From hope to chaos and back?

ROBERTO TOSCANO

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LOOKING at the Middle East in the early days of 2016, it is extremely difficult not to be pessimistic, or downright despairing. What one sees disturbingly fits the definition of a ‘perfect storm’ – internal and international conflicts intertwine, while sectarianism, tribalism and localism threaten the very existence of several of the region’s nation states. Disintegration and violent fragmentation seem both contagious and unstoppable. What is more disconcerting is that only five years back the whole world had saluted the events of the ‘so-called’ Arab Spring as a harbinger of progress in terms of democratic participation based on a proud claim to agency and justice.

What went wrong? It is easy to minimize the novelty of the present predicament and claim that the only problem with the ‘Arab Spring’ was that it never really happened, insofar as the removal of long-standing tyrants (Ben Ali, Mubarak, Gaddafi) was not the product of an authentic revolution, not even of a broad-based and sustainable social and political evolution. In a way it can be said that the Arab Spring was a mirage, i.e. not the perception of a non-existent image, but the distorted view of an image that, while being real, is actually much farther away than what is apparent. Intimations of spring turned out to be premature, and its buds were destroyed by a cruel frost.

 

The interpretative fallacy that prompted such widespread enthusiasm flows from the exaggerated importance attributed to civil society activism, and in particular of young, modern and pro-western activists. This is especially true in the case of Egypt, as shown by the fact that western media gave far more importance to a handful of young bloggers than to the Islamist mass movement on one side, and the military on the other. While pro-western civil society activists were no doubt important at the initial stages of the anti-authoritarian movement, it soon became tragically evident that they were not, and could not be, the main players since they neither possessed the necessary electoral clout nor the capacity to shift the political contest onto the terrain of mere force. They had neither ballots nor bullets.

Yet, the substantial failure of the Arab Spring did not entail a reversal to ‘square one’. What the events of 2011 did was to help deconstruct and challenge the previous power configurations in the area, but without really building an alternative one. The most extreme case is that of Libya, where events once again have proved that there is only one thing worse than dictatorship: anarchy – a lesson that does not seem to have been lost on the Obama administration, already convinced of the folly of the 2003 Iraqi invasion. This, more than the reluctance to engage in a costly military adventure, explains Washington’s rather minimalistic Syria policy.

Even Egypt, where apparently things are substantially back to the military-backed authoritarian system of Mubarak (and his predecessors), is actually less stable than it seems, threatened by the double challenge of radical jihadism and the still powerful grievance of a Muslim Brotherhood base which, despite the disappointments of its short period in power, and the price paid to an especially harsh repression, is far from having disappeared from Egyptian society.

But what, beyond the ups and down of recent history, are the root causes of the violent instability of the Middle East? The complexity – social, political, religious, cultural – of the area should have cautioned against the widespread temptation, the product of dogmatism and intellectual laziness, to fall back on single factor theories, but unfortunately this is not the case. Interpretative fads have changed through time, but they continue to lead us into the trap of simplification.

 

A still quite popular theory sees colonialism/neo-colonialism/imperialism as the single key opening all interpretative doors. The countries of the Middle East, according to this theory, possess zero agency vis-à-vis the combined power of Wall Street and the Pentagon. An objective analysis, conducted both on strategic and economic grounds, indeed tends to support the view that we cannot understand events in the Middle East (or for that matter, anywhere else in the world) without factoring in the glaring imbalance of power between the developed and developing world, the centre and the periphery.

Neither imperialism nor colonialism are a figment of the imagination, and the role of powerful external players remains a significant component of the present situation. Equally, many of the key personae of the present Middle Eastern drama are also external. The most significant external actor is the United States, whose role and responsibility is denounced in the region, alternatively both for its overwhelming presence (from support of dictators to the use of military force, in particular the invasion of Iraq) and for its current lack of resolve (as in the case of the Syrian civil war). ‘Damned if you do, damned if you don’t’, in a way, but an inevitable consequence of the realities of power in the international system after the demise of the only real counterweight to the US – the USSR.

 

The trouble, however, is that an exclusive focus on external players does not limit itself to a legitimate view that responsibility is directly proportional to power, but rather shifts all responsibility to external actors, thereby rendering political activity within each polity by definition pointless. The most grotesque manifestation of this political fallacy, a self-fulfilling prophecy insofar as it saps meaningful drive for action and change, is a proliferation of wild conspiracy theories, a pathetic and self-defeating confession of impotence. If our destinies are indeed the product of an all-powerful Devil (essentially, a negative God), then we are both impotent and innocent.

