Even If The West Scores A Tactical Victory, ISism Will Continue To Flourish

01 November 2014

By Khalid Amayreh in occupied Palestine

There is a shocking degree of superficiality characterizing the media treatment of the subject of "Islamic State." Some of the ignorance has a definitive historical background, stemming from enduring western cultural stereotypes, bequeathed generation after generation, especially in academic, political and media circles.

Other forms of ignorance are quite malicious and emanate from adamant western refusal (or reluctance) to face the truth. Influential Policy-makers and opinion-shapers in North America and Europe simply dread the prospect of ordinary westerners discovering the truth about the Middle East and Islam as knowing the truth would deal a serious blow to the prevailing western discourse. Needless to say, this discourse is based on Islamophobia, hegemony and aggression.

Indeed, in addition to existential western apprehension about the possible resurgence of Islam's political power, western circles also fear that positive perceptions of Islam in the West would be very bad for Israel.

In the final analysis, many in the West still cannot comprehend the idea that politically and militarily defeated Muslims have the audacity to present themselves as a historical alternative to western civilization.

The superficiality characterizing western perceptions of IS is encapsulated in efforts to ignore, overlook and marginalize the causes that made the appearance of violent Islamic groups inevitable.

But dealing honestly and objectively with this issue at hand would expose western hypocrisy and maliciousness.

Real causes of IS and likeminded groups

These groups are by no means a thunder appearing on a clear day. They are the inevitable outcome of long decades of frustration, constantly fed up by ruthless Arab tyranny, shamelessly sustained by western powers at the expense of Arab-Muslim masses' rights to human rights and civil liberties.

These Arab regimes succeeded in thoroughly tormenting and dehumanizing average Arab Muslim individuals. And when Arab masses, as in Egypt, sought to achieve a semblance of democratic transformation, the West hastened rather maliciously to abort popular uprisings and reinstate criminal dictators. Moreover, western indifference or implicit acceptance of wide-scale massacres, as at Rabaa in Cairo, made numerous Muslims not only lose faith in western-style democracy but also get more determined to change the unbearable status quo even if rivers of blood would flow.

A few weeks ago, this writer asked an ideological supporter of the IS to justify some of the reportedly ugly behavior of IS fighters in Iraq.

This is what he told me:

"The West and Israel are effectively offering us two choices: either they kill us like they slaughter meek lambs at the slaughter house, or enslave us. But Islam commands us to defend ourselves against aggression and oppression and to lead a dignified and honorable life.

We believe it is far better for Muslims to die an honorable death rather than live a dishonorable and submissive life. Even in America, they say ' give me liberty or give me death."

He added:

"I know the site of blood is revolting. But the West has been carrying out one genocide after the other against Muslim nations. Do you know how many innocent Muslims in Afghanistan were killed, or perhaps some one might think that the Afghani lives don't count?

"Do you know how many innocent Muslims they killed in Iraq? In Syria? In Gaza?"

The middle-aged man went on: "I am against the killing of even a single innocent person. This is against the teachings of our religion.

" But why is it that exterminating thousands of Palestinian and Syrian children in Syria and Gaza is overlooked and treated as a mere banality while the alleged killing of a few individuals, including hostages, is viewed as a legitimate cause to mobilize crusades against Muslims?

The man, who spoke sparingly and was apparently eager to end the conversation, said:

"The West can't push us to the corner and then expect us to behave meekly. We will morph ourselves into ferocious lions. And if it is death, be it."

It is important to point out that this is not an isolated voice. There are millions, perhaps tens of millions of Muslims who think this way. Their frustration is real and legitimate. Their will to kill or be killed for a sublime cause must never be doubted.

Which brings us back to the ongoing American-led bombing campaign against the IS fighters in Syria and Iraq.

America and its puppet Arab allies, who bask in their own tyranny, corruption and backwardness, may succeed in achieving a tactical military victory over the Islamist fighters. But such a victory is likely to be indecisive and short-living. The reason is simple: America can't win "the war of ideas" with these people.

Yes, many Muslims do have serious reservations about IS's behaviors and tactics. However, I am yet to find a single Muslim who would doubt the legitimacy of Is's grievances and even most of their goals. In the final analysis, these grievances are the same grievances facing Muslim masses everywhere.

Yes, the American machine of death may succeed in killing many of these fighters. But eventually this would only help swell the extremists' ranks.

Such will be the outcome of a misguided policy of treating the symptoms while leaving the root causes intact.

Khalid Amayreh is a veteran Palestinian journalist and political commentator living in al-Khalil in Occupied Palestine.



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