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Which Muslim Country is the Most Powerful? A Brief Analysis.

 

Power

 

In October 2018, prominent Muslim-British journalist, Editor-in Chief of 5Pillars, Roshan Muhammed Salih (RMS) has compiled a subjective list of the most powerful countries in the Muslim world. He judged them on nine criteria – the strength of their economies, internal cohesion, their political systems, levels of corruption, natural resources, human resources, the strength of their militaries, international alliances, independence, global influence and Muslim influence.

Using the above criteria, RMS came up with a Top 10 list, and concluded that Turkey comes first. RMS later Twitted on his widely followed Twitter page for people to share their thoughts and rankings, this article may be considered as a response to Roshan’s twitter message.

Prior to continuing to read our (www.anti-orientalist.com) subjective ranking of the top 5 most powerful Muslim countries, Anti-Orientalist.com would ask its readers to pay more attention to reasons given, rather than the rankings themselves.

# 5 Lebanon

Surprised, don’t be, continue reading.

ECONOMY: 4

While Lebanon is a relatively small country with a small population, it is one of the entrepreneurial hubs of the region. It has several billionaires, which mostly indicates a level of inequality of wealth and corruption, but we are simply looking at a potential to get hard cash if needed. Lebanese are highly entrepreneurial people comprising a mid and high-level management in various organizations throughout the Arab world and a wealthy global diaspora from Brazil to Sierra Leon, with in-depth business contacts. When shove comes to push they can mobilize and buy out those aiming to harm Lebanon, or in a case with the primitive regimes of the Gulf, they could potentially simply resign from their much-needed managerial positions and paralyze the kingdoms of darkness.

INTERNAL COHESION: 5

Yes, yes, sectarian tensions, foreign intervention, external allegiances, factionalism etc. However, it is also one of the rare places in the Muslim world where people know how to agree to disagree. Thus, one can see a political alliance of a staunchly Christian party with an Islamic Hizbullah or hard-core Sunni scholars like Maher Hamoud backing Hizbullah and Iran’s regional politics.  Visiting the bookstores in Lebanon, one can often see texts of Ibn Taymiya sold next to the books of Imam Khomeini. If you still have doubts, compare the latest election victory and concession speeches of leading Lebanese politicians to Turkey.

POLITICAL SYSTEM: 6

It has a fairly developed electoral process, which needs a lot of reform, but in comparison to Morocco, Algeria and other NATO backed regional autocracies its light years ahead. It has regular elections which no one force dominates by declaring 95% victory and a vibrant press.

LACK OF CORRUPTION: 1

Its pretty corrupt. A few billionaire families are often an indication of an unhealthy economic environment

NATURAL RESOURCES: 3

Agriculture is the only thing that has something going for it, oil and gas are in the process of development, other than that, nothing much. Remittances from abroad provide a lifeline for some families to operate a small business.

HUMAN RESOURCES: 2

Only 6 million people, but there are more Lebanese living abroad than in Lebanon. Thus, gives them an opportunity to lobby others.

MILITARY: 5

The Lebanese military is not strong militarily, but it has done a terrific job in managing to remain relatively neutral within the labyrinth of regional and global power interests. Quite an achievement for the region.

INTERNATIONAL ALLIANCES: 3

Every regional and non-regional power has a local leverage within Lebanon. This makes it a potential powder keg, but also everyone knows that there is no monopoly on force. Everyone possesses a response mechanism, no monopoly on violence within or abroad. No Saddam is going to emerge in Lebanon anytime soon, thank God.

INDEPENDENCE: 6

The only Muslim country which ended a Zionist occupation on its terms and booted the IDF  out of the country.  It has a myriad of local proxies doing the bidding for external actors. However, its sophisticated system of people, resistance and the army allowed it to throw a feat Gamal Abdel-Nasser could only dream of, expel Israel from most of its occupied territories in 2000.

GLOBAL/SOFT-POWER INFLUENCE: 8

Yes, we are going to rate this one high. Just like African-Americans define the concept of cool in North America, the Lebanese define cool in the Arab world. Most people want to eat Lebanese food, listen to Lebanese music, party in Beirut and dress as stylish as Lebanese. There is simply no escape from Lebanese coolness, be it in Dubai Mall, London or a minbar of a mosque in Beirut.

 

MUSLIM INFLUENCE: 6

Hizbullah is a model for some Sunni and all Shia Islamic movements. Its electoral, social and security success in comparison to other Islamic movements is undeniable, by its foes or friends.

TOTAL: 49

#4 Malaysia

ECONOMY: 6

Malaysia has a strong manufacturing sector in comparison to many other Muslim countries and developed one of Asia’s most powerful brands, AirAsia.

INTERNAL COHESION: 5

Ethnic divisions are present, but overall, the identity of being a Malaysian is rising and can be found among all ethnic groups present in Malaysia.

