Advent of Arab Spring in Kabul

No matter what the Central Asian leaderships may say about the Islamist organization known as Hizb ut-Tahrir, the western powers were never convinced. They didn’t want to be argumentative and simply kept mum. There is a time and place for everything, after all.

The HuT is a proscribed Islamist organization in the steppes and its activists are routinely put away in the Central Asian prisons as dangerous elements who conspire to destabilize the society. The organization’s brand of political Islam is considered anathema by the secular-minded Central Asian states.

A war of nerves has been going on with the HuT activists merrily operating out of the western countries, especially Britain, and the Central Asian capitals cracking down on the movement’s followers whenever their local followers are spotted in the steppes.

A defining moment seems to be reaching against the backdrop of the Afghan endgame. The western powers have sponsored an open HuT event this week in neighboring Afghanistan. The theme of the conference was appropriately worded as ‘corruption, causes and solutions’, a theme of universal application in the Greater Middle East that stretches up to the Hindu Kush, the Pamirs and the Central Asian steppes in the east – and even up to Bangladesh, where HuT figured as a prime suspect in the recent abortive coup attempt.

The HuT activists who descended on Kabul for the conference brought along two documentary films – one on democracy and the second on the ‘Awakening of the Muslim Ummah.” The first documentary discussed the western-style liberal democracy and capitalist system as the root cause of corruption in the Muslim societies, while the second documentary propagated that a comprehensive solution to the problems in their political economies can only be found by adopting the “principles and mechanisms” and through the establishment of the Khilafah state.

Indeed, Afghans from different walks of life – including government officials – have been drawn to the HuT conference. For all appearance, HuT has been launched in Afghanistan. The potentials are immense for the Hut in the Afghan political climate where there is a vacuum waiting to be filled with widespread popular disillusionment with the regime and the elites. Arguably, given a level playing filed, HuT will be leagues ahead of political rivals with their suave, methodical organizing capability and propaganda skills. The Afghans would any day prefer to trust the young, vibrant HuT activists who are known to be articulate, persuasive, well-educated, “modern” and internet-savvy – and at the same time staunchly committed to the Islamic cause. They are the perfect antithesis to the venal, corrupt ruling elites of the region.

But questions remain. The HuT conference in Kabul seems to have enjoyed sponsorship of some kind by the ISAF. The big question is how the Taliban would view the HuT.

Then again, HuT is an affiliate of the Muslim Brotherhood and these days the Brothers are in good company – with Turks, Saudis and Qataris lavishly patronizing them. Recently, the Brothers from Egypt were received in the White House and the State Department in Washington.

Conceivably, therefore, if the HuT gains a habitation and a name in Afghanistan, the Hindu Kush also enters the new era of ‘Islamic internationalism’. In that eventuality, most important, can Pakistan and Central Asia be far behind. Pakistan seems to suspect the HuT to be a western proxy and is cracking down it.

Is the HuT the flag-carrier of the Arab Spring in Central Asia and Afghanistan? Can someone hear the footfalls of history? The answers would probably lie in Washington – and, maybe, London. Read about the HuT conference in Kabul in the news bulletin by the ISAF Joint Command. 

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