[Marxism] Libya: the rise of the Islam State seen in context

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Dec 5 06:00:58 MST 2014

Within this byzantine system of shifting alliances and rival interests 
against the breakdown of law and order, a reversion to an Islamic 
foundation is not an anomaly, and it is a phenomenon that has repeated 
itself in conflict-prone and failed states across the Islamic world, as 
was the case in Somalia with the rise of the Islamic Courts Union as a 
response to the country’s violent anarchy and absentee governance. This 
is not an attempt to alleviate any group from their egregious human 
rights abuses, but a connection between Libya’s instability and the 
predilections of one Mediterranean town. The imprinting of familiar 
iconography—both Islamist and more specifically, the preponderant 
international terrorists—roots factions competing for power in a local 
context, with the veil of a wider, pan-Islamic agenda.

Alarmists within the Western media want to portray the seizure of Derna 
as the awakening of dormant jihadists who are flocking to the black 
banner of the Islamic State and its purported, continent-spanning 
caliphate. The fall of Derna to these forces follows teleologically in a 
domino effect as the West contends with ISIS’ gains in the Mashreq, the 
Maghreb, and the Arabian Peninsula. This analysis posits that Derna was 
previously, before the rise of the Islamic State, a piece that the West 
and its Middle Eastern allies in the war against ISIS’ expansion have 
subsequently lost. But this framing fails to account for Derna’s 
historical indoctrination to violent jihadism, its avowal of past jihadi 
affiliations, and most importantly, its search for legitimacy in the 
lawlessness of post-Gaddafi Libya. Derna’s fighters, radical extremists 
no doubt, are searching for a flag, rather than the flag, that is now 
hoisted over them.


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