In three days, media outlets and social media platforms will be flooded with reminders of the 20th anniversary of the ill-fated 9/11 attacks, and much will be said on both Arab and western media. In terms of victory and loss, the world has been paying dearly for this attack, which sent many peoples and states into a downward spiral from which they still haven’t managed to get out. The most recent turn on this spiral were the horrible, infuriating scenes of Afghans hanging on for dear life to the wings of departing airplanes.
The price paid so far in human lives, resources, and missed opportunities is impossible to count. To describe it as a “loss” would be an understatement, for humanity has paid a truly colossal cost because of the ideas of a certain group stripped of all reason. To sum it up without delving into the details, the issue lies in certain ideologies, mentalities, and concepts that marketed this destructive act and settled deeply in the minds of some people, who became convinced that they have a duty to propagate their message. Unfortunately, most of these misguided people were from our region. They adopted the idea of “terrorism” in its literal sense, believing it is the only way to achieve their cruel wishes. However, the only thing they achieved was destruction.
Osama bin Laden and his group committed that heinous attack without considering its consequences or the destruction that their ideas, which contradict all human or Islamic thought that developed over the centuries, could inflict on humanity.
Bin Laden was not the only one, though. At some point, some Palestinian groups did the same, waging battles on their own people and the world and committing murders and abductions, thus undermining the just Palestinian cause. Likewise, this delusion continued under different forms and in various degrees of terrorism in Lebanon. The series of assassinations that targeted Lebanese politicians and activists, from Rafik Hariri to Loqman Slim, fall under this crude movement of terrorism. This didn’t stop the Lebanese people from fighting for their rights, but it did lead them to hunger, poverty, shortages of basic necessities like fuel and medication, and the lack of state foundations.
Following the unfortunate occupation of Kuwait in 1990, bin Laden roamed Gulf capitals to try and convince their wise leaders of his utter foolishness by offering his and his group’s support in driving the Iraqi regime out of Kuwait instead of resorting to the international community. His argument was that he and his group managed to beat “the USSR, the second greatest major power, in Afghanistan”!
These groups tend to think outside the logical, subjective, or humanitarian context. In recent years, ISIS groups went down the same road when they used violence against all others, decimating whole neighborhoods and buildings in the process. Therefore, what we have is a kind of thought that is constantly reproduced one way or another; and with every reproduction, the miseries deepen. Many states encouraged, funded, and protected bin Laden and his group during their conflict with the USSR, only to have their feeding hand bitten in the end. For years now, they have suffered the unspeakable as a result of their act. Today, as some states back, fund, or protect such groups once again without any foresight as to the possibly disastrous consequences of such support, it is safe to say that history is repeating itself, driven by spite, political shortsightedness, miscalculations, or ideological misleading.
Our world, and the Arab world in particular, will likely keep bleeding. At some point, the world will no longer care about the miseries that befall our people and lead them to these blind policies that produce such incredible humanitarian miseries, waves of displacement and flight, and collapsing societies crumbling under the weight of an outdated rhetoric and an utter failure of the medieval, short-sighted policies and ideologies that threw our region into the bottom of the abyss.
Today, fear has given place to actual terror, as some people of our own take the defense of such horrible political schools under various slogans. This complex and intertwined tragedy is coming alive right before our eyes in Arab and neighboring societies.
In a few days, the world’s eyes will be turned to the 20th anniversary of 9/11, whose tragic impact is not constrained to a timeframe, unlike WWI and WWII. Those wars are over, but the destructive ideology that surrounds us presently seems to be here to stay, aided by its ignorant backers.
There is no state more horrid than our present state. The return of the Taliban will pave the way for an influx of dozens of extremists toward Afghanistan; extremists that publicly celebrated this return and graced us with their stances on social media in support of Afghanistan’s new rulers, whom, they say, did not beat the second greatest major power this time, but the strongest power in the history of the world! Their conclusion, as such, is that they are surely on the right path. Talk about conclusions!
This article was originally published in, and translated from, Lebanese news outlet Annahar al-Arabi.