Tag Archives: Robert Dreyfuss

Another Quote From Devil’s Game

I’m still slowly making my way through Devil’s Game, How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam, by Robert Dreyfuss. Some sections kind of drag, and it’s so chock full of information that you get overloaded.

This jumped out at me, though, given the various arguments I’ve heard made against Muslims in the last few years. Somehow the throwing of acid in girls’ faces always gets brought up. I don’t know which anti-Islam screecher pushes the acid-in-the-face angle, but I keep hearing it.

[US National Security Advisor 1977-1981] Brzezinski, and then [Director of Central Intelligence 1981-1987] Casey, embraced the Pakistan-Saudi axis. But both Pakistan and Saudi Arabia had their favored clients in Afghanistan.

For Pakistan, it was Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the militant Islamist whose group was called the Islamic Party (Hizb-i Islami). Hekmatyar had a well-earned reputation for being a brutal fanatic:

Gulbuddin was the darling of Zia and the Pakistan intelligence service. Like other mujahideen leaders, he had been working with the ISI [Pakistan intel service] since the early 1970s, when Pakistan had begun secretly backing fundamentalist students at the University of Kabul who were rebelling against Soviet influence in the Afghan government. Back then Gulbuddin was very much a part of the emerging global wave of Islamic radicalism. By all accounts, he was responsible for the practice of throwing acid in the faces of Afghan women who failed to cover themselves properly.

Hekmatyar’s specialty was skinning prisoners alive. Sigbhatullah Mujaddidi, an Islamist of somewhat less radical stripes, called Hekmatyar a “true monster.” But Representative Charles Wilson, a Texas Republican who was the leading congressional advocate for the Afghan jihad, approvingly noted that Zia was “totally committed to Hekmatyar, because Zia saw the world as a conflict between Muslims and Hindus, and he thought he could count on Hekmatyar to work for a pan-Islamic entity that could stand up to India.”

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Preliminary Book Report

“What’s all this nonsense about isolating [Egyptian president Gamal Abdel] Nasser or ‘neutralising’ him, as you call it? I want him destroyed, can’t you understand? I want him murdered…And I don’t give a damn if there’s anarchy and chaos in Egypt.” –Anthony Eden, UK Prime Minister 1955-57

I’m only about a third of the way through Devil’s Game; How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam, but I didn’t want to wait too long and forget how I felt at reading this.

We have a tendency to think that Arabs have Islamic governments because they just want it that way, that they’re simple people who need their religious trappings, and we don’t have the slightest clue at the concerted efforts that our governments have made to subvert every nationalist and secular government that was successful in the Middle East.

Nasser was a towering figure in the Arab world and was known as the “leader of the Arabs.”

His funeral procession through Cairo, on 1 October, was attended by at least five million mourners.

All Arab heads of state attended. King Hussein of Jordan and the PLO leader Yasser Arafat cried openly while Muammar al-Gaddafi of Libya reportedly fainted twice. Although no major Western dignitaries were present, Soviet premier Alexey Kosygin showed up. Almost immediately after the procession began, mourners had engulfed Nasser’s coffin shouting “There is no God but Allah, and Nasser is God’s beloved… Each of us is Nasser.”

The general Arab reaction was one of mourning, with thousands of people pouring onto the streets of major cities throughout the Arab world. Over a dozen people were killed in Beirut as a result of the chaos and in Jerusalem, roughly 75,000 Arabs marched through the Old City chanting “Nasser will never die.”

Seems like the kind of guy the US and UK would want to ally with, a powerful figure who could accomplish a lot of good.

Along with Muhammad Naguib, the first President, he led the Egyptian Revolution of 1952 which overthrew the monarchy of Egypt and Sudan, and heralded a new period of modernization, and socialist reform in Egypt together with a profound advancement of pan-Arab nationalism, including a short-lived union with Syria.

Modernization and social reform? We’re all about that. So why were we working so hard to bring him down, even assassinate him?

Under his leadership, Egypt nationalised the Suez Canal, and came to play a central role in anti-imperialist efforts in the Arab World, and Africa.

Oohhhhhh.

I’ll have more on this book later. And you can buy it here.

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