TM, ®, Copyright © 2010 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
- (december 2014)
World War IV.
I have frequently written about the problems of the Islamic world,
starting way before the 2001 terrorist attacks.
Islamic "terrorism" used to be about local issues (and
very often with good arguments), such
as the Israeli occupation of Arab land and the separatist movement in the
southern Philippines and the unfinished partition of India; but then they
gradually morphed into a general religious war, notably in Afghanistan with
the triumph of the Taliban in the late 1990s, and have become something
much more disturbing for modern civilization (for those who don't want to be
ruled by shariha law).
The USA thought that solving the problem was easy: bomb the hell out of
Afghanistan and chase Al Qaeda members wherever they hide. It turned out that
the Taliban and Al Qaeda were only the most visible avatars of a much more
Al Qaeda spread to Mesopotamia, to the Maghreb, and to the Arabian peninsula.
The Mesopotamian branch, that initially was mostly a spectator in the two
civil wars of Iraq (Shiites vs Sunnis) and Syria (Alawites vs Sunnis)
morphed into the Islamic State of Syria and Iraq (ISIS)
under the self-appointed caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
Other branches of Al Qaeda keep fighting in places such as Yemen, which
is also being attacked by Houthi rebels (Shiites).
A Russian citizen would add the Chechen terrorists who are still plotting
terrorist attacks against Russians.
A Chinese citizen would add the Uighur terrorists who in 2014 killed dozens
of Chinese civilians.
(No, Hamas does not fit in this picture: over the last decade
Israel has committed way more crimes against Palestinian civilians than Hamas
against Israeli civilians, and in any case Palestinian "terrorism" has always
been about land, not about religion).
There are so many Islamic terrorists that some don't even make the news: in
october 2014 the
Ugandan Islamist group ADF (Allied Democratic Forces) killed more than 200
people in two months near the Ugandan border and the world hardly noticed.
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS),
however, represents a new stage of the war against non-Muslims, because
its aim is not terrorism but the creation of a state.
The new Taliban and their allies control a region extending from eastern
Afghanistan to northwestern Pakistan (North Waziristan).
At the same time,
Boko Haram has carved its own state in northern Nigeria.
Al Shabab controls central Somalia and now threatens Kenya.
Islamists control the former capital of Libya, Tripoli, and more hardcore
Islamists in Libya's eastern city Derna have pledged loyalty to ISIS.
(The Libyan Islamists, that have lost two elections, are supported by Turkey and
Qatar, whereas the elected government, now relocated to Tobruk near the
Egyptian border, is supported by Egypt and the United Arab Emirates).
All these groups are accused of committing atrocities that range from kidnapping
hundreds of schoolgirlds (Boko Haram) to exterminating religious groups
There is no other form of mass killing left in the world after the end of the
civil war in Sri Lanka and the peace negotiations between Colombia and FARC.
It is tempting for me to view this constellation of Islamic-inspired
conflicts (the last remaining conflicts in 2014)
as a world war, spreading from the Maghreb (Morocco) and Western
Europe to India and the USA via the Middle East and Central Asia.
(This would be the fourth world war, after World War I, World War II and the
It is politically incorrect to accuse an entire religion of the actions
perpetrated by a minority of its worshippers. However, this is
what every Muslim in the world should be asking herself or himself: "What would
the founder of Islam think of this? What would Mohammed think if he were alive
Whatever your answer, it is perfectly legitimate to assume that Mohammed
would consider the Taliban, ISIS, Boko Haram,
Al Shahab and so forth as his true followers. They are simply doing what he did
and what he preached that Muslims should do. You cannot easily go and tell today's "Islamic terrorists"
that they are not good Muslims: there is non-negligible evidence (the
Hadith themselves) that the opposite is true, that these "terrorists"
are following both the letter and the example of Islam's founder.
Islam would not exist if Mohammed had not started an ISIS-style campaign
to conquer and unify the Arabian peninsula under one faith, with the specific
goal of outlawing all other faiths (which, to this day, are forbidden in the
whole of Saudi Arabia), and if his
followers had not continued the fight in all directions.
Mecca was a model of religious tolerance before Mohammed: the whole point of
Mohammed's jihad was to expel all other religions.
If that is indeed what ISIS is doing in Syria and Iraq, how is it different?
