By Dr. Haytham Mouzahem* –I will try in this paper to present the more likely expected scenarios in short and will focus on two issues.
First, before discussing the future of terrorism, we must first agree on the reasons that led to the rise of the extremism and the motives of terrorism in the Arab and Islamic world and the world as a whole.
As you know, there are many hypotheses and approaches to the causes of the rise of extremism and the motives of terrorism, some of which are attributed to the religious reasons that accuses Islam that calls for violence especially the concepts of jihad and the promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, and atonement and dealing with infidels and apostates And different.
The other problem is the Salafist ideology, especially the radical Wahhabi school, its emphasis on the apparent nature of the Prophet’s Hadith, the rejection of the interpretation of the Qur’an and the Hadith, and the rejection of the realization of reason and diligence in the new issues.
There are those who bear the responsibility of extremism to political Islam, especially Sayyed Qutb and the integration of this Takfiri thought with the Salafist doctrine, which produced Salafi Jihadism.
There are those who attribute the causes of extremism and terrorism to external factors as a reaction to Western colonialism, the American invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan, the Israeli occupation of Palestine, etc., or as a reaction to the political and social tyranny and oppression of the Arab and Islamic regimes, and the killing, imprisonment, torture and persecution of dissidents or corruption, and the policies of these regimes led to poverty, unemployment, poor development, corruption and dependence on colonialism.
There are researchers, among them the French researcher Olivier Roy, who consider that the Islamization of extremism has taken place as a result of modernism and globalization, that there is a generation of rebellion, and that what al-Qaeda and ISIS are doing is a rebellion against the generation of fathers and Grandfathers, like the Cultural Revolution in China, by Mao Zedong. The extremist insurgency, saying that the phenomenon of suicide bombings was initiated by the Tamil, for example.
Roy believes that systematic association with death is one of the approaches to understanding current extremism. The nihilistic dimension is central here, and violence is not a means but an end, a violence without a future. Instead of adopting a vertical approach starting from the Koran to reach ISIS, through Ibn Taymiyyah, Hasan al-Banna, Sayyed Qutb, and Ussama bin Laden, assuming that there is a constant “Islamic violence” appearing regularly, Roy preferred to resort to an approach that tries to understand violence Contemporary Islamism in parallel with other forms of violence and extremism, very close to it (Generation rebellion, radical rupture with society, the aesthetics of death). Suicide terrorism, al-Qaeda and ISIS phenomena are recent in the history of the Muslim world and can not be explained by the rise of fundamentalism. “Terrorism does not come from the extremism of Islam, but from the Islamization of extremism,” he said.
The French writer acknowledges the existence of Islamic fundamentalism that has existed for 40 years, but is not enough to produce violence. This approach was criticized by many of his colleagues, including the French researcher Francois Bourga, who stated that he did not notice the political reasons for the rebellion: the colonial legacy, Western military interventions against the peoples of the Middle East, and the social marginalization of migrants and their children. Roy was also accused by French researcher Gilles Kipple of ignoring the relationship between terrorist violence and religious extremism of Islam, manifested in Salafism.
But Roy says he does not ignore any of these dimensions, but it is not enough to explain the phenomena he studies, because we do not find any causal link from the empirical data he has. The researcher rejects the question of “religious extremism” because the phrase “extremism” in religion is bad, as it follows that we determine a moderate state of religion, there are no moderate religions. Are Calvin and Luther moderates? Certainly, for example, in the theological concept, Calvanism is “extremist”. His hypothesis is that violent extremism is not the result of religious extremism, and that he quotes methods and models, which he calls Islamization of extremism. Religious fundamentalism, of course, poses important social problems, because it rejects values based on individual centrality and freedom in all areas, but this fundamentalism does not necessarily lead to political violence.
Critics of Francois Bourga argue that extremists are motivated by the suffering of former colonialists, victims of racism and discrimination, US bombing, etc., and that the insurgency is first and foremost the rebellion of the victims. But Roy believes that the link between extremists and victims is more imaginary than realistic, and those who carry out bombings in Europe are not the ones who suffer in Gaza Strip, or the Libyans or the Afghans, and they are not necessarily the poorest, least integrated. The researcher points out that 25% of the converted to Islam in the ranks of “jihadists” that the link between extremists and “their people” is also imaginary Few militants belong to this virtual proletariat, which is ready to die for it. The rebels suffer from the suffering of others. They are not the victims of injustice, the Israeli occupation, the invasion or the American bombing in Afghanistan or Iraq, but they have witnessed and been affected by this suffering.
There is no doubt that the conclusions of the researcher can not be generalized to all “jihadists,” especially in the Arab and Islamic countries. Their motivation is different from the motives of their Western counterparts. The political, economic, social and religious factors, as well as the media and sectarian incitement, , All played a role in nurturing this extremism and its savagery, where the Arab and Muslim “jihadists” are victims of this extremist ideology and this political recruitment and sectarian incitement
The other issue that I would like to discuss is the future of terrorism after a defeat and a rebound in Iraq and Syria.
First, I think that the rise of a supporter, despite his reliance on a Sunni popular incubator in Iraq and then in Syria, feeds on the political and sectarian injustice that the Sunni were complaining about from the central government in Baghdad, the consequences of the US invasion, the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime, that led the former Military and security officers and soldiers to engage in the leadership and membership of ISIS. in addition to the adoption of leaders and advocates of elements of the Salafist Wahhabi jihadist ideology, and exploitation of the chaos of the Arab revolutions, but what would not have been successful without regional support in terms of fund and weapons as well as through the recruitment of foreign fighters from Arabs and Muslims.
It must be acknowledged that there has been a US-Turkish-Arab regional recruitment for a defiant confrontation with Iran and its allies in Iraq and Syria.
Who is in doubt about this, he or she can ask the Toyota company where these convoys of Toyota vehicles came from, driven by convoys in the invasion of Mosul and the Sunni provinces of Iraq, where the arming and funding came from, and how the Gulf and Arab media mostly used the fall of Mosul to a Sunni revolt against the sectarian Shiite government of Baghdad and Iran .
Today, after ISIS defeat in Iraq and Syria, the US-led international coalition against ISIS is not completing its mission in the final elimination of the group, but leaves it in the face of the Syrian army and its allies.
In order to eliminate the terrorist groups, we should find out the reasons that led to this birth AND THE RISE of this extremism and find solutions to remove all these motives that led to the terrorism, such as the sectarian conflict, the political tyranny and the socio-economic injustice through reform of the regimes, Political and economic deprivation and the provision of employment opportunities for young people, as well as the reform of educational curricula, especially religious education and the preparation of imams prepared a modern and tolerant formation, as well as draining the sources of financing terrorism from governments and individuals and stop the media and political support for this Takfiri terrorist ideology and its justification. And the most important is the presence of international and regional consensus to solve the crises of the region particularly the Arab-Israeli conflict and to solve the question of Palestine in an equitable manner and to end the Syrian, Libyan and Yemeni wars.
*Dr. Haytham Mouzahem is the head of Beirut Center for Middle East Studies. The paper has been presented in West Asia Conference in New Delhi in September 2018.