The collapse of the USSR in 1991 marked the end of the Cold War era and generated much optimism among scholars and thinkers. This hope was notably illustrated by Francis Fukuyama's article The End of History in which he proclaimed the end point of Mankind's ideological evolution and the universalization of Western libera l democracy as the final form of human government (1989: 2). This very optimistic tendency grew up alongside another promising theory known as The Clash of Civilizations by Harvard professor Samuel P. Huntington who argued that the ideological opposition that characterized the Cold War era would be succeeded by new forms of opposition based on cultural and religious lines (1993). The 9/11 attacks partly gave reason to this last approach and brought to light a new threat to the Western world, based on religious and cultural lines, rapidly labeled as Islamic terrorism. This new form of terrorism is widely believed to be based mainly on a political approach of Islam, seen as diametrically opposed to the Western culture; embodied by its liberal mix of democracy and economic capitalism. This new threat posed to the Western world is best incarnated today by movements such as the Taliban and Al-Qaeda which, in the confusion following the 9/11 attacks, have too often been wrongly presented as united through a common vision of Islam, based on the Sharia Law, and a common enemy that is, the Western World, and more precisely its leading power, the USA. However such vision appears to be quiet reductive and does not fully explore the key characteristics of both movements, inherited from their respective historical, cultural and ideological framework.
[...] While the latter is a “pan-Islamist group that does not recognize the borders that separate Muslim countries”; the former always been focused on Afghanistan and largely eschews pan-Islamism” (Donovan: 2008). Thus the Taliban have still been historically and culturally-rooted in South Asia and, even when they ruled over Kabul, never fully embraced AlQaeda's global Jihad. Mullah Salam Saief, Taliban's former ambassador in Islamabad and still influential within the movement, stated in February 2008: conflict in Afghanistan does not mean the Taliban has to confront the world. Afghans are very tired of war. They want their homeland. They want peace in their country. They want independence. [...]
[...] (2005) Al-Qaeda in its own words; Quadrige, Paris. Metcalf, B. (2006) Islamic Contestations. Essays on Muslims in India and Pakistan; Oxford University Press, New Delhi. Rashid, A. (2001) Taliban; Yale University Press, USA. Rashid, A. [...]
[...] Hence it seems that the main differences in their fighting skills concerns their targets rather than their techniques. Mentioned in the previous paragraph, Takfiris is fundamental to understand those differences; this idea “classifies all non-practicing Muslims as kafirs (infidels) and calls upon its adherents to abandon existing Muslim societies, settle in isolated communities and fight all Muslim infidels” (Shahzad: 2007; B). Such ideology have been incarnated until recently by Mehsud's Pakistani Taliban and AlQaeda affiliated groups struggle with Pakistani army forces, as opposed to Mullah Omar's Afghan Taliban strategy which remained focus on Afghanistan. [...]
[...] It appears thus clear that the notion of Jihad is a key element in Islam's political role and conceives the world as divided between the dar ul hard (the realm of war) and the dar ul Islam (the realm of Islam). It is in this context that the notion of Jihad takes place (Burke: 2004; 29). Nevertheless, some argue that Islamic terrorism is doomed to fail because it is unable to propose a credible form of economic development and it is based on a totalitarian moral aimed notably at women and dissidents (Chaliand: 2006; 10). [...]
[...] Synovitz, R. (July 18th 2008) “Jihadist agreement in Pakistan leads to surge of violence in Pakistan” Eurasianet http://www.eurasianet.org/departments/insight/articles/pp071808.shtml Accessed on 13th October 2008. The Economist (April 2nd 2009) War on Pakistan's Taliban” http://www.economist.com/world/asia/displaystory.cfm?story_id=13415309 Accessed on 12th April BBC News (July 2008) are the Taleban?” http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/1549285.stm Accessed on 27th December 2008. [...]
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