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A New Mindset for a New Decade - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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With the beginning of 2010, let us begin to carefully reflect on the first decade of the third millennium.

What has changed between 2000 and 2010?

We remember how the world welcomed the advent of the new millennium with jubilant celebrations before things turned sour following the 9/11 attacks in 200l and the world undertook an endless battle to counter Al Qaeda and its various offshoots. We all remember the era of George W. Bush and his international wars that aroused and continue to arouse the anger and resentment of millions of people around the world. History will be the judge of that, but we will have to wait until the dust settles. The era of George W. Bush ended, and now the United States of America is led by a black man whose father’s name was Hussein; a man whose election was hailed by Muslims as the beginning of the end of the existing tensions between the Muslim world and the West. However, the new US president is sending additional troops to Afghanistan, and Al Qaeda sent him a Christmas present in response to that; a young Nigerian man with a bomb strapped to him assigned by his commanders in Yemen to blow up an American airliner.

According to custom, predictions and forecasts are made about the New Year, with the past year not being dwelt upon. One decade has passed and another is here; the previous decade saw the warnings made by Arab and Western intellectuals materialize; warnings about the clash of civilizations. Although many people criticised this concept and denounced those that promoted this as suffering from intellectual fanaticism and or a melancholic outlook, the facts and figures seen over the past decade support this concept with regards to many minor and major military and security conflicts. Manifestations of this theory could be clearly seen in Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Yemen and Somalia, not to mention the intellectual, media and political confrontations that can be seen in the rise of European right-wing parties, the minaret crisis in Switzerland, the infamous Danish cartoons issue, the notorious Dutch ‘Al Fitna’ film, and the Hijab issue in France, among others.

Some people reading this article may say that everything is fine, and that we can solve our problems as long as the West does not interfere in our affairs. They might say that terrorism or intellectual and religious extremism is a reaction to the West’s position towards us. This argument is a form of escapism. Al Qaeda is the outcome of a profound flaw in understanding the concept of identity and state. The Arab states, long before the emergence of Al Qaeda, failed to transform completely into civil states. As a result of this, we became trapped in a dark tunnel and stuck between a rock and a hard place, unable of catching up with the times and incapable of returning to the past.

Today Al Qaeda is back with a vengeance, despite all the talk by Arab politicians and writers over the past couple of years claiming that the Al Qaeda stage is over and was nothing but a craze. Now Al Qaeda is regaining momentum and building up once again. The global intelligence and military war has failed to eliminate Al Qaeda, not because of Al Qaeda’s incredible power, but rather because of the failure of the Muslim and Western mindset to grab hold of the real critical issue. Everyone is busy trying to track down elements of Al Qaeda without even attempting to examine the illnesses of the societies that produced Al Qaeda and numerous fundamentalist groups before it.

[We have] a defective mindset in understanding life, religion and politics, and because we do not want or we are unable to change our mindset in a real way, we continue to chase the shadow of beasts rather than the beasts themselves.

I wonder what kind of decade we are about to enter.

Mshari Al-Zaydi

Mshari Al-Zaydi

Mshari Al-Zaydi is a Saudi journalist and expert on Islamic movements and Islamic fundamentalism, as well as on Saudi affairs. He is Asharq Al-Awsat’s opinion page editor. Mr. Zaydi has worked for the local Saudi press, and has been a guest on numerous news and current affairs programs as an expert on Islamic extremism.

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