Preventing Violent Extremism:
Leaders Telling a Different Story
20th August 2016
From Al Sadig Al Mahdi to the SG club de Madrid
The concept paper is a good summary of the problems of violent extremism, and the need to build a universal consensus through a project expected to reach the six results outlined in the concept paper.
There is nothing to add in the steps outlined to discuss the issues, promote the necessary coordination, and the means necessary through track II diplomacy, dialogue encounters and media programs, to advocate the message of the universal consensus.
However, as someone living in the MENA Region and its West African and Horn of Africa neighbors, where Al Qaeda, Daesh, Boku Haram and Al Shabab set up their violent centers, I have a narrative which warrants serious attention.
The Taliban narrative belongs to the same narrative with marked differences.
Many theocratic interpretations have been quoted to explain the atrocities, for example Jerry Farwell explained 9/11 as Divine Punishment for Secularizing America.
Some Muslim Imams also resorted to explanations in terms of Divine intervention.
Some blame Islam as cruel and irrational for the phenomena.
Graham Fuller in FP of Jan/Feb 2008 wrote an article titled: “World without Islam”. In it he argued that even if the inhabitants of the MENA Region were non-Muslim the policies inflicted upon the Region would have led to similar reactions. This approach echoes a statement by the real founder of sociology Ibn Khuldun. He said: “All phenomena, natural or social, may be explained in terms of objective laws”.
In fact all societies, under certain circumstances bread extremism. All extremist themes, under certain circumstances become violent.
The ordinary type of terrorist activity espouses a hit and run tactic. They move from no address, attack unsuspecting people and disappear to no address.
This behavior is usually associated with an extremist ethnic, religious or national ideology to terrorize authorities and communities to make them yield to their demands.
Al Qaeda, Daesh, Boku Haram, Al Shabab and Taliban, and their numerous branches are manifestations of a different kettle of fish.
Although they employ extreme violence, they represent a reactionary Revolution to overthrow the current National and International order and replace it with a different order.
It is a Revolution which:
- Rejects the prevalent Islamic identity.
- Rejects the tenets of Modern civilization.
- Rejects the current Nation- States.
- Rejects the existing International order.
This comprehensive rejectionism justifies its attitude by the decadence of their targets and their deviation from the laws and principles of Islam as they define it.
Although their expression of Islamic ideology is anachronistic, they employ most up to date organizational, military, and communications techniques.
What gives them raison d’etre and appeal to mass recruit youths, are real vulnerabilities in the cultural, political, economic and International status quo.
I name the following ten vulnerabilities:
- The prevalent expression of Islamic identity is seen as condoning decadent morality, corrupt governance, social injustice, and subservience to foreign domination.
Al Qaeda was a call to Jihad against soviet occupation of Muslim territory. During the Cold War it was considered a legitimate response to Islamic duty. In the bosom of the Cold War it developed into a massive military –cum- administrative organization.
As a non-state actor it developed into an unprecedented machine.
With its ally, Taliban, Al Qaeda developed Khaliphate aspirations, and both allies decided to expel foreign presence from Muslim territories. However outlandish their methods, that ideology received wide spread response.
- Al Qaeda branch in Iraq and Syria abhorred the consequences of American acceptation of Iraq because it resulted in a sectarian imbalance in favor of the Shia. This plus the prevalent Shia domination in Syria led to Al Qaeda’s branch in Mesopotamia to decide to set up a Sunni Khalifate.
- Both Al Qaeda and Daesh have become centers for khalifate pretences.
- Both now compete for influence and branch out towards supporters. The prevalence of sectarian conflicts as in places like Yemen created crisis areas where they have extended their influence.
- Boku Haram is now the scourge of West Africa. It is another anachronistic Revolution.
It rejects the present Nation- state as corrupt, unjust and un Islamic.
It rejects modern education as blasphemous cultural alienation. It seeks to overthrow the status quo and establish its concept of Islamic order.
- The fact that the bulk of military intervention against these would be Islamic Regimes comes from “Christian” powers enhances their “Islamic” legitimacy in the eyes of many ordinary Muslims.
The climate of hate speech in both cultures is music to the ears of the fanatics. Usama bin Laden told his biographer that the aim of the 9/11 attacks is to drive America into overreaction which gives them fertile recruitment ground.
