The Arab World after 9/11 and the US Democratization Efforts


Research Paper (postgraduate), 2007
25 Pages

Excerpt

Table of Contents

The Muslim World after 9/11 and US Democratization Efforts

I. The Muslim World after 9/11 -The Middle East
I.1. Terrorism in the North West African Regions
I.2. The New Terrorism in the Sahel Region
I.3. Al Qaeda-GSPC Alliance
I.4. Fundraising through Crimes
I.5. GSPC and Al-Qaeda International Networks

II. US democratization Efforts in the Islamic World

The Arab World after 9/11 and the US Democratization Efforts

I. The Arab World after 9/11 -The Middle East

The alleged Al Qaeda attacks of November 9, 2001, have dramatically distorted the political environment between the Muslim and the Western world. Muslims live in a vast and diverse region that stretches from West Africa to the southern Philippines, as well as Muslim communities and Diaspora, scattered throughout the world. In the Muslim world, religion, politics, and culture are intertwined in complicated ways. This chapter is dedicated to dig-out and examine the dynamics that are driving changes in the political-religious landscape of the Muslim world, and to provide the global policymakers, the broader academic and security circle, with a general outline of events and recent trends, in the Islamic militia, that are most likely to affect U.S. interests and global security.

In thus chapter, we can have an insight which ideological zeal Muslims in the Middle East and somewhere else seem to follow. They differ significantly not only in their religious views but also in their political and social orientation, in particular, women’s rights and the content of education and their tendency for violence. Based on such political and religious analysis an exploration will be undertaken within the two main streams of Islam, first and foremost those between the Sunni and Shiia branches and between the Arab and the non-Arab Muslims straight ait down to sub-national communities, tribes, and clans

Sunni-style Muslims are the majority in this world, but a significant minority, about 15 percent of the global Muslim population, are Shiites. Iranians are Shiites, and they form a politically excluded majority in Iraq (until the fall of Saddam), Bahrain, and possibly also in the eastern province of Saudi Arabia, where the dominant Wahhabi ideology stigmatizes them as “polytheists.

Over 80% of the Muslims in the world are non-Arabs, only about 20 percent of the world’s Muslims claim to be Arabs. Astonishingly enough, the so-called Arabs try to dominate and control the interpretations of Islam, its religious practices, political, cultural, social and all other issues. For reasons that have more to do with historical and cultural development than religion, the Arab world exhibits a higher incidence of economic, social, and political disorders than other regions of the so-called developing world.

By contrast, the non-Arab parts of the Muslim world are politically more comprehensive, boast the majority of the democratic (see Egypt, Kuwait, Yemen, Indonesia… etc) or partially democratic governments, and are more secular in outlook. Although the Middle East has long been regarded as the core of the Muslim world, the most innovative work in Islam is being done on the in countries such as Indonesia, Egypt and Brunei it means in Muslim communities in the West.

As in Afghanistan, Somali, or other ethnic based countries, tribes, and clans often comprise the principal basis of individual and group identity and the primary engine of political behaviour. The failure to fully understand tribal politics was one of the underlying causes of the catastrophic U.S. involvement in the Somali conflict in the early 1990s. Ten years later, the U.S. government still knows little about tribal dynamics in areas where U.S. forces are or may be operating. As the United States pursues an activist policy in disturbed areas of the world, it will be critical to understand and to learn to manage sub national and tribal issues.

To examine the sources of Islamic radicalism it important to have an insight in the process of spreading Islamism outside the Middle East that has involved the importation of Arab-origin ideology and religious and social practices, this is wrongly referred as Arabization. This process has had a polarizing effect outside the Middle East, creating greater distance between Sufi Muslims who have chosen to adopt elements of the Arab religious culture as a way of manifesting greater piety and those Wahabist Muslims.

Family ties, tribal conservatism, clan loyalty and cultural practices which have nothing to do with a religious feature, and religious extremism can be mutually reinforcing. In the absence of a strong central authority, they ca simply produce a militant activists or terrorists. To understand and contain the dangerous development of radical networks in the growth of Islamic extremist and terrorist movements; it is vital to analyse their roots, strategies, structure and influence.

