Manual Beyond Terror and Martyrdom: The Future of the Middle East

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Unvarnished: Middle East and Terrorism

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Flag comment Cancel. This repression, in turn, leads to reflective solidarity among the Muslim masses, and in this way the ideology of jihad spreads throughout the Islamic population. The only problem with Suri's prediction is that it hasn't worked. Assassinations in western countries, particularly of anti-jihadist Muslims, have had the opposite effect. Most Muslims in Europe and the United States are repelled by violence committed in their name.

The real recruiter to the jihadist cause has not been jihadist actions and appeals. Nope, the Lord Kitchener of this jihad is America's invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan with all the deaths, acts of torture, displacement of people and divisions of society they have caused ; the exposure of US torture at Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, Bagram and elsewhere; and Israel's attacks on Palestinians in the occupied territories, the latest of which is unfolding with huge loss of life in Gaza at this moment.

Beyond Terror and Martyrdom — Gilles Kepel | Harvard University Press

Each side does more for the other than it could hope to accomplish for itself. What good did the 11 September attacks do Muslims, compared to the boost they gave to Washington's neoconservative holy warriors? Kepel dismisses the pretence that the US would, through its invasion of Iraq, usher in a democratic era in other Arab states. He writes: "The authoritarian Sunni governments of the region - Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Syria, which Washington had accused of being too soft on terrorism - enjoyed an ironic reinstatement at the White House as President Bush, at his wit's end, cast aside any concern for democratic principles in a bid for urgent regional support.

When the Palestinians elected a Hamas government hostile to Israel, Washington refused to recognise it and supported Israel's blockade an act of war against the 1. Nothing in the neoconservative canon would cause Washington to deviate from its response to the Palestinian elections if the Egyptians and Saudis voted the same way - as they would if they were allowed to.

Is it likely that Bush really sought to "democratise" the region, when that meant permitting its populations to choose leaders opposed to US support for Israel, Israeli colonisation of the West Bank and Israeli attacks on the West Bank, Gaza and Lebanon? Did neoconservatism's high priests want Arab democracy, when that threatened to limit Israeli options? How would democracy "square the circle" of supporting Israel while keeping the guardians of Arab oil sweet? The only way to do that, which is how the US has done it since the Second World War, is to forestall democracy and impose "good" rulers on the Arab people in America's interest.

As the new president has promised, and, as Kepel writes, what the world can expect from Washington is continuity - the same policies, the impossibly squared circles and possibly the same cant about democracy. Of course, in the real world of the Pax [ sic ] Americana of the Middle East, democracy will not be allowed. The jihadists will like that.

Gilles Kepel's 'Beyond Terror and Martyrdom'

This article first appeared in the 19 January issue of the New Statesman, Obama: What the world expects Sign up. You are browsing in private mode. Show Hide image.


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