Away from chaos : the Middle East and the challenge to the West 9780231551946, 0231551940

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Away from chaos : the Middle East and the challenge to the West
 9780231551946, 0231551940

Table of contents :
Table of Contents
Introduction: A Testament for Syria
Part I. The Barrel and the Koran
1. The Islamization of the Political Order
2. The Onset of International Jihad: Taking on the Near Enemy (1980–1987)
3. The Second Jihadist Phase: Against the Distant Enemy (1998–2005)
4. The Third Jihadist Generation: Networks and Territories (2005–2019)
Part II. From Arab Spring to Jihadist Caliphate
5. The Arab Spring in Context
6. From the Fall of Despots to Societies in Turmoil
7. Sectarianism and Derailed Rebellions: The Shiite-Sunni Fault Line
Part III. After ISIS: Disintegration and Regrouping
8. The Fracturing of the Sunni Bloc
9. The Global Stakes in the Fight for the Levant
Conclusion: Middle Eastern Fault Lines and Global Tectonics
Acknowledgments
Chronology
Index
Color Illustrations

Citation preview

Away from Chaos

AWAY FROM CHAOS The Middle East and the Challenge to the West

GILLES KEPEL Translated by Henry Randolph

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FOUR

The Third Jihadist Generation Networks and Territories (2005–2019)

THE FAILURE OF al-Qaeda’s top-down strategy in Afghanistan and Iraq VRXQGHGWKHGHDWKNQHOORIWKH´YHUWLFDOµPRGHOZLWKLWVIRFXVRQϮJKWLQJ the distant enemy. Al-Zarqawi and his accomplices likely had pledged allegiance to bin Laden because of the power of his brand at the time, which assured immediate notoriety for anyone who claimed it and instant publicity for any attack carried out in his name. The Iraqi activists, however, wasted no time in making the “heretical” Shiites their priority targets. The sect seemed much more dangerous in the long run to their project of a Sunni caliphate than the Western occupying armies that eventually would pull out. Al-Zarqawi’s dissent led to an exchange of bitter communications with al-Zawahiri, who stuck to the al-Qaeda orthodoxy he had expressed in Knights Under the Prophet’s Banner. Al-Zarqawi argued back that “we have to UHVHUYHQLQHEXOOHWVIRUWKHDSRVWDWHV>[email protected]IRUHYHU\RQHIRUWKHLQϮGHOV [Westerners].” We know this, because their correspondence was intercepted and made public. In 2004 and 2005, as this mutation of jihadism played out on its principal front in Iraq, the West started to see a change in the attacks carried out on its soil. In 2002–2003, al-Qaeda had still dispatched activists to hit targets IURP%DOLWR0RPEDVD,Q&DVDEODQFDDOOWKHYLFWLPVRIWKHDWWDFNVRI0D\¬ 2003 were Moroccans and Muslims. Then the year 2004 started with what FRXOGEHFRQVLGHUHGD´UHPDNHµRIRQ(XURSHDQVRLO2Q0DUFKLQ Madrid, four commuter trains rolling toward Atocha station blew up almost [ 95 ]