A variant of this interpretation is the foregrounding of oil as the determinant factor. In this case too, a real, powerful factor is arbitrarily blown up so as to minimize all other aspects – such as military security, geopolitical rivalry, and sectarian identity of a very complex reality. The ‘single flavour of the day’, however, is certainly religion. Someone has said that the 21st century actually began on 11 September 2001, when 19 Muslim followers of an organization, Al Qaida, headed by a Saudi Wahhabi, hijacked passenger planes and crashed them against the Twin Towers and the Pentagon. From that date on, the menace of radical Islam has become a true nightmare on a global scale, with repercussions that have negatively affected the very democratic and pluralistic nature of both American and European societies, since the perceived ‘Muslim menace’ has dramatically increased popular support for radical right wing xenophobic politicians and political parties.

 

What is happening is indeed far more troubling than the mere instability that characterizes the Middle East, since regional instability and global terrorism are clearly linked. At the centre of global concern is the phenomenon of the Islamic State, a violent embodiment of a reactionary utopia – that of a world Islamic empire based on the imposition of a medieval interpretation of Islam. Some like to define it as the ‘so-called Islamic State’, preferring the consolatory view that IS is just an ephemeral militia that has acquired temporary control of a territory. But perhaps, it would be more correct to say that it is actually an ‘aspiring or a proto-state’, and that the jury is still out on whether it will ever consolidate into a ‘proper’ state.

With its surprising capacity to not only conquer but to hold on to territory (though with growing difficulty) against a coalition of several dozen countries, some of them militarily powerful, as well as its capacity to attract foreign fighters from a variety of origins, the Islamic State has further heightened concerns about an alleged global onslaught of the Muslim faith through a combination of territorial control in the Middle East and terrorist actions – organized or inspired by it – from Europe to the United States to Africa.

‘Islamophobia’ both exists and has grown to the point that even the issue of refugees reaching Europe or the US from the Middle East is overtly associated with the perceived threat originating from radical Islam. Only a few years back it was inconceivable that western leaders would have referred to religious affiliation as a legitimate reason to deny entry of individuals to one’s country. This is now happening.

It is thus understandable that ordinary Muslims resent and oppose this basically racist and discriminatory attitude. Yet, the way to oppose the attribution of the entire responsibility for terrorism and jihadi territorial conquest to Islam, cannot be as some moderate Muslims have rather pathetically done by denying any connection between terrorism and Islam, or asserting that the jihadi radicals ‘are not really Muslim.’ Individual Catholics could (and often did) mark their distance and moral condemnation vis-a-vis Francisco Franco, but it would have been absurd to say that he was ‘not Catholic’. In the same way, Marxists cannot say that Stalin or Mao were ‘not communist’, much as they might disagree with the atrocities of collectivization and repression of dissidents.

 

Muslims in particular resent the use of the expression ‘Islamofascism’, and they are right insofar as it is often indiscriminately used to brand a whole religion and religious community. Yet, it would be false, both historically and from the point of view of political theory, to maintain that ‘Islamofascism’ does not exist. Who can deny that Francisco Franco, Ante Pavelic or Augusto Pinochet were both Catholic and fascist? (Mussolini was, of course, a proto-fascist but then, he was never a Catholic). And, as a matter of fact, the ideology of Vladimir Jabotinsky, the founder of Revisionist Zionism, had some significant similarities with fascism, just as today the most radical right wing Israeli parties could well be defined as ‘Judeo-fascist’. The fact is that within each society there can arise non-democratic, violent trends that can be generically defined as ‘fascist’. This is as true (as readers of this journal do not have to be reminded) for Hinduism as for Buddhism, as counter-intuitive this may sound for a religion of peace and compassion: witness Wirathu, a Buddhist monk leading a violently anti-Muslim movement in Myanmar. Being in denial is definitely not the most morally valid and politically effective way of opposing what one can legitimately consider distorted interpretations of the religious or ideological credo one adheres to.

