Muqtedar Khan is Assistant Professor in
the Department of Political
Science and International Relations at the University
He is a Non-resident Fellow at the Brookings Institution.
He earned his Ph.D. in International Relations, Political Philosophy, and Islamic Political Thought, from
is also associated with the Center
for the Study of Islam and Democracy and the Institute
for Social Policy and Understanding. He has been the President, Vice
President and General Secretary of the Association
of Muslim Social Scientists.
the author of American Muslims:
Bridging Faith and Freedom (Amana, 2002), Jihad
frequently comments on BBC, CNN, FOX and VOA TV, NPR and other radio and TV networks.
His political commentaries appear regularly in newspapers in over 20
countries. He has also lectured in North America, East Asia, Middle
is from Hyderabad in India. He is married to Reshma and has a son Rumi,
and a daughter Ruhi.
M. A. Muqtedar Khan | 7.14.06
This article has been published in the Chicago Tribune [07.17.06], The News Journal [07.15.06], The Daily Times [Pakistan: 07.16.06], AltMuslim.com [07.14.06], The American Muslim [07.14.06], OpEdNews.com [07.14.06].
crisis in the Middle East is rapidly reaching dangerous proportions.
Unless someone or somebody injects a heavy dose of sanity into the
region’s affairs immediately, it is likely to escalate into a wider
conflict that will make Iraq look like a picnic. The only player perhaps
capable of playing this role is the U.S. But thanks to a lame duck
President, whose credibility at home and abroad is embarrassing, the
world’s only super power – the natural guarantor of global order –
remains like its leader, ineffective and directionless on the global
U.S. has most to lose if things go out of hand. Its key interests in the
region are OIL; Oil, Israel, and Liberalism and they are all in jeopardy.
Oil is already at a record high, over $77 at the moment due to fears of
disruption in case of a wider war. Israel has never been more insecure.
Its two biggest enemies, Hamas and Hizbollah are effectively in control in
the North and South and are shooting rockets at it from the North and the
U.S. attempts to promote democracy and liberalism in the region had made both Hamas and Hezbollah legitimate political forces creating hopes of positive transformation in the two players. Now its own ally, Israel has undermined Palestinian democracy with its military campaign in Gaza and by attacking Lebanon and pounding it mercilessly it is weakening the forces of democracy and strengthening support for Hezbollah.
could have easily engaged in a prisoner exchange with Hamas and Hezbollah
as it has done several times in the past, and most recently in 2004, and
the matter would have ended there. But Israel’s overwhelming response to
the capture of its soldiers, at a time when Iraq is on the brink of a
civil war and the Iranian nuclear crisis is at its zenith, is undermining
all the key pillars of American national interests in the region. However,
I do not blame Israel for this crisis, it is doing what it thinks it must
to pursue its security and its interests. I am wondering whether the U.S.
is doing everything it should in the region to defend its interests.
All players in the region are pursuing self-interest. The ability of Hamas and Hezbollah to attack the invincible military of Israel and score successes, killing and capturing soldiers, and shooting rockets as deep inside Israel as Haifa, must have sent a chill down Israel’s spine. It is reacting with overwhelming force out of fear. Israel’s future depends on its ability to terrorize the Arab World through superior military power and it thinks that by punishing innocent Palestinians and Lebanese civilians it can restore that fear and deter future attacks.
which is under pressure from within Lebanon and the international
community to demilitarize has once again succeeded in presenting itself as
the only defense that Lebanon has against Israel. Israel’s killing of
dozens of Lebanese civilians and bombing of Beirut will merely increase
support for Hezbollah, attract more recruits and funding, and increase
hatred for Israel. Right now, even the Christians in Lebanon must hate
Israel, as their tourism industry suffers because of this new war that
Israel is waging against Lebanon.
thanks to America’s foolhardy adventure in Iraq, is rapidly emerging as
a regional power, more capable of shaping the political and geopolitical
realties in the Middle East than even the U.S. It is protecting itself
from America’s pressure on the nuclear issue by creating a dangerous
diversion. Already it has succeeded in dividing the G-8, with France and
Russia condemning Israel for excessive force while the U.S. justified it.
all across the world are watching a nuclear power supported, armed and
funded by the U.S., bombard and kill dozens of innocent civilians, destroy
the economy, the infrastructure and the very future of Palestine and
Lebanon, kidnap dozens of elected Palestinian leaders, bomb their homes
even when there are children present, and all U.S. does is provide
political cover for Israel in the U.N. security council and on the world
stage. Al Qaeda must be running out of enrollment forms.
escalation in the region is not in U.S. interest. It strengthens
anti-Americanism worldwide and fuels radicalism in the Arab and Muslim
world. It also reverses hard
earned gains in the region such as fledgling democracies in Palestine and
Lebanon. It is a shame that in moments of crisis American leadership does
not take decisive steps to safeguard its own interests. The U.S. does not
have to abandon Israel to defend its other interests in the region, all it
has to do is use its enormous leverage to ensure that Israel’s policies
are moderate and prudent and safeguard both Israeli and American
M. A. Muqtedar Khan is Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science and International Relations at University of Delaware. He is also a Nonresident Fellow of the Saban Center at Brookings Institution. His website is www.ijtihad.org.