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Is Dramatic End Of Al-Baghdadi In East Heralding Rise Of Violent Islamophobia In West? – OpEd

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The death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was made public on October 27, 2019. On Monday 28, a Pentagon official confirmed that his body had been submerged at sea after the US military raid on the Islamic State (IS) leader’s hideout in Syria. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, did not give further details on this burial at sea which is remindful of that of Osama Bin Laden in 2011, after the death of the leader of al-Qaeda during the assault of an elite US unit against his hideout in Pakistan.

This burial at sea was chosen to prevent a possible tomb from becoming a place of pilgrimage. The treatment of Baghdadi’s body was done appropriately, according to the military procedure and in accordance with the laws of war. The Chief of Staff of the US Army, General Mark Milley said at a press conference in Washington DC that: “The disposal of his remains has been done, is complete and was handled appropriately,” he added, saying it was handled “in accordance with the law of armed conflict.”

The IS leader, who had spread terror over an immense territory straddling Iraq and Syria, had been hunted for several years. Nevertheless, Washington received information about his presence in a house in the Idlib region in northwestern Syria, “where he lived steadily,” said General Milley. According to the highest ranking American military official, IS’ self-proclaimed “Caliph” blew up the explosive belt he was carrying when he was cornered in a tunnel with three of his children. His remains were then transported to a secure place to confirm his identity through DNA.

Russian Skepticism

The Russian Defense Ministry has, however, asked for proof that the US military operation in Syria led to the death of the head of the Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. His death was announced with great fanfare by the United States, but Russia remains skeptical, for the moment. In fact, Moscow has said it has no reliable information on an “umpteenth death” of the head of the Islamic State. A ministry spokesman pointed out contradictory details from the different parties involved.

“There is no convincing evidence that the Americans carried out such an operation in an area in Syria that is not under their control,” the spokesman added. “Moreover, no airstrikes have been recorded in the Idlib area in recent days.” The ministry said that the death of the leader of the Islamic State does not matter since the terrorist militias were dismantled in Syria in early 2018. “The statement of the Americans has no influence on the situation in Syria. Any danger is not averted because of the presence in the region of many terrorists, ” points out the Russian Ministry.

Russia is not the only country to react to the announcement of the death of the leader of the caliphate. French, Turkish reactions followed, without questioning, this time, the veracity of the information. In France, President Emmanuel Macron spoke of a “blow” against Daesh, “but this is only one step, the fight continues with our partners in the international coalition for the terrorist organization to be definitively defeated, which is our priority in the Levant,” he wrote on Twitter. Nevertheless, the French Minister of the Interior called for vigilance against possible acts of revenge.

In Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan hailed on Sunday the death of the leader of the Islamic State, which he described as a “turning point” in the war on terror. “The death of the Daesh leader marks a turning point in our joint fight against terrorism,” the Turkish president wrote on Twitter.

Diverting attention

All in all, analysts believe that the main interest of the news is to distract the American people from domestic policy issues in the United States. As the attacks against Donald Trump multiply, he needs good news. But this death will not be enough to reverse the negative trend against him. US media already highlight the irony of Al-Baghdadi’s death. From what is known, it came about thanks to American troops based in Syria, the very same troops which Trump has ordered the withdrawal of from this country recently.

It is likely, however, that the US president will want to accumulate good moves in anticipation of the presidential elections of 2020. As such, it looks like there are at least three good news, for him, in the coming months:

First, the negotiations for the free trade agreement with Japan are almost complete. So much so that Japan’s Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, has planned a session of the Japanese Diet, longer than usual, precisely to examine this treaty. Will the treaty be a good thing for the US economy? It remains to be seen. The powerful financial groups that control Japan’s economy, can easily bypass free trade measures decided by elected officials.

Second, the North Korean government is getting impatient. They recalled, recently, that the friendly truce concluded with the United States would end at the end of December. They want results. Kim Jong-un could sign with the United States a treaty that saves the face of Trump, but given the new regional power relations, that is to say, the considerable weakening of the US position and the strengthening of the Chinese, such a treaty risks putting the United States at a disadvantage.

