At MEMRI.org there is an interview with Palestinian historian Ghassan Weshah that is remarkable for its surpassing absurdity. Even among the many examples of nonsense that MEMRI presents every week, Ghassan Weshah – please do watch his video – takes the cake.
Below is a summary, followed by a transcript of his remarks:
Palestinian historian Ghassan Weshah said in a June 6, 2020 interview on Al-Aqsa TV (Hamas – Gaza) that America and its slogan of liberty are collapsing and that Islam is the only power that can lead the world after America, since China is unfit for this. He added that the world has become repulsed by the Chinese “eating anything that moves”. Weshah also cited “scientific studies” that he claimed show convincinglythat Germany and France will become Islamic republics within 10 years.
In what way is America “collapsing”? Its economy is suffering, as are many economies, from the effects of the coronavirus. There is high unemployment. But this is temporary, caused by lockdowns, the need for social distancing, and the banning of gatherings of more than a handful, all of which have led to the closures of many non-essential businesses. The country is slowly reopening. Despite having the most coronavirus deaths of any country, America remains the strongest economy in the world; the strongest military power, the strongest deployer of “soft power.” It is the country that immigrants from everywhere, including Muslims, deem most desirable to live in.
Ghassan Weshah predicts that the Islamic world will within a decade dominate the globe, replacing what he sees as a fatally weakened America. But is America more wracked by problems than the Islamic world? In that world, there are three ongoing civil wars, in Syria, Libya, and Yemen, which have caused massive destruction and displacement of populations. In Syria, for example, during the civil war which has so far lasted for nine years, five million people have fled the country, while another six million are internally displaced. Everywhere in the country cities and towns lie in ruins. To reconstruct Syria, to something like its antebellum condition, will cost at least $350 billion. Syria cannot possibly generate, nor find the aid elsewhere, to undertake such reconstruction. The Syrian conflict has also involved outside Muslim powers; Iran has long supported Assad both directly and through its proxy Hezbollah; in the last year, Turkey has sent troops and weapons to prevent Assad’s army from completing its conquest of Idlib Province. In Libya, the U.A.E. and Egypt support the forces of General Haftar with money, and weapons, while Turkey supports his rival, the Government of National Accord (GNA), headed by Fayez al-Sarraj. In mid-June, Egypt moved thousands of troops up to the border with Libya, and has announced that while it seeks peace it is prepared for war with the Turkish forces in Libya, including Syrian Arab mercenaries that Turkey has brought in to fight on the side of the LNA. Planes, believed to be Egyptian, recently bombed GNA troops approaching Sirte, causing them to halt their advance.
In Yemen, Saudi Arabia supports the internationally-recognized government, mainly by bombing the Shi’a Houthi rebels (and not sparing civilians), while Iran supports those same Houthis with money and weapons. Meanwhile, the U.A.E., which formerly was allied with the Saudis in supporting the Yemeni government, has broken with Saudi Arabia and chosen to support a separatist movement in Yemen’s south. Iran continues to support the Houthi rebels. Yemen itself is on the verge of massive famine. Half of its population is food insecure and because of war have fled their homes to areas with no functioning health facilities. Nearly 2.2 million Yemeni children are acutely malnourished, and an estimated 462,000 children suffer from severe acute malnutrition. Yemen faces three epidemics: first, cholera (with more than 110,000 cases so far this year); second, a mosquito-transmitted virus known as Chikungunya virus; third, the coronavirus which has just begun to spread. Three epidemics, mass famine, a war, and the collapse of the economy, is the lot of Yemen today.
There is financial ruin in Lebanon and the Palestinian territories – in both cases, the result of mismanagement and massive corruption. There is internal violence by, and against, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. In Iraq, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, there are violent sectarian conflicts between Sunni and Shi’a. There are ethnic conflicts, too, throughout the Muslim lands: Turks vs. Kurds in Turkey, Arabs vs. Kurds in Iraq, Arabs vs. Berbers in Algeria. There is the dispute in the western Sahara between Muslim nations, where Algeria supports the Polisario Front that claims territory Morocco considers its own. There are threats from reconstituted remnants of the Islamic State in the Sinai, Iraq, Syria, and Libya. There are political rivalries that have in some cases become violent, as that between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority in Gaza and the West Bank. Secularists oppose Islamists in Tunisia and Turkey. Qatar has been subject to an air, land, and sea blockade by its neighbors Saudi Arabia, the U.A.E., and Bahrain, to punish it both for its continued friendly ties with Iran and its support of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Even in the Gulf Arab states, there has been an economic debacle. Mismanagement, wild overspending, too great a dependence on oil sales and a concomitant failure to build a more diverse economy, and the pandemic that has led to plummeting demand for oil – all this is reflected in a drawing-down of reserves. Saudi Arabia, the richest of the oil states, has seen its foreign assets decrease from $750 billion to $448 billion in just the last few years, and they continue to drop in 2020 by about $25 billion a month. At the current rates, within a year the Saudis will have drawn down another $300 billion of foreign assets. And meanwhile, the oil price keeps going down, because of the colossal decrease in demand due to the pandemic. It’s not only Saudi Arabia that has seen its oil revenues plummet — so have the U.A.E., Kuwait, Qatar, Iraq, Iran, and Libya. Even when the pandemic subsides, oil producers face ever greater challenges, as electric vehicle sales soar. Longer-lasting and ever-cheaper lithium batteries, and government subsidies have brought the price of such vehicles way down. In mid-June a million-mile battery was announced as being in the works, while in China, new legislation promotes electric vehicle (EVs) sales by allowing individuals to sell, for the first time, the CO2 credits they accumulate by using EVs. All of this is bad news for the oil producers. Less money, less clout, and a frantic search by the oil states for alternative revenues – does this suggest an Islamic world that is on the march to world domination, as Ghassan Weshah seems to think?