Their networks are backed by radical Islamic groups, individuals, intellectual-master-minders who share a common religious background and goal–eradicating the hated Western. They are also be foreign based Islamic charity organizations, diasporas communities or Islamic financial institutions and Hawaalas (money transfer and laundry). In Somalia for example, the radical extremists finance their terrorism with money sent from the Diasporas through the Hawala. As it is well known, especially financial support networks have been key nodes in the funding and operations of extremist and terrorist groups. Another important sector that enhanced the modern terrorism is the emergence and support of Internet and notably the satellite regional media, like the well-known Qatari-based network of Al-Jazziera, whose ownership is the Qatari Muslim Brotherhood.

The vast growth, that radical political Islam has became what it is now is, processes have been functional in a number of critical events that have now altered the political view of the Muslim world in fundamental-militant ways. Those critical events include the revolution in Iranian with the foundation of the most conservative Islamic nation, the Gulf War of 1991, the war in Afghanistan, the global war on terrorism that followed the September 11 terrorist attacks, and the Iraq war in 2003. The Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the Indo-Pakistan Kashmir conflicts are chronic conditions that have shaped the political discourse in the Middle East and South Asia for over five decades.

After the attacks of September 11 the emergence of Operation Enduring Freedom, the United States stepped up counterterrorist cooperation with regional governments, and the Muslim world sided openly with Washington. This de facto alliance with the United States removed the Taliban threat to the Central Asian nations. It is in the context of this geopolitical realignment that the war in Iraq brought U.S. power into the heart of the Middle East. After their independence and the withdrawal of France and England, America is the first Western-nation to assume power and change the government in Iraq. In due course of this action, the major threat to Iraq’s stability started to be dominated by the increasingly organized Sunni-based insurgency. Furthermore, the strengthening of Islamic fundamentalist forces, both Sunni and Shiia, and the manipulation of Shiite movements by Iran became a boiling point.

Due to the American military and foreign policy incapability and the inflamed religious and ethnic sectarianism, Iraq seems to steer toward the politics of unknown future. However, the impact of Iraq on the political evolution of the Middle East will depend on, whether the new Iraq emerges as a pluralistic and reasonably democratic and stable state, or whether it reverts to authoritarianism or more realistically, fragments into ethnic enclaves.

Moreover, if the current unfavourable religious and ethnic sectarianism which accompanied with suicide bombings continues in Iraq, it will lead toward a further destabilization of the Middle East, destroy U.S credibility and influence, discredit democracy-based policies, and open opportunities for infringement by U.S. adversaries in a strategic vital region of the world.

Removal of Saddam Hussein could have been done without opening war toward the Iraqis, once it happened, the impact of the useless war in Iraq with the intention of the removal of the Saddam were more attenuated in all regions of the Muslim world, but it did not strongly resonate in Central Asia.

The huge majority part of mainstream Muslim sectors in South and Southeast Asia opposed the war in Iraq, but the war does not appear to have had lasting effects on the evolution of political Islam or on U.S. relations with South and Southeast Asian states.

However the division between different Islamic groups within the Middle East has taken a new radical dimension as it was before. From the history, the Sunni based Ideology of al Qaeda regards Shiites as heretics, hypotheists, traitors and it absolute mistrusts and that, all Shiite groups including Hezbollah. The whole situation seems funny today, as we have recently observed that It was al Qaeda who initiated and to have given the support to Sunni extremists in Iraq to destroy all Shiite civilians and specially their holy places.

But now Hezbollah has profiled itself and feels to have been recognized as a leader of the Islamic Jihadist against Israel and the Western world. Many Sunnis are therefore rallying to Hezbollah's side, including the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) in Egypt and Jordan, alItad alIslamiya (AIAI) the United Islamic Courts (UIC) of Somalia and the Eritrean Islamic Jihaad (ISM).

