Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Islamists and the Failed Solution | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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The phenomenon of the inter-Islamic struggle that is taking place in Somalia, particularly following the withdrawal of Ethiopian forces, is the same phenomenon that was seen in Afghanistan following the withdrawal of Soviet troops which resulted in war breaking out amongst the Muslim factions. Dispute, slander conflict, and open warfare have all taken place in Somalia, and the only victim of this is the country itself and the Somali people who have [already] suffered the affects of almost twenty years of war under tribal, ideological, personal, party, and finally Islamic pretexts. This is a struggle where the media is used alongside weapons of war. The Islamist opposition accuses the Islamists in power of being agents of the West, the US, and even Israel. While should the Islamist opposition ever come to power, they too would find themselves facing the same accusations of being agents [of foreign powers], collaborators, and traitors.

As has become customary for the Al Qaeda organization that interferes in every Muslim country that is subject to tension, the movement’s leader Osama Bin Laden issued a fiery “Islamic” proclamation in which he called upon the Somalis to fight against the new government that is led by President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed. According to Bin Laden, President Ahmed has gone back on his word, and Bin Laden described him as the Karzai of Somalia. However neither Bin Laden, nor those who are sympathetic towards the Al Qaeda movement such as the Somali Hizbul Islam or the Somali Jihadist movement were concerned about the people of Somalia who have been torn apart by two decades of warlords vying for control, disease, and underdevelopment. Bin Laden and his organization have forgotten that the “Islamist” President of Somalia and the US have mutual interests, just as previously Bin Laden himself shared mutual interests with the US, when both shared a common enemy in the Soviet forces in Afghanistan.

No matter how Islamist movements attempt to justify the struggle in Somalia and Afghanistan, the facts on the ground make it clear that this is an eternal conflict, a Machiavellian struggle where nothing is prohibited, where overnight friends become enemies and enemies become friends, all in the name of religious zeal and supporting the homeland, while in fact the homeland is the victim.

Even in political competition, Islamists in many Muslim countries do not have sufficient political intelligence. I am not talking about in political struggles against politicians of other [ideological] trends, but rather in dealing with politicians of the same Islamist ideology. In the recent Kuwaiti parliamentary elections, a fierce political struggle took place between different Islamist trends, including the Muslims Brotherhood, Salafist groups, independent candidates, and tribal candidates. This was a bitter parliamentary struggle that everybody was aware would end in defeat, and indeed this did result in disappointing results for all [Islamist] parties involved, as well as the [electoral] victory of their opponents. As a result of this, the Islamist influence in [Kuwait’s] parliament has decreased, and the Islamists have lost a number of key players on the political sphere all as a result of their lack of [political] coordination.

Islamist groups fighting amongst themselves in the same electoral constituencies is something that is not new to elections, however this lack of [political] coordination has resulted in unprecedented and catastrophic results in the Kuwaiti elections that have come at the expense of all the Islamist trends involved.

I am aware that some Islamist groups have shown great intelligence with regards to political work, such as in countries like Malaysia and Turkey, but unfortunately these are the exception. The crisis that some Islamists in many Muslims and Arab countries are facing is that they represent the non-conventional voice of political opposition, this influences their political practices as well as the uncivilized manner in which these groups deal with one another. Therefore how can people trust them to deal with groups of other political trends [if this is how they deal with groups that share their own ideology]? This is why the electoral defeat in Kuwait was both logical and understandable. The Islamists in Somalia would face an even greater [electoral] loss, unless they learn to put religious and national interests ahead of personal and party interests.