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© 2021 Oriental Institute, The Czech Academy of Sciences, Kevin L. Schwartz, and Ameem Lutfi
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At the very outset of the 21st century, Osama bin Laden positioned himself, wittingly or unwittingly, with the 9/11 attacks, as one of its likely most important figures. The attacks initially served to undermine multicultural policies in relatively ethnically and religiously homogeneous European societies: which struggled with migration from other continents, ethnicities, and religious backgrounds. In doing so, the attacks reshaped global politics and attitudes toward large numbers of people fleeing political and economic collapse as “the other”— instead of viewing them as victims of misconceived Western policies that backfired in countries governed and mismanaged by corrupt politicians and political and economic structures. Its resulting fallout was evident in the West’s recent failure to anticipate mass movement toward the Kabul airport in the wake of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and the Taliban takeover of the country. The West’s initial hesitancy to respond to the plight of those cooperating with Western forces and institutions in the last two decades compounded these failures. This undermined two decades of multiculturalism or open borders and further empowered populist, right-wing anti-immigration, and pro-nationalist forces in Europe as well as North America, Asia and Africa: particularly against Muslims, Jews, and people of color. Western democracies pay the price; the brutalization of debate and dialogue through demonization of opposing views, abandonment of civility and etiquette and expressions of racist, Islamophobic, and anti-Semitic attitudes becoming less socially taboo and more mainstream. Changed attitudes have made Western societies more vulnerable to intolerant, anti-pluralistic, and counter-revolutionary machinations   by   countries   like   the   UAE   and   Saudi   Arabia . Alarmed by the strength of political Islamic groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood, in the wake of the 2011 popular Arab revolts, the Gulf states have had little compunction about fuelling   anti-Muslim sentiment in Western countries, including France and Austria , to counter Islamists and their backers (Turkey, and Qatar). Anti-Muslim sentiment is bolstered by the lack of support from Saudi Arabia and the UAE, as well as the rest of the Muslim world, for persecuted Muslim communities: such as the Uyghurs in China, the Rohingya in Myanmar and Bangladesh, and Muslims in India-administered Kashmir. Saudi Arabia and the UAE promote their socially more flexible, but autocratic version of a moderate interpretation of Islam that preaches absolute obedience to the ruler. The two states’ use their interpretations to project themselves as moderate leaders in the Muslim world: in which Saudi Arabia and the UAE are competing for religious soft power with one another; as well as with Turkey, Qatar, Iran and Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-majority country. "The UAE’s narrative was purposefully designed to appeal to a Western, particularly American audience,” claims Gulf scholar Andreas Krieg, “in the aftermath of 9/11, the Islamist surge during the Arab Spring, and the rise of the Islamic State.” Yet, for Abu Dhabi, its crusade against Islam in the political space has another, more sinister objective: depoliticizing civil society, while monopolizing socio-political power and authority in the hands of the state. The irony is that the religious soft power rivalry unwittingly reinforces each other’s efforts. The Emiratis and Saudis encourage Islamophobia, in cooperation with populists and Europe’s far-right, which strengthen the Iranian revolutionaries and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Erdogan projects himself as a pious leader who defends the rights of marginalized Diaspora communities: who hail from ‘black’ Turks at home and are disenfranchised by the Kemalist Turkish elite; while Iran claims to represent the struggle of the downtrodden and disenfranchised. The populists and right-wing nationalists in Europe and elsewhere are the perfect foil for Erdogan. In turn, Erdogan’s calls on the Turkish Diaspora to reject assimilation is fodder for the very groups the Turkish president ostensibly opposes. “Ultimately, these are two right-wing currents that profit from each other,” argues political scientist Thomas Schmidinge, “Turkish nationalism colored by Islamism on the one hand and anti-Islamic and anti-Turkish racism, which has spread throughout Europe and Austria in particular, on the other.” Schmidinge discussed the situation in Austria as an example that repeats itself across Europe: in which the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey wage covert campaigns against one another. Bin Laden must have a grin on his face, as the current scene unfolds in Europe and the U.S.: irrespective of whether the former leader of al-Qaeda is looking at the world from above or from down under. He may bemoan the plight of Muslims in much of the world, but the disarray in the West is probably greater: in part to his lethal handiwork, which has probably accomplished more than his most imaginative dreams.