ዧᇖᅵᄽ႐ወወᅵቈ႐ቨᅡዧᇖᅵሳኂወ႐ቨ simultaneously. Had they not been running behind schedule and arrived on time in the station, the hall would have been leveled and thousands would KDYHEHHQNLOOHG $VLWZHUHSHRSOHGLHG The symmetry with the destruction of the World Trade Center towers ZDV GHOLEHUDWH LQFOXGLQJ WKH FKRLFH RI WKH GDWH³ GD\V Rϸ E\ RQH  DIWHU ´µ³DQG WKH IRXU WUDLQV PLPLFNLQJ WKH IRXU KLMDFNHG DLUOLQHUV The entire Iberian peninsula now found itself challenged in a communiqué justifying the attack as “the settling of ancient accounts with Islam.” This allusion to the Reconquista RI 0XVOLP $QGDOXVLD E\ WKH ϮIWHHQWKFHQWXU\ Catholic kings meant that Spanish territory was considered a “land of ,VODPXVXUSHGE\WKHLQϮGHOVµ,Q,VODPLVWGRFWULQHWKLVMXVWLϮHG´DMLKDG of defense” obligating every Muslim to help retake the lost lands, thus rendering “halalµWKHEORRGRIDOOLQϮGHOVNLOOHGLQWKLV´EOHVVHGUDLGµ0RUH prosaically, with the Spanish legislative election in full swing, the communiqué sought to pressure the new government into pulling its troops out of Iraq—which the Socialist majority that emerged from the vote count quickly complied with. The Madrid attack was part and parcel of the jihad strategy against “the distant enemy,” and it chalked up a victory after the Spanish withdrawal IURP,UDT+RZHYHUWKHPXUGHURIWKH'XWFKϮOPPDNHU7KHRYDQ*RJKLQ $PVWHUGDPWKHIROORZLQJ1RYHPEHUZRXOGDOUHDG\IROORZDGLϸHUHQWORJLF a young Islamist originally from Morocco shot and stabbed van Gogh for KDYLQJ ´EODVSKHPHGµ ZLWK KLV VKRUW ϮOP Submission. The clip denounced WKH¬ FRQGLWLRQ RI ZRPHQ XQGHU ,VODP E\ SURMHFWLQJ LQFULPLQDWLQJ .RUDQLF verses on a naked female body. Van Gogh’s killer had not been trained directly by al-Qaeda; socialized in Dutch jihadist circles, he committed the act following an obscure process of doctrinal brainwashing. It was not a vertical, top-down logic, but one that started by being part of a network and implanted in a territory—a very GLϸHUHQWFRQϮJXUDWLRQIURPWKHDWWDFNVRQDQG0DUFKLQ0DGULG 7KHSDWWHUQZDVVLPSOHLGHQWLI\DORFDO´HQHP\RI$OODKµLQWKLVLQVWDQFH the famed painter’s great-grandnephew, and then kill him. The ultimate REMHFWLYHZDVWRVSUHDGIHDUDPRQJWKHYLFWLP·VSHHUVZKLOHϮULQJXSWKH Muslim masses supposedly “avenged” by this gesture. This “punishing blasphemers” approach was taken later in the campaign launched against the Prophet cartoons (published in September 2005 by a Danish daily in UHVSRQVHWRWKHYDQ*RJKDϸDLU ,WDOVRDSSOLHGWRWKHPDVVDFUHFRPPLWWHG >@

ዧᇖᅵዧᇖᇹወᅡሦᇹᇖ႐ᅡᇹዘዧᇀᅵቨᅵወ႐ዧᇹኂቨ E\WKH.XDFKLEURWKHUVLQWKHHGLWRULDORϲFHVRICharlie Hebdo in Paris on -DQXDU\7KHRULJLQDOLQVSLUDWLRQIRUDYHQJLQJVDFULOHJHLQWKLVZD\ PD\EHWUDFHDEOHWR.KRPHLQL·VLQIDPRXV)HEUXDU\IDWZDDJDLQVW Salman Rushdie, but here it was executed in typical Sunni jihadist fashion. 7KHDWWDFNVLQ/RQGRQRI-XO\UHϰHFWHGWKHTXHVWIRUUHϮQLQJWKH model theorized in the Knights Under the Prophet’s Banner manifesto, but still always under the explicit control of al-Qaeda, with al-Zawahiri running the show. That particular day had been chosen symbolically in the same way as with previous operations. What mattered was the date, when “the leader RIWKHFUXVDGHUHPSLUH>3ULPH0LQLVWHU7RQ\%[email protected]µSUHVLGHGRYHUWKH* VXPPLW ,W ZDV DOVR WKH ϮUVW GD\ RI WKH %ULWLVK DVVXPLQJ WKH SUHVLGHQF\ of the European Union, and on which the choice of London as the site of the next Olympics was announced. In addition, it met operational mode requirements involving the use of the underground and a bus, in lieu of the planes used in the United States and the trains in Madrid. “Allah the Most High,” explained al-Zawahiri in the video claiming responsibility for the attacks, “Sent the knights of the Islamic anger to strike at the heart of London in a blessed raid.” He was referring to the attackers, three young men of Pakistani origin and a Jamaican convert, at least one of whom had been trained in an al-Qaeda camp in Pakistan. Their /RQGRQ ´PDUW\U RSHUDWLRQµ UHVXOWHG LQ ϮIW\VL[ GHDG DQG  ZRXQGHG Although al-Qaeda had claimed responsibility, the terrorists, unlike the  SHUSHWUDWRUV ZHUH QR VWUDQJHUV WR WKH 8QLWHG .LQJGRP 7KH\ ZHUH native-born, educated there—to the point of speaking English with a strong Midlands working-class accent—and therefore had acted in their home environment. Despite al-Zawahiri’s unchanged rhetoric, the jihadist model KDGPXWDWHGLWQRZUHOLHGRQKXPDQUHVRXUFHVHPEHGGHGLQWKH:HVWHUQ target that al-Qaeda had in its crosshairs. This metamorphosis to a new PRGHRIWHUURULVPRXWVWULSSHGWKHϮUVWWZRSKDVHVDVZHOODVWKHGLVWLQFtion between “near enemy” and “distant enemy.” It would also put its stamp on the next decade. ∗ ∗ ∗ The two “fathers” of this third-generation jihadism had the same kunya ,VODPLFVXUQDPH RI$EX0XVDEDIWHUDFRPSDQLRQRIWKH3URSKHWQDPHG 0XVDELEQ2PD\UPDUW\UHGLQWKH%DWWOHRI8KXGLQ7KHϮUVWRIWKHSDLU [ 97 ]

