THE CONFRONTATION: WINNING
THE WAR AGAINST FUTURE JIHAD
Hassan is the author of Prophecy
and the Fundamentalist Quest. Please visit
her website at: www.farzanahassan.com
Phares contends there is a future jihad unfolding
in the form of a confrontation that will engulf the entire world.
In his book entitled The Confrontation: Winning the War
against Future Jihad, (Palgrave McMillan, 2008), he elucidates
the antecedents, circumstances and implications of militant
jihad in the twenty-first century. This jihad according to the
author is an authoritarian, hegemonic enemy that must be challenged
at the political, military, diplomatic and theological level.
Phares begins on a positive note: “The free world can
still win” is the hopeful message the book embarks on.
later makes several telling observations about jihad such as
the following: “The different groups of jihadists, despite
their inner crisis, tensions, and sub-conflicts, focus on one
set of arguments against one particular target, be it Israel,
France, Southern Sudan or Kurdistan.” Phares therefore
asserts the West is the prime target of twenty-first jihad.
order to further their agenda, the jihadists continually engage
in invidious propaganda and hatemongering against the West and
its allies. Coupled with this strategy, the jihadists project
themselves as victims, citing, according to the author, a “socioeconomic
explanation of terrorism.” This pernicious propaganda
results in not recognizing terrorism and jihadism as ideologies.
Terrorism according to the jihadist is the weak man’s
war, for he has no other means to fight for his rights.
concludes that it is Salafist
doctrine and philosophy rooted in political Islam
that has gripped the souls of contemporary jihadists and their
willing followers in Muslim youth.
groups have the very real and targeted agenda of preventing
the spread of Western democracy and Western values based on
pluralism, egalitarianism and freedom of conscience in Muslim
lands. Phares claims the West has been duped into believing
the jihadists are “Robin Hoods” resisting socioeconomic
author also concludes that jihadists continue to blame the West
for the Crusades, the Iberian Reconquista and generally for
all the ills plaguing the Muslim world. But more importantly,
the jihadists blame the West for “a war against Islam”
in its support of democracies like Israel.
then is the solution to Islamist resentment and bellicosity?
author appropriately asks: “Why have Western and international
policies failed to contain terrorism and the jihadi movement?”
He offers a number of solutions to tackle the problem. The West
must at the outset acknowledge the threat. Phares believes there
are many in the West who fail to understand the implications
of jihadism and its lethal corollary -- terror.
also notes that the international community lacks unity in its
fight to eradicate the menace of jihadism. He again asks: “Why
did each country -- especially those targeted by either the
Salafists or the Khumenists and their allies -- have its own
policies on containment, and why did some governments actually
grant recognition to a terror group even though it was at war
with another democracy?” Walid Phares is probably referring
to Hamas and its agenda to destroy Israel. It is obvious then
that the West needs to establish a unified front against jihadism.
He calls this proposed front the International Alliance against
Jihadism. He further notes with dismay that India and Pakistan
face the same challenges with respect to terrorism and yet their
bilateral politics has prevented them from adopting a unified
policy against jihadism. The affected nations of the world therefore
need to take up this challenge and defeat jihadism through a
joint policy against the threat.
also asserts that the way to defeat jihadism is to democratize
the Middle East. The term "Middle Earth" employed
for the regions from Western Sahara to Jammu and Kashmir is
a war zone where jihadi cells and jihadi “emirates”
are likely to form according to the author. It is here that
religious and ethnic minorities suffer most. Women also lack
essential human rights in these countries. Jihadist alliances
and activities have created what the author deems the elitist
“Arab Islamic Order” which has replaced the Ottoman
Empire in some ways. He notes: “The Ottoman empire collapsed
as an institution, but the imperialist design of the doctrines
of jihadism survived.” Also according to Phares, the oppressed
minorities include not only women, but also men who happen to
be in disagreement with those in power. In order to solve the
problem of international jihadism, these minorities must be
empowered so that a genuine pluralistic tradition can emerge
in the Middle East. The author realizes this would entail an
entire paradigm shift in the cultural ethos of the region.
West and the free world must, according to Phares, fund freedom
by adopting a more accommodating policy toward political dissidents
in the Middle East.
author notes that jihad must be recognized for what it is. In
this regard the policy of calling a jihadist irhabi,
which translates as ‘terrorist’ is a fallacy. According
to Phares, this was “clearly a Jihadist victory in the
War of Ideas” as their agenda encompasses much more than
further notes that “Word, for word, the consultants in
the Trojan Horses were pushing for the elimination of all terminology
indicating the existence of a cohesive ideology, Jihadism.”
The author concludes that using the terminology of the jihadists
is in fact an admission of defeat for those opposing them.
importantly for the author, it is Muslims who must reject the
doctrines of Salafism, Khumeinism and Jihadism. That discourse
is yet to emerge in the Islamic world. Phares points out that
it is part of the Islamic tradition to challenge radicalism,
but in modern times a unified voice against jihadists simply
does not exist. Muslims must hence produce a discourse based
on democratic values and modern standards of international cooperation.
Once again the West and the free word must support this discourse.
a Western perspective, the war against jihadist ideology poses
unique problems consequent to the exceptional zeal the latter
generates and its apocalyptic promises. Armed
with theology, the proponents of jihad feel that “their
victories, when they win, are the divine will, and their deaths,
if they die, are the will of Allah.” Its foot soldiers
are the economically marginalized. They must be empowered economically
to fight jihadism according to Phares. The educational system
in these countries must be revamped as well, so as to instill
tolerance in future generations of Muslims.
book is an incisive and comprehensive analysis of jihad and
its implications for the modern world. The author provides practical
solutions to combating jihadism in the form of policy recommendations
at the national and international level. It is a must read for
those who wish to understand the influence of Islamism and jihadism
in the West.