Oct 23, 2014
By: Mr. Halimullah Kousary, Deputy Head of Research
Over 60 years after the fall of the Ottoman Empire and subsequent intensification of nationalism in the Muslim world, Islamists have tried three distinct campaigns to gain power and establish Islamic states in the Muslim world. First was jihad in 1979 against the Soviet Union when Islamists from across the world poured into Afghanistan to join the Afghan Mujahideens in fight against the Soviet Union. Abdullah Azzam, known as the Godfather of jihad, advocated that the Afghan jihad would expand to Palestine and it would empower Islamic governments in the Muslim world. However, after the Soviet withdrawal in 1989 from Afghanistan, the jihad campaign failed in fulfilling Azzam’s ambition and left the Afghan Mujahideens engaged in a lingering factional fighting over power instead of forming an Islamic government in Afghanistan. The second campaign Islamists waged was through taking advantage of democracy and it represented an attempt by the Islamists to pay back the west especially the US in its own coin. The Algerian Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) in the 1991, Palestinian Hamas in 2006 and Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood in 2012 ran and won in elections but failed to come to or remain in power, which they argued was due to joint plots hatched by the US and its allies. In the recent years, the third campaign shaped up with Islamists resorting to openly denouncing nationalism in the Muslim world and taking up the revival of Islamic Caliphate. The dramatic rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and Levant (ISIL) is assessed as a step in that direction.