Saturday, 15 August 2009

The marriage of religious radicalism with militancy and when it fails

I have spoken before about the theory that the current explosion of radicalism and terrorism comes from the horrid marriage between radical and extremist Islam and militancy. These events of 1978 in Iran had created an excuse for every radical cleric to search for a militant force willing to follow it. The catastrophic merge and its success also created fear amongst those countries with a strong radical presence, such as Saudi Arabia and Sudan to capitulate to its own radical clerics with results that are still dominating its society and also producing the backbone of terrorists as well as some of the worse terrorists themselves.

But that marriage is a costly one and both parties have to give something and sacrifice others. In the case of the Iranian Revolution, the militants that became the Revolutionary Guards that still control much of the security infrastructure of Iran to this day were not always just subservient slaves to the founder Ayatollah Khomeini. During those very first days of that event, the revolutionaries stormed the United States Embassy in Tehran and that was not at the order of the Supreme Leader, in fact he was angry and tried to have it cancelled. As we all now know the story well, he wanted to stop this infringement of International Law and he feared the legitimacy of the Islamic Revolution was now at doubt but when he witnessed the support and anti-American sentiment amongst the crowds (and that it had already occurred) that it was impossible to back-down. Most certainly though, Khomeini recognized that the newly named Revolutionary Guard was a power to be reckoned with, or to put it another way – he was stuck with them as much as they were with him.

We have witnessed now in present day Islamic Republic of Iran that the current President is a former member of the Revolutionary Guard – and was one of those that stormed the US Embassy. His revolutionary rhetoric is classic, somewhat like that of Saddam Hussein’s phrases that are certainly only important for domestic consumption targeting the bulk of the less literate population that is the backbone of support. Thus when in an international audience is listening in or gathered around him there is an instant clash and confusion to what is being said or to be blunt, sounds ludicrous and stupid.

But this image should not be played too lightly, he is an important figure with a great deal of power and he represents that ever present factor in current Iranian power – the Revolutionary Guards. Even now the current Supreme Leader is obviously not happy with the rather clumsy international Statesmanship of the President but is not willing to deal with him, even though he has the option of more moderate but still patriotic and pro-theological politicians such as former Presidents.

The above examples is how the union between radical religious groups and revolutionary militants is not always simple marital bliss, now we will see a recent example of how a militant group has rejected the marriage proposal of a radical religious group – because they are not needed.

Yesterday’s announcement by the radical Jund Ansar Allah Cleric and founder Abdel-Latif Moussa in Rafah (Hamas controlled Gaza Strip) of a declaration of an Islamic Emirate and Shari’a Law resulted in a gun-battle by Hamas killing the Cleric and 21 other supporters. Why?

Simply put there was no need by the militants to declare God is on their side as they were already on in power and they have an infrastructure. To add to that, they are now over the phase of gaining control “no-matter-what” and are now in the phase of trying to legitimize their status. Thus it is not only a bad move to side with radicals of the religious side but they want to show that they are in control and the authority, not seeking to introduce a new one. That is why Hamas is no friend of most other militant groups connected to religious ideologies – such as Al Qaeda.

Another way to look at it and coming back to the main principle of this theory – they are not religious – though they may claim it anyhow, but are in fact a radical political militant group.

Either way, we see the birth of an interesting situation, a terrorist-linked militant group not only refusing to join the marriage game with a radical and extreme religious group but attacking it based on recognition that such unions are literally a “marriage made in hell”.