[Marxism] The Rise of Al Qaeda in Syria: Separating Fact from Mythology

Michael Karadjis mkaradjis at gmail.com
Tue Sep 17 09:45:10 MDT 2013

An excellent addition to the discussion of the different nature of 
different groups of "Islamists" in Syria, for those who are capable of 
thinking outside Shane's "all islamists are the same and are enemies of 
civilisation" framework:


It is important not to confuse militant Jihadis with mainstream 
political Islamist groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood. Whilst the 
Muslim Brotherhood is undoubtably conservative and reactionary, they 
have broad based popular support across the Middle East and North Africa 
and have won democratic elections in Palestine, Tunisia and Egypt. They 
gained prominence during the Islamic revival of the 1970s, as a direct 
response to western imperialism. They work to reinstate Islamic laws and 
believe in the concept of Islamic unity and the return of the caliphate 
abolished by Ataturk in 1924 although they primarily struggle on the 
national level. They advocate that political Islam is compatible with 
the establishment of a modern, democratic, multi-party state that 
respects human rights, including the rights of religious minorities.[3] 
Pursuing social justice and particularly reducing the gap between rich 
and poor has been a key tenet of their ideology and to this end they 
established a vast network of social services which gained them the 
support of the urban and rural poor.[4] Although they have been known to 
use violent means to achieve their goals, the Muslim Brotherhood 
officially rejects the use of violence.[5]

The experience of countries that have been governed by the Muslim 
Brotherhood show a wide gap between their rhetoric and reality. Highly 
authoritarian and repressive regimes have been established where they 
have come to power. Yet we should not regard the Muslim Brotherhood as a 
violent terrorist organization or overlook the support the organization 
has amongst broad sections of a religiously conservative population. 
Therefore strategies for dealing with, and opposing, the Muslim 
Brotherhood should be fundamentally different from our approach to 
militant-Jihadi groups. The Muslim Brotherhood is prominent in the 
Syrian National Coalition (the bourgeois opposition in exile which is 
backed by the West, Gulf States and Turkey and influenced by foreign 
agendas). The Syrian National Coalition also includes secular and 
leftist opposition groups (including Christian and Kurdish parties), the 
Free Syrian Army, grass-roots opposition groups and independents. It 
advocates establishing a civil, democratic Syria.[6]

Between the 'moderate' political Islamists and Al Qaeda there exists a 
broad spectrum of other Salafist groups which subscribe to puritanical 
versions of Islam some of which are militant. They include Al Nour party 
in Egypt, Islamic Jihad and Jaysh al Islam in Palestine, and Ansar Al 
Islam and Ahrar Al Sham in Syria. Further, although the overwhelming 
majority of people in the region are Muslim, many are also secularists, 
including the vast majority of Syria's grassroots civil opposition. 
Socialist and anti-authoritarian/anarchist currents also exist within 
Islam with roots that can be traced back to the ninth century.[7]


The Rise of Al Qaeda in Syria: Separating Fact from Mythology

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