Friday, December 4, 2015

The Age of Hybrid Everything


My America is under attack, and before that it was my Syria and my France, and before that it was my Iraq and my Lebanon… my world, my very being, is under attack. And the attacker is an alliance of extremist forces based on ignorance, ideological and unadulterated, power-lust and envy, and good old fashioned greed. Overreaction, oversimplification, prejudice and hate do not constitute a proper response, but are, in fact, part of the problem. Real defense calls for vigilance, building more bridges between the country’s, and the world’s different religious communities, robust peacemaking efforts, development and education. Tyranny, ignorance, ideology and corruption are the real enemy, and the battle against them is perennial.

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Hybrid Motivations

"At this stage, we do not know why this terrible event occurred," President Barack Obama told reporters on Thursday morning. Two terrorism experts agree it is too soon to say for sure whether the attack that killed 14 people was an act of terrorism, workplace violence, or some hybrid of the two.

But of course! And that’s precisely why we should be careful to avoid simplifying the challenges facing us when it comes to fighting extremism and radicalization. The motivations of the Paris Attackers have clearly had a “domestic” and socio-psychological component related to the living conditions of the attackers, in addition to the ideological ones which seem to have come much later in their lives. In fact, these initial conditions related to society and personality play a far more critical role in preparing the individuals for eventual embrace of radical and extremist ideologies. Yet, we often neglect addressing these issues in our coverage of extremism and our responses to it. This needs to change. Be that as it may, kudos is due to most media outlets as well as the police forces involved and the Obama Administration in the way this particular development is being covered and handled, so far. Equally as important is the fact that this balanced stand doesn’t seem to have in any way undermined either the media’s ability to provide continuous coverage of the story, or the police’s ability to respond to what happened, stop the culprits, and pursue its investigations into the matter.

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Organizations such as Council for American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) have grown too big over the years to maintain any kind of ideological homogeneity. This makes current dismissive and accusatory stands adopted by some pundits and officials in their regard a bit difficult for most American and Canadian Muslims to accept. Because all practicing activist Muslims can probably point to a host of figures within these organizations at all levels of decision-making that are undoubtedly moderate if not reformist. So, it might be more accurate and advisable at this stage to avoid broad wholesale condemnation of these organizations, and to speak, instead, of different competing currents and narratives within them, pitting extremists against reformers and moderates. This means that decisions made by these organizations often reflect compromises between these currents rather than consensus. Or this reason, it’s important for our rhetoric to be calibrated in such manner as to empower the reformist elements and amplify their impact on the decision-making processes within these organizations and, by extension, on the diverse Muslim communities in North America in general. Anti-Muslim rhetoric and dismissive attitudes are bound to backfire.

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Recent Manifestations of Global Delirium
Other than the mass shooting in San Bernardino

Al-Nusra engages in prisoner exchange with Lebanese authorities and ends up winning the release of Saja al-Dulaimi, a former member of the First Harem of Caliph Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi.

Mafia Don, Giovanni Gambino,  offers, then downplays in an interview with Fox Channel, the readiness of his outfit to protect New Yorkers from IS/Daesh – an entertaining offer that nonetheless made little sense for it to be seriously entertained, not mention refused… or not refused.

Ted Cruz wants to keep Bashar Al-Assad in power, even though, as Mr. Cruz himself is willing to admit, Assad happens to a “bad man” who has “murdered hundreds of thousands of his own citizens.” Yet, somehow, toppling him would be “materially worse for U.S. national security interests,” because “Syria will be controlled by ISIS, and that is materially worse for U.S. national security interests.” Indeed, “If you topple a stable ruler, throw a Middle Eastern country into chaos and hand it over to radical Islamic terrorists, that hurts America.” What Mr. Cruz doesn’t seem to get is the following well-documented narrative: Assad is not “a stable ruler,” and, by his actions, he has already plunged Syria into chaos and actively aided the resurgence of IS/Daesh, with whom he is currently doing business, as both attack moderate rebels. Mr. Cruz is also ignoring the fact of that growing anti-IS international alliance of which the U.S. is part, so his narrative of a Syrian falling prey to IS should the Assad regime crumble is tired and unrealistic. Syrian society has always been a mix of the ultra-conservative and the seemingly modern, and that’s not likely to change, even as the country falls apart. Vestiges and trappings of the modern will survive in many places.

And this brings us to the UK’s recent involvement in bombing Syria. The “International Alliance For Airstrikes But No Boots On The Ground, At Least Not Too Many Of Them, For Now,” (in short, the No-Boots Alliance) is now busy fighting alongside the “International Alliance For Airstrikes With Many Boots On The Ground With More Soon To Come” (or the With-Boots Axis), against an enemy made up of mercenaries from all and sundry (The Haphazardly Booted Lot), yet, whose actual impact on the Syrian scene has been far less devastating that of the Assad regime (The Heavy Toe-Pinching Boot) who is being wholeheartedly supported by the With-Boots Axis, while anti-regime rebels (The Barely-Booted Bunch) remain unable to count on such generous and consistent support from their alleged partners in the No-Boots Alliance. And as the battle of all against all continues, Syria’s decimated civilian population caught betwixt of it all, can only hope that all these people, including those who sprang from their own ranks,  could just up and disappear one day, soon, boots and all.