POLITICAL SYSTEM: 7

It is one of the very few governing systems in the Muslim world with regular elections and a legitimate electoral process. They just recently voted out of office a corrupt government with no nationwide violence. The forces which came to power showed in practical terms that they are ready to share power with those with whom they do not share the same views on many issues.

LACK OF CORRUPTION: 4

It has a long way to go, but at least Malaysian press reports on corrupt politicians. One of the factors why Najib Razak lost the 2018 elections and is now facing the judiciary. It’s a rarity in most parts of the world.

NATURAL RESOURCES: 5

Agriculturally rich and a significant producer of oil, among other minerals like iron and timber.

HUMAN RESOURCES: 6

At 94.64 % literacy rate in 2015, according to the World Bank and UNESCO’s latest data also shows favorable results in various areas.

MILITARY: 3

Its military has a well organized professional army, but no major battle experience and is highly dependent on Western equipment.

INTERNATIONAL ALLIANCES: 6

Has good relations with almost all Muslim countries and most Muslim countries look up to Malaysia as a role model in many areas. Its not caught up in the externally manufactured Sunni-Shia tensions.

INDEPENDENCE: 5

It’s governing system and economy were built as a model by Western powers to counter communism in Asia during the cold war, thus, its institutions are most probably heavily infiltrated by Western interests.

GLOBAL/SOFT-POWER INFLUENCE: 6

It’s one of the lovey-dovey places to visit on the list of most tourists and most leave with excellent impressions

MUSLIM INFLUENCE: 6

It is seen as one of the success stories of blending electoral politics and public Islamic identity.

TOTAL: 59

#3 Islamic Republic of Iran

ECONOMY: 5

Even with all the economic sanctions, Iran still manages to produce military equipment, satellites, develop its pharmaceutical products and create robust domestic economic actors. Even its staunchest detractors admit that its economy is nowhere near as bad as the corporate media paints it to be. Iran’s non-oil exports hit $27 bn during first 7 months of 2018.

INTERNAL COHESION: 7

It has withstood 40 years of heavy-duty political, economic and social sabotage with no major outbreak of violence. A clear indication that the regime change narrative is not working.

POLITICAL SYSTEM: 8

It is the only system in the Muslim world where Islamic legal experts are in charge and successfully combined an electoral system with traditional Islamic governance paradigm. It has not cancelled elections even during the US backed Saddam invasion. Its elected parliament often impeaches government Ministers, not an insignificant sign of electoral politics.

LACK OF CORRUPTION: 4

While there is corruption, no one is immune from being persecuted. Quite a rarity for the region.

NATURAL RESOURCES: 7

A country is rich in energy and non-energy resources.

HUMAN RESOURCES: 7

Iran is one of the countries which has an overeducation “problem” and its PhD students are drivers of the US educational institutions. Country’s scientific output rose 18-fold between 1996 and 2008, from 736 published papers to 13,238.

MILITARY: 7

It has a battle-hardened military with a successful track record of giving the worlds super powers a bloody nose in Iraq, Lebanon, and Afghanistan. Its superb non-conventional military capabilities are not denied even by its enemies

INTERNATIONAL ALLIANCES: 6

It has a strong non-conventional alliances with state and non-state actors. One of the only few Muslim nations capable of fighting a proxy war against its detractors.

INDEPENDENCE: 9

At the time of the Islamic Revolution, during the cold war it was confronting the US in the Middle East and at the same time assisting Afghan fighters in resisting the Soviet Union. Iran formed the Hezbe-Wahdat organization in Afghanistan aiding it to resist the Soviet occupiers. Quite a daring act, considering how during the cold war most of the developing nations were either US or Soviet proxies, a feat possible only with an independent minded leadership.

GLOBAL/SOFT-POWER INFLUENCE: 5

It is seen as one of the civilized Muslim state systems by many educated Muslims and non-Muslims. Its impressive strides in stem cell research, women’s rights and science make it appealing to secular and non-secular public.

MUSLIM INFLUENCE: 5

If Iran was not a Shia Muslim country, the Muslim world would “worship” it. From it being the only Muslim state system where traditional Islamic jurists enjoy real executive power to Tehran being the only Muslim state officially arming the Palestinian resistance, Iran would have far greater influence were it not for sectarian schisms.

TOTAL: 70

#2 Republic of Turkey

ECONOMY: 6

Turkey has an economy which is well integrated into the global economic infrastructure of the post-WW II international order. Turkey has been nurtured as the secular role model for Muslims by NATO powers for decades. Its economic success is crucial for pushing secularism in the Muslim world, thus, until it remains a NATO member, it can economically always count on international support. Of course, at times due to tactical disagreements with its NATO allies it will face some economic pressure and difficulties.

INTERNAL COHESION: 7

Turkishness combined with religious conservatism is a powerful unifying factor within Turkey. Traditionally the Turkic people always “worshipped” statehood and see it as a fundamental pillar of their existential identity. Thus, in times of crisis Turkish society has a powerful common denominator to come together. If you doubt it, just pay attention to how passionately Ertugrul talks about the state next time you watch it.

