Not Saussure

September 25, 2006

“The liberation of Iraq is a crucial advance in the campaign against terror”

Filed under: Al-Qaeda, Chatham House, Iraq, War on Terror — notsaussure @ 8:51 pm

The liberation of Iraq is a crucial advance in the campaign against terror. We have removed an ally of Al Qaida and cut off a source of terrorist funding.

President Bush, May 1, 2003

The news that America’s intelligence agencies apparently now believe the invasion of Iraq has boosted the threat to the West should come as no surprise to anyone other than, obviously the Prime Minister — on whom see A Big Stick and A Small Carrot — and some of his apologists such as Will Hutton, who apparently can’t tell the difference between incite and excuse, when he refers to

the infamous letter from Labour Muslim MPs to the Prime Minister asserting that British foreign policy had incited British Islamic youth to terrorism. The implicit message was that Britain should recognise the validity of an Islamic morality that excuses the murder of innocents to register political protest.

The agencies’ report, as leaked in The New York Times, seems to echo what our own MI5 said in July and what Chatham House were saying on the subject at greater length earlier this month:

One of the most significant developments since 9/11 is the way in which Iraq, rather than developing into a model of a ‘new’ Middle East, has degenerated into a battleground for extremism and sectarian violence. One of the reasons cited by the Western allies for the attack on Iraq was the possibility of a terrorist threat, with the war presented as a continuation of the Afghan campaign – part of a single extended effort to eradicate the threat from al-Qaeda. However, one of the effects of the Iraq conflict was that al-Qaeda supporters were provided with a base from which they could engage with their enemies after they had been denied the Afghan arena with the fall of the Taliban regime. And while al-Qaeda supporters are only one player among many in Iraq, nevertheless their involvement in the conflict kept al-Qaeda’s name on the agenda in what is seen by many in the region and the wider Muslim world as ‘resistance’ to US occupation, although Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s extreme tactics and videotaped beheadings alienated many who had previously sympathized with al-Qaeda; (p 3)

And, in answer to people who affect to be

amazed at how many people will say, in effect, there is increased terrorism today because we invaded Afghanistan and Iraq. They seem to forget entirely that September 11 predated either. The West didn’t attack this movement. We were attacked. Until then we had largely ignored it.

they note that

While Muslim anger was galvanized around Iraq it hardly ever lost sight of the Palestinian cause which could always be conjured up by any radical movement, whether religious or secular, to rally support. If there is one area of general consensus among Muslim majorities over the West’s double standards and the justification for the resort to suicide bombings, it would be in the case of Palestine. While the US and UK governments continued to deny a linkage between regional crisis and terrorism, not only al-Qaeda but also Muslims who condemn al-Qaeda continued to stress the connection. Even Muslim governments acknowledge it exists, particularly with regard to Palestine, and more recently the EU has acknowledged an implicit link between the two.Al-Qaeda and those who support it see themselves as translating into action long-standing sentiments of anger and despair at injustices committed against the Muslim world. In addition the perception of the West’s complicity in perpetuating these injustices (support for Israel, the war in Iraq and support for autocratic Arab regimes) remains widespread. (p 4)

The Chatham House Report, to which I may well return in later posts, also makes the very interesting point, and one which John Reid and others who want moderate Muslims to put their house in order might well ponder, that we may well be getting side-tracked by religion in all this;

Of course ideology and religion matter; they shape world-views and responses to politics, and they have been either largely underestimated or misunderstood by analysts and policy-makers. However, this does not mean that radical responses would not have been sought out anyway outside the realm of Islam. If we were to assume, for example, that in the Middle East secular attitudes prevailed over religious ones and that in place of radical Islamist opposition groups a secularoriented opposition came to dominate, we are still likely to have seen the emergence of terrorist groups to counter prevalent feelings of injustice and powerlessness. […]Wahhabism and Salafism as theological traditions that lend themselves to extremism. However, while radicalization finds justification in religious interpretations, violence in itself is not set in any one tradition or religious sect. While the re-education of Europe’s Muslim youth in the tenets of traditional Islam might convey the message that the use of terror is unacceptable, thus countering sympathy for al-Qaeda, the problem for European governments remains that a segment within the Muslim community is both politicized and angry at the conduct of foreign policy. (p 6)


1 Comment »

  1. Iraq near civil war – Is it avoidable?
    I have been hearing a lot on the news about Iraq nearing a civil war, and that it's only a few days away. Do you think there is still time to stop the inevitable? Or is it too late already?

    Comment by Rodney — December 1, 2006 @ 8:42 pm

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