Top 5 Wars on Religious Extremism in Today’s Muslim World

The Fox News commentators who say that the Muslim world is not doing enough to police its own extremist movements don’t actually seem to be reading the news. If anything in a number of countries they’ve gone overboard with a Bush style ‘war on terror.’ To wit:

1. On Wednesday, the commander of Libya’s Air Force joined with self-proclaimed general Khalifa Hifter in the latter’s campaign against religious extremist groups and against parties of political Islam, especially the Muslim Brotherhood. The Interior Ministry was also said to have swung to him for a while, but the deputy minister has denied this assertion. It is possible that a substantial group of police support Hifter’s “Dignity Campaign” against the dominance of fundamentalist militias and of a slight minority of parliamentarians who nevertheless have managed to take over the General National Council. Likewise Libya’s ambassador to the UN and the Culture Minister have declared for Hifter. The navy chief of staff, a Hifter supporter, survived an assassination attempt on Wednesday morning. Hifter denies receiving money from Egypt but says he does want to meet Abdelfattah al-Sisi, the general who made last summer’s coup against the Muslim Brotherhood. Hifter is agitating for the General National Council to be replaced by an interim judicial panel until new elections, now set for late July. Hifter does seem to be trying to make a secular-nationalist coup and says he wants to wipe out the Muslim Brotherhood. That is the polarizing rhetoric common in Egypt now, which refuses to see a difference between civil supporters of the dream and a terrorist group. Worse, Hifter may be a sort of nationalist extremist himself.

2. The government of Nawaz Sharif in Pakistan has launched air and ground campaigns against the Pakistani Taliban in the tribal belt near Afghanistan. Some 71 extremists were killed in these engagements, with four government soldiers dead. The Obama administration had been trying for years to get Pakistan to conduct a big campaign against its Muslim extremists. As the US prepares to leave Afghanistan mostly or altogether, Sharif may feel a new urgency in dealing with the problem. In Pakistan, unlike Libya, the government’s new seriousness in taking on extremists is not spilling over onto the Jama’at-i Islami, the major civil society grouping of Muslim fundamentalists. Rather it is targeting actual terrorists, the Movement of Pakistani Taliban, who have killed scores of innocents in bombings.

3. If Iraqi PM Nouri al-Maliki manages to return to power as prime minister, he may well launch a campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, which holds entire neighborhoods of major Sunni cities like Falluja and Ramadi. Al-Maliki was persuaded to hold off by local tribal elders, but the latter have not delivered. Without an election hanging over his head, and given the political weakness of the Sunni opposition, he might decide to try to crush the al-Qaeda affiliate.

4. Former general Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s “war on terror,” by which he actually means a war on pluralism and especially on the Muslim Brotherhood, was vindicated at the polls. Expatriate Egyptians voted early and their votes have been tabulated. They overwhelming supported al-Sisi, giving him 94.5 percent of the vote. Al-Sisi, if he wins the presidency, is likely to continue his campaign against the Muslim Brotherhood. Al-Sisi’s campaign is the least honest of those covered here, since he surly knows that most Muslim Brotherhood members are not in fact terrorists. He has even made it illegal to interview a Brotherhood member directly and to say anything nice about the movement. If you want to drive people into being terrorists, you often can.

5. The Obama administration has sent 80 special operations troops along with drone support to the African country of Chad, allegedly to search for the hundreds of girls kidnapped by the extremist Boko Haram movement. Although it is true that Boko Haram operates in nearby countries as well, it doesn’t make sense to me that you would start with Chad. Does this have something to do with Libya, actually?

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related video:

Press TV: “Scores of militants killed in airstrikes in Pakistan’s North Waziristan region”

13 Responses

  1. If you’re going to respond at all to “Faux Noise,” at least answer the charge. You’ve merely described power struggles in which one party is opposing Islamist groups for its own purposes. Here is the charge to which you should respond: if someone mishandled the koran or published cartoons offensive to Muslims, there’d be outrage and rioting in the Muslim world. But the atrocities committed by Boko Haram evoke nary a peep. People in the West do not think Muslims will ever crticize each other.

    • The atrocities of Boko Haram have been universally condemned by Muslim authorities, including the leading one, Al-Azhar seminary in Cairo. Moreover, the newspapers and social media all over the Muslim world have been just as full of horror and outrage at Boko Haram as have the Western ones. The Faux News charge ultimately cannot be answered in the US because you lot don’t know enough about the Muslim world to recognize the condemnations or to calibrate their importance, and maybe you don’t care to do the little research that would show you how foolish and ignorant your last few sentences are.

      It is also possible that you are just trolling.

      • Americans have no idea what’s happening in the Muslim world. They don’t even realize they don’t get it that Sisi takeover was against the fundamentalist direction that Morsi was taking in Egypt. Used to watch Al Jazeera when I was overseas to get a better picture of what was going on in the Muslim world. Unfortunately Al Jazeera America is some dumbed down version designed for the illiterate American public.

  2. Maybe people in the West, “people like us,” could google “muslim comment on Boko Haram” for a fact check on who’s saying what on the subject. To see what kind of criticism and thoughts there are on the subject.

