Muslims’ Efforts Needed for Struggle with Al-Qaeda – Experts

Azerbaijan, Baku, 3 June / corr. Trend E. Tanriverdiyeva, R. Hafizoglu/ The ideological war of the United States against terrorist groupings in Iraq and Al-Qaeda is pointless without the support of the country's population and Islamic theologians. "Not White House, but Muslims themselves should fight ideological war against Al-Qaeda," Fauzi Akramoglu, the Iraqi MP said.

The former coordinator of White House on counter- terrorism Richard Clerk stated that ideological war against Al-Qaeda should be launched after forces are withdrawn from Iraq which will enable to win over the terrorists without using military force, the Turkish news agency TimeTurk reported on 1 June.

The Unites States should unite with the Islamic religious figures in a war on terrorism who have authority and influence on the population of the Muslim countries, Akramoglu said to Trend on a telephone from Baghdad on 3 June. According to Akramoglu, U.S. is not able to win the war on its own as Al-Qaeda is acting under the cover of religion. "Image of the United States strongly suffered from the intervention into Afghanistan and Iraq. Al-Qaeda, who is "fighting" against occupiers, obtained a lot of dividend in the information war," Akramoglu said.

According to MP, the most effective fight against Al-Qaeda is enlightenment which should prevent radical steps of the Muslim youth.

"Whether withdrawal of US troops from Iraq will reduce popularity of Al-Qaeda amongst Muslims depends on the Iraqi Sunni and Shia coming to some sort of agreement on power-sharing, I think. Al-Qaeda has not tried to curry favor with the Shia and it has no incentives to support a regime in which the Shia are dominant," American expert Ronnie D. Lipschutz, Professor at the Department of Politics of Santa Cruz University, said via e-mail on 3 June.

As to whether United States's strategy of ideological war against Islamic terrorist groups will be successful, Lipschutz said in this instance, what the United States does is more important than what it says: so long as American actions result in civilian deaths and are widely regarded as being targeted against Islam. "I rather
doubt that ideological warfare can succeed. A "hands-off" strategy would be risky, but it might be more productive in this regard."

"A successful conclusion of the war in Iraq would have a positive impact on the global war on terrorism," American expert Gawdat Bahqat, said. "Given its location, population, history, and energy assets, Iraq is a major Arab and Islamic state," Gawdat Bahgat, Director of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies of the Indiana University of Pennsylvania, said to Trend via e-mail on 3 June.

"Political instability and ethnic and sectarian strives have provided a safe havens for terrorist organizations in Iraq. If the United States, working with the elected Iraqi government and regional powers, succeeds in restoring public order and security in the entire country, terrorist organizations, mainly al-Kaida, will have no choice but to leave Iraq. Defeating Al-Kaida in Iraq requires more than a military solution. It requires close cooperation with regional powers such as Iran and Saudi Arabia. It also requires a partnership with the government in Baghdad and tribal leaders. The improvement of health care system, creating jobs, providing electricity would facilitate winning the war on Al-Kaida. In other words winning the hearts and minds of the majority of Iraqis," he wrote.

According to the Bahgat, the United States is not engaged in an ideological war against Islam. There are millions of Muslim Americans who enjoy the freedom to practice their religion in the United States.

"Washington is in war against extremist ideology from any religion. Islam as a global religion preaches love and peace. But extremist elements in Islam, like in other religions, have used violent means to promote their own version of Islam. American and other Western scholars need to engage in a dialogue with Muslim scholars to highlight the common ground between Islamic and Western civilizations. Former Iranian President Muhammad Khatemi is leading a Dialogue between Civilization Forum. Similarly, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia is sponsoring a conference on inter-faith dialogue (schedule to open Wednesday June 4th in Mecca, Saudi Arabia). More political and intellectual cooperation between Muslim and Western leaders is needed to highlight the mutual goals the two civilizations share," Bahgat said.

The correspondent can be contacted at:  [email protected]   

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