Monday, October 18, 2021

“The resources of international jihad are greater than in 2001”

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Franco-Iraqi sociologist Adel Bakawan, in March 2021.

Maintenance. Director of the French Center for Research on Iraq (CFRI), Adel Bakawan is a Franco-Iraqi sociologist, member of the Mediterranean-Middle East Research and Studies Institute (Iremmo), associate researcher at the French Institute for International Relations (IFRI) and the Arab Center for Research and Development political studies of Paris (Carep). His work, Iraq, a century of bankruptcy, (Editions Tallandier, 288 p., 19.90 euros) was published at the end of August.

On September 11, 2001, a handful of jihadists from Afghanistan organized attacks against their American enemy who, in turn, launched a “war on terror”. Twenty years later, how to define global jihad?

Breaking with the traditional Islamist movement, opposed to violence and for which the conquest of power passes through daawa (“Religious preaching”), the jihadists advocate armed struggle in all directions. 9/11, in this context, is a kind of climax. However, jihad is not just a strategy of actions (acts of terror, surprise suicide attacks, etc.), as some describe it.

It is indeed an ideology – with a vision of the world, a way of thinking and a way of being – which is constantly changing. Alongside the mass constituting cannon fodder, the jihadists have been able to adapt and distance themselves from the various situations in which they were involved.

Read also September 11, 2001-2021: the disruption of the world

A good illustration of this mutation is the evolution of the Syrian branch of Al-Qaida. [Jabhat Al-Nosra devenu, en 2017, Hayat Tahrir Al-Cham]. Its fighters did not stand still like morons running to their deaths at any cost. Of course, they kept the main ideological lines, but by reconfiguring them regularly, in particular as regards the identification of the enemy, the modalities of cooperation with local actors, even of partnership with countries of the international community. Until recently, members of the democratic Syrian opposition were, in their eyes, enemies of God who should be slaughtered if the opportunity presented itself.

It was the same for the traditional chiefs of the tribes, not to mention a state like Turkey! Everything changed when the Damascus regime became the common enemy. And even more when they had to administer territories and populations [dans la région d’Idlib] : the Syrian branch has established links with local actors, the opposition or tribes, and a partnership with Turkey. This is why Western intelligence services agree to deal behind the scenes with this group, believing that it is – relatively – more frequent than Daesh. [acronyme arabe de l’organisation Etat islamique (EI)] or that the regime of Bashar Al-Assad.

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