There is no obvious reason why the Western powers should care whether it was the friends or the family of Mohammed which took over the leadership of his movement upon his death. However there is plainly an agenda led by the USA to support the Sunnis in their spiralling regional conflict with the Shia.
This is not hard to rationalise. The ultra wealthy members of the Gulf regimes continue to act as the West’s proxies in the region and provide harbour to its neo-imperialist armed forces, while at the same time maintaining themselves a obscurantist version of Islam which would have horrified Mohammed and breaks virtually every precept of the Koran, particularly as regards treatment of women and of minority religions within their territory.
In Bahrain the large Shia majority is brutally repressed with active western collusion; in Saudi Arabia the Shia minority in the East is degraded. Iran is the great Shia bogey, and the West is so determined to maintain it as “the enemy” that they refuse the most basic diplomatic openings. The UK turned down an invitation to be represented at the inauguration of a new more moderate President and hold initial conversations. Meanwhile, Shia groups have mustered the only effective military resistance to Israeli aggression, and in Syria a Shia friendly regime is under intense pressure from the West and its Gulf allies. Peculiarly, in Iraq Western invasion resulted in the installation of a Shia regime, but that was only one of the entirely unforeseen consequences of that most stupid of invasions, and the Western response is to try to split up the country and fuel multiple insurgencies.
Meantime the CIA have now got a controlled and pro-Israeli military dictatorship back in power in Egypt, while the extraordinary complicity of the mainstream media and entire political class in the United States has never been more evident than in the acceptance that the military coup will not be designated a military coup. The manipulation of Western public opinion in the Syrian chemical weapons episode has, rarely, been too blatant to work. But events in Turkey and Egypt have shown that western public opinion is easily manipulated by the “secularist” angle. No matter how ugly political forces are – and in Turkey the Kemalists are very ugly – call them “secularist” and hide the rest, and you can attempt to topple elected governments in their favour with the full throated support of the media cheerleaders.
Last night’s vote in the Commons is welcome, but a blip. It owes more to political tribalism than to principle. Miliband and New Labour did not oppose military action, they merely wanted to be seen to be dictating the terms. As neither Tories nor Labour were prepared to accept the other’s terms for military action, the anti war minority could combine with the tribalists of each to make sure everything got defeated. Good but fortuitous.
The media are still in full war cry. Ashdown has never been so ashamed, apparently. He is not ashamed by extraordinary rendition and our torturing people. He is not ashamed of our responsibility for the death of hundreds of thousands in Iraq, with 2,000 people a day still meeting terrible deaths. He is ashamed that we don’t respond to the deaths of children by chemical weapons, we don’t really know at whose hands, by blasting to pieces a lot more children. Well, Paddy, you are a merciless fool who thinks a spiral of death is the answer, and I have never been more ashamed that I was for most of my adult life a member of the Liberal Democrats.
Ashdown did say bitterly that there was now no point in having such large armed forces. Hallelujah! The danger to the establishment that people might realise that spending more on weapons systems than on hospitals is a poor choice, is one reason this is not over. Much is at stake for the security state. Expect a mounting barrage of propaganda on the need for action in Syria. This is just the start.