September 28, 2004
HOW COULD IT BE GOING ANY BETTER?:
Are the Terrorists Failing? (David Ignatius, September 28, 2004, Washington Post)
Rather than waging a successful jihad against the West, the followers of Osama bin Laden have created chaos and destruction in the house of Islam. This internal crisis is known in Arabic as fitna: "It has an opposite and negative connotation from jihad," explains [distinguished French Arabist named Gilles] Kepel. "It signifies sedition, war in the heart of Islam, a centrifugal force that threatens the faithful with community fragmentation, disintegration and ruin." [...]
Rather than bringing Islamic regimes to power, the holy warriors are creating internal strife and discord. Their actions are killing far more Muslims than nonbelievers.
"The principal goal of terrorism -- to seize power in Muslim countries through mobilization of populations galvanized by jihad's sheer audacity -- has not been realized," Kepel writes. In fact, bin Laden's followers are losing ground: The Taliban regime in Afghanistan has been toppled; the fence-sitting semi-Islamist regime in Saudi Arabia has taken sides more strongly with the West; Islamists in Sudan and Libya are in retreat; and the plight of the Palestinians has never been more dire. And Baghdad, the traditional seat of the Muslim caliphs, is under foreign occupation. Not what you would call a successful jihad.
Kepel argues that the insurgents' brutal tactics in Iraq -- the kidnappings and beheadings, and the car-bombing massacres of young Iraqi police recruits -- are increasingly alienating the Muslim masses. No sensible Muslim would want to live in Fallujah, which is now controlled by Taliban-style fanatics. Similarly, the Muslim masses can see that most of the dead from post-Sept. 11 al Qaeda bombings in Turkey and Morocco were fellow Muslims.
A perfect example of how the jihadists' efforts have backfired, argues Kepel, was last month's kidnapping of two French journalists in Iraq. The kidnappers announced that they would release their hostages only if the French government reversed its new policy banning Muslim women from wearing headscarves in French public schools. "They imagined that they would mobilize Muslims with this demand, but French Muslims were aghast and denounced the kidnappers," Kepel explained to a Washington audience. He noted that French Muslims took to the streets to protest against the kidnappers and to proclaim their French citizenship.
And this understates the case; in addition to democratic Afghanistan, Westernizing Libya, a Sudan that's already given in to Christian insurgents under pressure from the U.S. and now faces intervention on behalf of black Muslims in the West, a free Kurdistan, a democratizing Shi'astan in a grateful Iraq, the Sa'uds reforming, etc., you've got:
Morocco: a king committed to political reform and a free trade arrangement with the U.S.--which follows the one with Jordan and precedes the one with Bahrain and negotiations with 8 other Muslim states.
Tunisia: pro-American and largely untroubled by fundamentalism
Algeria: indigenous Islamicists on their last legs
Egypt: even Hosni Mubarak is encouraging open talk of the reforms that will follow him, while at the same time helping Israel crush terror groups.
Djibouti: is an American anti-terror base
Somalia: actually becoming governable and aiding with peacekeeping in Africa.
Palestine: as the U.S. and Israel force statehood upon and unwilling PLO, the Third Intifada is an intrafada, with Palestinians fighting their own corrupt leaders for the future of the country.
Syria: Baby Assad can't appease the U. S. fast enough in his desperate attempt to avoid being the next Saddam.
Turkey: though it is a tragic mistake, the Turks are making major alterations to their legal system in order to join the EU.
Yemen and Eritrea: have both been very cooperative in the war on terror
Qatar: reformist emir and used as the American base for the Iraq war.
Iran: already facing an existential challenge from its many pro-Western young people and from the empowerment of orthodox Shi'ism in Iraq its pursuit of nuclear weapons threatens to isolate the regime even from its European friends and has made regime change U.S. policy
Pakistan: General Musharraf is not only establishing the infrastructure for a return to democracy and waging an aggressive war on al Qaeda but is reaching a rapproachment with India aimed at defusing Kashmir.
Malaysia: Secularists trounced Islamists in recent voting.
Indonesia: is just a run of the mill democracy
The Sunni Triangle in Iraq is the navel of the effort to Reform the Islamic world and critics of the President will pick at it until every last bit of lint has been extracted, unraveled, and examined, but in the meantime the rest of the body is thriving. In particular, by comparison to the expenditure in lives and money that were required to defeat the other isms--Nazism and Communism--this final battle in the Ending of History is going unimaginably well, quite rapid and almost bloodless.