 

In a very powerful ‘Open Letter to the Muslim World’ published by Huffington Post at the beginning of 2015, a French Muslim philosopher, Abdennour Bidar, denounced the refusal to recognize that ‘this monster (violent Islamism) was born from you, from your mistakes, your contradictions, your being endlessly torn between past and present.’ He goes even further, with merciless courage: ‘Here are your chronic diseases: incapacity to build durable democracies in which freedom of conscience vis-à-vis the dogmas of religion is recognized as a moral and political right; chronic difficulty in improving the condition of women in the direction of equality, responsibility and liberty; incapacity to separate sufficiently political power from the control of religious authorities; incapacity to establish respect, tolerance and an authentic recognition of religious pluralism and religious minorities.’1

Having given religion its due in supplying a rallying point and an ideological motivation for violent political action, one should however discard it as a single factor explaining what is going on in the Middle East. In the first place, it is evident that the powerful onslaught of radical Islam throughout the Middle East, as well as within the Muslim diaspora in Europe, is not the product of a religious revival. Militants tend to repeat a few basic religious formulae and their knowledge of Islam tends to be rather superficial. This is true both for jihadi combatants in the Middle East and sympathizers in the West, some of whom travel to the region in order to join Daesh or other jihadi fighting organizations. A short video circulating on the net shows a patrol of the Islamic State in a recently conquered town stopping at a road crossing and being reprimanded by an old lady who, quoting the Quran and religious poetry, denounces their violence as being in contradiction with the teachings of the Prophet. The fighters are more amused than irritated; they laugh and tell the old lady to go home, as if she was some sort of crank. Who is religious here?

 

As for European jihadis, a police search in the computer files of a ‘foreign fighter’ – evidently a convert – revealed that before leaving for Syria, he ordered a book titled Islam for Dummies from Amazon. Religion is indeed important, but only insofar as it supplies a focal point for a series of diverse motivations and purposes.

A paper by the Lebanese think tank Quantum, ‘Understanding Jihadists in their Own Words’ provides a few valuable pointers. Based on a series of interviews with captured jihadi fighters (belonging to three categories: western militants, Arab external fighters, and internal fighters) with an aim to assess the motivations behind their decision to join ISIS, the conclusions of the study deserve to be extensively quoted:

‘A majority of the fighters were identified as "status" and "identity" seekers driven by money and recognition, on the one hand, and by a construct providing a transnational identity or offering a sense of belonging, on the other. Geographically, western external fighters were firstly "identity seekers" and secondarily "thrill seekers" in search of a restyled "call of duty" narrative. Arab external fighters were predominantly "thrill seekers", while internal fighters were chiefly "status seekers" as well as "revenge seekers" striving to inflict harm on the persecutors of their oppressed grouping. (...) Islam is not the full side of the story. As the wording of the fighters suggest, Islam is a means to an end and not an end itself. Alternative, earthly pursuits seem to be the underlying end for a majority of sampled fighters. Second, ISIS is not a monolithic entity driven by ideology alone. It seems the allure of individual power and riches instigated by a context of marginalization and deprivation overrides the collective rallying behind a self-styled Umma chronicle.’2

 

Islam, in its most radical version, does supply an ideological focus to violent militancy in the Middle East region, but if we shift from ideology and rationalization to substance, we are led in a totally different direction: that of a deep crisis of governance undermining both economic development and political sustainability.

An extremely valuable analytical source is a series of UNDP reports published starting in 2002, The Arab Human Development Reports. They are documents whose credibility is attested not only by an impressive statistical and analytical apparatus, but also by the fact that they are the product of a team of qualified Arab economists. Findings such as those spelled out in the reports, would otherwise face predictable criticism or even denunciation as ‘anti-Arab’.

Especially interesting is that both economic and international factors are flagged but not identified as central in explaining why the Arab world is lagging in terms of human development. A quote in the 2003 report supplies an important starting point: ‘In 1970 Arab GDP per capita was half that in East Asia: by the opening stages of this century it dropped to less than one seventh of GDP per capita in that region.’ The UNDP reports list in detail the reasons for this relative economic deterioration. They definitely are not of an economic nature: to reverse a famous quote, one could say: ‘It’s the politics, stupid!’.

 

As cogently spelled out in the reports, Arab nation states are characterized by poor governance, corruption, crony capitalism and bureaucratic state control, outrageous privileges of governing elites (running regimes that can be defined as ‘extractive’), weak or nonexistent rule of law, lack of transparency and accountability, limited or non-existent freedom of information, marginalization of women. Culture constitutes another important dimension of the Arab predicament, certainly not for the absence of an Arab intellectual class nor the lack of educational structures (Arab intellectuals are numerous and eminent, while literacy is generally higher than in other developing part of the world), but rather as a consequence of the primacy of political conservatism and rejection of pluralism and innovative thinking.

