Alistair Crooke, head of the Conflicts Forum, has published yet another defense and tribute to Islamism this time characterizing Islamism, particular Shiite Islamism, as the “emergence of an ‘resistance axis’ to that very that very élite dominated ‘world order’ and its systems of control imposed upon societies.” He writes:
On this latter point, Brzezinski is echoing the warnings of Michael Young’s (1958) ‘The Rise of the Meritocracy’ whereby a social revolution was shaping by ‘sieving people according to education’s narrow band of values’ and a new [élite] created, which – at least until recently – saw their position in society and their individual ‘lifestyles’ as validation of their ‘ability’ and ‘talent’; but who saw those who were excluded, merely as symptoms of others’ personal weakness, lacking and failure. It scarcely needs adding that such a description is not confined to the élites of the West: The ultra-rich, narcissitic and disdainful élites of the Middle East are as just as divorced from the rest of humanity, and just as exploitative and in love with themselves as any member of the Wall Street ?berclass. When Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or Hassan Nasrallah quote Imam Ali (the son-in-law of The Prophet)’s dictum that Muslims should be the ‘friend of the oppressed; and enemies of the oppressor’, or speak of western ‘double-standards’, New York Times sophisticates may sneer at this talk as ‘all hat and no cattle’; but they simply miss the point. Simplistic to some, perhaps – Islamist movements and Iranian leaders do harp continuously on just those global inequities, inequalities, lack of respect and of exploitation to which Brzezinski attributes the unprecedented political ‘awakening’. The tables are turned: as the values of ‘the market’ and the secular liberal world order appear increasingly hollow to those who see in it only privilege, disparity of wealth and self-enriching self-interest, the language of resistance and defiance of western political and business élites, who style themselves as ‘the international community’ of course resonates deeply in a Middle East that is ‘awakening politically’ and ‘stirring’. This, it should be understood, is the underlying dynamic to the shift in the strategic balance of the Middle East and to the emergence of an ‘resistance axis’ to that very that very élite dominated ‘world order’ and its systems of control imposed upon societies. The élites fear this awakening; and are determined to ensure its failure. In short Islam – particularly Shi’i Islam – is taking over the clothes of the European early Renaissance (before the Enlightenment); Islam stands, for many Muslims, for a humanism and a respect for justice, human dignity and defiance of tyranny that Europe once espoused. Of course, few in the West will see it in these terms: they have been too busy creating an inverted mirror image of what they perceive still to be western ‘virtues’ – and call it Iranian ‘theocracy’. The significance of President Ahmadinejad’s visit was the popular articulation of this awakening, and the profound struggle ahead that it portends – more than just a signal of gratitude to an Iranian President.
Alastair Crooke heads the Conflicts Forum in Beirut whose Advisory Board includes Azzam Tamimi, a leader in the U.K. Muslim Brotherhood and often described as a Hamas spokesman. The Conflicts Forum board also includes former CIA agent Milt Bearden, who played a leading role in the war against the Soviets in Afghanistan, and Graham Fuller, a former Vice-chair of the National Intelligence Council at the CIA. Another member of the Conflicts Forum Board is Lord John Thomas Alderdice who was one of the two organizers of a proposed April 22 video link-up in the British Parliament with Khaled Meshaal, the Damascus-based head of Hamas’ Political Bureau. A technical fault prevented the event from taking place. Another media report describes a March 2005 meeting in Beirut attended by Crooke that included the Muslim Brotherhood as well as Musa Abu Marzuq, deputy leader of Hamas, and two of his senior colleagues, leaders of Lebanon’s Hezbollah and representatives of Pakistan’s Jamaat-e-Islami party.
A New York Time report provides some background on Mr. Crooke that may, in part, explain some of his beliefs:
Mr. Crooke has spent much of his career talking to Islamists. In the 1980s, as a young undercover agent in Pakistan and Afghanistan, he helped funnel weapons to jihadists fighting the Soviets. Later, he spent years working with Hamas and Fatah as a negotiator for the European Union, and helped broker a number of cease-fires with Israel between 2001 and 2003… He is a little evasive about his own life and career, perhaps by training. Born in Ireland, he grew up mostly in Rhodesia, today Zimbabwe, and was educated at a Swiss boarding school and at St. Andrew’s in Scotland, obtaining a degree in economics. Before joining MI6, he worked in finance in London. “It’s a dangerous area to work in,” he said of his years as a banker, without apparent irony, “because it’s so easy to get caught up in enrichment.” He is barred by law from discussing his service with MI6, which included years of diplomatic work on the Israel-Palestine issue. As a negotiator in the Palestinian territories, he is said to have traveled alone, by taxi, eschewing the armed security convoys of many Western diplomats. Colleagues who worked with him say Yasir Arafat and the leaders of Hamas trusted Mr. Crooke completely, as did some high-level Israeli officials. Some Israelis, however, apparently complained that he was too close to Hamas. In late 2003, he was recalled to London — he had reached retirement age — and quietly ushered out of government service, with a commendation. He says he has no regrets, but some of his colleagues in Conflicts Forum say he retains some bitterness about the way he was treated. In 2005, he moved to Beirut, where he lives with his partner, Aisling Byrne, and their 1-year-old child, Amistis, in an elegant, old French mandate-era apartment, working out of a home office.
A book by Mr. Crooke titled “Resistance: The Essence of the Islamist Revolution” treated Hamas and Hezbollah so favorably and the West so critically, it raises legitimate questions about Mr. Crooke’s religious and political loyalties. The central thesis of the work, that Hamas and Hezbollah are at the forefront of “resistance” to Western “hegemony”, places the two Islamist organizations squarely at the center of a “clash of civilizations” as opposed to the nationalist struggle so often identified by supporters as being at the core of the groups’ identity. Another glowing tribute by Crooke to Hamas and Hezbollah as well as to Islamism in general, Mr. Crooke wrote that, Islamism is “an attempt to shape a new consciousness.”