Introduction

Since the “Khomeini Islamic Revolution” in 1979[1], and the Muslim World has not seen internal peace or social integration. Commentators from all sides never envisaged the rift that this Revolution has initiated. This process of “polarization” of the Islamic World has caused an enormous spread of sectarian hatred and terrorism that sent its waves to covered the whole world and not just the Muslim World. The progress in media technology enabled the efficient mobilization of the “blind” youth driven by sectarian hatred. The resulting consequences realized are surprisingly enormous. An unlimited supply of Jihadists from all over the world found its way to specific regions financed by the generously oil-rich countries from both sides of Islam.

A significant surge in terrorist activities is taking place worldwide.  From the USA to the Middle East, Africa, Asia (old Soviet Union Republics) and Far East Asia. Who has such means and ability to coordinate activities over 80 countries[2]? This coordination is not limited to the International movement of Jihadists but includes also logistics, arms and ammunition.

The theme of this paper

The theme of this paper is to present an unexpected scenario resulting from what is taking place today in the Muslim world and its outcome on other non-Muslim regions and countries. This paper holds the belief that this unexpected scenario is becoming the most likely outcome of  present day trends and circumstances. Therefore, this paper embodies a strategic perspective to present day developments:

The polarization of the Muslim World will eventually lead to the control of the extremists of power on both sides (Shia/Sunni) of the Muslim World. Such a development represents a threat and poses consistent danger to other countries and regions as the behavior, actions and reactions, of the extremists are unprecedented, unexpected and show no respect to International treaties or human rights standards.

The Igniting Incidents of 1970’s

During the 1970’s two main opposing developments took place. From one hand, the Saudis took serious steps to export their religious ideology (Wahhabism) through their religious schools (Madrassas) that they established all over the World[3]. Generations of terrorists and extremists have graduated (and still are) from these specific Madrassas.

Countries that were known for their religious tolerance suddenly started to produce terrorists and dangerous extremists. This phenomenon is best summarized by Obama Doctrine[4]. What is interesting to this paper is the unlimited supply of terrorists that is produced continuously. These terrorists represent the continued supply of a very cheap manpower that is self-willing to die in direct combat or during suicidal actions.

From the other hand, the Iranians, from their part, declared their plans for “exporting” their “Islamic Revolution” according to Khomeini’s new doctrine: Walayat-Al-Faqih[5].  Both of these opposing plans ignited hatred and strongly pushed toward sectarian affiliation on both sides of Islam. Prior to that, religion had marginal influences on politics in the Muslim World, especially in the Middle East.

The Shia Muslim traditional faith[6] throughout history kept the Shia sect away from politics deliberately. The Sunnis, even in countries where they were just a minority, managed to control power and run the country. Both Iraq and Bahrain provide perfect examples.

 

Modern Islamism: the prior picture

After the First World War the political picture prevailing throughout the Middle East and the Muslim World was characterized by secular and nationalist political movements. The reaction to the defeat and disintegration of the Ottoman Empire during the First World War was not only visible in Turkey with Ataturk[7] overtaking power and turning Turkey into a modern secular state, but also throughout the Ottoman colonies, especially the Arab Middle East where the trend to move away from the Islamic Caliphate was overriding. During the period of independence from classical colonialism, religion was nearly absent and played no part in such movements. This was valid not only for Muslim Middle East countries, but also for countries in both continents in Asia, Latin America as well as Africa. Third world independent movements were guided by national political parties and strongly backed by the Eastern Block. Communism and different Marxist groups played central roles in the independence movements after the Second World War. Take a well-known example from the Middle East: Egypt under Gamal Abdul Nasser[8].

In 1952 a young army officer called Gamal Abdul Nasser managed to take power in Cairo after a successful military coup. The ideology adopted by Nasser was that of “Pan Arabism” strongly backed by a socialist agenda. Later his ideology was known as “Arab Socialism”. His message was addressed to all Arabs throughout the Middle East. He used the struggle against imperialism and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as his central theme of focus and a main tool for spreading his propaganda.

