Not to whip a dead horse, but something more has to be said of the lip service Muslim governments have paid to the catastrophe in Chechnya.
Speaking of whipping, Egypt gets to be the whipping boy of the Arab world for its pathetic timing in declaring its opposition to Russian military action against Chechen civilians not but one day after the Mujahideen announced their retreat from Grozny. It was bad enough that Muslim countries and organizations such as the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) and the Arab League delayed their outcries until the conflict had already reached crisis levels. But Egypt just had to add insult to injury by delaying its announcement until Russian forces danced in the streets of Grozny, celebrating their so-called "victory."
Can you say "useless as teats on a male goat." Egypt might as well have remained silent.
Egypt's condemnation came during a Kremlin-hosted meeting of key players in the Middle East Peace Process. Representatives from nations including the United States, Israel, Palestine, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Tunisia spent the week trudging through stumbling block issues that could delay final resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Members of the Arab delegations spoke privately with Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov on Russia's handling of the situation in Chechnya. It doesn't seem that much was accomplished however, as Qatar's al-Jazeera reported that the delegates emerged from the meeting with lukewarm statements of concern and even support for Russia's movement against "terrorism." It's the rhetoric of failure.
If Egypt and the rest of the Muslim nations attending the meeting had any real conviction concerning their brethren in Chechnya, they would have refused to go to Russia in the first place. Amr Musa, Egypt's Foreign Minister would have said, "We will talk about Middle East peace, but not in Russia. Choose another venue."
Russia should have no legitimacy in the Muslim world; not economically, not politically, not diplomatically. Where once an argument could have been made for forging a relationship between Russia and the Muslim world, there should exist antagonism at every pitch and turn. Russia wants oil? Not from Iraq. Russian needs natural gas? Not from Egypt. Russia wants influence outside its borders? Not in Muslim lands.
As pivotal a player as Egypt is in Muslim affairs, it should be at the forefront of Muslim isolation of Russia. Yet it has chosen to lag behind, becoming part of the problem instead of being on the crest of a solution.
One day, Egypt will learn, however. At this moment, in mosques throughout Egypt, Muslims are raising money for humanitarian aid for the Chechens and are making supplications for their safety and ultimate victory. Egypt isn't hearing that, though. But this isn't the first time the Egyptian government has been out of step with the sentiments of its people. And the same applies for other governments in the Muslim world.
Ali Asadullah is the Editor of iviews.com
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