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Is The ISIS Movement A New Intifada?

Politics / Middle East Jul 12, 2014 - 04:26 PM GMT

By: Andrew_McKillop


The Crusade Against Terror
In the tense and hectic days following the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York and Washington, then-president George W. Bush on several occasions committed a serious error, which was soon corrected by his advisers and speechwriters. He said the US would react and respond to the attacks with a Crusade Against Terror.

This was not politically correct. The official term was quickly changed to War On Terror. In Europe, where political  “correctitude” reigns stronger than in the US, today's terminology ranges from anti-terror measures to bolstering friendly states in Africa and Asia exposed to the threat of Islamic terror. In Europe, politically correct now extends to calling anti-terror actions and measures a process that also aims for community integration, youth employment and improving the rights of women in Europe's city ghettos with high numbers of recent immigrants from Muslim countries. Global warming struggle has not yet been melded into the pie, but it could come!

In the US and Europe however, and only slowly in the affected regions of the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) and Sahel Africa, as well as Western Asia and India, there is a critically slow political uptake and understanding of what the so-called “New Islamic Jihad” really means. Nearly 13 years after 9/11, this is a dangerously slow process. Previous versions stretch far back in time.

The First Crusade
Whether we use the term “jihad” or “crusade” we are talking about mass movements featuring heroic struggle against Dark Forces. Even the definitions of “crusade” and “jihad”, which are numerous (for example see soon trail away into a collection of racial stereotypes, predicated on aggression and defence against aggression. The heroic nature of the action is used to rationalize, that is excuse, the fantastic slaughter which took place, but this ignores the real reason for mass slaughter – the strange mass psychology of jihads and crusades and especially the role of children and young persons.

The first European holy crusade, dated at 1095-1099, was more than just similar to the ISIS movement that is ongoing today. Unlike later crusades, the First Crusade was arguably almost spontaneous. It was a true mass movement, and totally irrational. If you were able to go back 900 years and ask the Crusaders what they thought they were doing, you would get answers as rational as football stadium hysterics would give you, to the same question! To be sure, match sponsors, organizers and star players with a vested interest in mass hysteria would give you more flowery, seemingly rational answers but the uncontrolled irrationality of the event and process would still exist.

It was “social catharsis”. Historically, the First Crusade could be called the first away match in the league series preceded by the home match, inside Europe, of the Spanish reconquista which as its name implies, was an anti-Muslim and anti-Arab uprising focused in Spain and Portugal, before either country existed. This started about the year 725. It was already 375 years old when the First Crusade started. It had most certainly cooled and become institutionalized struggle in that time, but in part at least had been reheated by Islam's own ideological conflicts, including the struggle inside Islam against “neo-platonism and the neo-platonicians” and the sunni-shia schism. Several leading Muslim philosophers operating in the future Morocco and Spain were executed for heresy or apostasy. Islam's own internal ideological jihad probably intensified the growing European resistance and weakened the solidarity of Arab and Muslim forces.

Inside Europe, the First Crusade was also a class-based uprising and challenge to the exorbitant powers of the Church – which was itself divided. It could or might have had economic causes, and certainly had economic consequences (see my article The real initiators of the First Crusade are not easily possible to identify – but were certainly not the elites, either political or religious. Firebrand lay preachers and self-promoted predicators certainly played a key role in whipping crowds to frenzy – but using a Google search with “Peter the Hermit” produces the major problem that several “Peters” existed, in different parts of the France of the day, future Holland and Germany and future Italy. Recuperation by the Church and ruling classes of the mass hysteria moving a Peoples Crusade was soon attempted, but early killings by mostly-peasant rampaging crowds formed into semi-military marching hordes featured Jews, official preachers, some nobles and other “collateral victims” inside Europe. Certainly the papal system recognized this threat and by 1096-1097 there were daily strategic planning sessions under way, in the papal seat of Avignon.

This is the stage of ISIS action in Syria and Iraq today. The mass movement phase or stage has broken out of its Syrian hearth, but institutional recuperation has not yet followed. This will happen.

Youth Movement-Asymmetric War
Everybody knows the definition of intifada. This is a stone-throwing youth movement in occupied Palestine featuring persons, near-exclusively males, often below 15 years age. Although the First Crusade was also called the Peoples Crusade – due to its spontaneous origin in several European countries – its other name was the Childrens Crusade.

Impossible to exactly define numbers of Europeans engaged in this first crusade may have exceeded 350 000 but of these possibly a third were children. Used as human shields and cannon fodder, and the first to die crossing the Alps on foot in winter, some historians estimate that perhaps 50 000 children died in the four-year first crusade. The crusaders also moved with their wives, as well as children. The women and children were especially exposed to slave-raiding and slave-taking not only in the so-called Holy Lands, but also in SE Europe and Anatolia.

Today's ISIS-intifada in Syria and its projection into Iraq can be called a very well-armed, highly mobile and relatively well-organized intifada featuring young males from different countries. The recuperation stage has trailed the event, exactly as with the First Crusade. The potential for ISIS intifadists turning against their own established church – the Sunni hierarchy – can be considered real and possibly large, exactly like the First Crusade.

In Palestinian politics, for sure, the ikon of Yasser Arafat may still exist, like a football club flag and shield with its symbolic blasons, but the intifadas accelerated the breakdown of pre-1970s political structures, systems and alignments in Palestine. Examining how Europe's religious and elite power systems recuperated the First Crusade – and the effect of this recuperation on the hierarchies inside the elites – most certainly enables us to compare and relate the ISIS “crusade” of today and the European “jihad” of 900 years ago. The most important direct results, both inside Europe and the Holy Lands, was a destabilization of the social class pyramid and major changes in the ethics and social philosophy operating along with, or opposed to official Church doctrine. Simply due to these effects, several historians argue, the First Crusade was followed by vastly-more-professional and militarized crusades with a far lower intifada-popular uprising component.

In the Middle East and North Africa, Sahel Africa and western Asia of today, however, this is likely to be the “Before” part of the picture. The “After” part is likely to include or even feature the Peoples Crusade, as women and children join the already ongoing mass movement. Unfortunately, on historical precedent, this can or may (but not necessarily) include mass ethnic-based, ideological-based and class-based slaughter.

By Andrew McKillop


Former chief policy analyst, Division A Policy, DG XVII Energy, European Commission. Andrew McKillop Biographic Highlights

Co-author 'The Doomsday Machine', Palgrave Macmillan USA, 2012

Andrew McKillop has more than 30 years experience in the energy, economic and finance domains. Trained at London UK’s University College, he has had specially long experience of energy policy, project administration and the development and financing of alternate energy. This included his role of in-house Expert on Policy and Programming at the DG XVII-Energy of the European Commission, Director of Information of the OAPEC technology transfer subsidiary, AREC and researcher for UN agencies including the ILO.

© 2014 Copyright Andrew McKillop - All Rights Reserved Disclaimer: The above is a matter of opinion provided for general information purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Information and analysis above are derived from sources and utilising methods believed to be reliable, but we cannot accept responsibility for any losses you may incur as a result of this analysis. Individuals should consult with their personal financial advisor.

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