Opinion | Hanaa Mustafa: Colonialists as saviors: Pretexts for Intervention

The Levant and other parts of the Arab world have long been subjected to foreign intervention. The word “intervention” is, in fact, a euphemism since it was often accompanied with military actions. Foreign aggressions were often preceded by a list of pretexts which have not changed much over the course of time.

Western aggression of the Levant dates back to the Middle Ages when Pope Urban II unleashed the first Crusades claiming that his sole purpose was to “save” the Holy Land (Palestine) from “the enemies of Christ … and those who do not know God” (qtd. in Northrup 669) and the souls of its Christians. Ironically, it later became widely known that the crusades were hardly concerned about the indigenous Christians of Palestine.

Proto-Zionists also supported Zionism in the 19th century using a similar discourse. In fact, James Arthur Balfour was not among the first people who called for establishing a Jewish state in Palestine. Almost 70 years prior to the Balfour declaration, groups of religious men who called for establishing a homeland for Jews in Palestine appeared in America. One of the most prominent ones was the Mormon preacher Orson Hyde who travelled to Palestine in the mid-19th century and wrote letters describing the current situation as he saw it: “The fact is, this land (Palestine) belongs to the Jews; and the present fermentation thereof shows to me that it is fast working back into the hands of its rightful heirs. God will, in due time, drive out the Canaanites so that no more a Canaanite shall be found in the land, or in the House of the Lord” (24). This pretext and other ones were used to justify establishing the Zionist State in 1948.

Some Western powers have continued to intervene in the Middle East justifying its actions with lame purposes. In 2003, George Bush shamelessly announced the war on Iraq “to free its people” and although he “promised” Americans to “make every effort to spare innocent civilians from harm,” thousands of Iraqi civilians were killed, tortured, raped and displaced.

The scenarios colonial powers create vary, but there is almost always a pretext that precedes a military aggression. Since the beginning of the Syrian crisis, many scenarios have been used. However, the most recurrent one is accusing the Syrian regime of using chemical weapons. Despite the fact that it has now become obvious, to many observers, that the “attacks” were staged mostly by the terrorist group “The White Helmets”, many believe that a chemical attack is currently being staged so that it would be used as a pretext for further American aggression against Syria.

It is every person’s duty, especially those in Europe, to question and refute those discourses. Although some social media platforms are shutting down the accounts of some independent journalists, we should always look for alternative outlets where we can share our thoughts with the rest of the world.


Hanaa Mustafa

MA in English Literary Studies



Encyclopedia of the World Trade: From Ancient Times to the Present by Cynthia Northrup.

A Sketch of the Travels And Ministry of Elder Orson Hyde, Missionary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, to Germany, Constantinople and Jerusalem (Combined from his letters and documents).

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