Daesh: A Cultural Byproduct of the Cold War

Daesh: A Cultural Byproduct of the Cold War
Stories | 11 Nov 2015

By: Ali Melhem

Western, and particularly American, researchers started—following the end of the Cold War in the early 1990s—to herald the advent of a new era of universal peace which the world will enjoy, far removed from turmoil and conflict. Rare were the speculations that foresaw any scenarios of unrest or conflict breaking out here or there, in some countries or regions still finding their steps in a global hierarchy of alleged civilizational development; a development entirely based on a West-centric worldview, not very different from that alluded to by Edward Said in his depiction of Orientalism as a tool of global cultural colonization.

The world has, indeed, lived through the 1990s in relative calm, its “peace” disturbed only by a few “minor" wars: Bosnia and Serbia, and the [Arabian] Gulf region. The whole world was, however, moving towards building peace—as per the American/Western perspective.

This narrative fell over its head with the onset of the new millennium. The embers began to stir beneath the ashes. Thus came the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, launched by the Western world powers specifically to combat the danger coming from the East, as embodied by terrorism—particularly in its Islamic variant. This was followed by the [2006 Hezbollah-Israel] July war, then the [2008] war in Gaza; thereby condensing global conflict into a geographical area not exceeding in size that of a single U.S. state.

With the onset of the Arab Spring the global conflict employing Cold War mechanisms began to resurface; the ice of this Cold War—interred beneath the claims of Westernizing cultural elites and Orientalist policies—started to melt, with the first Arab uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and lastly Syria. The latter became the last straw, exposing the flimsy curtain that had been drawn over a Cold War between two poles [of world power] and camps; a War whose embers were not to be extinguished, neither in the 1990s, nor beyond.

Syria today represents the maximal condensation of a Cold War brazenly declared between global camps, and their cultural and civilizational cleavages. The latest Russian intervention started to demarcate, in a stark and militarily-precise manner, both sides of the conflict. What once had been a socialist camp has today become a Shiite camp buttressed by the Orthodox Church in Russia; in confrontation with a Sunni camp backed by the West and the Church of the free world—both Protestant and Catholic.

The war in Syria holds a cosmic dimensions based not only on the strategic interests of the great powers; but also by representing a conflict of global civilizations and cultures. Daesh [ISIS] within such context not only represents a byproduct of—as well as constitutive factor in—this civilizational and cultural conflict. This conflict that has been transferred from the West and heaped, fetus-like, onto the Syrian desert to grow in five years of Bashar al-Asad’s—Syria’s tyrant—war on his defenseless people. Thousands of immigrants from all countries of Europe and the West [i.e. ISIS’ foreign recruits] are but the abscess of the culture of civilization and cultural hegemony of the small peoples by the peoples of the great powers.

The greatest proof that this Daesh monster was and still is growing with the blessing of all parties involved, is that, while it ostensibly is at war with all, all seem to be in accord with it. Starting from Assad through Russia and down to Western forces—Turkey, Europe, and the United States. Daesh is fighting all, but none fights Daesh. The strikes and bombs, which coalition forces heave upon Daesh constitute nothing more menacing than mock firecrackers. Far from detracting from Daesh’s powers, they actually increasingly fuel its jihadi mobilization to proceed with its stated motto of “to remain and expand."

The Syrian people, much as it—since the onset of its Revolution of dignity and freedom—paid the price of marginalization and the domination of the culture of tyranny in the Baath Party/Assad state; is paying today—with the rest of the region’s and the wider Middle East’s population—the cost of conflict and cultural hegemony in world policy. What Daesh today, as modernist byproduct of this conflict, forms its fullest and purest consecration. Syria’s eventual salvation from this scourge may require many years—that is, if we are to ever rid ourselves of the “Daesh” represented by Asad and his Shabeeha [thug militia], to begin with. 

Opinion articles published do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Rozana.


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