The most influential
Western media and Western politicians keep finding justifications for anything
that religions preach (usually distorting the original meaning of the
scriptures to make them look less violent than they are, and then by emphasizing
the violent crimes committed by our states, as if the crimes of
states in the name of geopolitics justified further crimes
by religious people in the name of their gods).
George W Bush never missed an opportunity to repeat that Islam had been
"hijacked" by ordinary criminals (and never mind that every poll showed strong
popular support for them throughout the Islamic world).
The other Western leaders routinely uphold the same doctrine.
Incidentally, the Western media routinely refer to Mohammed as "the Prophet" (an honor that Western media do not confer to Indian, Chinese, Japanese or African religious figures).
Whenever an Islamic terrorist strikes in a Western country, the first reaction
by the media is to point out that his actions have nothing to with Islam.
Maybe so, but this relieves one billion Muslims from any responsibility to do
something about it. And the facts prove that it hasn't helped to discourage
more Muslims from becoming terrorists (there are more and more, not fewer and
fewer, and many are citizens of the very Western countries whose media are
so lenient towards Islam). It hasn't even helped stem the rising tide of
Islamophobia in Europe, Russia, China, etc. Obviously, denying that there is
a problem has not helped to solve the problem: it has made it bigger.
Western media and politicians never miss an opportunity to denounce the crusades
of the 11th-12th century in which Christians massacred Muslims (true) but
almost never mention that those crusades were the reaction to the fact that
the Muslims had invaded all the Christian regions of the southern Mediterranean
in the 7th century. Indirectly. Western media and politicians condone Muslims
killing Christians while condemning Christians killing Muslims.
Western media and politicians denounce any trace of racism against Muslims
(correctly so) but forget to mention that Rome is open to everybody whereas
Mecca is only open to Muslims, that one of the biggest mosques in the world
is located in Rome whereas no cathedral exists in Mecca (in fact, one can be
sentenced to death for bringing a Christian or Hindu or Buddhist book into
Saudi Arabia). Somehow the Western media and politicians feel that it is an outrage
when someone disparages Muslims in the West but it is perfectly normal that
all religions except Islam are banned in Saudi Arabia. Often people who write
what i am writing are accused of using "inflamatory language": according to
Western media and politicians, it is not inflamatory the way other religions
are discriminated in the Islamic world, but it is inflamatory
to denounce Islam's discrimination towards other religions.
Just like it is not inflamatory what the Quran and the Hadith say about waging
holy war, but it is inflamatory to denounce the fact that the Quran and the
Hadith encourage holy war.
Western media routinely omit to mention that Islam prescribes the death penalty
for Muslims who convert out of Islam (no Muslim would go back to his or her
country and say openly "I don't believe in Allah") and for non-Muslims who
have sex with a Muslim woman (check how many men pretended to convert
to Islam before marrying a Muslim woman, lest both spouses would be cursed
by her own relatives). In fact, there are so many instances in which the holy
books of Islam justify the death penalty that i keep finding a new
one every other year. Western media and politicians routinely omit any
reference to these widespread Muslim beliefs when they remind us that
"Islam is a religion of peace".
Western media and politicians go out of their way to dissociate the word
"Islam" from Al Qaeda, Taliban, Boko Haram, ISIS, Al Shahab, etc.
Note that neither the big mosques nor the national newspapers nor tv stations
like Al Jazeera (the Arabic one) are so passionate about dissociating "Islam"
from these groups: they have debates that discuss pros and cons, not clear-cut
statements "This has nothing to do with Islam". The very reason that so many
Muslims are volunteering to go and fight a "jihad" is that there is no shame
in doing so, and, in fact, many mosques, newspapers and tv programs might hail
them as martyrs.
When you ask the Muslim popupation, e.g. when the Pew Center conducts an
international poll on Al Qaeda, the answer is ambivalent at best,
but Western media and politicians are adamant that these radical groups
have nothing to do with "Islam".
The most passionate to dissociate the word "Islam" from these radical groups
are Western media and politicians, not Muslim media and clerics.
What exactly is this "Islam" that Western media and politicians talk about?
I get the feeling that it is not the "terrorists" who are hijacking Islam,
it is the West (that tries to turn it into a capitalist, liberal, secular and,
ultimately, Christian way of life).
