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The Caliphate

Wednesday, May 10, 2006  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

In yesterday’s interview, Secretary Rumsfeld summarized the goal of the enemy:

HH: What does that defeat look like?

DR: Well, the first thing that we’d have, you’d have Iraq as a country with oil and water, and a large population as a haven for terrorists, reestablished as a caliphate, a home, a sanctuary for extremists to attempt to reestablish a caliphate throughout that region, and to destabilize the Muslim regimes in that region that aren’t extreme, and to then spread that to Southeast Asia and the rest of the world. It would enable them to have weapons programs, and gain access to powerful, lethal weapons that could put at risk many multiples of the people that were lost on September 11th. It would be a tragedy.

Today’s Christian Science Monitor reports on “The Caliphate: One nation, under Allah, with 1.5 billion Muslims.” Key graphs:

It’s a simple and seductive idea that analysts believe may someday allow the group to rival existing Islamic movements, topple the rulers of Middle Eastern nations, and undermine those seeking to reconcile democracy and Islam and build bridges between East and West.

“A few years ago people laughed at them,” says Zeyno Baran, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and the leading expert on Hizb ut-Tahrir. “But now that [Osama] bin Laden, [Abu Musab al-] Zarqawi, and other Islamic groups are saying they want to recreate the Caliphate, people are taking them seriously.”

Even more moderate Muslim groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt pay lip-service to the ideal of reestablishing the Caliphate, leaving less ideological space for Muslims who want to move toward Western models of democracy.

“The Caliphate is a rallying point between the radicals and the more moderate Islamists,” says Stephen Ulph, a senior fellow at the Jamestown Foundation. “The idea of a government based on the Caliphate has a historical pedigree and Islamic legitimacy that Western systems of government by their very nature do not have.”

Read the whole thing.

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