(via Tom Corcoran):
A Time for Choosing: Muslims face a moral challenge. (John F. Cullinan, 9/28/04, National Review)
The latest Islamist terror outrage — the September 3 mass murder of at least 350 students, teachers, and parents in a Russian primary school — prompted this remarkable acknowledgment of an undeniable reality: "It is a certain fact that not all Muslims are terrorists, but it is equally certain, and exceptionally painful, that almost all terrorists are Muslims."
These are the words of a prominent Saudi journalist and observant Muslim, Abdel Rahman al-Rashed, general manager of al Arabiya, the Dubai-based Arabic satellite news network that is al Jazeera's chief competitor. His bitter reflections — which deserve to be read in their entirety — are a rare and welcome departure from the Muslim world's usual pattern of post-atrocity responses: silence, denial, equivocation, or lies.
"The majority of those who manned the suicide bombings against buses, vehicles, schools, houses and buildings, all over the world, were Muslim," he writes. "What a pathetic record. What an abominable 'achievement.' Does this tell us anything about ourselves, our societies, and our culture?"
"We cannot clear our names," Rashed admonishes fellow Muslims, "unless we own up to the shameful fact that terrorism has become an Islamic enterprise; an almost exclusive monopoly, implemented by Muslim men and women." Rashed rightly places the unspeakable atrocity in Beslan squarely within the larger pattern of similar outrages perpetrated in the name of militant political Islam since 9/11. For it is the exact same ideology of jihad at work in the most recent mass murders in Indonesia, Israel, Iraq, and elsewhere that animated the Beslan child killers — who shouted "Allahu Akbar" (God is most great) under the banner of the Islambouli Brigades (named for Anwar Sadat's assassin, not for some local Chechen martyr or grievance). [...]
Who exactly is responsible for this totalitarian ideology? Rashed rightly singles out clerical exponents of militant political Islam — the "Neo-Muslims." "Our terrorist sons," Rashed writes, are "the sour grapes of a deformed culture." Muslims as a whole, now reaping what their most prominent clerics have sown in the name of Islamism, must "confront the Sheikhs who thought it ennobling to reinvent themselves as revolutionary ideologues, sending other people's sons and daughters to certain death [e.g., as suicide bombers], while sending their own children to European and American schools and universities."
Let the confrontation over the "theology" of kidnapping and executing hostages begin.
-Indonesia at peace at the polls: An army of election observers and volunteers has played a decisive role in ensuring relatively clean legislative and presidential elections in Indonesia. It's clear that the country's democracy - at least of the electoral kind - is on a roll. (Phar Kim Beng, 9/29/04, Asia Times)
-Losing Faith in the Intifada: As uprising enters fifth year, some Palestinians call it a political and economic disaster. (Laura King, September 28, 2004, LA Times)
Among Palestinians from all walks of life, there is a quiet but growing sentiment that their intifada, or uprising — which broke out four years ago today — has largely failed as an armed struggle, and lost its character as a popular resistance movement.Posted by Orrin Judd at September 28, 2004 10:45 PM
Moreover, many Palestinians fear that what has been, in effect, their military defeat at the hands of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has left them without leverage to extract political and territorial concessions that would help lay the groundwork for their hoped-for state.
The official Palestinian line is that the struggle continues. Veteran leader Yasser Arafat and old-line members of his Fatah faction insist that ordinary Palestinians are unbowed by the overwhelming degree of force that Israel has brought to bear in cities and towns all over the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Palestinian militant groups such as Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, which have been responsible for more than 100 suicide bombings over the past four years, also insist that they will continue to hit Israeli targets with all their strength.
But relentless Israeli strikes at the militant groups' leaders and field operatives, together with the partial construction of a security barrier meant to seal off the West Bank, are credited with reducing such attacks inside Israel by 80%.
For some time now, influential figures in Palestinian society — intellectuals, lawmakers, analysts, professionals and well-regarded local officials — have been asserting, almost matter-of-factly, that the violent confrontation with Israeli forces has reached a dead end and their people must look to the future.
"We have witnessed the destruction of Palestinian society — its civil institutions, its economy, its infrastructure," said Zuhair Manasra, the governor of Bethlehem. "The result has been a complete disaster for the Palestinians, at all levels. Now we must think how to rebuild."