Al Qaeda Terror Won't Stop If US Pulls Out of Iraq, Expert Says

Olivier Roy
Al Qaeda Terror Won't Stop If US Pulls Out of Iraq, Expert Says

Paris, France ( - Al Qaeda will not stop carrying out acts of terrorism if the U.S. pulls its troops out of Iraq or if the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is resolved, according to a Middle East expert here. But an American withdrawal will likely open the door to a new regional conflict between Iran and Saudi Arabia, he predicted.

Olivier Roy, a political scientist and expert on Islam at the French National Center of Scientific Study (CNRS), says it is a mistake to view al Qaeda as a political organization fighting for a political cause like the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq or an independent Palestinian state.

When people link al Qaeda to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or to the war in Iraq they are displaying a Western mindset, Roy argued in an interview. And Muslims who tend to agree with that viewpoint are not the terrorists themselves but leaders such as Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak or Jordan's King Abdullah, he added.

"With al Qaeda, we are in a global fight between two worlds," he said. "Al Qaeda is not a territorial organization. It's not Hamas, it's not Hizballah and it's not the Taliban."

Instead, it should be compared to the Marxist revolutionary movements of the 1960s and 1970s that attracted young Westerners to fight in places like the jungles of South America. Al Qaeda, Roy said, is in fact part of a global revolutionary tradition.

"Today the narrative of the revolt is religious. Forty years ago it was Marxist. Today it is religious and particularly Muslim. But we are still in a global revolt against the system, without having a clear vision of an alternative system," he said.

Roy contended that al Qaeda members are anti-American only because America incarnates the "world order" -- and this "world order is perceived as unjust."

Roy took issue with those who suggest the al Qaeda threat was a consequence of American military intervention in Iraq, pointing out that al Qaeda declared war on America, and carried out the 9/11 attacks, before the March 2003 invasion.

What he did agree with, however, was the view that the Iraq war has likely laid the groundwork for a future conflict between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

A strong Sunni-dominated Iraq under Saddam Hussein had been the only regional brake to Iranian expansion, Roy asserted. Its removal had left space for a confrontation between Wahabbist Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shi'ite Iran.

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Olivier Roy, is a senior researcher at the National Center for Scientific Research in Paris. He is the author of numerous books, including The Failure of Political Islam and The New Central Asia: The Creation of Nations.


Ed footnote: Someone once said that the place for the man/women of God is in prayer; with the Bible in one hand, and a copy of the daily newspaper in the other.
The "men of Issacher" were described as "understanding the times" and "knowing what Israel should do."

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