Thirdly, negotiations with China should eventually succeed. The US negotiators announced some encouraging results recently. Trump could be content with measures to significantly reduce the trade deficit between the United States and China. Such an announcement would certainly be a step in the right direction, but it would not solve the fundamental problem of the gigantic loss of economic power of the United States for the benefit of China.

In short, as the date of the presidential election draws nearer, there is a steady pattern: Trump is speeding up announcements to fulfill his election promises, as shown by his decision to withdraw US troops from Syria. For him, the electoral interest is, probably, stronger than the interest of the country.

Al-Baghdadi Is Dead But Violent Islamism Might Remain For Some Time

The liquidation of the historic leader of ISIS is a great success for Donald Trump, but it is not certain that it will have a decisive impact on the course of the war on terrorism.

Donald Trump was able to triumph Sunday by announcing the elimination of the head of the Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Like his predecessor Barack Obama informing his compatriots of the death of Osama bin Laden under the shells of an American commando in Pakistan in 2011. He can expect an important revival of popularity at a key moment of the intensification of the presidential campaign, at the end of which he expects to be re-elected next year

Such a military operation is, indeed, extremely popular. It flatters its authors, the armed forces and the American intelligence services, and, beyond them, the United States, in general, because it emphasizes the pugnacity and effectiveness of the country. It appears simultaneously as a victory of justice. “Justice is done,” said Donald Trump after the raid, repeating the formula used by Barack Obama eight years ago. Admittedly, it is not a question here of the civilized justice of the law and the courts, but there is probably no other possible justice in an ongoing war.

This kind of liquidation, also, draws its popularity from the hope that it can weaken or even defeat terrorism, but history teaches everyone that this is rarely the case. The example of Osama bin Laden is eloquent, in this respect. His organization, al-Qaeda, was cornered by the US invasion of its Afghan sanctuary, but his terrorist organization did not suffer much from this in the years that followed, it even strengthened it in several theaters of operations like Yemen and Syria.

After War On Islamism, Now The War On Islam In Europe

“France is in danger of Muslimophobic McCarthyism,” stated, quite rightly, the Islamic religion expert Rachid Benzine in an op-ed in Le Monde on October 9, 2019. He fears that the succession of attacks on Islam is duly establishing a climate of hatred towards Muslims in France, in the long run.

The mosque of the city of Bayonne presented by French politicians as “peaceful” with a Muslim community fully “integrated”, was Monday October 28, 2019 the target of a shooting causing two serious injuries among its Muslim inhabitants. The assailant, Claude Sinké, a former candidate of the National Front was arrested by the police.

The results of the poll, published On October 27, 2019 in the columns of the Journal du Dimanche reveal the mistrust of the majority of French about the compatibility of Islam with their society, as well as their concerns about the future of secularism, are only some of the consequences of a deleterious climate, provoked by an incredible surge of hateful speech, for weeks, on the part of some key political leaders and in many media. While Muslims are increasingly discriminated against, the question of banning the wearing of the veil in the public space continues to occupy the public debate.

Stigma and its corollary, anti-Muslim racism, have become a national French sport. The fight against communitarianism or “separatism” is the subject of a worrying consensus, while it is, in fact, a fight against an illusion. The vast majority of Muslims in France want to live their beliefs serenely and in no way require an adaptation of French norms and customs to Islam.

The principle of secularism «laïcité» was not conceived and developed as a weapon of war against creeds and culture, but unfortunately it is now widely used for political gain and cultural stigmatization. Of course, there is still a long way to go to reform the organization of Islam in France, especially in its representative institutions, but the French ought to help in this and not reject everything in block, as does the far right Doxa.

You can follow Professor Mohamed CHTATOU on Twitter : @Ayurinu

Dr. Mohamed Chtatou

Dr. Mohamed Chtatou

Dr. Mohamed Chtatou is a Professor of education science at the university in Rabat. He is currently a political analyst with Moroccan, Gulf, French, Italian and British media on politics and culture in the Middle East, Islam and Islamism as well as terrorism. He is, also, a specialist on political Islam in the MENA region with interest in the roots of terrorism and religious extremism.

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