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Al-Hayat’s Editor Calls for War on ISIS

"What is necessary is a world war against darkness…"

"The Paris massacre was much more horrifying than 9/11 in America," writes Ghassan Charbel in the November 15 edition of the London-based Arabic-language newspaper, Al-Hayat. "It involved barbaric field executions that could recur in any capital, without requiring planes or pilots. All it takes is a pack of benighted wolves that have drunk from the river of absolute hatred."

Charbel is the editor-in-chief of the Saudi-owned daily, which has been described in the past as "far and away the best and most intensely read Arab newspaper," certainly among Arabs living outside the Middle East. The paper has long been known for its ideologically unpredictable op-ed columns, and its diverse staff, which reportedly consists of Sunnis, Shiites, Christians, and Druze. ("Charbel," for example, is a name one encounters in the Lebanese Maronite community.) The paper maintains numerous international bureaus, notably including one in Jerusalem.

Although Al-Hayat is owned by Prince Khalid bin Sultan, a member of the House of Saud, it is not a government organ. Indeed, Al-Hayat has sometimes been in conflict with the Saudi state. In 2007, for example, the paper was briefly banned in the Kingdom (not for the first time), possibly because it outed a Saudi citizen as part of Al Qaeda; no official reason was ever given. The only area the paper is believed to avoid under Prince Khalid's ownership is direct criticism of the royal family. In short, Charbel's views do not reflect Saudi policy. His November 15 essay was translated by MEMRI.

Charbel's argument is that an unprecedented war is already underway, one declared by ISIS, which he compares to the Nazis; the rest of the world, including the Arab and Muslim nations, will have to respond with a war of their own. "This is a war unlike anything we have previously experienced or read about," he writes. "This is a world war [declared by ISIS] in order to clash with the entire world: with anyone who does not adopt its inflexible and closed-minded thought patterns and anyone who does not drink from the same fountain. Its objective is to take countries back to the Stone Age and transform [the members of] the Muslim diaspora and Muslim minorities into [living] bombs. [This war] is a comprehensive plan to eliminate the right to differ [in opinion or belief], as well as any possibility of coexistence and progress. This war is a pitch black night that is trying to extinguish the lights of liberty and dignity."

The major powers are at fault for allowing ISIS to fester, Charbel believes, singling out Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin. "The world perpetrated a terrible crime when it allowed this black killing machine [ISIS] to become entrenched in large parts of Iraq and Syria, when [U.S. President] Barack Obama opted for the policy of abstaining [from action] and when [Russian President] Vladimir Putin waited for hunting opportunities in the Syrian lake of blood…"

The Paris massacre has only deepened an already appalling crisis, one that threatens not only the people of the West, but also Muslims and Arabs. The attack, he says, "took advantage of the wounds already inflicted by the previous raids, pouring upon them heaps of salt and sulfur; it deepens the plan to segregate the Muslims and Arabs from the rest of the world; it pushes the Arab and Muslim communities into a terrible confrontation in the countries that host them; it built another tier in the plan to ignite religious wars and inter-civilization wars that negate [the other], and it heralds waves of hatred towards the refugees who have fled our cruel wars and societies. [This attack] is a deadly threat to the relations between countries, peoples, religions and individuals. It is a plan for global suicide."

Charbel calls for a military response to ISIS, in which the great powers act under the auspices of the United Nations. "The Security Council must resolve to launch a world war against terror. The superpowers must be responsible for carrying out this decision. This war requires a fleet of ships and planes as well as financial and media support."

Arabs must save themselves by targeting Islamist extremism. (Charbel has been joined in this appeal by the Iraqi editor Adnan Hussein in an editorial entitled, "This Is Our Terror, We Are Responsible.") "The Arab world," says Charbel, "has no choice but to help in saving itself, [by participating] in a war that will shut down all the strongholds that provide the extremists with the ability to fortify themselves, proliferate and carry out attacks. Alongside this war, we have no choice but to shut down the platforms of hatred towards the other and [engage in] a comprehensive ideological confrontation. There is no choice but to conduct thorough self-criticism that requires recapturing the universities, the schools, the mosques, the television screens and the websites from the control of those who spread takfir [the accusation of apostasy within Islam] and deny the other…"

