By Lal Khan
February 22, 2015
As a new spree of terrorist attacks unravels with increasing frequency the menace of Islamic fundamentalist terror seems to be beyond the control of the ruling elite, their state and the system. The haughty claims of national unity by the political elite against terrorism and the vows of state institutions and generals to exterminate terrorism through military operations seem utopian with the latest resurgence of mayhem. During his recent trips to London and Washington, Pakistan’s military chief, General Raheel Sharif, was greeted with the protocol given to heads of important states. This act in itself speaks volumes about the hypocrisy of the imperialists, who despise the Pakistan army for hunting with the hounds and running with the hare. The imperialist rhetoric about democracy and civilian rule stands exposed.
The chief told the imperialist bosses that countless strikes in the tribal badlands have virtually destroyed the militant training camps apart from very few remote hideouts. A western diplomat in Islamabad dismissed this as a gross exaggeration. The Economist wrote, “As for the distinction between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ Taliban, western officials are convinced that the Haqqani network, a brutal Afghan Taliban affiliate with historic links to the Pakistani army’s spy agency, was helped to move out of North Waziristan to safety before the onslaught began. Nor has pressure so far been brought to bear on the wider Afghan Taliban movement, whose leadership resides in Quetta, Peshawar and other locations in Pakistan. The army has pointedly not moved against jihadist groups that focus their violence on India.”
The prime minister’s statements are ludicrous if not ironic: “Religious seminaries and organisations involved in terrorist activities should be identified and proceeded against. The militant and terrorist organisations, which were not ready to hold peace talks with the government, would have to face action. The government is committed to eradicating terrorism and extremism.” How grand but shallow. It reeks of utter failure and the impotence of authority and politics. As if talks have not miserably failed and the snooty claims of the success of the military operation have only ended up with a new wave of terrorist attacks in Islamabad, Lahore and again in Peshawar. The generals consider Nawaz Sharif a cipher in the country’s affairs.
Probably Sharif is aware that this terrorism is being financed by the same black economy that has now assumed a pivotal role in the politics, economy, state and society of this country’s rotten capitalist system, which cannot even exist with its own laws and basis. Despite the rhetoric of ‘all on the same page’ and launching of military courts, the mullahs continue to noisily blast hate speeches on countless loudspeakers, even in sleepy hamlets and in the vicinity of hospitals. The madrassas’ (seminaries) indoctrinations continue unabated and centres of religious bigotry such as the Lal Masjid in the heart of Pakistan’s capital, along with elite venomous clerics, cannot be touched by the security forces. The army’s recent ascendancy in judicial and national affairs is being dubbed as a postmodern coup, yet it cannot de-escalate the terrorist violence in Pakistan.
Present day terrorism is, above all, a financial operation and is used for strategic accumulation of capital and power. The Islamic State (IS) and the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan are products of the same desire for more black capital instead of their genuine religious piety or their baptism of anti-imperialism. In just 2014, the wealth of IS shot up to $ 2.9 billion. These terrorist campaigns are not just for ‘non-state’ actors; imperialist designs and strategic state interests are complicit in this gruesome brutality. Imperialist powers have manipulated religious terror in various forms for decades and this strategy has persisted covertly, in some cases overtly.
While the US would like to consider itself the leader of the anti-terrorism alliance, its relationship with many extremist groups and individuals is intricate and strategic. Among many perilous and brutal terrorist groups in the world that have been backed by the US government, al Qaeda is the one ‘exemplary’ case to show that US foreign policy is based on realpolitik and the short-term pursuit of narrow interests.
The ideologies or myths on which Islamic fundamentalism is based are utopian pre-medieval beliefs. However, the immediate reason behind its present upsurge is not just the economic crisis of capitalism but also the cultural, ethical, social and moral conflicts and contradictions arising from the convulsions of a system in terminal decay. The social psychology of countries and communities, particularly the petit bourgeois, having Islamic heritage are in annoyance. Apart from traditional sects and sub sects with different historical existences such as Sunni, Shia, Wahhabi, Deobandi, Barelvi, Alawites, Ismailis, etc, new sects are being fostered for political domination and financial plunder generated by this internecine sectarian war. However, the stark reality is that the two most virulent Islamic terrorist streaks of Islamic fundamentalism were by-products of imperialist interventions. In Afghanistan the imperialist counterrevolutionary insurgency gave birth from the mujahideen to al Qaeda and the Taliban. Three decades later, imperialist intervention in Syria and the Levant created the sinister outfits of al Nusra and IS. Ramifications are now being felt in Europe and far beyond.
As for IS, which is too extreme even in the eyes of regular al Qaeda fighters, its key members were trained by the CIA and the special forces command at a secret camp in Jordan in 2012, according to RT, citing informed Jordanian officials. The Turkish government, an important NATO ‘ally’, has been forced to admit that its intelligence service funnelled arms to al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria and has made many deals with IS, channelling its pirated crude oil through its borders. Over the last 10 years, imperialists and their Middle Eastern monarchical stooges have been giving birth to many reincarnations of fundamentalist varieties like Boko Haram in Nigeria, al Shabab in Somalia, Ansar al Sharia and IS in Libya and Yemen, with a variety of militant groups in Syria including the dreaded IS. The Daily Telegraph reported that western officials have “tracked Qatari arms flights as they land in the city of Misrata,” about 160 km east of Tripoli, which the Islamists now claim to control since it was stormed last month. The report says that despite Doha claiming to be one of the UK’s “best friends in the Middle East,” owning several high-end London landmarks, it is helping to thwart London’s goal of maintaining stability in Libya.
Although private military companies were the early leaders in the return of commercial conflict (the number of contractors in Iraq outnumbered uniformed US military personnel), they were dependent on government financing. So, when that financing ended, they faded. Consequently, jihadi entrepreneurs have been on a roll. They have been innovating since the US left Iraq. They have found new sources of income from both conquered territory and black market globalisation, mastered the use of the internet for marketing and networking, developed a form of fundamentalist Islam that provides group cohesion and appeal, and have taken advantage of regional weaknesses to acquire a huge amount of territory — larger than the UK — with eight million people in it.
(To be continued)
Lal Khan is the editor of Asian Marxist Review and international secretary of Pakistan Trade Union Defence Campaign.