To quote the 2003 report: ‘Researchers argue that the curricula taught in Arab countries seem to encourage submission, obedience, subordination and compliance rather than free critical thinking.’

Free, innovative, plural thinking is discouraged and repressed by rulers who intend to retain full control. This has negative repercussions on both the economy and society, narrowing the avenues for peaceful change and building a system of inclusion/exclusion that requires, in order to be sustained, the heavy hand of repression. Even in cases where elections are held, countries of the region can be defined as ‘democratic’ only if the definition includes ‘illiberal democracies’, i.e. systems lacking the fundamental requisites of a free press; division of powers between executive, legislative and judiciary; and guarantees for minorities.

 

In such political systems resentment and grievances tend to accumulate with little possibility of finding a constructive outlet. No surprise, given the widespread violent repression by secret political police, the mukhabarat, they often turn violent. The original, promising characteristic of the 2011 Arab Spring was that the groundswell of popular protest was not violent. But the period of exception was short-lived, since the state (sometimes immediately, as in Libya and Syria, sometimes after a brief nonviolent interlude, as in Egypt) reacted once more in the only way it knows: with merciless and overwhelming violence. The blossoms of the Arab Spring have been killed everywhere by a cruel frost, with the fragile exception of Tunisia. The choice today seems to be trapped between military dictatorships and Islamist regimes.

The West, after having greeted with premature enthusiasm what seemed to be a promising shift toward freedom and democracy, is now back to hawking a pessimist view on the impossibility of escaping, in the Middle East, the choice between dictatorship and chaos. Thus, it now considers as inevitable the need to support authoritarian governments in order to prevent state collapse and the spread of radical jihadism, with its trans-national terrorist threat, as well as an endemic conflict that is today the main source of problematic refugee flows. Such a policy is justified as a return to realism after the delusion of an impossible democratization of the Middle East. But can short-term realism be really considered realistic?

 

Having argued that the predicament of Middle East countries cannot be attributed primarily to external influences, but derives mainly from internal problems and shortcomings, one cannot help but recognize that western (and mainly US) policy toward the area bears a significant share of responsibility for the present dismal situation. Without reverting to the mistakes and crimes of colonialism, it is sufficient to refer to ‘the mother of all destabilizations’ – the 2003 attack on Iraq that destroyed, together with Saddam and his party, the very structure of the Iraqi state. A political mistake, as well as a violation of the ‘ethic of responsibility’ that should inspire all political action is that we cannot pretend to judge or be judged, politically or morally, only on the basis of abstract principles but rather on the basis of the consequences of our actions, often predictable.

The moral and political absurdity of the Iraqi invasion was repeated in Libya in an even more blatant and far less justifiable way, destroying, together with a despicable dictator, a state that was extremely fragile, thereby unleashing devastating centrifugal forces of a regional, sectarian and tribal nature. States that are inherently weak because of the political distortions introduced by repressive and corrupt leaders have either been literally dismantled by external intervention or have become pawns in a complex network of geopolitical rivalries as well as the terrain for proxy wars.

 

What has for long been the dominant political institution of the modern world – the nation state – has been weakened everywhere insofar as globalization has shifted to an uncontrolled, and often unknown, ‘elsewhere’: the origin of events that affect the daily life of groups and individuals – from the environment to security against terrorism, from the financial situation to migration flows. People feel that the nation state is no longer the site where the most important decisions are taken. But if this is so, how can we expect to preserve citizen participation and democracy?

In the Middle East, this feeling of a growing irrelevance of the state is compounded by a lack of legitimacy produced by the blatant and partisan rule by elites who are both corrupt and much too often thuggish. The category of the citizen, always rather weak in the region, has now become practically non-existent, and people – in desperate need of a framework within which to pursue their own interests and protect their own safety – are regressing to previous stages of political identity: sectarianism and tribalism.

Indeed, it is the crisis of the nation state rather than a hypothetical ‘revenge of God’ against secular civilization, that better defines the present situation in the Middle East. In particular, the ‘believer’ is replacing the ‘citizen’ as a more satisfying and credible foundation of both identity and political agency. Islam has always been an ‘integral’ religion, but today the deep crisis of the Arab state is fuelling the spread of the conviction that the only way of addressing the frustration of failed modernization and failed democratization is by reverting to the most traditional, most fundamentalist interpretation of Islam. The reactionary utopia of the Islamic State is the most radical instance, but it would be a mistake not to recognize that it constitutes only an extreme version of a wide and deeply rooted trend.