A fact referred to by sir Ivor, British Ambassador to Italy, who described ex-President Bush as recruitment agent to Al Qaeda.
In 2002 I was told by Mohamed Khutb: please no talk about reconciliation between Islam and West. We want more US and Israeli injustices to wake us up to confront them.
The fanatics in both cultures bank upon hatred. It serves their purposes. In Somalia, the Regime of Ziad Berri collapsed leaving a vacuum. The Shariah courts assumed a political role, but the ruling authority with American support called in Ethiopian troops to help. That was the wrong intervention, it helped the emergence of Al Sabab.
The employment of Ethiopian troops gave Al Shabab a patriotic raison d’etre:
- The Nation- state system in the Region is fragile. In this modern World, the legitimacy of a system of governance requires: participatory governance, economic viability, social Justice, corruption free leadership, and modicum of International legitimacy.
So many of the Nation–states in the Region fall far short from these benchmarks.
This legitimacy deficit invites challenges from the anachronistic Revolution.
- In the Region, the International community is seen as unjust. Even outsiders have pointed out how the Israeli Lobby influences US policy in the Region. John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt have documented in their book, on the Israeli Lobby and US Foreign policy, how that policy is shaped by the Israeli lobby. Inside Israel itself general Yair Golen during the memory of the holocaust said about the treatment of the Palestinians: “It is very scary that horrifying developments that took place in Europe begin to unfold here”. (Haartz 5/5/2016)
The plight of the Palestinians in Israel is becoming an Apartheid scenario.
The New York Times of 25/5/2016 Said: “Israel sinks deeper into a de facto bi-national State controlled by Jewish extremists.
Such states of affairs give munitions to the challengers.
- Even the youth in the developed countries have in great numbers responded to this anachronism.
In the latest Davos conference it was noticed that political democracy has not prevented the growth of socio- economic autocracy.
Hence the emergence of several youth protest movements, with calls like occupy the city, occupy Wall Street, and so on. In the Davos conference, OXFAM dubed the free market economy, the economy of the 1% and quoted statistics that 62 of the richest persons own wealth equal to half the World Population.
It stated, therefore, the prevalent lack of trust for the elites in the main street. It concluded: no wonder social unrest, populism, and political anger prevails. Economic malaise generates more extremism, isolationism and volatility.
No wonder Daesh appeals to some in these societies.
- Such realities help explain the appeal of the fanatical Revolution. There are Islamic texts which since the time of the Kharijites have been used to maintain an extremist violent position.
They have come handy to the outlandish ideologies of the would be Islamic states.
Finally: Taliban, Al Qaeda, Daesh, Boku Haram, Al shabab and their numerous branches cannot be bombed out of existence.
Those movements raised terrorist atrocities to unprecedented levels, but they are much more than that: Taliban and Al Shabab in their circumstances have assumed the role of liberation movements against foreign domination.
Al Qaeda, and boku Haram, and their branches have become the wrong advocates for the right cases of needed change towards a New National and International order. Daesh is the same, but also a protest against widely felt sectarian imbalance.
These challenges to National and International peace and security cannot be contained in terms of counter terrorism alone. Their causes must be diagnosed towards an effective prescription.
In fact even if their centers are destroyed the factors that caused their emergence would bread alternatives, which may be more lethal if they find weapons of mass destruction and missiles. The only alternative to this dooms day scenario is a process of enlightened Reformation which changes the untenable cultural, political, socioeconomic, national, and International status quo in the ten points listed here as vulnerabilities.
Their very vulnerability clamors for change, which the anachronistic Revolutions provide. Yes, it is negative and unsustainable change but in the absence of positive sustainable change will rush to fill the vacuum.
In spite of the massive NATO, and multi–National military coalitions and related security measures for years on end, the menace of this phase of threats to National and international Peace and Stability is expanding not receding .
Although it was never their intention, the reactionary Revolutions of the MENA, West Africa, and Horn of Africa Regions, are the best advocates for Reformation in all its ten aspects to save Humanity from an age of darkness.
If we postulate that progress is the purpose of God for Human evolution as I believe, then in His own ways He willed this calamitous Scenario to prompt Humanity to realize its own salvation.
Let the different story which the leaders of the C de Madrid tell be a land mark in the progress of Human History.