- TERRORISM AND THE MIDDLE EAST'S DISINTEGRATION -
The Middle East continues to burn: the fight against IS goes foreward on more than one front but we are still faraway from the end of the conflict.
Iraq and Syria are fragmented and the biggest challange of the future will be the ethnic and religious pacification of the region.
Being in difficulty at home, the IS leads a last ditcheffort else where: from the Islamic world to the West, both in the case of “lone wolves” converted to extremism or in the case of jihadist groups ( often grown in the western metropolis ).
Many people in the West fear the “clash of civilizations” and in Italy, the writings of Oriana Fallaci are coming back again.
However, talking about a “clash of civilizations” is erroneous since it serves the jihadist propaganda: the more it is spoken about, the more it is encouraged.
The historian Franco Cardini remembers us that Islam recognizes no clerical authority qualified to speak on behalf of all Islamic communities, which are actually autocephalous and it should be borne in mind that most of the Islamic terrorism’s victims are Muslim themselves.
Massimo Campanini, historian of the Islamic world, draws attention to the fact that the “civil” infighting, triggered by extremist and terrorist organizations, is essentially anti-Islamic precisely because it unleashes a “fake” agreement as civil war between Muslim.
In addiction- as I already had the opportunity to argue elsewhere- in all this Middle Eastern turmoil, the geopolitical and bioenergetics issues take precedence over the still-influential sectarian question.
The Saudi-Iranian rivalry is essentially geopolitical and unilateral “cultural” explanation
cannot highlight the complex regional dynamics and the consequent shape of alliances.
What role did the West play? The Iraqi political-religious fragmentation has deep roots but it has been revived and encouraged by the 2003 reckless and criminal war.
The Chilcot report has strongly condemned Blair’s ( and Bush’s) intervention and performance by highlighting both the wrong assumptions and the predictable consequences.
Things that have been known for years but that can be finally read in the international press.
The war in Iraq has certainly been a disaster: it has revived the interreligious and sectarian clash, it has destroyed a country by provoking hundreds of thousands of both deaths and refugees and it has laid the foundations for the rise of the IS.
Nowadays, without war there wouldn’t be the phantom “Islamic State”: history isn’t made of “ifs” but it is better to underline the massive responsibilities of those who – if not in the court – will be “prosecuted” by the historians of the future.
However, we must not fall into temptation of linking the West with everything that’s going on over there. The Western powers’ responsibilities are huge but they are not the only determining factors.
Islamic extremism and the derived ultraconservative interpretation of the religion come both from the “ Nahda” failure (the so-called Islamic reformism established since the nineteenth century) and the failure of the pan-Arab nationalism, moreover opposed by the western powers with all the possible means.
Western powers – USA first of all- have made use of jihadism for their own strategic ends (think of the anti-Soviet fight in Afghanistan, the support for the Libyan and Syrian rebels; or even the Chechen terrorism’s underestimation- when it was not expressly defended).
There is, however, a radical component within the Islamic world that is influenced by the Saudi Wahhbism similar beyond the West, as well as political Islam itself in general.
The IS hasn’t neither been created by default by some powers (as some people claim) nor it is the Saudis pawn, who consider it a “lesser evil” and tolerate it as long as it keeps their enemies busy outside of the kingdom (by preferring other extremist groups- easier to be controlled- over it).
The war in Iraq and the support to the jihadist internationalism against Assad’s Syria – who saw western powers and Gulf monarchies united- are certainly the primary causes of the Syrian-Iraqi disintegration (a memorandum signed by 51 American diplomats has even criticized Obama’s policy against Assad because considered too “reactive”! ).
The journalist Fulvio Scaglione in his recent book of strongly metaphoric title “Deal with the devil” (Bur, 2016) highlights in a very accurate way the relations between western powers and Saudi Arabia, from which private funds and so-called “charitable” organizations largely contribute to the financing of the extremist and terrorist groups.
But business is business and western powers continue to turn a blind eye.
How can we think of defeating terrorism if we do not cut the sources of funding and if “we” Europeans do not review our priorities in Middle East (and not only..) ?
Written by Federico La Mattina
Transalted by Alessandra Falzone
[i] Cfr. F. Cardini, Il califfato e l’Europa. Dalle crociate all’Isis: mille anni di paci e guerre, scambi, alleanze e massacri, Novara, Utet, 2016, p. 237.
[iii] Cfr. F. La Mattina, Libia, Siria, Ucraina: una critica del discorso dominante, in “MarxVentuno” 1-2 2016, pp. 137-160.