Power, politics and political violence: A catastrophic combination

By Sophia Imran

Political violence has progressively increased across the world since the 9/11 attacks, perpetrated recurrently by state and non-state actors through proxy wars, insurgencies and invasions in a struggle for gaining power and supremacy. The emerging world order reflects narcissism, hatred and coldhearted insensitivity. The world politicians and media’s response to the ongoing spate of terrorism and political violence is far from socio-political.  The persisting geo-political narratives have embraced the language of oppression, animosity and resentment ignoring human rights, security, empowerment, and critical consciousness.

The counterterrorism strategies have focused on enforcing anti public laws, and engaging in military encounters to obliterate extremism. The impression that state and non-state violence can be obliterated through force is a misconception.  Insurgence of violence has its roots in economic, social and political factors and has disquieted human history since its naissance. The Middle Eastern countries after crippling their democracies and the social fabric of their societies have exploited the ostensible threat of sectarianism to squash opposition and to consolidate power, whereas, western powers have coerced politics of animosity between the West and the South. They have persistently meddled in the affairs of the Middle East and the developing countries in the pretext of, “protecting minorities, upholding religious freedom, supporting colonial Zionism in Palestine, fighting communism, promoting democracy, or combatting terrorism.”

To redefine polices that incorporate vested interests to inclusive culturally sensitive people centered policies is becoming an Achilles’ heel for politicians, world leaders and the media.  The inter-dependency among the wilful national leaders, the capitalist mafia, particularly drugs, arms and oil  and the manipulative terrorist movements have created a dangerous inferno that has consumed the peace and stability around the world.  It has stoked ‘war of terror’ considerably disrupting the development of inclusive and humane societies.

Swapping allies for geostrategic goals to oppose and inflict damage on adversary states has galvanized the incidence of political violence, “producing more chaos than stability, more violence than peace, more sectarianism than integration and more fears than assurances.” Saudi Arabia and Iran have manipulated religious and political beliefs for power and for advancing racial, ethnic and religious divisions to ensure their supremacy. Saudi Arabia’s dual policy with Israel, United States alliance with retrograde, repressive regime of Saudi Arabia in putting sanctions on Iran, and Russia’s alliance with Iran to pound Syria has generated a dangerous breeding ground for jihadist movements and widened their sphere of influence across the world. Autocratic states such as Syria with its allies have resorted to harsh repression and genocide of innocent lives on behest of countering terrorism to suit their geostrategic interests. Saudi Arabia is now at the forefront in buying arms from US to massacre innocent lives in the Middle East on sectarian ground.

The parochial rhetoric of Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, and ethnic and religious prejudice, narrowly perceived on radical interpretations of Islam and jihadism, has been politically convenient for so-called democratic western societies and autocratic Middle Eastern regimes to forward their geopolitical interests. One good example is the double standards of the Saudi Kingdom to manipulate Islam to meet political and materialistic advantages.  For decades, the Kingdom not only influenced the outlook and opinions of the Muslims with its Wahabi ideology but also instigated sectarianism across the Muslim world.  Realizing its weakening power because of its depleting oil reserves Saudi Arabia has not shown any qualms in redefining the Wahabi version of Islam that it professed so ardently for decades to a more moderate one and developing regional alliances with US and Israel to suppress Israel’s arch enemy, Iran.

The emerging geopolitical cauldron created on the pretense of stabilizing the so called rogue states such as Iraq and Yemen is the outcome of relentless security focused tactics based on narcissism.   The result of these so called anti-sectarian and anti-terrorism approaches has made the world progressively insecure where the dream of multiethnic societies that esteem human rights and social justice seems far removed from reality. Rather the world has witnessed the resurgence of violence and insecurity that is continuing to claim innocent lives. Political violence is not just a sectarian or religious phenomenon but a reflection of socio- political, economic and ethnic problems caused by deliberate anarchism. In exemplifying non-state actors and the jihadist movements as the greatest threat to stability we tend to ignore the war crimes and belligerent self-serving mentality of the states that are the basis of humanitarian catastrophe. The counter narrative on counterterrorism can only be valuable if it embodies the social issues of alienation, marginalization, socio-economic disenfranchisement, and violation of basic human rights that are now being described as the root- cause of terrorism.

Sophia Imran is a development professional and a researcher. She has a PhD in Sustainable Tourism Management from the University of Southern Queensland Australia.  She is currently focusing her research on public policy and peace related issues.

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