POLITICAL SYSTEM: 6

Turkey successfully managed to maintain an electoral system and serves as a role model for many secular and non-secular political trends in the Muslim world.

LACK OF CORRUPTION: 4

Its pretty corrupt, but there are some improvements in that area.

NATURAL RESOURCES: 5

Turkey has a decent manufacturing base in comparison with many other Muslim countries.

HUMAN RESOURCES: 7

A highly literate population with a strong diaspora.

MILITARY: 6

One of the best equipped and organized Muslim armies which is highly depended on its NATO allies. It has a mid-level battle experience, mainly fighting Kurdish militias. It has not fought a major war for decades and the militias Turkey’s security apparatus formed during the proxy-war against Syria performed poorly.

INTERNATIONAL ALLIANCES: 8

It’s a NATO member and the Western pillar of secularism in the Muslim world. More needs not to be said to understand the importance of Turkey to Western powers.

INDEPENDENCE: 8

The devotuion of the Turkish people to the concept of statehood is a powerful soft-power mechanism on an internal level. Thus, no mater how integrated Turkey is into the Western security infrastructure, it is more of a partner rather than a vassal. It’s historical perception by the Muslim world as the seat of the Caliphate, population size and public Islamic identity makes it quite independent from outside manipulation.

GLOBAL/SOFT-POWER INFLUENCE: 5

On a global level Turkey is not viewed favorably, especially among European nations, who for xenophobic and racist reasons view Turkey as a negative factor.

MUSLIM INFLUENCE: 8

Turkey being the last seat of the Muslim monarchy, which most Muslims mistakenly accept as the Khilafa enjoys a tremendous appeal among most Muslims. With the emergence of Islam in the public life under the AKP government, it is seen as the best available model of an Islamic oriented Sunni Muslim state system today.

TOTAL: 70

# 1 – Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Surprised even more, keep reading.

ECONOMY: 7

If one thing no one disputes about the KSA is that they are loaded with cash. Due to strategic security and political alliance with Western powers, KSA has a green light to participate in the post-WW II economic order in any shape or form they wish. It’s a cash-cow of Washington and its money is protected by NATO.

INTERNAL COHESION: 8

Its wealth is generated through oil, combined with generous welfare system for its citizens created a successful social contract internally. Comfortable life for political quietism of its citizens is a long working formula within the KSA and its not going to go anywhere anytime soon.

POLITICAL SYSTEM: 0

There is no political system, its a regime stuck in almost pre-historic times. However, a strong vested interest of NATO powers makes the system sustainable. The only threat is an eternal schism for the throne. However, judging on how the Western powers went beyond and above all immoral after the murder of Saudi regime’s apologist, Jamal Khashoggi, NATO powers will do everything in their power to sustain the house of Saud in power.

LACK OF CORRUPTION: 0

All one has to mention is that in 2017 during a four day trade visit in Japan, the Saudi king came with two golden escalators and a demand for a fleet of dozens of limousines.

NATURAL RESOURCES: 5

Its oil rich, with a minuscule manufacturing sector.

HUMAN RESOURCES: 7

It’s a highly literate place with a very generous student scholarship system.

MILITARY: 0

With all the NATO assistance, the Saudis made no gains in Yemen and completely failed.

INTERNATIONAL ALLIANCES: 10++

Its NATO’s most important soft-power and military base in the Muslim world.

INDEPENDENCE: 0

It’s security and political alliance is so deeply entrenched with NATO powers, it is impossible to assess the two as two separate entitles.

GLOBAL/SOFT-POWER INFLUENCE: 0

It has no global soft-power appeal and is seen as a regressive abnormality on the international arena. After the Jamal Khashoggi case its identity as a pariah state is sealed.

MUSLIM INFLUENCE: 10 +++++++

The KSA oversees Makkah and Medina, this alone gives it a tremendous psychological influence over Muslims worldwide. Any book with printed in Makkah stamp is taken as gold by most average Muslims, from the territories of the former USSR to Indonesia. It comes from Makkah, it must be true mentality is a very powerful brand which allowed the KSA to infiltrate the average Muslim mind on a level most Muslims do not even realize. From the regressive ideas that logic is haram (forbidden) in Islamic sciences to the anthropomorphic understanding of God, to the shallow perception of certain ahadith books being almost flawless, combined with a wealthy Islamic proselytizing sponsorships worldwide, the Saudi influence over Muslims is underestimated by its friends and foes.

Thus, in the age of soft-power, it is the most powerful Muslim country, its influence cannot be measured empirically as is the case with most great things in life, like the mothers love for a child. The Saudi narrative of what Islam “is” trained thousands of “teachers” whose influence will continue even once the KSA collapses.

TOTAL: ++++

 

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