"This is the hour of great decision," Charbel concludes. "The world should launch this war now rather than later. The Security Council should formulate a firm international position and leverage all the nations' capabilities to defend human progress. The threat currently facing the Arab and Muslim world is no less great than the threat that Nazism [once posed] to Europe and the world. The world is at a crossroads. The decision to save human progress requires [statesmanship of] uncommon stature. Far more is required than [Sergei] Lavrov's adroitness and Kerry's naiveté. What is necessary is a world war against darkness.… A delay in launching the war will only inflict new 'raids' upon the world."

Photo Credit: ISIS video

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  • ||

    This is the best I've ever read on the subject .

  • ||

    This is the best I've ever read on the subject .

  • Ron||

    The people call for action but the leaders are deaf.

  • Jam4Joy||

    They wouldn't be deaf if there was political capital to be gained from actually addressing the issue.

  • Number 2||

    Wow. It seems that Ghassan Charbel is another neocon Islamophobe warboner demagogue who wants to create more terrorists. Right, Mr. Chapman?

  • ||

    Worse than 9/11? Um......no.

    As bad as the Westgate shopping mall attack? That one was pretty fucked up. And it wasn't even ISIS! Even Anders Behring Breivik was pants shittingly effective in scaring Norway, and Norwegians don't scare easily, it's too cold.

    I'm getting a little sick of the breathtakingly over-the-top descriptions of the latest Islamic Bad Guys Who Will Kill Us All. Paris was bad but worse than 9/11? That's easily one of the dumbest things I've read about this attack.

  • Hank Phillips||

    Reminds me of when young Americans, ashamed of the terror the Johnson and Nixon Administrations were inflicting at home and abroad, rolled up their sleeves and clumsily tried to do something about it. The brightest result was the organization of the libertarian party.

  • Harvard||

    And we are finally the beneficiary of ass sex, blow and (nearly) open borders.

  • Hank Phillips||

    Grandparents were the beneficiaries of superstitious antiabortionsts and murdering prohibitionists, and that got them the Depression and two World Wars--ordinary history known to all but the victims of a Harvard brainwashing.

  • Adans smith||

    This is a Arab problem,and Saudi Arabia and the Wahhabi sect there has there hand in this.The west has mucked around there,the Iraq war the worst,but,it seems the people inthis region can not form a stable,representive government.As long as the Koran is use as law there will not be peace. I'm also not holding my breath waiting on the 'great Aarb army' to wipe out ISIS.The US needs to tell them to get their house in order.

  • Eric Bana||

    This is very encouraging to read.

  • sgreffenius||

    Thank you, Mr. Freund, for a good summary of Charbel's article. I think the west has waited for something like this appeal for action, without knowing it. That is, if Arab countries do not take the lead in the battle against ISIS, western intervention just looks like more imperialism (see Sheldon Richman's article). If Arab countries _do_ take the lead in the battle against ISIS, western intervention has a chance of doing some good. Arab countries have already committed money to the battle, but not military or moral leadership.

    This article says, to Arabs of all beliefs everywhere, "Here we go: let's fight."

  • Chip Chipperson||

    Okay, now let's see what they actually do.

  • Hank Phillips||

    How many times have we heard war declared on inflation with not a word about the production rate of baseless paper currency? Every word quoted could as easily come out of a Pravda article critical of plutocracy or a Volkischer Beobachter article alleging some zionist conspiracy--by simply replacing nouns. What about the definition of values? of rights? Where was a word about ethics, about distinguishing right from wrong? Why not examine the basis for revealed faith and contrast this with the epistemology of science? The Arab editor's piece is a harrumph at a neighbor farting in the elevator and drawing opprobrious attention to the homogeneous crowd as a whole. The difference between Ghassan, Al-Quaida and the Islamofascist State is a tiny matter of degree, not kind. The Al-Hayat article, if described correctly, scolds less hypocritical neighbors for vandalism, then blames foreign leaders for not crossing foreign borders to spank them in time. With friends like these, never shall we be at a loss for terrorists.

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