Islamic Resistance To Imperialism – Book Review


Islam challenges the two major premises of Western imperial world domination: “Give me control of a nation’s money and I care not who makes its laws.” (Mayer Rothschild) “War is the continuation of policy by other means.” (Carl von Clausewitz). These geopolitical “laws” underlie modern capitalism that Islam rejects. Both theses cited in Eric Walberg’s previous book “Postmodern Imperialism: Geopolitics and the Great Games”. The challenge of these hypotheses by Islamic resistance movements and states like Iran to imperialism in the 21st century is exemplified in the author’s newest book “Islamic Resistance to Imperialism”.

Therein, the author combines his geopolitical knowledge with his deep understanding of Islam. Showing a great apprehension of the Muslim Brotherhood, it must have been a bitter medicine for him to swallow when Egypt’s new military dictator crushed the Muslim Brotherhood that was in thrall with Turkey, Qatar, and the US. The Saudis backing of Egypt’s Abdel el-Sisi had a lot to do with his dirty work for Western imperialism. The failure of secular resistance to imperialism must be confronted, and the more resilient Islamic movements understood by the public, writes Walberg.

Eric Walberg, Islamic Resistance to Imperialism, Clarity Press, Atlanta 2015, 289 pp., $ 23.95.
Eric Walberg, Islamic Resistance to Imperialism, Clarity Press, Atlanta 2015, 289 pp., $ 23.95.

Eric Walberg, who is a Canadian journalist, belongs to the very few who still have the guts to look behind the facade of state organized propaganda. His journalistic and political experience and his Muslim faith render him immune to the swansongs of flatteries and vanity fairs that most journalists can’t resist.

In his book on geopolitical strategy, the author focuses on the Middle East and the global ramifications of the multiple state destruction resulting from Western aggression. Walberg addresses the following questions:
What is left of the historic Middle East upheavals of 1979 (Afghanistan, Iran) and 2011 (the Arab Spring)? How does 9/11 fit into the equation of Islamic resistance? Is al-Qaeda’s long-term project still on track? What are the chances that ISIS can prevail in Iraq and Syria? Are they and like-minded jihadists dupes of imperialism or legitimate resistance movements?

Part I, comprised of four chapters, addresses the colonial legacy, the meaning of jihad, and the parallel movements among Sunni and Shia to confront imperialism.

Part II considers the main figures among the “neo-Wahhabi” movement: Azzam, Bin Laden, and Zawahiri. The author questions the justification of indiscriminate violence as well as its legacy. He then turns to the movements that attempt to re-establish the Caliphate, the Color Revolutions and the Arab Spring, and the experience of key Muslim-majority countries in the past two decades (Turkey, Afghanistan, Iraq, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, Iran).

He then sums up the state of the ummah in the 21st century and prospects for future Islamic resistance to imperialism.

According to Walberg, in 1979, the Iranian revolution challenged the very foundations of the Western imperialist system. Although Ayatollah Khomeini proposed non-violence like Gandhi did, he was dismissed as a “terrorist” because Islam poses a “real threat to empire and its claims of superiority to non-western cultures”. Khomeini understood very well what imperialism and Zionism stood for. Both denied God’s authority, writes Walberg. To glorify Khomeini as a “Muslim” Gandhi may be one thing, but one should not forget that under his rule thousands of Iranian communists were murdered.

The Saudis felt increasingly challenged by the Iranian revolution in its leadership role within the ummah. They instigated not only a proxy war in Syria to overthrow Iran’s protégé Bashar al-Assad, who belongs to the Alevi sect, an offshoot of Shiism, but also got into partnership with the Zionist regime in Jerusalem. Consequently, Walberg writes; “The need for unity of the ummah, for Sunni-Shia convergence, in confronting imperialism and providing an alternative approach to the violent al-Qaeda-types has never been clearer. Iran’s Islamic revolution remains as the bellwether, even though attempts to emulate it have not yet succeeded. The only Islamist successes in achieving such a convergence recently have been Hizbullah and Hamas, where Sunni-Shia differences have been minimized.”

Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah stresses that the current turmoil in the Middle East region is a political, not sectarian conflict, saying that both, Sunnis and Shias, have a common enemy such as Daesh (ISIS). Saudi Arabia disagrees because it sees the Iranians as enemies.

Although, Olivier Roy, a French professor at the European University Institute in Florence, Italy,  dismisses the Iranian revolution as “the last of the leftist, Third Worldist and anti-imperialist revolutions, carried out under an Islamic cloak”, the author thinks otherwise: “there is life in the Iranian revolution yet, as its unwavering defiance of empire shows, and its ability to adjust its path through debate and an electoral system”. Comparing Iran to Saudi Arabia, he considers the latter as light-years behind the political achievements of the former.

Walberg also rejects the imperialist invention of the so-called “Judeo-Christian heritage “. In fact, the Iranian political system is highly complex and guided by spiritual means that Westerners do not or do not want to acknowledge. Alastair Crooke arrived to a similar conclusion in his excellent book “Resistance. The Essence of the Islamist Revolution”.

The Western strategy of manipulating Islam to promote imperial ends is more than two centuries old. The Islamic revolution in Iran, inspired by opposition towards the existing neocolonial regime, was carried out in the name of Islam and had also echoes in the Sunni world. That same year, it prompted Saudi rebels to occupy the Kaaba in a desperate attempt to spark the revolution, it inspired Syrian Islamists to rise against Hafez al-Assad in 1980, and may have led future al-Qaeda leader Ayman Zawahiri to conspire in the assassination of  Egyptian president Anwar al-Sadat in 1981. But these uprisings were crushed, and the Sunni world remained mired in its neocolonial purgatory, defeated by empire’s machinations and falling prey to Saudi instigations against Shia anti-imperialists, writes the author.

The author has still some doubts whether 9/11 was a false flag operation. He admits, nevertheless, that “9/11 also provided a convenient casus belli for the empire, blackening Islam in the eyes of the world – the most obvious reason for the imperialists to perpetrate such a false flag operation if they are indeed responsible. Whoever is responsible, 9/11 did, nonetheless, instill in Muslims a burning and urgent purpose: to affirm their religion and to let the world know what Islam and jihad really stand for – which has nothing to do with blowing up innocent people.”

“There is sharp criticism in the 9/11 Commission Report of the Pentagon, CIA, FBI and Federal Aviation Administration for blatant lying and obstruction, though it seems that this concentrated more on covering up their incompetence, their refusal to share vital information, and the fact that their agents among the conspirators were really double agents.” This report doesn’t just cover up the alleged “incompetence” but rather the active involvement of the Bush/Cheney administration. It’s well known that the report is riddled with contradictions, flaws, and outright lies and does not even mention the demolition of WTC No 7 that its value is equal to zero.

Although leftist secularists dismiss Islam, partly because of its social conservatism, they should, at least acknowledge that their secular discourse doesn’t inspire the masses anymore and has run its course. Even Christians and Jews who recognize that their faiths have been compromised in the age of imperialism are inspired by the believers of Islam, writes Walberg. The author argues that the West finally sees reason: “Even the imperialists are beginning to recognize that Islamists must be given a chance to rule if only in order to sap the following of the violent alternative.” At least for Palestine, this statement doesn’t hold true. After the election victory of Hamas in 2006 the US and its client states fell into line with Israel’s rhetoric that labeled Hamas a “terrorist organization”.

Whether “post-materialism” which rose in the 1970s in the West represents a new morality against consumerism that can fall into line with the “essence of Islam” remains to be seen. It seems as if Islam has the potential as the last movement of resistance against Western imperialism.

Ludwig Watzal

Dr. Ludwig Watzal works as a journalist and editor in Bonn, Germany. He runs the bilingual blog “Between the lines”. He can be reached at

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