslims have every reason to turn their attention to the ramifications of the precedent.
Incidents such as the U.N. campaign against Iraq, the United States' bombing of Sudan and Afghanistan in 1998 and the United States' bombing of Libya in 1986, are all incidents that point to a trend of unilateral western military activity that has had devastating impact on the Muslim world. And in this day and age of media-driven hysteria over the false perception of a world, Muslim, terrorist threat, Muslims have to wonder who's next on the list of countries to be paid a visit by western weaponry.
The writing is already on the wall. According to a June 22 Agence France Presse (AFP) report, speaking to U.S. forces stationed in Macedonia, U.S. President Bill Clinton said that NATO might be used as a police instrument in other parts of the world. "In Africa or central Europe, we will not allow, only because of differences in ethnic background or religion or racism, people to be attacked. We will stop that," said Clinton.
So the question becomes: Who's next?
Sudan is surely a ripe target. With conjecture swirling about Sudan's ALLEGED involvement in so-called "state sponsored terrorism" and ALLEGED ties to ALLEGED terrorist Osama Bin Laden -- the same allegations that led to an unwarranted bombing of the Al-Shifa pharmaceutical plant in Khartoum in 1998 -- Sudan cannot be too far down the list of countries in which NATO could intervene in the name of justice, however one-sided that justice might be.
In order for Muslims to not be taken by surprise by some sort of intervention, Muslims need to be vigilant concerning the precursor activity that can take place before such militarism actually comes to fruition. For example, Muslims should be aware that on June 15, the United States House of Representatives voted 461-1 (Republican Representative Ron Paul of Texas cast the only "Nay" vote) in support of H. Con. Res. 75, which condemns in the strongest terms, the Sudanese government's ongoing civil war in its southern provinces. In addition to being a gross over-simplification of the situation in Sudan, the resolution uses the same kind of language that preceded the NATO military strike in Yugoslavia; namely terms such as "genocide," "ethnic cleansing," "human rights violations" and "crimes against humanity."
Muslims should also note that according to a June 18 Reuters report, the United States was the only country to not vote to strip the Christian human rights group, Christian Solidarity International, of its accreditation for supporting testimony from Sudan People's Liberation Army leader John Garang at the U.N. Human Rights Commission's annual meeting in March.
These examples might seem, to some, to be merely isolated instances of political maneuvering in various venues. But Muslims need to be cognizant of the fact that military intervention never happens in a vacuum. There are always signs. And Muslims must therefore keep themselves informed of the dialog and discourse taking place about Islam and Muslims in all of these circles and circumstances.
Ali Asadullah is the Editor of iviews.com