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On Virtual Reality
Published in AL HAYAT on 20 - 10 - 2013

American-Iranian talks represent a major historical juncture in the international struggle over the Arab Gulf and the Levant. The two sides have reached this phase of détente in their crisis-laden relations, based on fact different from the virtual reality created by the media, which has portrayed the two as being on the brink of war at any moment. This is especially the case as Israel, the first to suffer harm from such détente, has been pumping large amounts of "information" about Tehran drawing near to producing a nuclear bomb, threatening to strike against it at any time, even without Washington's approval. The bad sketch of the Iranian nuclear bomb raised by Netanyahu is still stuck in people's minds, when he warned the world that it only had six months to do away with Iran's nuclear capabilities, or it would be too late. The truth is that Israel's warning was merely a part of the media campaign to create a virtual reality, different from the one known to the US administration, and on the basis of which it develops its policies.
Washington had been monitoring the situation in the Gulf and in the Levant. It too has participated in the virtual reality campaign, on the basis of regional and international intelligence reports. Yet it has found most of the latter to be lacking credibility. Examples of this include: that Assad will fall within a few weeks, that the Syrian army will collapse, or that it will turn against him, and that all the US and its allies have to do is avoid chaos and keep it restricted to Syria, so as for it not to spread in the neighborhood, where it would be difficult to contain. Among them too is the claim that the sanctions imposed on Iran will make it surrender, and that it will not be able to aid its ally in Damascus. More importantly, the virtual media had asserted that Russia and China would change their position and would join the alliance opposed to Iran and Syria. Such a view was based on the experience of Libya, and on the fact that Beijing and Moscow had changed their stance on Gaddafi and his regime, which had been a virtual one, despite the reality and the brutality of the tragedies it has resulted in.
Beyond this, all the drawn up plans were based on the assumption, that there would be an alternative to the Syrian regime and to the Arab regimes that have collapsed in the heat of the "Spring". Part of such plans (which the United States actively participated in setting) is that the Arab World, as well as its Turkish and Iranian surrounding, is Islamic, and that it is therefore imperative to ally with the Islamists, especially after their rise to power in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. Indeed, America's experiences with political Islam have shown that it not to be hostile, in addition to the fact that it believes in a market economy. And here is the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP – Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi) in Ankara, representing the shining example of this form of Islam. It excludes Iran, and is in fact hostile to it, adopts a "liberal" policy close to the West and is not hostile to Israel. And here is Mohamed Morsi in Egypt, taking the utmost care to preserve his country's treaties with the Hebrew State, and having neutralized the Hamas movement in terms of armed struggle. Moreover, Erdoğan could play a major role in confronting Tehran, and in repositioning Syria and the entire region with a popular support that is not devoid of sanctity.
That had been the reality of the virtual media, while the actual reality was completely different. Assad did not leave, Morsi did not remain in power for more than a year, and the political Islam which Washington had wagered on and supported has proven to have no sanctity and not to represent the Arab peoples, who have evolved after colonialism. Moreover, major countries in the Arab World have emerged, among them Saudi Arabia. These do not want the Muslim Brotherhood to come to power, and are diligently seeking to exclude them from power in any country.
Beyond this, it has clearly appeared that political Islam is made up of groups as different as the societies that nurture them, and that extremism and violence are characteristic of most Jihadists, who neither recognize existing borders nor approve of seeking to build democracies. Blind violence is their only path to establishing the Caliphate and "justice", and to turn the clock back hundreds of years, in order to impose their own simplistic political interpretation of religion on a highly complex reality.
The virtual media has gone beyond all of this to create a different image of reality, but the tragedies and wars have laid it to waste. It has thus been confirmed that policy cannot be built on the basis of wishes. And here is the United States returning to its pragmatism and going to meet with the Iranians in Geneva. Will then the Arabs (and I almost put that word between brackets) return to reality, so as to avoid the further destruction of their countries, or will they remain stuck to their television screens and their virtual world?

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