View Full Version : Islamist COG

06-25-2006, 06:39 PM
Tony Corn argues that the Islamist Movement has 5 COGs: the House of Saud, Al-Azhar University, Al-Qaida, Al-Jazeera, and Western academic institutions. Any thoughts?

06-25-2006, 07:43 PM
To get the discussion going...

World War IV As Fourth-Generation Warfare (http://www.realclearpolitics.com/Commentary/com-1_4_06_TC.html) by Tony Corn.

... Strategically, the fact that the global jihad does not have one single master plan or one single mastermind in no way means that the enemy lacks clearly identifiable centers of gravity. At the risk of considerable simplification, the global jihad can be said to actually rest on five asymmetrical “pillars”: al-Saud, al-Azhar, al Qaeda, al-Jazeera — with the proverbial “fifth column” in the role of fifth pillar. In a nutshell: In the past thirty years, through clever manipulation of financial, educational, and informational levers, Saudi Arabia has used its soft power to alter the theo-political balance of power in the Muslim world and to turn itself into a virtual Caliphate, using Muslim IOs and NGOs as force multipliers. The concurrent transformation of the Cairo-based al-Azhar University during the same period is possibly the most overlooked element in the global jihad; more than just the oldest Muslim university, al-Azhar is the closest thing to an informal Supreme Court of the Muslim world, denying or granting legitimacy to a peace treaty with Israel (1965 and 1979 respectively) or calling for jihad against the American presence in Iraq (March 2003). In the past 30 years, the Saudi takeover of al-Azhar has so shifted the center of gravity of the Muslim political discourse that the rhetoric of al-Azhar today is indistinguishable from that of the Muslim Brotherhood, its former nemesis. Al Qaeda and Al-Jazeera, though more recent phenomena, have managed in less than two decades to become the recruiting, training, and advertising bases of the global jihad. Last but not least, the academic Fifth Column in the West, ever faithful to its historical role of “useful idiot” (Lenin), is increasingly providing both conceptual ammunition and academic immunity to crypto-jihadists, making Western campuses safe for intellectual terrorism.

Taken together, these five pillars constitute something halfway between the “deep coalitions” theorized by contemporary Western strategists, and an informal command-and-control of global jihad. If only in a metaphorical sense, then, command-and-control warfare (C2W) offers the best template for a counter-jihad at the level of grand strategy. The identification of these five pillars as centers of gravity is meant to remind us that the destiny of 1.2 billion Muslims is today inordinately shaped by a few thousand Saudi princes, Egyptian clerics, and Gulf news editors, and that therefore the guiding principle of the war of ideas should be the principle of economy of force. Don’t say, for instance, “Islam needs its Martin Luther,” if only because his 95 theses ushered in a 150-year-long bloody insurgency within Christendom. Say instead, “The Saudi Caliphate needs to undertake its own Vatican II.”...

Merv Benson
06-25-2006, 09:34 PM
At its heart the Islamist movement is one based on religous bigotry toward non Muslims and Muslims who do not follow the Islamist creed. The bigotry plays on a sense of victimhood that blames "the other" for all perceived grievances. Hence, the continued references to the Crusades and other ancient battles. It is like most organizations based on bigotry. It is a movement without many inhibitions. The centers of gravity described in the article reflect organizations that spread the messge of bigotry and victimhood. The Whabbies are the messengers of hate and bigotry and al Jazeera reinforces the victimhood message by rerunning graphic images of "victims."

06-26-2006, 12:38 PM
What is odd about the article is that it articulates a Salafist "trinity," in the Clausewitzian sense, of urban warfare, hate media, and relief work. If this was true, then certainly AQ would heavily support Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, yet numerous AQ theorists assert that the Brotherhood and Hamas have sold-out by joining the political process. Back to another question/thread I asked earlier - if this is true, and AQ does not support groups that engage in the political process, can AQ be a global insurgency? What insurgency seeks to totally divorce itself from politics? And to refute a potential answer pre-emptively, no, this is not a phase thing with AQ, in which they will get into politics later. Read Abu Bakr Naji's "The Management of Barbarism / Savagery - The Most Critical Stage Through Which the Umma Will Pass," or nay work by Abu Musab al-Suri.

Merv Benson
06-26-2006, 03:34 PM
Al Qaeda just rejects a political process that looks somewhat democratic or pushes a position they reject. For al Qaeda the political process is decided by Allah and his messengers, i.e. al Qaeda leadership and its supporters. For example, al Qaeda had no problem with Taliban political support or for that matter the Islamist leadership in Sundan when they were hosting bin Laden. For al Qaeda the political choices just cannot be left to mere mortals who are not in direct communication with Allah. That is why they are trying to reinstate a 14th century political theocracy.

06-26-2006, 04:01 PM
There are plenty of sources that detail the friction between the Taliban and AQ. The Taliban merely provided sanctuary, which in the end, is no different than what Turabi did for them in the Sudan.

If they truly divorce themselves from the rule of anyone other than a potential caliph, can AQ truly be called an insurgency? In the end, is their political desire the restoration of the caliphate, or civilizational apartheid?

Steve Blair
06-26-2006, 06:30 PM
I wouldn't call AQ an insurgency in the classic sense any more than one would call the Red Army Faction an insurgency. AQ may take on some of the aspects of an insurgency when it suits them. They may also use politics as a smokescreen when it suits them to do so, but at the heart of it all I believe is their hate.

06-26-2006, 08:25 PM
I wouldn't call AQ an insurgency in the classic sense any more than one would call the Red Army Faction an insurgency. AQ may take on some of the aspects of an insurgency when it suits them. They may also use politics as a smokescreen when it suits them to do so, but at the heart of it all I believe is their hate.
Al Qaeda and its Affiliates: A Global Tribe Waging Segmental Warfare? (http://www.firstmonday.org/issues/issue10_3/ronfeldt/)

This paper describes the dynamics of classic tribes: what drives them, how they organize, how they fight. Al Qaeda fits the tribal paradigm quite well. Thus, continuing to view Al Qaeda mainly as a cutting–edge, post–modern phenomenon of the information age misses a crucial point: Al Qaeda and affiliates are using the information age to reiterate ancient patterns of tribalism on a global scale. The war they are waging is more about virulent tribalism than religion. The tribal paradigm should be added to the network and other prevailing paradigms to help figure out the best policies and strategies for countering these violent actors...