During the 1950’s and the 1960’s Gamal Abdul Nasser and the ideology of Arab Socialism monopolized the political arena in the Middle East. Military takeovers took places in different Arab countries following the guidelines of Nasser. Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Sudan, Mauritania and Libya are good examples of that legacy. The same picture continued after the 6-Day War of 1967. The different Palestinian groups were either nationalist, like Fatah, or Marxist-oriented organizations.

In the Third World Marxism became the modern stream of “scientific” thinking and it was the most popular expanding ideology. This phenomenon represented the main challenge to Western Europe and the US during the post-Second World War era.

I believe that both the US and Western Europe encouraged religious centers and movements in both Asia and Africa as part of the imperatives of the Cold War. Religion was one of the main tools against the spread of Communism. It was under such circumstances that Grand Ayatollah Khomeini declared his revolt against the Shah of Iran at the end of the 1970’s. This declaration marked the birth of modern Islamism. The success of the Khomeini Revolution in Iran was followed by several attempts to ‘export’ the Revolution leading to the 8-year long Iraq-Iran war. Across the borders and into Afghanistan, the Soviet occupation was fighting fierce guerilla warfare with the Mujahedeen[9]. The international balance of power faced serious disequilibrium in that area. GA Khomeini and his Islamic Revolution received high levels of international publicity. Further political developments increased the attention to the Islamic Revolution such as the occupation of the American Embassy in Tehran[10] . All these developments gave great publicity to a Shiite version of Islam at a time when this sect represented less than 20% of the total Muslims worldwide, while the rest were Sunni Muslims.

The success of Shiite Muslims in Iran pushed to the limits Sunni Muslim traditional organizations such as the Muslim Brotherhood (MBH) and led to the formation of new movements, especially  Sunni fundamentalist groups. Fierce competition between the Shiite and Sunni groups continued throughout this process. Regional conflicts further increased the formation and development of such groups as was seen during the Lebanese civil war, in Chechnya and the civil war in the Baltic caused by the dismantling of Socialist Yugoslavia. But the world had to wait until September 11, 2001 to witness the reply of Sunni Muslims to G.A. Khomeini’s Islamic Revolution of the late 1970’s.

Sunni Islamic groups and organizations were formed throughout the Arab and Muslim countries and were banned in one way or another. The suppression of these well-organized groups during the late part of the twentieth century in countries suffering from high levels of corruption and political mismanagement provided some popularity for these groups[11]. Islam is the Solution[12] was the slogan of these groups that spread strongly throughout the poor classes of society. The general political atmosphere during the last decades of the twentieth century excluded the participation of Islamism, and prevented them from taking power, as happened in North Africa. This exclusion further strengthened such groups and increased their popularity. Islamism had to move underground and to wait until the arrival of the Arab Spring.

 

Arab Spring, Civil Wars and Shia/Sunni Poles

While the “Arab Spring” started in Tunisia and led to the downfall of the regime, it causes civil wars in Libya, Syria and Yemen. Certain Gulf countries played a leading role in motivating and pushing such developments[13]. Competition increased significantly between Saudi Arabia, Qatar and later Turkey to have a stronger involvement in the ongoing civil wars and the final political outcome.

Currently there is a strong trend or “wave” that is pushing the Shia Muslims towards Iran as their only “pole”. Under such scenario Central and Southern Iraq, which is neighboring Iran, might constitute an independent Province that ultimately merge with Iran. This will create a Super Shia State run by Shia extremists in Iran. Other regions dominated by Shia, such as Southern Lebanon, Bahrain, or Eastern Saudi Arabia might declare their loyalty to Iran. The main concern with such development is that it is run by religious extremists.

The Liberation of Iraq in 2003 and the so-called “Arab Spring”, ignited the concern of the three main Sunni countries: Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey. What they have done in Iraq was repeated, without learning from their mistakes, in Syria[14] and Libya. “Encouragement of Sunni rebellion under the banner of Islam” was the only option they could come up with. Soon Sunni extremists took over the fight and extreme forms of Islam was practiced with devastating outcomes on the local populations[15].

