Sunday, 24 August 2014

The Call of the Caliphate in Britain: Why British Jihadists Fight in Syria.

The rise of IS in Syria and Iraq and the evident barbarity it revels in, from social media depictions of  enemies being machine gunned into open death pits, the beheading American journalists and threatening to exterminate or convert Christians and killing Yazidis, has caused some to be 'bewildered'.

Yvonne Ridley certainly claims to be 'baffled'. When asked about ISIS, Respect Party member and Islamist propaganda hack opined, as if knowing her exact stance was going to be a matter of pressing public importance in Britain,
'There are many reasons why I've not spoken out against ISIS. For a start, I'm not sure who it is, where it came from or how it is funded. I've not seen such a militarily- and strategically-savvy fighting force emerge in the Middle East before, other than the highly disciplined and much feared Hezbollah. I, like many others, want to know a little bit more about ISIS before making public comments'
So Ridley wasted hundreds of words 'taking her stance' and switching the topic to Israel half way through when IS has nothing to do with Israel. For someone who, like George Galloway, is a champion of Hizbollah it's odd that she so clearly wants President Assad removed when Hizbollah is a staunch ally of Assad.

The laughable thing about Ridley is that Galloway, the Respect MP for Bradford West, is actually a strong backer of Assad against the Sunni jihadists ranged against him, mostly because of the idea that the US created ISIS by supporting Sunni militant fighters against the Alawite Shia dynasty Assad belongs to.

Ridley cannot resist a conspiracy theory though. One of the most popular is that ISIS is part of a devious plot by the US and Israel to 'destabilise' Iraq ( as if it was not unstable enough without the US intervening once more in Iraq ), part of a CIA/ Mossad scheme to divide and rule Iraq against Iran.

Ridley has an alternatibe plot scenario 'The former head of the British Army says that the West should sit down and negotiate with Assad to get rid of ISIS, but what if ISIS was created by Assad and his ally Iran, which has members of the elite Republican Guard in parts of Syria?'
'As crazy as it sounds, that would explain why Nouri Al-Maliki's Iraqi army fell away so easily in the face of ISIS leaving behind a massive arsenal of weapons for the militia to use. It is virtually inconceivable for a trained fighting force to leave all of its kit behind before doing a runner, just as it's virtually inconceivable that a crack fighting force like ISIS could emerge from a rag tag bunch of ill-disciplined rebel fighters buoyed-up by disaffected youngsters from Europe and beyond'.
It sounds insane because it is insane and has no basis in reality. However, if the task is to try to rationalise away the depth and extent to which the Islamic State is a direct reflection of a strand of Islamist thinking and practice, then it is clear that Ridley would want to pretend ISIS has no basis in the world view she holds.

Mona Siddiqui, a professor of Islamic studies and public understanding at the University of Glasgow, writes on British jihadists in Syria that 'we in the west feel bewildered by their ferocity and brutality' and then goes on to write, a very uneasy way, the following,
'In the UK, the fear that Isis have attracted hundreds of British men to fight in the region has reignited the question of integration and radicalisation among younger British Muslims. But perhaps what is more chilling this time is the way many of these men, who have gone over to fight, have unflinchingly assumed the role of thug and tyrant given the first opportunity....Their narrative may well be wrapped up in the familiar language of jihad and "fighting in the cause of Allah", but it amounts to little more than destruction of anything and anyone who doesn't agree with them'.
This is obfuscation again. The barbarism of British jihadists comes from the ideology and is reinforced by the barbarism of war. This experience leads them towards enacting a  greater depravity that was within them as a consequence of the ideology that firstly allowed them to rationalise the impulse towards killing and death.

The fact 'John the Jihadist' beheaded the American journalist is hardly surprising: it is meant to be shocking but it's not if the purpose of the murder is understood, that there is a 'method to the madness' and that it lies within the need to use a maximum of terror to instill submission or awe in the enemy.

The demonstration of ISIS savagery is meant to show that this is a form of revenge for the war that the US and the West started against the Muslim World, to make plain that these sorts of killings are an inevitable consequence of Western foreign policy just as much as Lee Rigby's murder in London was.

So Siddiqui has ignored the deep emotional appeal of ISIS's ideology to obfuscate the role of Islamist discourse within Britain, a form of 'political religion' that indeed does pit a "purified" and purifying version of Islam against both the West and its legacy through secular leaders and the West's allies in the region.

The irony is that IS has gained ground because of its finance came from private donors in Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia as part of a quest to defeat the Shia Alawite Syrian leader Assad. Now they make money from illegal oil sales and robbing banks. It's a combination of gangsterism and deranged ideology.

But the West and anything associated with it in the Middle East are thus Infidels ( e.g the Christians being subjected or slaughtered ) and or else Hypocrites and both are targets for the foot soldiers of IS. This appeals to young British Islamists who regard the West as the root cause of all global problems.

To a certain extent, this idea is propagated by non-Islamist organisations that eschew the complexity of world politics and reduce complicated problems down to the idea the West is the Big Evil , the demonic 'system' that needs to be fought against until its power is destroyed.

The so called 'anti-war' movement in the form of the Stop the War Coalition is actually a front for revolutionary activists who would regard IS as wholly a product and reaction to Western Imperialism: whether Al Qaida operatives or IS foot soldiers all are denied an agency of their own.

It is this denial of moral responsibility that enables radicalised militant Islamists to regard themselves romantically as dark avenging angels, committed to kill not because they have bloodlust but because the sheer iniquity of the Western dominated world order evil made them do it.

There's a need to face facts. IS reflects a 'retrograde discourse' within Islam as regards the Caliphate, an idea that acts as a sort of ideological utopia for alienated Sunni Muslims and that in Syria and Iraq has gained ground because of the weakness of state authority in the northern parts of both lands.

ISIS has realised a Caliphate that has transcended the boundaries created by the France and Britain back in 1916. The reason semi-educated Islamists without ego security went to Syria to fight is because it offers a strength of purpose and certainty, freedom from the meaningless freedom of the West.

In the large cities and conurbations of Western Europe, there is no formative experience and no experience of membership beyond consumerism and the identification with consumer branded goods. With a mediocre education system, Islamists gain knowledge and membership from radical groups.

'Islam is the solution' is a regular placard slogan: the Caliphate is a standard part of Islamist discourse. The appeal of this is similar to those of the secular utopias of communism in the 1960s, whether Castro's Cuba or some Trotskyist alternative to the disappointing reality of 'actually existing socialism'.

The new Caliphate has the appeal of the communist utopia promised by the Russian Revolution of 1917. The paradise was postponed only by the hideous plots to destabilise it by the Western imperialists. So too the Caliphate was abolished after the Ottoman Empire collapsed and the Arab lands partitioned.

The Caliphate is posited as a mythological entity that would unite all Sunni Muslims once more and its rise is seen as the death knell for secularism, Godlessness and the Western imperialism that brought it all about. Fighting in Syria or within the belly of the beast are apiece with the same jihad.

The nihilism of those supposedly educated at British universities and going to fight in Syria has not seen them transform from naive idealists into brutalised psychopaths by the war alone. It was inherent within the ideology that posits the Caliphate as a realisable Utopia here on earth and that demands blood must be shed.

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