Saturday, June 11, 2016

Islamists "fight harder and are prepared to die"

Isis fighters marching in Raqqa, Syria. Undated image posted on a militant website on January 14, 2014.
Islamic State fighters

From Somalia Syndrome by Patrick Cockburn in the London Review of Books:

...Extreme Islam dominates the armed opposition in six of the seven wars being fought in countries between Pakistan and Nigeria and in two of the three insurgencies: the only exceptions are South Sudan, which doesn't have a Muslim majority, and southeast Turkey, where the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) is fighting the Turkish army. 

No doubt leftist and progressive movements were weakened by decades of repression, but this doesn't quite explain their disappearance as a credible force for revolutionary change. It's easy to see, though, what a powerful influence Saudi-backed Wahhabism has been on mainstream Sunni Islam, preparing the ground for the success of Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaida's branch in Syria. 

When IS set up its own secondary schools in its newly declared caliphate, it simply brought in the courses taught in Saudi Arabian schools. It may have been in the interest of Bashar al-Assad that armed opposition to his rule should be dominated by IS and Jabhat al-Nusra, since they are international pariahs. 

Conspiracy theorists may argue that he was hand-in-glove with the extremists or had colluded in their growth, but in practice extreme Islamists became the chief opposition to the regime in almost all these conflicts simply because they fight harder for their cause and have more people who are prepared to die for it...

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