The establishment of Al-Nusra and ISIL were a significant Sunni achievement. Both of these terrorist groups declared agenda was to accomplish clear ethnic cleansing of all non-Sunni Muslims especially the Shia, Yazidi and Christians[16].

ISIL became a magnate that pulled Jihadists from all over the globe including Europe and the USA. What is unexplainable is the fact that those jihadists from Europe and the USA accepted the barbarian nature of ISIL without hesitation, and they committed crimes of rape, theft and murder as if they were brain washed since childhood.

With the ongoing war efforts against terrorism, and especially ISIL, no signs of compromise are coming up from the Muslim World. Saudi Arabia has taken several measures to form and lead a Sunni Coalition. If the present trends continue then we should expect the formation of a Sunni Pole. Ultimately the Muslim World will “polarize” and sectarian affiliation will be the norm and not the exception. Turkey, under the present Muslim Brotherhood government, is planning to train hundreds of thousands of young men in 45000 Mosques and other religious centers. In other words, Erdogan is preparing an army for the coming sectarian war[17].

Actions Required

Having two Poles dividing the Muslim World and run by extremists on both sides of Islam is a serious concern to World Peace and International stability. Pakistan, a Sunni country, has already a nuclear arsenal, and when Sunni extremists control the Sunni Pole, such arsenal will be under their disposal.

To prevent the present circumstances and trends in the Muslim world from moving ahead towards such dangerous outcome, the US Administration should encourage secular and liberal forces to take power in as many Muslim countries as possible. Local and International efforts should work together to weaken the religious sentiment and sectarian affiliation. Instead they should be replaced by secular values and liberal thinking.

To achieve such a change in present day current trends, social change is required to initiated political development. World Organizations, media centers, Aid programs and direct involvement is required to have such an impact on local societies. Moderate religious centers should be encouraged to enable them to exert their proper impact.   

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iranian_Revolution.

[2] http://www.christianpost.com/news/over-15000-jihadists-from-80-countries-flooding-in-to-fight-for-isis-un-reveals-128942/

[3] http://www.mintpressnews.com/time-of-looking-away-over-germany-warns-saudi-arabia-to-stop-funding-radical-islamists/211859/

[4] http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/barack-obama-saudi-arabia-us-foreign-policy-syria-jihadism-isis-a6927646.html.

[5] See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamic_Government:_Governance_of_the_Jurist.

[6] Represented today by GA Sistani in Najaf and upholds the belief of the 12 Imams. See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Twelve_Imams

[7] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mustafa_Kemal_Atat%C3%BCrk

[8] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gamal_Abdel_Nasser

[9] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mujahideen

[10] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muslim_Student_Followers_of_the_Imam%27s_Line

[11] Under dictators, religion soon represents the country’s only ideology, even in non-Muslim countries.

[12] The poor and the illiterate hold the belief that the Islamists will save them from their misery.

 

[13] This was very clear in Libya. Through the interference of Qatar, the pro-Qatar Islamists managed to take over the rebel forces, especially when the General Commander was assassinated. General Abdul Fattah Younis was assassinated by pro-Qatar armed groups to clear the way for the Islamists to take full control of the rebel forces. It is also of importance to note that many of the leading Islamist figures controlling the Libyan rebel forces have participated on the side of Al-Qaeda in Iraq before moving to Libya. In both cases (Iraq and Libya) Qatar supported the insurgency. After all these years, the political picture in Libya is still developing.

[14] http://www.newenglishreview.org/blog_direct_link.cfm/blog_id/62419/The-Unintended-Consequences-of-Specific-Policies-in-the-Middle-East.

[15] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ISIL_beheading_incidents.

[16] All minorities suffered from ISIL, Yazidi, Christians, Dorus, Kurds…etc.

[17] https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/9539/erdogan-youth-army.

 

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