Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Fascism, Jihadism and Sultanism

Support for Isis around the Muslim-majority world. In regard to Syria, it’s not clear if the pollsters actually to understand if the support to ISIS translates into supporting its ideology as a whole, or if it simply reflects the belief that it is fighting Assad, at least in some areas, and that it constitutes a more serious threat to it than other groups. 
The Qalifate: The Islamic State Was Coming Without the Invasion of Iraq. Kyle Orton is spot on in noting that, even before the invasion of Iraq, Saddam has done much to prepare the grounds for the emergence of IS. This does not excuse the major fuckups that Americans committed there, but it does put things in context. Local factors have played a more critical role in radicalization of both the Sunni and Shia population communities.

Saddam had taken extensive steps to Islamize the government and society since the mid-1980s, which profoundly affected the security sector. While this began cynically, the evidence is that Saddam had a conversion experience. But even if Saddam remained a cynic, his government acted to promote a religious movement under his leadership—call it Ba’athi-Salafism—and reshaped society by, for example, empowering clerics as social leaders, notably in Sunni Arab areas where they had not been before. 

In fact, a similar phenomenon could be observed in Syria ever since the mid-1980s, when Hafiz Al-Assad crushed the Muslim Brotherhood only to empower the traditional Sunni establishment. This establishment has been, since Ottoman times, quite subservient to the state, its rulers and their provincial representatives. But Assad Sr. was also quite willing to support more radical Salafi interpretations, so long as the adherents involved carried out their Jihadi activities elsewhere, and often in furtherance of Assad’s own regional schemes. Beginning in the late 1980s, a revival of traditional Alawite piety was also allowed, in tandem with Shia proselytization efforts. Earlier efforts at Sunnifying the Alawites were abandoned. Bashar simply copied and advanced his father’s tactics. The Assads remained cynical throughout the process.

The underlying ethos is simple to explain: when revolutionary leaders end up behaving like Sultans and become interested in passing the reign of power to their children, they immediately discover the importance of traditional religious piety as an important vehicle in facilitating the people’s acceptance of this unfortunate turnaround. As such, the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq simply unearthed processes that were already in motion. This does not excuse the invasion and the subsequent mistakes, but, it does reveal the importance of the local actors themselves in what is transpiring in their societies. Ultimately, we are responsible for our own misery.

Meanwhile, in India, 70,000 Indian Muslim clerics issue fatwa against Isis, the Taliban, al-Qaeda and other terror groupsClerics said the terror groups were 'not Islamic organisations' and said they were a threat to humanity.” Of course, the clerics were all Sufis, people whom IS/Daesh would denounce as apostates.


US-backed Syrian rebel group on verge of collapse. Why, because of lack of support from West. This is exactly why the U.S. needs to move quickly and forcefully. No support, followed by haphazard reluctant support is what got us here. The U.S. needs to stand by its allies in Syria as forcefully and committedly as the Russians and Iranians are doing in regard to Assad, otherwise, the U.S. will find it well-nigh impossible to forge strong alliances elsewhere.