During Hezbolla was occupied with Israel, several leaders of al Qaeda have issued official statements concerning Hezbollah's actions and telling followers how to respond to them. The generalpicture of their argument is that the Shiites are conspiring to destroy Islam and to revive Persian imperialrule over the Middle East and ultimately the world.

The statements of al Qaeda explain this effort the "Sassanian- Safavid conspiracy," in reference to the Sassanians, a pre-Islamic Iranian dynasty, and to the Safavids, a Shiite dynasty that ruled Iran and parts of Iraq from 1501 till 1736. They go further on to argue that with the help of the United States, Iraq has been handed over to the Shiites, who are now wantonly massacring the country's Sunnis. Syria is already led by a Shiite heretic, President Bashar Al-Assad, whose policies harm the country's Sunni majority.

Hezbollah, according to al Qaeda leaders, seeks to cheat ordinary Muslims into believing that the Shiites are defending Islam's holiest cause, Palestine, in order to cover for the extensive Shiite alliance with the United States in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In due course, this naïve and baseless theory states, that the Shiites will fail in their efforts because the Israelis and Americans will destroy them once their role in the broader Zionist-Crusader conspiracy is accomplished. And then God will assure the success of the Sunni Muslims and the defeat of the Zionists and Crusaders. In the meantime, no Muslim should be fooled by Hezbollah, whose members have never fought the infidel on any of the real battlefronts, like Afghanistan, Bosnia, Chechnya or Kashmir. The proper attitude for Muslims to adopt is to dissociate themselves completely from the infidels.

Apart from the bizarre analysis of al Qaeda, Hezbollah has at the first place established an effective alliance with Hamas, a Sunni and Muslim Brotherhood organization. Second, statements coming from Hezbollah focus on the politics of resistance to occupation and invoke shared Islamic principles about the right to self-defence. Hassan Nasrallah leader of Hezbollah is extremely careful to hew closely to the dictates of Islamic law in his military attacks. These include such principles as advance notice, discrimination in selecting targets and proportionality.

At the end of the day, only Hezbollah can claim to have “defeated” Israel in Lebanon first in 2000 and in 2006, has shown its strength by hitting Haifa and other places with large numbers of Russian made Catoosa rockets - an achievement that no Arab or Muslim nation or power has accomplished since the foundation of the state of Israel in 1948. The entire impact is a psychological setback for all Arab and Persian States who deeply wish one day to win a war over Israel and triumph over their victories

Perhaps Hezbollah's pre-eminence among Sunnis will open the door for Shiites and Sunnis to stop the bloodshed in Iraq - and to concentrate on their as they say it “enemies”, -the United States and Israel. Rumblings against Israeli actions in Lebanon from both Shiites and Sunnis in Iraq already suggest such an outcome. That may be good news for Iraqis, but it marks a dangerous turn for the West.

And there are darker implications still. Al Qaeda, after all, is unlikely to take a loss of status lying down. Indeed, the rise of Hezbollah makes it all the more likely that Al Qaeda will soon seek to reassert itself through increased attacks on Shiites in Iraq and on Westerners all over the world - whatever it needs to do in order to regain the title of true defender of Islam. However, the fact shows that Al Qaeda has met a dominant challenge in Hezbollah and its leader, who has made a shrewd choices that appeal to Al Qaeda's Sunni followers. Al Qaeda's improbable conspiracy theory does little to counter these advantages as long as Nasrallah keeps on preaching a non-sectarian ideology and that does not highlight his group's Shiite identity

Defeating Israel is not a simple thing as Nasrallah has defined victory in his typically low-key style, which contrasts sharply with the old-style and bombastic claims of Arab leaders such as Gama Abdul-Nasser and Saddam Hussein. What Hezbollah can do is bleed Israel’s military forces, harm its economy and extract political concessions. Psychologically, what Hezbollah claimed as a victory has a great impact on the Arab world. It is this psychological aspect to the present war that has so many Arabs and Muslims rallying to Hezbollah’s side—they finally see Arabs who are putting up a realfight against a formidable adversary who had acquired supernatural power (Israel) in their collective imagination. But does Hezbollah’s resistance really count as a victory or is it merely illusory especially in the long term? Does it constitute anything more than al Qaeda’s “acts” on 11 September 2001? How will the political map of the Middle East change if Hezbollah is seen to have won this round with Israel? And finally which forces in the United States are benefiting most from this engagement? What will be the role of al Qaeda?

