If I am to answer what developed the most in the last quarter of twentieth century, I would say Islamic extremism. Agree or not but IslamoFascists have been in direct or indirect conflict with the west especially in this period. The radical Islamists believe that the conflict must take place on multiple fronts: militarily, economically, diplomatically and ideologically. The ideology factor becomes most critical to keep recruitment, funding and support in all forms, for this conflict, coming. This ideology is a fiercely fundamentalist form of orthodox Sunni Islam, but one can’t really see it being any close to Sunnism. After a brief examination of its tenets it is clear that it is one of division, domination and hate.
The roots of this fundamentalism go back to 1703, originating from Saudi Arabia and its closer forms have been dominant over there since then. The Saudi fundamentalists following this ideology believe that any evolution of the Islamic faith after the 3rd century of the Muslim era after 950 A.D. was specious and must be expunged. Thus, they totally discard any reform or reconstruction.
This radically fundamentalist dogma is fanatically bigoted and lends itself to serve as the catalyst for much of the IslamoFascist aggression being perpetrated around the world. Its ironical that it rejects the legitimacy of all religious philosophy but its own. This wrathful doctrine condemns Christians, Jews , all other non-Muslims and even Muslims who tend to deviate just a bit from what they believe in. They believe it is a religious obligation for Muslims to hate Christians and Jews. They have the popular belief that Jews, by nature are crook and cunning and they must be hated.
Observing the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, and all the militant Muslim extremists, it seems they represents this ideology in its purest form a violent fundamentalist doctrine that rejects all non-alike people, especially the believers of spirituality. The followers of this doctrine constitute a expansionist sect who are intolerant of Shiite Islam, Judaism, Christianity, and Hinduism; in fact, they seek to challenge and destroy these faiths.
One thing must be made clear that this doctrine or the ideology is not any close to the old Islamic traditions. The Western belief that the kind of belief system and ideology dominant in Saudi Arabia represents the real face of Islam is not true. So is the Western belief that the House of Saud enjoys a credible historic claim over Arabia. The orthodox ideology emerged only 250 years ago under the guidance of an obscure fanatic known as Muhammad Ibn Abd al-Wahhab who later formed an alliance with a group of desert bandits, the Sauds. He established kind of an agreement with the desert tribe leaders (clan chiefs) for the creation of the modern Saudi state, the Saudi-orthodox movement spread across the peninsula brutally defeating and enslaving non-alike or rebellious elements.
The result of the political, ideological and theological agreements between the Saud clan, the tribes and the orthodox mullahs was the fall of Makkah in 1924. This solidified their grip on the power. After they had conquered Makkah, the centre of power, they were in control of the state. They knew they could use the vast oil wealth of the kingdom to export their radical ideology across the globe.
With the spread of Islamic extremism across the globe, Pakistan became centre of attention. No country earned a bad name more than Pakistan in wake of this extremism. The backdrop of 9/11 fall on Pakistan though no conclusive evidences were found in relation to Pakistan. Pakistan was blamed from all corners to have supported the terrorists in all forms: financial as well as human force. Ironical that the West can blame a country indebted to dozens of states and international economic institutions, with citizens living under poverty lines for financially supporting the extremists but acts blind to the possible role of KSA. The kingdom has been a mother for the growth of radical orthodox Islamic ideology and with oil underneath all of it; it definitely had to be prime suspect. Even after 9/11, the radical mullah bureaucracy in Saudi Arabia continues to foster religious extremism. When bombs go off in Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, Kenya, Indonesia, and elsewhere, Saudi Arabia is still the main source of the terrorist money. The kingdom is an unwavering nerve center of ideological indoctrination, incitement, and terrorist financing.
Trying to find a reason for the failure of West to suspect KSA, and to investigate its involvement instead of attacking FATA in Pakistan, I believe there can be multiple factors, combined with interests of West in KSA. The Saudi elite has been attempting to confuse the world claiming that it is too a target of Islamic terror which is actually a hollow gesture to hide its involvement in terrorism. For a country that maintains repressive control over the people using Police and other forces, getting rid of extremist elements would have been easy, keeping in view its a monarchy and its geo-political location and history is very different from Pakistan. The reality remains that the spread of radical, orthodox, fundamentalist version of Islam is credited to Saudi clerics and the international terrorist are directly impelled by them. The KSA, the Saudi clerics and the Saudi royal family have been acting as incubators of violence and extremism across the globe. The bottom line is that Al-Qaeeda or other terrorist organizations would not have existed without the Saudi membership and financial support.
Having said that, the West still cannot prove its innocence with those excuses. They, especially Washington need to end its delusion that the Saudi royal family is a moderating force in Saudi politics. The West needs to realize that that they have provided a well funded launch pad for the fascist ideology. But unfortunately, the so called academics and analysts continue to defend the Saudis. They argue that the reason for Islamic terror and the recruitment from KSA is the Western humiliation but Saudi Arabia has never been repressed or subjugated by the West instead it has been bribed to ridiculous extremes many a times. And in turn the world has received a torrent of violence and hateful venom.
Once also needs to understand the fact that the Saudi people in general are not happy with the orthodox ideology imposed on them for decades. After decades of oppression, the vast majority of the Saudi people are restive. The Shi’ite minority is tired of the violent persecution they have suffered at hands of the orthodox clergy men. The young people of KSA want to live there in a modern society. And finally, the non-orthodox, moderate scholars in the country have been calling on the royal family to replace the intolerant state religion with Ottoman-Islamic traditions. The interesting thing to note is that thousands of young people are turning to Sufism as an expression of protest against the entrenched religious establishment.
Observing the spread of this ideology in the West, we can see the funding of mosques, Islamic Centers and their operations by KSA. The export of this ideology by KSA is widespread. Specifically in the United States, the presiding cleric in any given mosque is a follower of this ideology whose teachings have been sanctioned and financed by the Saudi government. Keeping this fact in mind, there is little reason to speculate as to why hatred exists for Western principles and cultures. The same rule can be applied to other locations where this ideology has been exported whether it is Egypt or the parts of Europe.
This nerve centre of Islamic extremism needs a transition to a reasonably open parliamentary model from its current medieval state. The West, if seriously concerned about the Islamic extremism, should stop the blame game on Pakistan and open its eyes to the KSA and help with the transition it needs for the good of the world. A more representative legislature concentrating the power and the Saudi Monarchy remaining as just a symbolic body. May be a Malaysian model can suit here as well. The argument that a more fundamentalist Islamic system will emerge if the House of Saud is set aside, is absurd.
A clear danger to the international community is constituted by the Orthodox militant clergy men of Saudi Arabia and the KSA. Bush might not have to face the shoe-attack had he started an accounting of the Saudi involvement in the religious extremism rather than jumping to Iraq in a rush.
http://www.freedomhouse.org/uploads/special_report/45.pd (Adapted from Stephen Schwartz’s papers)