Axis of Resistance Needs to Make its Narrative Heard: Sharmine Narwani

Alwaght- “Syria was the turning point for all these things. It drew the Russians and Chinese into the Mideast theater and a global standoff took place. Today, we are on the verge of a fundamental shift in the world financial, economic and political orders. New power centers are emerging and old ones are taking their last breaths,” Sharmine Narwani says.

Ms. Narwani is an author and former West Asia (Middle East) affairs researcher at Saint Anthony College of Oxford University. She took her M.A degree in both journalism and West Asia studies from School of International and Public Affairs of Columbia University in New York. Narwani is currently living in London. Her article “How the Narratives Killed the Syrian People” for the first time was published by RT (Russia Today) news network, and was translated in seven languages.

The following is Mrs. Narwani ‘s interview with Iran-based Javan daily news.

Q: In your article you referred to the Axis of Resistance. How do you know this camp? And in other words what is your definition of the identity of the Axis of Resistance?

A: As I see it, the Axis of Resistance includes Iran, Syria and Hezbollah as the anchor states/groups. But clearly, in the last few years this axis’ appeal has broadened and other states have become participants to varying degrees. Iraq, for instance, shares common security goals with this axis in terms of battling a common enemy – Takfiris – and so has Russia. All five have at various points collaborated in fighting Takfirism in the Syrian and Iraqi battlefields in the past year. This axis also shares a worldview that is based on principles of independence, self-determination, anti-imperialism and adherence to Rule of Law as it applies to international relations. In that sense, its appeal becomes even broader, and you have China, Venezuela, Bolivia, South Africa and many other states which share the worldview and political outlook of the Resistance Axis.

Q: In a part of your article you have referred to a security arc that starts from the Levant and ends in the Persian Gulf region. Can you explain about it?

A: In 2013 I wrote an article that predicted a security collaboration between Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Iran – which has largely come to fruition. These states have had to join forces because they are facing destabilization and terrorism which is sponsored, fueled and organized by the US, UK, France, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar primarily. The ‘Security Arc’ was once referred to as the ‘Shia Crescent’ by Jordan’s King Abdullah in a shockingly sectarian slur, but this Arc has become a reality today – not because of sect, but because of the actions of neighbors and world powers that sought to undermine Iran by destroying Syria.

My theory was that these four states would be forced to cooperate militarily to remove a common security threat, and by doing so, would begin to forge deeper economic and political relationships that would, in turn, augment and enhance this grouping as a political bloc in the region. I believe that the terrorism stretching from the Levant to the Persian Gulf can be defeated by these four players, and that external military forces are unnecessary and counterproductive, unless explicitly invited by the Security Arc to fight under their command.

Once stabilized, the Security Arc will set an example for the rest of the region, particularly those neighboring countries that are facing their own destabilization. I expect Turkey, Jordan and Egypt (Kuwait, Oman, Algeria possibly too) to then eventually gravitate toward forging stronger relationships with the Security Arc in order to collaborate on broader regional security, economic and political crises.

Q: You said that that we” have immense opportunities to re-craft the world and the Middle East in our own vision.” Can you elaborate on these chances?

A: The West and their proxies in the Middle East cannot win this battle they are fighting against the Resistance Axis in the region. The current wars are, in essence, a final aggressive attempt to establish their hegemony – and they will fail. They have thrown money, weapons and political clout behind this effort and what do they have today? NATO-member Turkey is reeling from internal discord – Kurds, jihadists and domestic political fights – because of its intervention in Syria. The Saudis are broke thanks to their Syria, Iraqi and Yemeni military adventurism. The Qataris have shrunk back into their 200-square-meter state. The US, UK and France have hemorrhaged resources and wealth trying to control the Middle East with their ‘democracy’ interventions in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria and elsewhere. They are all now facing the backlash of terrorism, domestic political dogfights and populations that are demanding their rights. The EU is beginning to splinter, NATO has lost all relevance, and fascism is emerging in every corner.

Syria was the turning point for all these things. It drew the Russians and Chinese into the Mideast theater and a global standoff took place. Today, we are on the verge of a fundamental shift in the world financial, economic and political orders. New power centers are emerging and old ones are taking their last breaths.

There is no better time to grasp the opportunity to ‘frame’ a new world order that satisfies our own aspirations. What kind of Middle East do we want? What is the solution to Palestine? How do we solve our economic problems? I am sorry, but we no longer need the IMF, Washington or NATO to tell us. We don’t need to buy Boeing aircraft to ingratiate ourselves with the Americans. We don’t need to become a dumping ground for stale western products in order to be accepted. Asia is the next big growth story – let us take a lead in framing that tale. If I were sitting in the shoes of decision makers in Iran today, I would be planning for Iran to become the eastern flank of the Asian century – a net exporter and a reliable friend to all who want to learn from the country’s remarkable ‘resistance economy’ example. I would be in Egypt and Jordan and Algeria, teaching them how we managed to piece together a country after a devastating 8-year-war when oil was only $8 a barrel, educating them on expanding efficient healthcare to their provinces, guiding them into creating their own knowledge-based economies.

The Middle East needs to get on its feet even as they are writing us off. In chaos and devastation there is still plenty of opportunity – providing we are proactive and smart about it, we can emerge stronger and more competitive than ever. The future is now – let’s write it ourselves. Nobody else has answers.

Q: You said that the Axis of Resistance is weak in promoting its narratives and confronting the false narratives of the Western media. What do you suggest to change this?

A: The Resistance Axis is a remarkable example of ‘efficiency’ in this region. Militarily, economically, politically, it has made great strides against all odds. But this axis does not understand the value of propaganda. I don’t mean lies – I mean ‘propaganda’ in the sense that governments need to articulate their value propositions to their constituents and beyond. What does the Resistance Axis have in communicating their aspirations to a global audience? A handful of lousy media outlets that are staffed by ‘disciples,’ not professionals. I cringe when I read the bias in news reports and editorials. The worldview of the Resistance is one that resonates with the majority of populations throughout the region – and even the world. When you talk about Palestine and independence, when you talk about knowledge-based economies, anti-imperialism,, self-determination, justice…who doesn’t agree with that? Then why do people associate sect and war and terrorism with this axis? Somebody isn’t doing their job right. Somebody is thinking they can launch a defensive battle without explaining – in painstaking detail – why this fight is righteous, just, vital. You cannot rely on weekly speeches by Hassan Nasrallah and Ali Khamenei to break through the false media onslaught by the west and their proxies. They own ten thousand journalists and newspapers and TV stations.

It is time the Resistance Axis acknowledges its failing in the narratives-war. Advancing means recognizing one’s mistakes and correcting them. This axis understands this concept on the battlefield every day – and adjusts its tactics accordingly. But this axis does not understand that you will never truly ‘win’ the battle if you lose the ‘narrative.’ The Americans talks about winning “hearts and minds.” They are correct, and invest heavily in narratives that support their strategic goals. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel – we just need to get one.