Andreas Armborst

 

With the beginning of the Iraq Conflict in 2003, a new episode for global jihadism begins which continues until the Syrian civil war. For Al Quaida (AQ) ideology, the intrusion of American troops into Iraq represents a new challenge. In the course of the operations and the political development, concrete chances for AQ to realize three of the most important political-religious concerns of their deology arise: Firstly, the conflict between Islam and the West, which had been anticipated by AQ, is dealt with militarily. Secondly, the Apostasy Phenomenon (betrayal to Islam), which is criticized by AQ, obviously manifests in the Anbar Awakening Councils and in other groups collaborating with the American occupying forces. Thirdly, secularism and democracy, which are considered a permanent threat for Islam by AQ, are developping in Iraq. After the intrusion of American troops in Iraq in March 2003, very much is at stake for Jihadism. After the end of the regular operations between Saddam Hussein’s Baath regime and the USA, a very complex and long-lasting conflict begins, with many conflict parties with many different objectives, fighting in constantly changing alliances and constellations, sometimes against each other, sometimes against the American occupying forces, or against the Iraqi interim government. The Iraqi rebels mostly consist of militant Sunni groups preferring fighting against the American occupying forces to realizing that the US plans for politically rearranging Iraq imply establishing a government dominated by Shiits, supposed to marginalize the Sunni community. Under Saddam Hussein the government consisted of members of the Sunni minority (about two thirds of the Iraqis were Shiits, only about one third Sunnites). After years of suppression and discrimination of the Shiit population by the Baath regime, the Sunnits now fear a similar fate in their future. Denominational frictions between and claims to power of both Shiits and Sunnites, however, do not describe the Iraq conflict thoroughly. Iran’s influence makes the Iraq conflict even more complicated. Apart from Iran’s influence, Jihadism is another important external factor which characterizes the Iraq conflict as well. In the end of its first phase, when armoured resistance against the occupying forces was more and more lead by Sunnitic Arabs, and when Salafism was also adopted by groups who had rejected it before, transnational Jihadists come on stage. In this fight of resistance, the Islamic nationalism of the Iraqi rebels mingles with the global ideology of Jihadism. In the Syrian civil war the Iraqi Quaida becomes militarily active beyond the Iraqi-Syrian border to a considerable extent for the first time. At this very moment the inner conflict between Shiits and Sunnites in Iraq becomes even bloodier and, moreover, seems to push the crisis-ridden country into an abyss.