    I will second the observation that the examples given don’t exactly illustrate “war on religious extremism in the Muslim world.” Bearing in mind, among other things, that “war,” that fascinating word, is not even a defined term in our War Department’s massive Dictionary, link to lawfareblog.com, (though “weaponeer” is, “An individual who has completed requisite training to determine the quantity and type of lethal or nonlethal means required to create a desired effect on a given target,” and look up “threat” in the same source and it’s all about “terrorist threats,” nothing about China or Russia. And for all their bombast that insists the Fed’rul Gov’mnt is warring on them, does the Imperial Government do “war” on our own home-grown fundamentalist-terrorists? And other than DFHs, who criticizes them folks there in the outback with their camo gear and sniper rifles and all that?

    And of course OUR Imperial “war” or whatever you want to call the global procurement program and deployment, aimed at “fundamentalist Islam,” or what-everrrr, has been so terribly effective, now hasn’t it, at “analyzing” and “neutralizing” the “threat,” right? Look what you get for $8 trillion and counting, counting, counting, albeit not auditably…

    • If the Pakistani Muslim League government bombing Taliban with airplanes isn’t a war on extremism by a Muslim government, then I don’t know what would be.

  3. The FOX pundits don’t seem to realize that not all countries have free speech like we have in the United States. They also seem to think that “speaking out” means rioting in the streets.

    But, in repressive countries, protests where people take to the streets are often organized by government and/or religious authorities. So, street protests are more likely to measure what a few powerful authorities care about, not what the majority of people believe.

    FOX also ignores the many articles, essays, and books where Muslim thinkers make arguments for a more secular vision of Islam. For example, “A Religion, Not A State” by Souad Tagelsir Ali. Or “Islam and the Secular State: Negotiating the Future of Shari`a” by Abdullahi Ahmed Ah-Na`im.

    It’s a pity that FOX doesn’t invite the authors of such books to be guests so that viewers could see the diversity of opinion across the Middle East.

  4. An unusually and unwarranted vitrolic response, Juan. My reference to “Faux Noise” should have made clear to you what I think of it; I was asking you to respond, on point, to the charge (made by Fox News, not by me) instead of merely listing power struggles going on in the Muslim world.

    • Saying that Muslims never condemn their own compatriots’ extremism is what is vitriolic. That’s a blanket statement of the sort that is always incorrect, and in this case grossly incorrect on the facts. Such assertions are Islamophobic. I’m not sure what form of such condemnation would not have power implications in society so it is always going to be imbricated in a power struggle. Power is capillary.

  5. The U.S. personnel sent to Chad will run the drones to seek out the kidnapped girls and Boko Haram. Nigeria has never allowed the U.S. to position any military personnel on its own soil.

  6. Totally missed my point, sorry to say. You’re very angry and defensive today, Juan. I wanted you to respond, specifically, to Faux Noise’s allegation, but you took off after me, as if I had made it. I wanted your usual thoughtful refutation to the allegation of Muslim silence over Muslim atrocities but you went haywire. Peace. Out.

    • Oh then it is a matter of diction. it would have been helpful for you to more clearly frame the remark as a Faux pov not your own. We can’t read minds out here in cyberspace. sorry for the misreading.

  7. A problem that many political elites are unwilling to admit is that, in vast swathes of the world, military institutions have become terrorist organizations on a scale far exceeding armed extremists movements. They refuse to recognize their own deliberate torture and killing of civilians as terrorism and very narrowly define what constitutes such activity. They also obstinately deny the obvious truth that non-state extremist movements have been fueled and strengthened by the decades long existence of the police states that these armies uphold. In practice, t works like a racket where they feed off of each other.

    As has amply been demonstrated by now, Egyptian authoritarianism is all about ruling through terror, deception, and violence. The entire process of setting up Sisi as a puppet by his deep state managers was achieved through extremist rhetoric, incitements to violence, and excusing any and all atrocities and elimination of freedoms by his side. The abominations committed by Sinai militants pale in comparison to those of Sisi, Tantawi, and other terrorists. While it is obvious that movements like ABM attack civilians and commit collateral damage, it is strange that such activity conducted under the cloak of “the state” is still readily accepted by so much of the world.

    Meanwhile, in Thailand, we see another demented military cult seizing power. It too seeks overtly to defend aristocracy and forestall democratic transformation. There is a considerable danger that the new Thai coup will be more barbaric than is widely anticipated, as the Thai deep state has been losing the war against the democratic tide for quite some time. Experimentation with a more militarized form of oligarchy is a possibility.

    In a twist of fate, the obvious negative nature of the Thai coup will help poison the name of coups across the world. As comparisons are drawn equating both the barbaric elitists in Egypt and Thailand, both authoritarianisms will become increasingly discredited. The timing of the Thai coup will harm Egyptian fascists by drawing renewed scrutiny to the emboldening of the Egyptian police state. The 2006 coup in Thailand saw Thai authoritarians experiment with describing slain protesters as “terrorists” in Yanukovych-like fashion.

    In the Libyan case, there is a problem in cities like Benghazi with the AAS militia, however, it will be difficult for Haftar to seize control of the country purely by exploiting that problem. There are too many disparate forces, many of which are more cunning, that do not want foreign subjugation and have their own designs for power. The thuwra militias are too powerful for him to directly challenge and the political route is unlikely to work out. Additionally, Libyan liberals tend to despise the idea of renewed dictatorship, especially one conducted by what may now be a foreign agent/terrorist.

    Many of the Libyan militias periodically commit war crimes and do not care whatsoever about the population. They should seriously consider applying the term “terrorist” to themselves.

  8. Being a kleptocratic GUN-MAN means never having to say you’re sorry…

    Anyone complains, you just shoot ‘em.

    A spurious, curious kind of “legitimacy,” denominated by caliber: 7.62, 12.7, 81, .308…

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