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What’s Generating Terrorism in Muslim States?

By Zaboor Ahmad                     

Terrorism can be defined as a modern phenomenon of organized violence. Earlier, the Crusades, as religious wars, were the organized form of violence. Fighting for centuries resulted in dissipation of energies of both Muslims and Christians. However, in the contemporary times, terrorism has been revived by geo-politics – the combine of United States of America and Saudi Arabia. If one is providing the military wherewithal, the other is a financial channel. In the late twentieth century, America found Afghanistan to be the most suitable place to settle its old scores with its archrival USSR. For this, the US strategically mobilized and garnered Muslim support, primarily living in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Using jihad as an instrument of war, the United States pursued its own geo-political strategic interests.

As an organized form of violence, terrorism has never been specific to and characteristic of any society. Attributing it to the Muslim world is not short of narrow politics. The violence which is engendering in Muslim societies has sources within and without. In fact, the Muslim states after Muhammad demonstrated spirit of equality, justice, and the role of public opinion. However, with the passage of time, as Islam spread to different regions, adapting local customs and values, things changed. The transmission of power from father to son was one such undemocratic practice that had nothing to do with Islam per se, but had regional considerations. The democratic values were considerably undermined. Most of the states in the Muslim world run as family businesses without participation from its people. A tiny collaborator elite section governs the post-colonial Muslim states.

The colonial borders of most of the Muslim states have been drawn carelessly by the colonial rulers that not only dispossessed them of their lands but also kept the cauldron of sectarianism boiling. They were successful in their joint enterprise only with the assistance of compromising elite class who allowed them to play the role of midwife without any intentions of goodwill towards the people. This has been the case in the birth of Israel. America, which is apparently the champion of hallowed democracy, has been providing the entire necessary infrastructure to the small corrupt, rapacious military men to help them rule, fulfilling the sordid interests of masters. In doing this, it is becoming an accomplice in great violation of human rights with little remorse and compunction for the violated people. Amassing the wealth which is often stashed abroad comes to their rescue once they are deposed enabling them to live a life of ease.

The situation in Muslim societies is quite paradoxical. Despite having a rich resource base and owning billion of dollars, the Middle Eastern countries have not yielded anything and are unable to transform it into power. Most of the Muslim societies have been unable to create representative and functional institutions based on egalitarianism and democratic values. The demand for removal of corruption and of dictators bankrolled by west has been the capstone of protests that ripped through the Arab world in 2011. The Muslim world has been virtually the prisoner of dependency. Institutions are made defunct and repressive. Common people pay taxes, while the ruling elite lives on the fat of the land, squandering by creating fortune in foreign countries. While this may not be peculiar to Muslim societies, it certainly exists in these societies. The report on International Transparency is a case in point, where most of the Muslim states figure on the bottom of list.  While public provisions are made for rich class, provisioning for poor is deemed fiscally burdensome and made to bank on market forces.

Groups like Afghan Taliban exploit the situation at home to gain legitimacy among the common people by delivering punitive ‘justice’. The Afghan Government is thoroughly corrupt, and the United States has been unwilling to take measures to address the situation. Corruption eroded public support for the Government. Sometimes support and at other times a lack of strong opposition from the local population has led to the success of Taliban control in certain areas. The most recent is the ‘Fall of Kunduz’ in October 2015.

Today the situation in Muslim societies is that of despondency and helplessness. Western states are the targets of terror attacks because they are equally responsible for engendering the current security situation in Muslim countries. While the birth of Taliban can seen in 1979 Soviet-CIA-Pakistan war in Afghanistan, the birth of the dreaded Islamic State (IS) goes back to the invasion of Iraq. In addition to military engagements, the West has propped up and supported fascist dictators, incompetent monarchs, and corrupt rulers in most of the Muslim societies.

While the imperialist Britain has haphazardly drawn the boundaries of its colonies, including the Middle East, the US has helped Israel in committing crimes against humanity. Israel and America share a symbiotic relationship. If America is financially bankrolling and vetoing the resolutions of Security Council against Israel, Israel, in return, is providing military support that is used against nationalist and revolutionary movements in other parts of world.

Zaboor Ahmad is lecturer in political science and can be mailed at


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Read the latest issue of Cafe Dissensus Magazine on ‘The Beat and the Hungry generation: When losing became hip’, edited by Goirick Brahmachari, poet & Abhimanyu Kumar, poet/journalist, New Delhi, India.

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