Beyond Terror and Martyrdom: The Future of the Middle East by Gilles Kepel

By Gilles Kepel

Due to the fact 2001, dominant worldviews have clashed within the worldwide enviornment: a neoconservative nightmare of an insidious Islamic terrorist hazard to civilized existence, and a jihadist fable of martyrdom during the slaughter of infidels. around the airwaves and at the floor, an ill-defined and uncontrollable battle has raged among those opposing eventualities. lethal photographs and threats—from the televised beheading of Western hostages to photo images of torture at Abu Ghraib, from the destruction wrought by way of suicide bombers in London and Madrid to civilian deaths by the hands of yank profession forces in Iraq—have polarized populations on either side of this divide. but, because the famous heart East pupil and commentator Gilles Kepel demonstrates, President Bush’s battle on Terror mask a fancy political time table within the heart East—enforcing democracy, gaining access to Iraqi oil, securing Israel, and looking regime swap in Iran. Osama bin Laden’s demand martyrs to get up opposed to the apostate and hasten the sunrise of a common Islamic nation papers over a fractured, fragmented Islamic global that's waging warfare opposed to itself. past Terror and Martyrdom sounds the alarm to the West and to Islam that either one of those exhausted narratives are bankrupt—neither efficient of democratic switch within the heart East nor of team spirit in Islam. Kepel urges us to flee the ideological quagmire of terrorism and martyrdom and discover the phrases of a brand new and positive discussion among Islam and the West, one for which Europe, with its increasing and stressed Muslim populations, could be the proving flooring. (20081127)

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Bloody attacks worldwide, from Bali to Mombasa, demonstrated Al Qaeda’s persistence and the failure of efforts to eliminate it—another clue that the shock-and-awe in­ vasion of Iraq might have a long tail. But in the view of the Bush ­administration, these events simply provided jus­tifi­ca­tion for expanding the war on terror, by showing how grave the threat was and underscoring the need to mobilize any means in order to overcome it. The invasion of Iraq promised a tangible victory that would make up for the lack of results in the hunt for Al Qaeda’s leaders.

15 31 32 BEYON D TERROR A N D M A RTY R D O M In remarks made to the United States Army War College at Carlisle, Pennsylvania, on May 24, 2005, President Bush noted that “under the dictator, prisons like Abu Ghraib were symbols of death and torture. ” In the same spirit, the president expressed his regrets to the Arab world, through the intermediary of the king of Jordan and an interview in the Egyptian daily Al Ahram. But these apologies were too little, too late. According to Fouad Ajami, professor of Middle Eastern Studies at Johns Hopkins University, Abu Ghraib gave anti-Americanism in the Arab world a target and an outlet.

But in Afghanistan there had been few con­flicts between Shiites and Sunnis, at least until the Taliban arrived in 1996. By contrast, jihad in Iraq rapidly took on another dimension. In addition to targeting the “crusaders”—the Americans, their allies, and any non-Muslims, including civilians, who were in Iraq—the Sunni insurgents also went after the “heretic” Shiites, who had long been underdogs but who now had taken power away from the ruling Sunni elite, thanks to their numerical superiority in elections and to American support.

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