An undisputed similarity drawn between the two terrorist leaders, Osama bin Laden who was killed last week and Velupillai Prabhakaran who met with a similar fate two years ago has been that both ‘liberators’ have caused more deaths of their own people by tens of thousands than those of other religions and communities.
The Al Qaeda leader caused the sad and untimely deaths of thousands of Muslims in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Indonesia and in many more countries. Prabakaran accounted for the gruesome killings of Sinhalese, armed services personnel, poor civilians, peasants and urban dwellers but by far more Tamils – leaders and the poor – irrespective of class, caste or wealth.
Despite the horrendous trail of corpses left behind by both terrorist leaders there are still covert followers who will attempt to traverse the footsteps of their leaders. While Bin Laden’s death was welcomed by most leaders – save those of most Muslim countries who remained tight lipped neither welcoming nor condemning the killing – Prabhakaran’s following is out in the open in western capitals taking cover behind the alleged mass killings of Tamil civilians during the final stages of the terrorist war.
Leaders of countries attempting to eliminate Al Qaeda admit and realise the fact that their task is far from over. This variety of terrorism having deep roots from the times of the Crusades, is in contemporary times being fuelled by the exploitation of natural resources of Muslim countries for the survival of Western industrialised nations. LTTE terrorism even though it too claims to have its roots in Tamil nationalism dating back to the Cholas, it is argued that it could be settled or eased off by granting the demands of leaders of democratic Tamil parties. Whether such conciliatory moves could meet the intransigent demand of some for a separate Tamil state for which Prabhakaran fought for 30 years, is much in doubt
The success of liberation movements it has been pointed out is dependent to a great extent on the time of their emergence on local and global scenes. In the sixties and early seventies – the dying days of powerful imperialism – liberation movements such as the Che Guevara movement caught on – even in this country. Even the origins of the LTTE could be traced back to those times. The Al Qaeda emerged after the collapse of communism and the Soviet bloc. Some western analysts claim that dominant factors of the Western establishment such as the neo conservatives and even western journalists wittingly or unwittingly accepted Islamic fundamentalism as a substitute for communism. The communists were the bad guys for more than 70 years. After them came the Islamic fundamentalists. Nations, civilizations need enemies and Islamic fundamentalism had all the trappings for a formidable enemy for the Western world. How long are they to plague the world?
Perhaps an answer to Islamic fundamentalism and its head on collision with the West has emerged in the Arab Awakening that is sweeping the Middle East and North Africa. The youthful Arab revolution has been on for a few months but western intellectuals neither saw it coming nor are they able to provide a satisfactory explanation to this revolution of unarmed youth who by simply coming on to the streets in their thousands have toppled two rightist despots in Egypt and Tunisia. It is in the process of happening in Yemen to pro rightist Saleh who too has ruled the country for long years and now Bashar al-Assad in Syria has to use the full might of his armed forces on unarmed civilians to be in power.
The young educated Arabs now on the streets demanding regime change, are no zombies to be mesmerized by the heated rhetoric of their petty despots, like their fathers. They have the knowledge – many of them having studied in foreign universities – and have windows to the outside world via the Internet. They are not brainwashed products as is evident from thickly veiled young women on the streets demanding the overthrow of their despotic leaders under whose jackboots they grew up to be adults. Could this youth generation replace the hoary old generation of Osama bin Laden and his cohorts whose thirst for blood has already caused immense destruction?
America, the Land of Hope and Glory, we are told, is waging this war against terrorism for the sake of democracy but in the process has violated most of the basic norms of democracy and international law. The capture and killing of bin Laden it has been argued is justified but the manner in which it was done in violation of the basic tenets of international law, cannot be denied. The continued flouting of international law and human rights by the greatest democracy of all is not only undermining the prestige of America but is also making a mockery of democracy.
The whole world is in turmoil, economically and politically. Today’s doddering generations in the sixties and seventies have brought the world to the brink of disaster. There appears to be only one glimmer of hope: The young Arabs who are attempting a unique revolution devoid of time worn shibboleths. Will it catch on and spread to other regions? That appears to be the only hope today.
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