“Nizam, la Tanzim”. System, not organization

On May 1st 2003, the U.S. President George W. Bush declared that the war against such an undefinable enemy – religious terrorism – was over: “Mission accomplished!”. The war in Iraq ended with the victory achieved through the dynamics of a classic war fought by modern troops. However, what did it happen next? The failure of state-building policies in Iraq and of the use of democracy as a peace-building tool appears very clear given the dramatic situation in the MENA region so far.

This is the new Middle Ages where the interests of empires, cities, corporations, churches, clans, mercenaries, etc. combine. All players are engaged to search their main interests: the control of the territory in order to exploit resources, managing trade and investments, persuading people through the seduction of the needs. Unfortunately, today, two new actors aggravate the situation of generalized chaos: the transnational organized crime and international terrorism.

These phenomena are the products of globalization that has liquefied the international trade with weapons of mass destruction, illicit goods, economy and finance, technology and information. Is at the expense of the nation State that, in some areas more than others, it has been given the prerogative of its exercise to compact communities in favor of a new subject: the market state.

Due to the inability of the national state to exercise its prerogatives, such as providing social assistance, increase education and manage the labour market, the State risks to endanger social cohesion and thus contributes to the emergence of insurrection movements.

The areas of international crisis are dramatically increasing from Asia to the Atlas Mountains, but in any case with the obvious differences. The sense of uncertainty and insecurity of the populations hails from the failure of balance between politics and economics. The international geopolitical situation and the divergence of national interests of the main actors contributes to aggravate this situation. Thus, not only China, Russia and United States as great powers, but a number of second lines are able to mine the precarious international balance by supporting unconventional actors.

In this difficult arena, the new actors of the contemporary Middle Ages such the organized crime and international terrorism may play an important role. Through the control of areas, it seems that they increase their power by influencing, more often determining, local policies.

If we look at the past years and we analyse the most relevant terrorist attacks, we may point out few considerations.

In particular, if we consider the past events in which they have complied with the theory of al-Qaeda intending to strike the far enemy – the United States and Western countries – in order to undermine over time its hegemonic project on the Islamic community, the situations has been changing.

Since last year, moving away from the orthodoxy of al-Qaeda and the birth of the Caliphate, the Islamic State has adopted the theory of Abu Musab al-Suri, a Syrian jihadist militant of longtime and already close to Osama bin Laden. According to him, theJihad has to be fought not by an organization (the model of al-Qaeda) but by a network of combatants, each of which is called to rise up in the name of the cause in its own territory. We came back to the game theories of Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara, Mao Zedong and the General Vo Nguyen Giap.

In its pamphlet, “Call for a global Islamic resistance”, al-Suri states: “[…] in other words there should be an operating system, a sort of protocol, available to anyone willing to participate in the global jihad is alone, either with a group of trusted companions, instead of an operating organization […]”. In addition, the pamphlet explains the four guiding lines that represent the foundation of the new jihad:

– spontaneity;

– situationist outlook;

– decentralization;

– autonomy.

In conclusion, given the crisis of the nation state, the geopolitical situation characterized by the clash of multiple international players and the increase of areas of crisis, we can unfortunately expect the resurgence of these phenomena. The Islamic State has surely lost ground over time and, at that time, we must increase the attention and learn from the experience made to face the future followers.


Founder and Director of GeoCrime

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