[-empyre-] Twentieth Century Redux, part two forward from Loretta Napoleoni

Twentieth Century Redux,  part two of Modern Jihad:  Islamicist
Crusade, by Loretta Napoleoni

The modern jihad springs from an economic landscape similar to that of
Western Europe at the time of the First Crusade. Widespread
demographic growth coupled with progressive economic decay has fuelled
social unrest and conflict in the Muslim world; trade imbalances have
drained resources from Muslim economies. Religionæthis time
Islamæprovides the link for  another uncommon alliance aimed at
breaking an empire's economic hegemony.

In the twentieth century, the end of the Pax Britannica in the Middle
East saw a carving up of the region and the disintegration of the
preexisting order. Western powers colonization, and Western
businesses' continued to control over oil and gas resources well  even
after the decolonization process had taken place.,  This phenomenon
left deep marks in the Muslim world, sowing the seeds of a long
lasting economic and cultural hegemony. At the outset of
decolonization, Western ideas continued to influence the politics and
economics of Muslim countries. Arab leaders, like Nasser, admired the
secularist elements of the West and applied them to force rapid
modernization based upon the Western economic model. Others, like
Saddam Hussein, turned their countries into bastions of Western
secular civilization, bulwarks against Muslim countries such as Iran
that dared reject these values.

While these leaders successfully applied Western economic principles,
they failed to introduce Western socio-political values, i.e.
representative democracy, a failure that facilitated the preservation
of Western economic hegemony. The absence of democracy led to the
creation of a new, immensely wealthy oligarchy: the Muslim elite.
Educated and often raised in the West, its members soon became the
bridge between Western capitalism and Eastern resources and markets.
The new Muslim oligarchy and Western capital formed partnerships and
joint ventures with the aim of exploiting the resources and markets of
the East. This alliance of Muslim elites and Western companies still
controls the main trade flows between East and West: natural
resources, such as oil and gas, flowing from the East, and Western
manufactured goods flowing into the East.

The root of the structural imbalances that continue to characterize
Muslim countries' economies lie in this economic alliance between the
West and the Muslim oligarchic elites. Exports to the West are
extremely limited and undiversified; oil and gas exports provide the
bulk of foreign exchange earnings. Fluctuations in the world price and
demand for these products regularly tilt the consolidated trade
balance of Muslim countries.  It is But the ruling oligarchs' economic
mismanagement and corruption, not even more than market price
fluctuations, that contributes to sluggish economic growth and rising
foreign debt.

A considerable percentage of oil-generated revenues never actually
reaches Muslim economies. Some is diverted to the West. Because
oil-producing countries depend upon Western technology and markets,
large shares of petroleum earnings have always gone to Western
companies involved in oil exploration, exploitation, and trade in
Muslim countries.  Bin Laden has even calculated the amount of profits
that Americans have accumulated from the sale of Arab oil. For every
barrel sold over the last twenty-five years, he claims, they pocketed
$135. The total loss of income adds up to a staggering $4.05 billion
per day, which he describes as the greatest theft in history. The
magnitude of such a "swindle," he argues, entitles the 1.2 billion
Muslims in the world to claim $30 billion each in compensation from

Another considerable part of foreign exchange earnings goes to repay
foreign debts or is legally invested abroad, predominantly in Western
countries. Foreign investment has become yet another instrument in the
hands of the Muslim elite to control the wealth of their countries and
to prevent a more equitable distribution of it. The practice of
legally investing abroad dates back to the mid-1970s when
oil-producing countries used capital investment abroad to offset
surpluses on the current account generated by exports of oil and gas.
This practice of recycling petrodollarsære-channeling offsetting
dollar outflows from Western countries' current accounts with dollars
inflows into their capital accountsæbegan in 1973 after the first oil
shock, and was masterminded by primarily benefited Western banks, who
were able to offer advantageous interest schemes to oil producing
countries for their capital investments.

Yet much more money is illegally taken out of Muslim countries
illegally.  and "laundered" in the United States and Europe. Illegal
flight capital involves funds secretly and illegally sent abroadæmost
commonly through trade mispricingæwith no record of transfer or
existence in the country of origin.  Because of its nature, illegal
capital flight is difficult to quantify. But Raymond Baker of the
Brookings Institution has estimated that illegal capital outflows
today it is equivalent to 5 percent of the consolidated trade surplus
of Muslim countries.  The bulk of this money is predominantlythen
laundered in the United States and Europe. This additional slice of
foreign exchange earning taken out Muslim economies feeds a structural
drain of resources from Muslim countries to the West, similar to that
experienced by Europe during the Middle Ages, and perpetuates economic
dependence on the West.

In the 1990s, economic chaos in several Muslim regions, opened up
created by the collapse of the Soviet Union, has provided created new
and fertile territory for Islamist recruitment. The example of the
Fergana Valley in Central Asia illustrates this point. Government
neglect and corruption had turned the once- fertile Fergana region
into a poverty-stricken area. The Uzbek President Islam Karimov's
blatant corruption and mismanagement destroyed the benefits of
International Monetary Fund (IMF) loans. In April 2001, unable to
convince Karimov to introduce economic reforms, the IMF withdrew from
Uzbekistan altogether. Since then, capital flows have been meagre.
Karimov handles most deals himself, and pockets large shares most of
the money. In the Fergana Valley unemployment has reached 80 percent
in recent years .  Given that 60 percent of the valley's population
is below
the age of twenty-five, it has become an excellent recruitment
ground for
Islamist armed groups fighting the modern jihad. The leader of IMU
(Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan), Juma 's leader Namangiani, killed
during the
2001 war in Afghanistan, paid his men between $100 and $500 dollars a
month. A Northern Alliance fighter in Afghanistan, prior to the fall
of the Taliban, could earn up to $250 a month and have access to food
and cigarettes. As the Crusades had presented the starving population
of Europe with a chance for a better life, today the modern jihad
offers people a way to feed their families and hope for the future.

"When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth
with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been and there you
will always long to return.
— Leonardo da Vinci

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