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Causes of terrorism by 'the Arabs' against 'the West'

Politics, religion, and/or money?

Studienarbeit 2006 9 Seiten

Politik - Sonstige Themen




Political reasons behind terrorism

Religion and terrorism

“Terrorism is a big business.”




Identifying causes of and searching for remedies from terrorism appears to be useless unless one clearly defines what terrorism is. Each author of any article or study related to terrorism starts with a discussion on meaning of this phenomenon and ends up with providing a definition which will be used throughout the article. Thus, there are a lot of definitions of terrorism provided by a number of scholars as well as by various organizations, each of which can be, however, criticized. Whereas in his definition of terrorism[1] Brian Jenkins, a known expert on terrorism, does not stress that terrorists pursue political goals Gary G. Sick argues that “terrorists become terrorists, at least initially, for reasons associated with politics.”[2] After conducting a research in hot spots of the world Olshanskii stated, “…the true happiness of the terrorist is not about money…They are actors…they believe that they will stay heroes, martyrs, and the fighters for just causes in the memories of descendants.”[3] Furthermore, many scholars note that if violence is committed with economic rather than political objectives than this act is not terrorist but criminal.

Because we hear quite often that terrorist attacks are committed by people of Arabic origin and/or by Islamic fundamentalists in different Western states I would like to limit my study to terrorism by ‘the Arabs’ against ‘the West’. The focus of my research is correlation of politics and money to terrorism. Although I agree that political reasons are always behind terrorist acts, in this particular essay I would like to challenge the proposition that terrorism is not about money.

My assumptions are the following: the true causes of terrorism by ‘the Arabs’ against ‘the West’ lie in a colonial history of the Middle Eastern region of the 20th century. Religion, i.e. Islam, was and continues to be used to reach political objectives. Finally, while economic gains are not primary objectives of terrorists money play a crucial role in this business; while for some party terrorism is a tool to reach political aims for others it is a big business.

Political reasons behind terrorism.

The first major trigger of confrontation between Middle East and the West in the 20th century was the mandates of France and Britain after the WWI and the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. Because of the continued existence and independence of the Ottoman Empire there was a hope that “…a distinctly Islamic state could survive in a world of expansionist European powers.”[4] This hope vanished as the careless drawing of the boundaries by the Europeans created many antagonistic feelings among the peoples of the Middle East towards each other; these mandates planted seeds of resentment and discontent which eventually grew into bloody conflicts and violence aimed at each other, at the marionette governments, and at the ex-colonial powers.

One of the clear examples is Lebanon ‘created’ by the French. When “…the delicate balance of political, ethnic, and religious groups was upset, tensions between the various indigenous groups occasionally spilled over into violence”[5], which lasted for 16 years of a civil war and resulted in the Syrian military occupation of Lebanon. In case of Iraq, the British created it in 1920 out of three Mesopotamian provinces of Basra, Baghdad and Mosul, which did not constitute a political community in any sense of the term.[6] As Cleveland puts it, “They were among the most ethnically and religiously diverse Arab regions of the Ottoman Empire, and their amalgamation into a single country posed exceptionally difficult obstacles to nation building… Having passports, learning different European languages the Iraqis and Syrians started perceiving themselves as being of different nationalities…”[7]

Thus, after gaining independence leaders of many Middle Eastern countries called “for an indigenous cultural renaissance”[8] meaning to return to Islamic fundamentals and to abstain from a culture heavily laden with Western values. Also, such organizations as Wafd party and the Muslim Brotherhood are the prime examples of the early 20th century’s movements against the West. However, the major event of the 20th century and might be a biggest miscalculation of the West in the Middle East was yet to come.

Certainly, it was the creation of Israel in 1948, which was perceived by the Arabs as “…just another outpost of Western hegemony”.[9] Creation of Israel had a great impact on the domestic and foreign policies of the US and Western Europe; it originated five wars in the Middle East; it created one million of refugees and is in charge of the appearance of such terrorist organizations like PLO and than Hamaz dedicated to liberate Palestinians resorting to violent means.[10] Double standards of the Western states and a great number of the UNSC resolutions ignored by Israel also contributed to the Arab-West confrontation.


[1] “The threat of violence, individual acts of violence, or a campaign of violence designed primarily to instill fear – to terrorize – may be called terrorism. Terrorism is violence aimed at the people watching. Fear is the intended effect, not the by-product, of terrorism.” in Keglev, p. 45.

[2] Ibid, p.51.

[3] Olshanskii, p.6, 280.

[4] Cleveland, p.159.

[5] Andersen, p.80.

[6] Clevelend, p. 191.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Andersen, p.93.

[9] Andersen, p. 91.

[10] This information is widely discussed in Andersen, Ch.5.


ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Buch)
449 KB
Institution / Hochschule
OSCE Academy
Causes Arabs West Politics



Titel: Causes of terrorism by 'the Arabs' against 'the West'