ዧᇖᅵᄽ႐ወወᅵቈ႐ቨᅡዧᇖᅵሳኂወ႐ቨ 0XVWDSKD 6LWW 0DULDP 1DVVDU FDOOHG $EX 0XVDE DO6XUL ´WKH 6\ULDQµ  D EOXHH\HGUHGKHDGZDVERUQLQWRDJRRGIDPLO\LQ$OHSSR+HVWDUWHG his political engagement in the Muslim Brotherhood ranks, then joined the MLKDGLQ$IJKDQLVWDQEHIRUHVSHQGLQJWKHVLQ(XURSH+HVWXGLHGHQJLneering in France, married a Spanish woman, and acquired her nationality. While living in “Londonistan,” he became known especially for supporting the GIA by editing its international bulletin Al-Ansar. He joined bin Laden LQ$IJKDQLVWDQDIWHUWKHDXWXPQRIWRVHUYHDVKLVOLDLVRQRϲFHUZLWK Arab and European media. $IWHUWKH$PHULFDQDQGDOOLHGRϸHQVLYHDJDLQVWDO4DHGDLQ$IJKDQLVWDQ LQUHWDOLDWLRQIRUDO6XULϰHGDQGZDQGHUHGWKURXJKWKHUHJLRQXQWLO his capture in early 2005 by Baluchis. They sold him to the United States, because he was on a list of wanted people with a price on his head. After American intelligence was through with him, they turned him over to the Bashar al-Assad regime, then still coddled by the West, in the rendition policy framework. His trail went cold after the outbreak of the Syrian insurUHFWLRQLQDVZHVKDOOVHHEHORZ+LVPDMRUFRQWULEXWLRQWRWKHKLVWRU\ of jihadism is a work of some 2,000 pages, A Call for a Global Islamic Resistance, that he penned during his wanderings and published online in Arabic shortly before his 2005 capture. The poorly written, longish and repetitive book VXϸHUVIURPWKHDGYHUVHFRQGLWLRQVXQGHUZKLFKLWZDVZULWWHQ,QLWVPRVW original passages, a critical retrospective of al-Qaeda’s strategy, he calls the organization a wholesale failure. $O6XULDUJXHGWKDWWHVWLϮHGWRELQ/DGHQ·VKXEULVDQGLPPRGHUDWLRQ By overestimating his powers and carrying out his badly calibrated provocation against the United States, he drew a reaction that destroyed the RUJDQL]DWLRQ7KHIDXOWOD\LQDPLVEHJRWWHQVWUDWHJ\SULRULWL]LQJWKHϮJKW against the “distant enemy.” Even if the Muslim masses were enthusiastic about the destruction of the World Trade Center, it was not enough to make them rush to al-Qaeda’s banner, because it was not something they could identify with in their daily lives. It was necessary to abandon the “top-down” strategy of bin Laden and al-Zawahiri, embodied in a Leninist, pyramidal organization that issued orders to be executed. The preferable alternative was a “bottom up” strategy based on mutual knowledge and imitation. It would be both molecular and virtual, and would let potential jihadists easily self-identify relative to issues they had experienced in their daily lives. >@

