Muslim World - A golden goose for West
The proposal of Iran to Muslim countries for having a military alliance might sound unrealistic to most, however, the way global politics is shaping it won't be far before we see Islamic nations working together to make it a reality.
"Military alliance of Muslim countries can be created to prevent any attack on the Muslim countries, besides protecting the Palestinian people," a news agency quoted Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi saying it.
The proposal strained my grey matter and consequently stimulated me to carry out research on Muslim nations around the globe. And all I found was that approximately 23 per cent of the world's population is Muslim. According to The Future of the Global Muslim Population by Pew Research Center currently the number of Muslims in the world is around 1.6 billion. Muslims are in majority in 49 countries, they speak about 60 languages and come from diverse ethnic backgrounds.
Looking at these stats through a quantum prism -- where numbers are important-- presents a rosy picture of Muslims at global level. However, a deeper analysis shows the Muslims aren't concentrated in one particular block rather these countries are concentrated in the Middle East, North Africa, Europe, South and East Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa, which actually is not so healthy as far as formulating a military block is concerned. Muslim Arabs constitute about 25 percent of the world's 1.2 billion Muslims that is a silver lining in the dark cloud.
On other fronts too the Muslim world presents a gloomy picture like: In the list of underdeveloped countries, it is the majority of Muslim countries that find their names. Apart from economics most Muslim countries have a very sorry political state. Political instability and disturbances find themselves translated into socio-economic problems of these states. Political differences and problems prove to be a major obstacle in stabilizing a country economically. The countries with political and social difficulties fail to reap the benefits of the booms that economy has witnessed all over the world. Unfortunately, most Muslim countries have so many intriguing internal issues to solve and look into. Cashing on the international development and economic is a far cry. To add, ideological divide in Muslim world --divisions among sects in Islam, divide between ethnic groups and various tribes-- weakens the states internally and keeps them away from each other.
Political instabilities in Islamic nations aggravates internal and external violence hence rise in usage of arms and ammunition which is a win-win situation for the West as US is the major exporter of weapons. According to Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, United States had the highest defense budgets for the year 2011 of 711 billion USD, while for the same year Saudi Arabia spent 48.5 billion USD. Similarly, United States exported arms worth 8641 millions USD, followed by Russia 6039 millions USD, Germany 2340 millions USD, France 1834 millions USD, and United Kingdom 1054 millions USD in 2010. And these exports are imported to Muslim countries and the largest arms importers among them are: Saudi Arabia 2580 millions USD, United Arab Emirates 493 millions USD, Pakistan 787 millions USD, Turkey 468 millions USD, and Malaysia 411 millions USD during 2010. These huge spending of Muslim countries on their military might doesn't go well with overall developments and takes heavy toll on their budgets.
At global level on an average the Muslim nations are poorer compared to the West. According to a report by Bureau for Policy and Program Coordination in, June 2004, Muslim countries tend to be poorer than non-Muslim countries. In 2000, average per capita income in 70 non-Muslim countries in five geographic regions was $5,987. This was nearly twice as high as the $3,375 in 37 Muslim nations. Of-course, these averages mask substantial differences across regions.
With all these unfavorable the West takes on Muslim nations and without any inhibitions attacks them indiscriminately and is continuing doing that. A peep into the past should be enough to reveal the policy of West towards Muslim nations. During Bill Clinton's presidency, U.S. bombed Iraq, Afghanistan, and Sudan. While in the time of George Bush, U.S. bombed Afghanistan, Yemen, Iraq, Pakistan, and Somalia. Under Barack Obama, U.S. is currently bombing Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and Libya.
Thanks to American arms and funding, "stalwart ally" Israel has bombed every single one of its neighbors, including Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Egypt. Israel has also bombed Tunisia and Iraq. The total number of Muslim countries that America and Israel have bombed comes to fourteen: Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, Iran, Sudan, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, and Tunisia. Meanwhile, U.S. has military bases in several countries in the Greater Middle East, including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Turkey, Pakistan, UAE, Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan, Djibouti, Kyrgyzstan, Somalia, Ethiopia, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, and Chad. U.S. also used to have a base in Eritrea and demanded another one in 2010.
I wonder organizations like Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) established on September 25th, 1969 (as a result of criminal arson of Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied Jerusalem) has membership of 57 states spread over four continents works on multiple fronts of Muslim states and their developments has no mandate in its charter for military cooperation. May be that was not the need that time but I think time is ripe enough for OIC to include military development of its member states in its charter. However, in case OIC finds it difficult to take concrete measures in this direction what I think Muslim nations should do is establish an alliance: MAIC (Military Alliance of Islamic Countries).
Despite all odds onus is on the rich Muslim countries and those having at least some capacities like Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Malaysia and others to come forward and get all Muslims together and form a military alliance that could at least act as a deterrent to the West. The military cooperation could include training of military, technologically advancements, purchase of weapons from those having capacities, pooling of Muslim human capital from developed state, joint venture, and lots more. If Muslim nations come together, assist and build capacities of each other at much cheaper cost it would reduce their defense budget.
I know it is not going to be easy for any of the Muslim countries to come forward, yet a beginning has to be made and someone has to take the lead, and only time will tell us who takes the lead in formulating this alliance.
Bilal Hussain, a financial journalist based in Kashmir. He can be reached at ibilalhussaingmail.com
Topics: Muslim World
Neel Ke Sahil Se Le Kar Ta Bakhak-e-Kashghar...Iqbal
Good,thought provoking stats and analysis.