Source: Mstyslav Chernov
September 8, 2021 Bin Laden’s Legacy Probably Surpasses His Wildest Dreams
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HOME HOME THEMATICS THEMATICS Source: Mstyslav Chernov
At the very outset of the 21st century, Osama bin Laden positioned himself, wittingly or unwittingly, with the 9/11 attacks, as one of its likely most important figures. The attacks initially served to undermine multicultural policies in relatively ethnically and religiously homogeneous European societies: which struggled with migration from other continents, ethnicities, and religious backgrounds. In doing so, the attacks reshaped global politics and attitudes toward large numbers of people fleeing political and economic collapse as “the other”— instead of viewing them as victims of misconceived Western policies that backfired in countries governed and mismanaged by corrupt politicians and political and economic structures. Its resulting fallout was evident in the West’s recent failure to anticipate mass movement toward the Kabul airport in the wake of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and the Taliban takeover of the country. The West’s initial hesitancy to respond to the plight of those cooperating with Western forces and institutions in the last two decades compounded these failures. This undermined two decades of multiculturalism or open borders and further empowered populist, right-wing anti- immigration, and pro-nationalist forces in Europe as well as North America, Asia and Africa: particularly against Muslims, Jews, and people of color. Western democracies pay the price; the brutalization of debate and dialogue through demonization of opposing views, abandonment of civility and etiquette and expressions of racist, Islamophobic, and anti-Semitic attitudes becoming less socially taboo and more mainstream. Changed attitudes have made Western societies more vulnerable to intolerant, anti-pluralistic, and counter-revolutionary machinations      by countries   like   the   UAE   and   Saudi   Arabia . Alarmed by the strength of political Islamic groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood, in the wake of the 2011 popular Arab revolts, the Gulf states have had little compunction about fuelling    anti-Muslim sentiment   in   Western   countries,   including   France and     Austria , to counter Islamists and their backers (Turkey, and Qatar). Anti-Muslim sentiment is bolstered by the lack of support from Saudi Arabia and the UAE, as well as the rest of the Muslim world, for persecuted Muslim communities: such as the Uyghurs in China, the Rohingya in Myanmar and Bangladesh, and Muslims in India-administered Kashmir. Saudi Arabia and the UAE promote their socially more flexible, but autocratic version of a moderate interpretation of Islam that preaches absolute obedience to the ruler. The two states’ use their interpretations to project themselves as moderate leaders in the Muslim world: in which Saudi Arabia and the UAE are competing    for religious   soft   power with one another; as well as with Turkey, Qatar, Iran and Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-majority country. "The UAE’s narrative was purposefully designed to appeal to a Western, particularly American audience,” claims Gulf scholar Andreas Krieg, “in the aftermath of 9/11, the Islamist surge during the Arab Spring, and the rise of the Islamic State.” Yet, for Abu Dhabi, its crusade against Islam in the political space has another, more sinister objective: depoliticizing civil society, while monopolizing socio-political power and authority in the hands of the state. The irony is that the religious soft power rivalry unwittingly reinforces each other’s efforts. The Emiratis and Saudis encourage Islamophobia, in cooperation with populists and Europe’s far-right, which strengthen the Iranian revolutionaries and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Erdogan projects himself as a pious leader who defends the rights of marginalized Diaspora communities: who hail from ‘black’ Turks at home and are disenfranchised by the Kemalist Turkish elite; while Iran claims to represent the struggle of the downtrodden and disenfranchised. The populists and right-wing nationalists in Europe and elsewhere are the perfect foil for Erdogan. In turn, Erdogan’s calls on the Turkish Diaspora to reject assimilation is fodder for the very groups the Turkish president ostensibly opposes. “Ultimately, these are two right-wing currents that profit from each other,” argues political scientist Thomas Schmidinge, “Turkish nationalism colored by Islamism on the one hand and anti-Islamic and anti-Turkish racism, which has spread throughout Europe and Austria in particular, on the other.” Schmidinge discussed the situation in Austria as an example that repeats itself across Europe: in which the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey wage covert campaigns against one another. Bin Laden must have a grin on his face, as the current scene unfolds in Europe and the U.S.: irrespective of whether the former leader of al- Qaeda is looking at the world from above or from down under. He may bemoan the plight of Muslims in much of the world, but the disarray in the West is probably greater: in part to his lethal handiwork, which has probably accomplished more than his most imaginative dreams.
© 2021 Oriental Institute, The Czech Academy of Sciences, Kevin L. Schwartz, and Ameem Lutfi
© 2021 Oriental Institute, The Czech Academy of Sciences, Kevin L. Schwartz, and Ameem Lutfi
Bin Laden’s Legacy Probably Surpasses His Wildest Dreams
Written by
An award-winning journalist and scholar and a senior fellow at the National University of Singapore’s Middle East Institute.
If you are interested in contributing an article for the project, please send a short summary of the proposed topic (no more than 200 words) and brief bio to submissions@911legacies.com. For all other matters, please contact inquiry@911legacies.com.
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