Many of us declared the Arab Spring dead and buried. But the Arab Spring really came in two phases.
The first phase was the political destabilization of formerly stable Arab countries by liberals and Islamists. The second phase was an armed conflict by Islamists to take over entire countries.
These phases overlapped in some cases and the second phase has been underway for a while already. In Libya and Syria the first phase of the Arab Spring became the second phase. When protests didn’t work, the Islamists turned to force. When elections didn’t work for them in Libya, they turned to force for a second time. The Benghazi attack was arguably a collateral effect of Islamist attempts to take over Libya after a poor election performance that same summer.
The real beneficiaries of the Arab Spring were always going to be those who had the most guns and cared the least about dying in battle. And that was always going to be Al Qaeda.
Libya and Syria’s civil wars had a ripple effect as weapons were seized and recruits assembled. The lessons of the Afghan wars should have made it clear that the Jihadists involved in those conflicts would not simply go home and live normal lives once the fighting was concluded.
Instead they would find other wars to fight.
The War on Terror was fed by veterans of those wars. So were a dozen more minor Jihadist conflicts that don’t normally make the news. Those conflicts produced their own veterans and spread the war around.
The Arab Spring was supposed to use “moderate” political Islamists to thwart “extremist” terrorists, but that was never going to happen. There is no such thing as a moderate Islamist. There are only Islamic activists more focused on one phase of the conflict. Like the distinction between the political and armed branches of terrorist groups, these distinctions are tactical. They are not ideological.
While the Muslim Brotherhood was running for office in some countries, it was waging wars in others. While liberal foreign policy experts assumed that an Islamist group’s shift from violent to political tactics was a change in worldview, there was plenty of evidence that, like the Muslim Brotherhood, they were opportunistically working both phases of the conflict.The Arab Spring was always going to break down into total war. Its second phase is an armed conflict for dominance between Islamists.
Islam and Arab tribalism are inherently unstable. That instability is bottled up by authoritarian rulers.
In the first phase, the rulers were forced out. The second phase was pure instability. If Al Qaeda has its way the third phase will be a successful repetition of the original Islamic conquests that turned Islam into a worldwide religion by destroying all cultures and ideas in their path to create a blank slate.The dream of the various Islamist groups, both Al Qaeda and not, is to remove the entire artificial set of national constructs and replace it with an Islamic system from the ground up. That is why they use the black flag of Jihad, rather than national flags. It is why ISIS made a show of demolishing border delineations between Iraq and Syria.
It’s a war to decide the terms on which the Middle East will be further Islamized, Christians expelled, Israel destroyed and the West warred with.
Gabriel Schoenfeld’s book “The Return of Anti-Semitism” (Encounter Books, 2005) documented the anti-Israel backlash that has often taken the form of physical attacks on Jews, including beatings of Jewish children in schools, assaults on Jews wearing religious garb in the streets, and vandalism against Jewish cemeteries and synagogues. But there is also the question of what Schoenfeld regards as a more “genteel” anti-Semitic bias perpetrated by progressive intellectuals. By depicting Zionism as a racist or imperialist creed, these progressive intellectuals are seeking to undermine the legitimacy of Israel, and holding it responsible not only for Palestinian suffering but also for Islamic terrorist attacks on the West.The greatest threat to Jews in the West now comes from an unholy alliance of leftists and Islamists. The new anti-Semitism in the West, as Schoenfeld put it, usually begins with hostility toward Israel, but it does not stop there. By identifying prominent Jews as “Zionists,” and casting doubt on their allegiance to their native countries, and by attributing to them disproportionate power and influence, the new anti-Semitism has grown to monstrous proportions while cloaking itself in a mantle of political correctness.
The rise of anti-Semitism and hatred of Jews in Europe, and the simultaneous victories of fascist parties (France’s National Front, Greece’s neo-fascist Golden Dawn party, Hungary’s Jobbik Party, to name a few) in the recent European parliamentary elections, has prompted many European Jews to consider abandoning the continent where Six Million European Jews were murdered during WWII, better known as the Holocaust.
Simon Heffer, a British journalist who edits the Daily Mail’s RightMindssection, suggested last week (June 6, 2014) that Britain should offer asylum to European Jews fleeing anti-Semitism in continental Europe. He wrote, “Britain may have been shamefully slow in the Thirties to grant asylum to Jews fleeing Hitler, but we should warmly welcome here those who are now seeking a new home.” He added that, “The shocking murder of four people at the Brussels’ Jewish Museum last week by a French Islamic extremist reflects an increase in anti-Semitism in Europe, and above all, in France, where there is a large Muslim population.”
Moshe Kantor, President of the European Jewish Congress, presenting the results of a study on worldwide anti-Semitism in 2013, on April 27, 2014 declared that “Normative Jewish life in Europe is unsustainable.” Kantor asserted that “Jews do not feel safe or secure in certain communities in Europe.”Things are unlikely to get better for Jews living in Europe. High unemployment, the result of economic stagnation, and the continued arrival of hundreds of thousands of Muslim immigrants from Africa and the Middle East can only mean the continued scapegoating of the Jewish diminishing minority. The growing electoral power of the Muslim community throughout Europe, and the political bonding between far-left and far-right parties with the Muslim community bodes ill for Jews.
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Oh, one more thing: not much attention is being paid to Saudi Arabia, but note that it has been the chief sponsor of Sunni insurgency everywhere but Saudi Arabia itself, and that the genie they let out of that flask will probably come back and tear that country to shreds, especially in so far as King Abdullah at age 90 is a virtual mummy, and that many other clans besides the Saud tribe have designs on the throne (and its mighty revenue stream from oil production). Add to that inter-tribal tension the possibility of an ISIS-style insurgency in Saudi Arabia itself, with righteous Islamic puritan warriors drawn from all over the region, and you have quite the recipe for a global . Surely a lot of things would get broken in the event. Given all the jealousy and ill-feeling and toward Saudi Arabia, it is a wonder that over the last 30 years no mischief-makers have, for instance, blown up the Ras Tenura oil terminal on the Persian Gulf. That would put the schnitz on global oil supply lines on a world war scale.
For the moment, it is hard to see how anything can be salvaged in Iraq. The ISIS may cause enough havoc there to shut down Iraqi oil production forever. They can start World War III. They can inspire insurgencies across the whole Islamic world and beyond. The caliphate they establish will then have to figure out how to support a population twenty times as great as the region truly can support with a medieval economy. Sooner or later, they’ll be selling shrunken heads in the souks.