The so-called Islamic State
Wed, 03/30/2016 - 12:00am
Now as well as Then
R. Orlando Marville
The so-called Islamic State is no more Islamic than Hitler was Catholic, as he attested, in his killing of millions of Jews, Romer (improperly called Gypsies) or German Blacks.
It is a perversion of Islam. This must be understood if IS is to be defeated, since military victories will not be enough to eradicate it. The effort to delegitimise it must come from genuine imams and Muslims all over the world.
IS is of course also a military organisation, created largely by President GW Bush’s invasion of Iraq, the disbanding of Saddam Hussein’s army and the subsequent foisting of a corrupt Shia politician on the mixed populace of Iraq. So it also needs to be defeated militarily.
It attracts considerable numbers of disaffected youth from Western countries by the clever use of social media. It proclaims itself a winner (as does Mr Trump with equal success) and the creator of a new powerful caliphate. This simplistic message has evident appeal to a group of young people who are exasperated by the materialism and general apathy of their elders. IS also attracts those virtually excluded by their host societies. While the first group comes largely from countries in the West in general, the second group comes predominantly from France, Belgium and the UK, where the Muslim communities live in relative isolation from the general European population, have fewer job opportunities and are often simply discriminated against.
Former French colonised people from Algeria and Morocco in particular, but also from Tunisia settled in France, often in the bidonvilles of Paris. Unless they become great footballers, they cannot be said to be afforded too many job opportunities.
Their virtual exclusion breeds the sort of discontent that makes IS ideology very appealing. The case of Belgium is even worse, largely because of the nature of Belgian society at its base. There is no King of Belgium, but a King of the Belgians.
The country is made up of Flemish, Walloon and German citizens with small pockets of North African Muslims living in places like Moolenbeek or Schaerbeek. These are not inducted into the small Flemish and French-speaking police force and are generally looked down upon.
This disconnect made it possible for the plotters of the Paris and Brussels attacks to live there and contrive their evil plans without being detected. Interestingly, some of the Belgian jihadists were former criminals, making it easier to adapt to the barbaric style of Al-Baghdadi’s Jihadist thugs.
IS operates on a home front – Syria, Iraq and more recently Libya and to some extent as Boko Haram in Northern Nigeria – as well as a sort of guerrilla army in those countries from which it has drawn recruits. Whenever it is defeated in some home area, it sets its dogs of war afoot in one of the countries from which it has weaned recruits. (Regrettably, Western media record whenever a serious attack occurs in a Western country, but tend to give only a by-line to attacks in Iraq itself or Nigeria, where considerably more normal Muslims have been killed in suicide bombs than the fate suffered by France, Belgium, Spain, the UK and the USA. Perhaps only the atrocities committed on the Yazidis in 2014 earned some of the coverage it deserved).
Each time a US strike takes out an important IS potentate, one can anticipate a strike outside of the caliphate area.
There is no simple solution to the problem of IS. If one looks back at the egregious brutality of the 15th and 16th century Christians in Spain, as well as in Haiti and the rest of the so-called New World, one can perhaps say that this too will pass.
However, our age believes that we can solve all problems usually by some simplistic measure. One solution proposed is that one needs a Sunni Muslim military force from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States to fight IS on the ground. But these are the states from which IS received its initial backing, both moral and financial.
Another solution of preaching the more tolerant Islam to young people may well work to some extent among Muslims, but it does little to discourage those non-Muslims prepared to leave their countries to adopt the false religion of IS.
Bombing IS sites, oil fields etc. have some effect, but IS remains richer through kidnapping or even a young Australian, say, collecting monies for those supposedly fighting a just and holy war. It also uses the social media technology much better than those who abhor this phenomenon with its ambitious claims of fighting to establish the caliphate and its readiness to kill in the most brutal fashion and post it on the Internet.
The war against IS will last for quite a while yet.