MENA is roiling. The well-schooled in Washington and London ― in Foggy Bottom and Chatham House, at the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and at Her Majesty’s Intelligences (MIs) ― are burning the midnight oil to come to grips with the land of oil as it has come to be conceived as such since exactly 100 years ago.
In the flicker of the lamps and amidst the paradoxical anxieties that lights may go out without the oil or ought to go out to conserve it for future generations, paradigmatic biases and constraints appear to be making clarity elusive and history blurry, for, after all, a century is about 6 generations, from Churchill’s oil wars to the Bushs’. Yet, the Churchillian constraint is a blip in time, for the ages that preceded this past century have created a deep seated bias of perspective that goes back nearly a millennium to the defining and warring figures of the West and MENA respectively: Richard I and Saladin.
Using the perspectival dance that language permits, the expansion or incursion of Winston Churchill into the Caliphate came as the Ottomans were crumbling in the face of the post-renaissance technical prowess of modern European secularism. This parthenogenesis of the West after a millennium of darkness, across the sea from Alexander the Great’s Persia, however, was an emancipating return to the roots of Western civilization to enable the re-flowering of culture in Europe for its continuing parturition into the freedom of a uniting Europe.
This contingency of history ― the zeitgeist ― to comprehend, therefore, requires transcendence into an epoch of history that combines the quest for knowledge with the yearning for happiness, for the mathematics of history is fractal while that of its politics is typically degenerate before it can be transcendental, usually of necessity. The roiling in MENA is fluctuating between wretchedness and overcoming, just as spring follows winter as a steady trend of change in weather patterns, in fits and starts before it can take hold.
Spring had come to Europe, after a long winter, both because of the patronage of a corrupt theocracy in Rome and because of rebellion against it in the erstwhile barbarian lands to the north. Something similar is occurring in MENA, akin to the fractal shape of a coastline, separated by space and time from Europe: the post-Mohammed Shias of Persia ― Al Khawarizmi, Omar Khayyam and Ibn Khaldun ― whose quest for knowledge and understanding that brings about civilizations, reminiscent of the antiquity around the Mediterranean, is juxtaposed with the roiling against autocratic corruption in Saladin’s post-Mohammed Sunni Caliphate.
The legacy of knowledge of the Shia Persians combined with the capacity of the people of MENA from Morocco and Tunisia to Saudi Arabia can bring the Ummah to unite Islam into a civilization reborn, from Istanbul to Rabat, for a civilized Europe and MENA to co-exist contemporaneously, in freedom and, hence, peace.