Islamic world should fight for unity

By standing stronger than ever, it is high time for the Islamic world to increase cooperation against deadly terrorism in their countries

Yesterday, a suicide bomb attack occurred in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan. A Shiite mosque was the target of the attack. According to the preliminary reports, 40 people lost their lives and 30 others were injured. As I was writing this piece, the actor behind this terrorist attack remains unknown. However, we have known for some time now that Daesh has been carrying out terrorist attacks against Shiite targets in Afghanistan, and there is a high likelihood that this attack was also carried out by them or one of its derivations.

Daesh has been attacking Shiites outside of Iraq and Syria, especially during this past month. In another terror attack on a Shiite mosque in Afghanistan on Nov. 21, 60 people were killed. Three days ago, six Shiites were assassinated in Bahrain. And then there is this one, the attack that occurred yesterday.

What is Daesh trying to do? Or what is Daesh being made to do? To be blunt, I believe that Daesh’s role in the new period is to act as a conduit for the creation of an atmosphere of sectarian conflict in the Islamic world, change the Sunni-Shiite fault lines, and create wide swathes of conflict areas that will affect many people.

While this motivation was always behind Daesh’s activities in Iraq and Syria, once it lost the ability to claim governance over a piece of land in the new period and became an amphibious terror organization, Daesh fully gravitated toward this purpose.

At this point, we can take the terror attack Daesh carried out in Tehran on June 8 where 12 people lost their lives as a turning point. Let me try to explain why. As you will remember, a summit was held in Riyadh in the last week of May. U.S. President Donald Trump showed that the U.S. accepted Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Egypt as the main representatives of the Muslim world in the meeting in Riyadh. Of course, this was not something granted freely – the U.S. sold Saudi Arabia weapons worth billions of dollars.

Right after the summit, Saudi Arabia and the UAE came together and began attacking Qatar. They accused Qatar of financing terrorism and of colluding with Iran and then proceeded to close their borders with Qatar, and tried to isolate it with sanctions. Not content with this, they tried to carry out a coup in Qatar. They were unsuccessful, but supported the creation of a sectarian fault line and thus the production of a conflict based around this.

Undoubtedly, Iran also contributed to this process. Iran, especially due to the wrong steps it had taken during the Arab spring, caused the creation of a serious reaction against it throughout the Islamic world. This reaction was never at a level that would legitimize Saudi Arabia’s cooperation with Israel against Iran as Saudi Arabia claims. Nevertheless, following its expansionist policies after 2010, the Sunni world strongly reacted against Iran.

In this period, the Yemen crisis continued and Iran and Saudi Arabia conducted a proxy war in Yemen. Then, the Lebanese crisis was added on top of all this. Prime Minister Saad Hariri, giving the pressure from Iran-led Hezbollah as a justification, fled to Saudi Arabia and announced that he is resigning. Despite Hariri later revoking his resignation, the debates in Lebanon still continue. Throughout this whole period, missiles were fired a few times from Yemen into Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia accused Iran of being behind this, and stated that it would work with Israel against Iran.

At this point, the Jerusalem crisis occurred. Right after U.S. President Donald Trump’s announcement recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and the decision to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the Islamic countries gathered together with Turkey’s great effort and showed a united front. Despite the low profile shown by Saudi Arabia and the UAE during this period, they stood by Palestine and not Israel. The announcement by 128 countries in the U.N. General Assembly against Trump’s decision created a new political environment.

It appears that in this new period, Daesh will increase its attacks against the Shiite in order to create an atmosphere of the Sunni-Shiite conflict and prepare the grounds for a hot conflict. In order for the current view of unity to be broken apart, Iran needs to be provoked and be made to move with an “anti-Sunni” discourse. Unfortunately, the UAE and Saudi Arabia both appear ready to engage in conflict against Iran through an “anti-Shiite” rhetoric.

Being pulled into such an area of conflict means getting into a war where there are no winners. All of the actors in the Islamic world should be fighting for unity, not conflict. The latest Jerusalem crisis demonstrated the importance of this.

[Daily Sabah, 29 December 2017]

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