ዧᇖᅵዧᇖᇹወᅡሦᇹᇖ႐ᅡᇹዘዧᇀᅵቨᅵወ႐ዧᇹኂቨ This reversal al-Suri summed up in A Call for a Global Islamic Resistance ZLWK D VLQJOH VORJDQ ´$ V\VWHP QRW DQ RUJDQL]DWLRQ nizam, la tanzim µ This is the matrix model, which recalls the theory of the “revolutionary UKL]RPHµSRSXODUL]HGE\WKHSKLORVRSKHU*LOOHV'HOHX]HGXULQJWKHV ZKHQDO6XULZDVVWXG\LQJLQ)UDQFH,QHϸHFWLWZDVDFDOOWRRYHUWDNHLQ the sense of the third movement in the Hegelian dialectic (Aufhebung WKH two prior jihadism phases whose dynamics it synthesized and fused in a QHZFRQWH[W)RUWKHWRRGLVWDQWWDUJHWRI$PHULFDDO6XULLQHϸHFWVXEVWLtuted a Europe easily accessible from the Middle East and North Africa by plane or ferry. Living in Europe were millions of young people of Muslim immigrant lineage as well as converts. A percentage were unhappy with the cards society had dealt them. They were poorly integrated culturally and socially, living in districts that had been left behind and were dominated by the drug economy and delinquency. Al-Suri hoped to put these same youths in direct contact with their peers in the southern and eastern 0HGLWHUUDQHDQ WUDLQ WKHP DV ϮJKWHUV DQG LQGRFWULQDWH WKHP 7KDW ZDV where the territories of jihad were being born in the aftermath of Iraq, or where Europeans had been drawn to the Sunni insurrection since 2003. $OWHUQDWLYHO\WKH\PLJKWWUDLQDQGϮJKWLQWKH,UDQ3DNLVWDQWULEDO]RQHV³ more remote, but the Taliban jihad was still live there. ∗ ∗ ∗ During the same period, the Iraqi insurrection changed its nature under the leadership of the second Abu Musab—al-Zarqawi, that is—and that of KLVORFDOVXFFHVVRUVDIWHUKHZDVNLOOHGLQ-XQH%RUQLQ2FWREHULQ WKH-RUGDQLDQWRZQRI=DUTDDVWURQJKROGRIMLKDGLVW6DODϮVPDIWHUKDYLQJ been one of the PLO’s citadels, al-Zarqawi left school without getting his GLSORPD ,QϰXHQFHG E\ D ORFDO LPDP KH WUDYHOHG WR 3HVKDZDU LQ  WR join the Afghanistan jihad. There, he spent time with one of the principal MLKDGLVW LGHRORJXHV $EX 0XKDPPDG DO0DTGLVL DQG HQOLVWHG DV D ϮJKWHU with the most radical Afghan factions. $O=DUTDZL UHWXUQHG WR -RUGDQ LQ  DQG WKH IROORZLQJ \HDU KH ZDV VHQWHQFHG WR D ϮYH\HDU SULVRQ WHUP 3DUGRQHG ZKHQ .LQJ $EGXOODK ,, DVFHQGHG WR WKH WKURQH LQ  DO=DUTDZL UHWXUQHG WR $IJKDQLVWDQ WR WDNH¬ FKDUJH RI D FDPS IRU WUDLQLQJ $UDE DQG .XUGLVK WHUURULVWV +H achieved international notoriety when Colin Powell denounced him from [ 99 ]