 

The Middle East, of course, is not only Arab. As a matter of fact, all three non-Arab Middle Eastern countries (Iran, Israel, Turkey) are deeply involved as protagonists in the complex, intertwining network of competitive and conflictual relations. Yet, there is one remarkable difference between Arab and non-Arab countries, insofar as the latter, as distinct from the former (which someone has inelegantly, but not unjustifiably, defined as ‘tribes with flags’) are real and coherent nation states. The ‘real states’ of the region are in no way exempt from their own crises and contradictions and, instead of contributing to regional stability, are equally a part of the general problem of Middle East conflictual instability.

Israel, for instance, has never come to terms with the fact that it cannot be at the same time large, Jewish and democratic: it can be Jewish and large (i.e. maintaining its post-1967 occupation of Palestinian lands) only by keeping Palestinians as second-rate citizens, or by expelling them, as some extremists advocate; or it can be large and democratic but not Jewish, as the proponents of a bi-national state advocate. It can be both Jewish and democratic, therefore, only by reverting, with the necessary modifications, to the 1967 borders and allowing the birth of a Palestinian state.

In the absence of a settlement, Palestinian insurgency may well be kept under control by the powerful military and security apparatus of the Israeli state, but the Palestinian question will continue to supply (sometimes as cause, sometimes as pretext) a powerful means of recruitment for Arab militancy, including terrorism.

Turkey, under the authoritarian leadership of Tayyip Erdogan, has moved from being an element of regional stability, given its combination of democratic institutions and dynamic economic development, to becoming an additional factor of instability. The AKP government’s policy of ‘zero problems with neighbours’ now more resembles a proliferation of controversy and contrast with neighbours as well as a downright adventurist policy of indiscriminate support, including to radical jihadis, to every component of the anti-Assad front.

 

As for Iran, the July 2015 nuclear agreement has the potential to become the key premise for the end of an isolation that, while being in the early years after the 1979 revolution a consequence of an overtly expansive revolutionary mission, subsequently became a reflection of a geopolitical contest between, on one side, Tehran’s aspiration to an important regional role and, on the other, Washington’s hostility toward what it by and large still considers a ‘rogue state’ as well as Iran’s Arab neighbours’ fear of traditional Persian hegemonic ambitions. At the same time, the region-wide Sunni versus Shia clash (a prophecy that has self-fulfilled as a consequence rather than a cause of conflict) sees in Iran and Saudi Arabia the main political and ideological reference points of the sectarian confrontation.

The tendency to attribute the rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia to religious sectarianism is, however, deeply flawed since it ignores a substantial asymmetry. Iran pursues national interest goals through alliances which are not based on religious affinity. It supports the Assad regime (based not on Islam but on the secular and fascistic ideology of the Baath Party) not because of religious brotherhood: Alawis are Shias only in a very indirect and theologically contested sense. Incidentally, the same can be said about Yemeni Houthis, only vaguely related to Shias. Iran also supports Hamas, a Sunni-based Palestinian movement and, as far as Afghanistan is concerned, finds as its main allies people speaking Dari, a Persian language, rather than Afghan Shias. Lebanon’s Hezbollah is indeed Shia, but worth noting is that it is allied with a significant segment of the Christian population.

Saudi Arabia, in contrast, being a weak state finds both identity and allies on the basis of the most radical, most intolerant version of Islam – Wahhabism.

 

What constitutes the unifying characteristic of the many crises that are today affecting the Middle East is ‘the general crisis of the nation state.’ With the exception of the three non-Arab Middle East countries, all other states are not only dysfunctional and riven by violent conflict (civil war and terrorism) but threatened in their very survival. The process leading to the present situation is convincingly described in a recent paper published in The Arabist.

‘The Arab uprisings revealed how dilapidated state structures are, and how willing ruling elites are to sacrifice them to their own survival. Arab societies mobilized in opposition to the bankruptcy of their national institutions, typically with a view to changing governance rather than changing governments – calling, in a word, for less ‘regime’ and more state. Almost everywhere, their leaders pushed back by reinvesting in everything that made them regimes in the first place: repression and radicalization, cronyism and patronage, and the fear of chaos as principal sources of domination.