First, the Salafi movement have been divided and therefore weakened by Hezbollah’s war, with one group supporting the Shiite organization and another refusing it. Second, strong links Hezbollah established with, and received a good support from, the Muslim Brotherhood including leaders like Mahdi `Akif, in Egypt and Sheik Yusuf Al-Qaradhawi in Qatar. Third, the ideological and strategic confusion of al Qaeda caused to neglect Hezbollah in its project of fighting Israel. Fourth, Support from the Hamas’ leadership in Palestine and Syria has vowed unconditional support for Hezbollah.

It is evident that through its military actions against Israel as well as its non-sectarian rhetoric Hezbollah has successfully downplayed its Shiite identity. Few in the Muslim and Arab worlds seem concerned that Hezbollah is committed to Ayatollah Khomeini’s teaching on wilayat Al-faqih, according to which the supreme leader is the one who decides matters of war and peace and that he is considered the marji` who is to be obeyed completely by all the believers. The present Wali Al-Faqih is Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Iran who incidentally is the first to have translated the works of Sayyid Qutb into the Farsi language and has strong Muslim Brotherhood affinities. Iran’s role behind Hezbollah and its increasing influence in the Middle East are carefully hidden.

There might be finally an opportunity for Iran to see the long-awaited fruits of the 1979 Islamic revolution and project its power throughout the Middle East. Until now, Hezbollah in Lebanon was its only success. But because of American incompetence and failure in Iraq, Iran might dominate this one time arch-rival, and now because of Hezbollah in Lebanon also determine the terms of the Arab-Israeli conflict. The political losers in this projected scenario are clearly very numerous and include the leaderships of the Arab Gulf states, Egypt, and Jordan among others. In addition, the Middle East is likely to see the marginalization of Saudi Arabia as the religious leader of the Muslim world and sectarian conflicts, between Shiites and Sunnis, are bound to increase, as witnessed sadly everyday in Iraq.

In the US Politics, especially the neo-conservatives want a war between Hezbollah and Israel so as to expand their policy of “creative destabilization” beyond the confines of Iraq to include Syria and Iran. For the neo-conservatives a “victory” through regime change in Syria and Iran justifies any amount of destruction and death in the Middle East. They simply do not care if thousands or tens of thousands of Arabs are killed and all their countries’ infrastructure is destroyed. If anything, this provides business opportunities for western companies to win reconstruction contracts the US

In the United States the neo-conservatives have started to discuss because about Hezbollah’s actions. They feel that they have a new enemy with whom to terrify and galvanize the American public for further sacrifice in blood and treasure. One can sense their influence deliberately in the White House’s refusal to accept a cease-fire in Lebanon.

So what of Hezbollah’s psychological victory and is it merely illusory? The experience of much more powerful nations than the Arab ones, like Germany and Japan, indicate that this “victory” will amount to nothing stronger than a spider’s web. The only real victory for any people in the modern world is to educate them and to compete with other nations not on the field of battle but in the spheres of industry, ideas and innovation. We must ask ourselves how many of the most brilliant and accomplished Arab minds will leave Lebanon and elsewhere in the Middle East to work in the West as a result of this conflict? With each emigrant, the Arab and Muslim worlds are losing a battle to the West. And the legacy for the Arabs and Muslims will be destruction and heart-rending loss of innocent life.

[...]

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Title
The Arab World after 9/11 and the US Democratization Efforts
Author
Year
2007
Pages
25
Catalog Number
V135974
ISBN (eBook)
9783640440078
ISBN (Book)
9783640440153
File size
481 KB
Language
English
Tags
Tags, Association of Islamic Students in France (AEIF) in France
Quote paper
Professor. Dr. Girma Yohannes Iyassu Menelik (Author), 2007, The Arab World after 9/11 and the US Democratization Efforts, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/135974

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