The "allies" in this World War IV are different but they tend to offer each
other moral and sometimes military help: the Arab kings/sheiks/emirs (who
are the first ones to be directly threatened by radical Islam);
of African countries at the border between Islam and Christianity such as
Nigeria, Uganda, Ethiopia and Kenya;
the world powers with significant Muslim minorities
(China, Russia, India, the European Union);
then Israel and its staunch ally USA;
and finally, believe it or not, Iran, a Shiite nation that is viscerally hated
by Sunni radicals because of the ancient Shiite-Sunni schism within Islam.
(No, i didn't forget Turkey: Turkey has been helping ISIS as well as the
Islamists in Libya, so it can hardly be considered an ally against radical
Meanwhile, the West keeps expanding its influence.
Tunisia has de facto become a
European-style democracy (and perhaps more a successful one than, say, Greece or
Bulgaria). The whole of North Africa is now more aligned with the European
Union than ever. Jordan is de facto a US colony.
In the Middle East the remaining enemies of the West are under attack
and about to fall: Syria's regime has been deligitimized militarily while
economic sanctions have slowed and perhaps stopped Iran's nuclear ambitions.
Most of Muslim Africa now relies on the help of the French to maintain
Western-friendly regimes, while the creation of South Sudan has weakened Sudan.
The largest Islamic countries of the Indian subcontinent, of Malaysia and of
Indonesia are increasingly modeled after the West, election after election.
The strongest influence is not even military: it is cultural. The younger
generations in the entire Islamic world look more and more similar to the
Maybe the old-fashioned Muslims who feel threatened by the West are not completely wrong.
It is not that the average Westerner wants to conquer the Muslim lands, but that
Western civilization is slowly but steadily obliterating Islam (and religion
in general). There is a real threat to Islam coming from democracy, capitalism,
rock music and Silicon Valley.
Most multinational wars are decided by the shifts in alliance, and this one
might not be an exception.
Pakistan was instrumental in fostering the Islamist movement when it raised,
funded and protected the Kashmiri separatists against India and then the
Mujaheddin against the Soviet Union and then the Taliban against the communist
regime of Afghanistan.
For a long time Pakistan has viewed the Islamic fanatics as an asset, not a
The military, however, might finally be understanding that the Taliban are a
common enemy of the USA, Afghanistan and Pakistan, not a Pakistani asset against
Of course, a Pakistani person may view thinks differently.
Pakistan lost all wars, both against India and against Bangladesh,
and now it is losing another
war, the war waged by the USA against the Islamist movements that Pakistan
created and that had been winning in Afghanistan.
Hence Pakistan's traditional ambiguity on Islamist terrorism.
Iran is actually more hated by the Sunni terrorists than the West itself.
The Sunni-Shia schism is a profound wound within Islam: Shiites view Sunnis
as the killers of the prophet's family, while Sunnis view Shiites as
No surprise therefore that Iran was fighting the Taliban when the West wasn't
paying attention, and that Iran has never collaborated with any of these
terrorist groups (certainly not with Al Qaeda). Iran's regime would be the
first target of a new Islamic caliphate run by Sunni extremists.
While a natural ally, Iran has been marginalized after the revolution that
turned it against the USA and against USA's ally Israel.
Now both Iran and the USA are beginning to realize that they should be allies
in this World War IV but the USA requires that Iran denuclearizes before
making any deal.
Iran would have nuclear ambitions regardless of the USA because of its imperial past: if Israel and Pakistan have it, why not imperial Iran? If a Jewish state and a Sunni state have it, why shouldn't a Shiite state have it?
Iran certainly studied carefully the way Israel bombed Saddam Hussein's
nuclear facility in 1981 and learned from it.
Iran certainly studied carefully the way the USA treated Saddam Hussein's
Iraq (that did not have a nuclear weapon) and North Korea (that did):
the USA is treating North Korea with respect while it summarily bombed to hell
Saddam Hussein's regime (and let Qaddafi be killed after he surrendered his
weapons of mass destruction).
Turkey is a secular country run by a devout Sunni president, and therefore
another ambiguous player. In theory a strong ally of the West, in practice
a strong defender of Sunni faith and interests. Turkey is also obsessed with
the Kurdish question. When the British and the French partitioned the Ottoman
empire at the end of World War I, they forgot to give the Kurds their own
homeland. The Kurds are a nation divided among Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran.