‘This process has profoundly undermined the belief in and the desire for the state. Most Iraqis, Syrians or Lebanese have entirely given up hope, not to mention Palestinians; who would even think of building a state for the latter when the model seems to be crumbling everywhere else? Many across the region, especially among the elites, no longer aspire to a state for all, but beg for a power structure – at best a regime, at worst a large militia – that can protect them from another part of their own society seen as threatening, at any collective cost.’3

 

Facing this situation, one frequently comes across proposals for a solution based on the premise that existing nation states, having been as a rule created by colonial powers on the basis of borders drawn without considering ethnic and sectarian differences (‘Sykes-Picot’ has now become a symbolically infamous reference) are artificial and cannot survive in their present configuration. That Iraq should be divided into three states: Shia, Sunni and Kurdish, and Syria, which allegedly cannot realistically be put back together again after years of ferocious civil war, might be divided into a Sunni and an Alawi entity. Some ‘realists’ also foresee the division of the country into two separate entities – Tripolitania and Cyrenaica – as the only possible solution to the present Libyan anarchy. Even as one understands the despair inspired by the devastation and human suffering produced by the conflicts that are tearing apart the whole region, and yet one should at least pause and ask a few non-secondary questions.

 

First: where has one ever seen ‘natural’ nation states? States are a political construct, whatever their origin. Second: how is it possible to draw ‘non-artificial’ borders in an area which has been characterized by centuries of coexistence and mixing of ethnicities and religions? No new entity would be homogeneous, thereby multiplying the present problem of coexistence between majority and minority – a problem that is then likely sought to be solved by ethnic cleansing, if not genocide. And how about the capitals of the present nation states? If Iraq is divided, who gets Baghdad? Then again: how serious is it to imagine that fragments of countries that are today beset by substantial economic problems would be minimally viable, instead of becoming permanent wards of the international community while falling into the hands of criminal networks?

The idea that territorial fragmentation could be a solution to the present crisis seems to be neither realistic nor responsible. The truth is that it is not the geographical configuration nor the ethnic or religious composition of each political entity that is the source of the problem, but rather the nature of governance and the way power is exercised. Smaller states would likely not only reproduce the distortions and crimes of existing ones, but may even exacerbate them by positing a degree of homogeneity that, being a utopian ideological aspiration going against history and demography, can only be pursued by inordinate recourse to violence. The idea that the only way to have a sustainable and peaceful polis is to base it on ethnic or religious homogeneity is at the same time illusory and dangerous.

In the Middle East (for that matter elsewhere), the real peace builders are not the proponents of radical solutions – from the hallucinatory imperial project of the Caliphate to the mutilation of present nation states – but the reformers, i.e. those who conduct a long and patient struggle aimed at addressing all the ‘deficits’ in governance and rule of law that are at the root of the present collapse of so many of the region’s nation states.

 

Recomposing the disrupted landscape of the Middle East will, no doubt, require a concerted action by external powers. As a brilliant Middle Eastern analyst has commented, there are two fundamental premises for this external role: ‘(a) there can be no lasting military solution to political problems that are created by human beings, and their cruelties and poor policies, and (b) the lack of military solutions to political disputes is screechingly amplified when foreign military powers send their armies into local conflicts, such as we are seeing in Syria, Iraq and Yemen.’4

Since the appeal to justice or humanity cannot unfortunately be considered as effective, only an appeal to self-interest, from security to energy, might constitute a convincing stimulus for action. Not in the sense of renewed military interventions (hopefully Iraq and Libya should have taught us something), but rather as concerted political and diplomatic action aimed at finding a workable compromise among the now conflicting national interests. Moving from proxy wars to a compromise peace will be extremely difficult, but the alternative, the continuation and extension of the present chaos, does not seem to be a realistic option.

 

Footnotes:

1. www.huffingtonpost/abdennour-bidar/lettera-aperta-al-mondo-musulmano_b_ 6448822.html

2. https://now.nmedia.me/lb/en/specialre ports/565067-understanding-jihadis-in-their-own-words

3. Peter Harling and Alex Simon, ‘The West and the Arab World, Between Ennui and Extasis’, The Arabist, 16 December 2015.

4. Rami G. Khouri, ‘The Age of the Young Warriors is Upon Us’, Daily Star, 10 October 2015.

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