Posted by : Shoumik Das Saturday, June 1, 2013

By Samuel P. Huntington


Contemporary global politics is the age of Muslim wars. Muslims fight each other and they fight non-Muslims far more often than do peoples of other civilizations. Muslim wars have replaced the cold war as the principal form of international conflict. These wars include wars of terrorism, guerrilla wars, civil wars and interstate conflicts. These instances of Muslim violence could congeal into one major clash of civilizations between Islam and the West or between Islam and the Rest. That, however, is not inevitable, and it is more likely that violence involving Muslims will remain dispersed, varied and frequent.
The age of Muslim wars began as the cold war was winding down in the 1980s. In 1980 Iraq invaded Iran, and the ensuing war produced at least 500,000 deaths and hundreds of thousands of wounded. At the same time, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan generated vigorous Afghan resistance, which by 1989 compelled the Soviets to withdraw. This victory was made possible by American technology, Saudi and American money, Pakistani support and training, and the participation of thousands of fighters from other, mostly Arab, Muslim countries. Then in 1990 Saddam Hussein invaded and attempted to annex Kuwait, and the United States organized an international coalition, including several Muslim countries, to defeat him.
In the 1990s violence occurred between Muslim s and non-Muslims in Bosnia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Chechnya, Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, Kashmir, India, the Philippines, Indonesia, the Middle East, Sudan and Nigeria. Mujahedin fighters from the Afghanistan war were central participants in many of these conflicts as well as in Muslim terrorist organizations in countries throughout the world. In the mid-1990s, roughly half the ethnic conflicts in the world involved Muslims fighting each other or non-Muslims. In one inventory by The Economist, Muslims were responsible for 11 and possibly 12 of 16 major acts of international terrorism between 1983 and 2000. Five of the seven states listed by the U.S. State Department as supporting terrorism are Muslim, as are a majority of foreign organizations listed as engaged in terrorism. In counter-actions between 1980 and 1995, the U.S. armed forces engaged in 17 military operations against Muslims. According to the International Institute of Strategic Studies, 32 armed conflicts were underway in 2000; more than two thirds involved Muslims. Yet Muslims are only about one fifth of the world’s population.



The "new war" as U.S. administration officials termed the violence that began September 11, is thus not so new. It is a continuation and escalation of previous patterns of violence involving Muslims. Earlier Muslim terrorism had, however, been sporadic and in comparison relatively limited: 299 people killed in the 1983 attack on the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, 270 on Pan Am Flight 103 in 1988, 224 in the 1998 attacks on U.S. African embassies. Different Muslim groups and states were involved in these incidents. Beginning in 1993, however, the principal attacks on Americans and American facilities all appear to have originated with Osama bin Laden. September 11 revealed the existence of his sizable global terrorist network with cells in perhaps 40 countries and with the expertise and resources to attempt well-planned simultaneous attacks. Also for the first time, the network struck with devastating effect within the United States, its actions highlighting the likelihood of chemical and biological attacks, with the more distant possibility of nuclear weapons. The age of Muslim wars had come home to America.
Responsibility for particular wars undoubtedly varies, with the Sudanese government responsible for its ongoing war against Christians and the Israeli government provoking the second intifada with its settlements and ongoing military presence in the West Bank and Gaza.

Tribal. Religious, ethnic, political and cultural divisions within the Muslim world stimulate violence between Muslims. They also promote violence between Muslims and non-Muslims because different Muslim groups and governments, such as those of Saudi Arabia and Iran, compete with each other in promoting their own brand of Islam and have supported Muslim groups fighting non-Muslims from Bosnia to the Philippines. If one or two states dominated the Muslim world, which has not been the case since the end of the Ottoman Empire, less violence would occur among Muslims and, probably between Muslims and non-Muslims.

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