ዧᇖᅵᄽ႐ወወᅵቈ႐ቨᅡዧᇖᅵሳኂወ႐ቨ the UN podium in February 2003 in the same breath as his organization in .XUGLVWDQAnsar al-Islam. But he had also carried out attacks and assassinations in Jordan. After the American invasion of Iraq the following month, al-Zarqawi played a lead role in organizing the Sunni jihadist resistance. He became notorious, most notably for the decapitation on May 7, 2004 of the American hostage Nicholas Berg. Even if his exact role in the beheading was unclear, the broadcast of its video furnished the template for numerous staged hostage executions. The Islamic State turned beheading videos into WKHZHDSRQRIFKRLFHIRULWVPHGLDSURSDJDQGDRϸHQVLYHGXULQJWKHQH[W decade, as we shall see in what follows. )XUWKHULQJLYLQJSULRULW\WRWKHH[WHUPLQDWLRQRI6KLLWHVRYHUϮJKWLQJ WKH$PHULFDQDUP\DO=DUTDZLGLYHUJHGIURPWKHVWUDWHJ\RIϮJKWLQJWKH “distant enemy” extolled by al-Zawahiri. As such, the local branch, “alQaeda in Mesopotamia,” deviated from the jihadist ideology of the second generation. The linking of the two territories of jihad, Europe and Iraq— which would be enlarged to the entire Levant after the insurrection against %DVKDUDO$VVDGVWDUWHGLQFRLQFLGHGZLWKWKHPDWXULQJRIWKHWKLUG phase of jihad. It would be expressed as much by the posting online of al-Suri’s Call as by the new forms of Iraqi Sunni guerrilla warfare under al-Zarqawi’s leadership. These territories were interlinked, not only by the comings and goings of the jihadists, but by proliferating social networks RQOLQH2Q)HEUXDU\@

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PART II

From Arab Spring to Jihadist Caliphate

FIVE

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ON DECEMBER 17, 2010 in the Tunisian backcountry prefecture of Sidi Bouzid, a 26-year-old street vendor named Tarek (going by Mohamed) %RXD]L]L VHW KLPVHOI RQ ϮUH IROORZLQJ D UXQLQ ZLWK D WRZQ SROLFHZRPDQ This human drama—one of several similar instances in North Africa at WKHWLPH³VSDUNHGWKHϮUHVWRUPWKDWLQDEXUVWRIHQWKXVLDVPWKHQZRXOG EHFDOOHG´WKH$UDE6SULQJµ,QWKHQHZ\HDUUHJLPHVIURP7XQLVLDWR %DKUDLQ ZLWK /LE\D (J\SW @

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ON APRIL 11, 2018, the Syrian loyalist army retook the Ghouta outskirts of the capital and then expelled the last jihadists from the adjoining Palestinian camp of Yarmouk on May 21. The push would test the depth DQGGXUDELOLW\RIUHODWLRQVϮUVWEHWZHHQ6\ULD·V$ODZLWHPLQRULW\LQSRZHU in Damascus and the Iranian theocracy in Teheran, and second between two societies: one Arab, the other Persian. The defeat of the Sunni insurrection in all its guises—including ISIS and the rest of the rebels—was announced, despite pockets of resistance remaining in the northeast in WKH ,GOLE ´GHFRQϰLFWLRQ ]RQHµ VXSHUYLVHG E\ 7XUNLVK PLOLWDU\ REVHUYHUV and in the eastern desert. 7KH HQG RI WKH WZRPRQWK RϸHQVLYH DJDLQVW *KRXWD ZDV V\PEROLFDOO\ marked by an American, British, and French missile strike on the Syrian instalODWLRQVVXVSHFWHGRIPDNLQJFKHPLFDOPXQLWLRQV³VRPHRIZKLFKPLJKWKDYH been used against the town of Douma on April 7, 2018. The Shiite paramilitaries, ZKHWKHU,UDQLDQ$IJKDQ3DNLVWDQLRU,UDTLKDGQRWHQJDJHGLQWKHRϸHQVLYH DQGQHLWKHUKDG+H]EROODK7KH5XVVLDQIRUFHVW\SLFDOO\FRPPDQGLQJSODQHV helicopters, or ballistic missile batteries, deployed their ground troops in FRPEDWDUDULW\7KHLULQYROYHPHQWZDVOLPLWHGWRPLOLWDU\SROLFHWURRSVWKDW HQIRUFHGFHDVHϮUHVDVDUHDVZHUHUHFRQTXHUHGRQHE\RQHDQGWKHQFRQYR\HG WKHGHIHDWHGUHEHOVWR,GOLE0RVFRZZDVFDUHIXOWRPDQWKLVXQLWVSHFLϮFDOO\ with Russian Sunnis, Chechens, Ingush, or Dagestanis from the northern Caucasus to reassure the rebels transported under their eyes. [ 258 ]

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