Turkey was instrumental in helping Sunnis fight the Syrian regime of Assad
(an Alawite, closer to Shiites than Sunnis), and therefore indirectly helped
the rise of ISIS. When ISIS started exterminating Kurds on Turkey's borders,
Turkey watched. De facto, Turkey has been neutral in this world war against
the Islamists. If the Arab Spring succeeds and democratic Islamic regimes
start popping up everywhere, Turkey would be their model and Turkey could
regain the prestige and power that it used to enjoy in the Ottoman age.
If the current regimes (kingdoms and emirs) remain in power, they will keep viewing the Turkish
democracy as a dangerous example to their increasingly westernized youth.
Ironically, the Arab countries that have had minimal trouble during the
Arab Spring are precisely the ones that still live under medieval regimes,
under kings and emirs and sheiks: Morocco, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman,
It turned out that
the Arab monarchies were much closer to ordinary people than the "republics"
of Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Yemen, etc.
World War IV, in fact, cuts neatly through the divide between
compassionate monarchs and ruthless corrupt republican regimes.
These days the Islamic world's most famous aberration is the incredible number
of suicide bombers that it produces, and the incredible amount of support
they enjoy among the population, but the psychos who become suicide bombers
are just the tip of the iceberg. There are many horrible practices that get
justified by the religion, a religion that, to me, was largely invented to
please what we now consider really bad men.
One such practice is child marriage: girls as young as eight are given to
men who, anywhere in the non-Islamic world, would be in jail as sex offenders.
Every now and then a little girl dies after having sex with an adult man after a
perfectly legal wedding ("legal" according to Islamic law) but the news rarely
surfaces because tribal chiefs "convince" journalists to look elsewhere.
Pakistani media themselves estimate that about 1,000 women are killed every
year by relatives for disobeying their male guardians. Interviewed by the BBC
News, the brother of a woman who was stoned to death by her father and others
approved of the stoning because he did not want to offend Allah. Allah comes
before your own sister. If Allah says that your sister should be sentenced to
death, so be it. (I personally find unbelievable the degree of cowardice
of a man who gladly sacrifices his own sister or his own daughter because he
is afraid of being sentenced to hell by a supernatural power: how about
fighting this evil god instead?)
I suspect that World War IV will end when some of these actor will switch
alliance, and some of the others (Russia, China, the USA) will start behaving
like real allies and not rivals.
However, there is another factor that could speed up the end of this world war.
World-war I and II were caused by politics as much as by the mood within
a nation. Germany and Japan could not have done what they did in the 1930s
if their populations had not gone along with or at least tolerated
the madness of their political leaders. Had the populations rebelled in horror,
Japan would have withdrawn from China in 1937 and Germany from Poland in
1939, and no world war would have ensued.
Similarly, we should look into the attitude of ordinary Muslims for the
ultimate causes of World-war IV (maybe not the beginning of it but the fact
that it is still raging and it is expanding worldwide).
Who is indirectly responsible for ISIS' atrocities?
Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, the first Muslim to be named high commissioner for human rights, has said:
"It is also disturbing how few to nonexistent have been the public demonstrations of anger in the Arab and Muslims worlds over the crimes being perpetrated in Iraq". The same is true of all previous terrorist actions.
How many Muslims demonstrated in the streets when a cartoonist in Denmark made
fun of Islam's founder? Millions. How many Muslims demonstrated in the streets
when the USA invaded Iraq? Millions.
How many Muslims demonstrate in the streets whenever a suicide bomber strikes
in Kenya, New York, London, India, Nigeria, Afghanistan or Iraq?
A tiny minority.
How many Muslims demonstrate in the streets to defend freedom of the press,
or women's rights, or religious minority when cartoonists, women
or non-Muslims are brutally executed? A tiny minority.
I am afraid that, as long as this remains the case, World War IV will keep raging.
After receiving feedback from readers, i started realizing that the article
sounds more pessimistic than i wanted it to be. I have actually been encouraged
by the Arab Spring (as i have written) and i see many polls showing a trend
towards rejecting "violent Islam" (for example,
this 2014 Pew poll).
But i still don't see millions of Muslims demonstrating in the streets: i read
the polls, but ISIS and Boko Haram don't, so, again, a citizen of the Islamic
world who simply says to a pollster that he or she is fed up with the radicals,
but doesn't tell the radicals directly in their face, is still sending an
ambiguous message to those who call themselves Muslims and terrorize in the
name of Islam.
TM, ®, Copyright © 2014 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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What to do in Syria Part 2: know your enemy
The real face of an Afghani terrorist
Al Qaeda is still thriving
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