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Analyzing Muslim Asymmetric Wars

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 Following points are discussed:

  1. Introduction
  2. Evolution of Asymmetric Wars
  3. Statistical Islam
  4. Muslim Terrorism
  5. Conflicts in Middle East and South Asia
  6. Arab  Springs
  7. UN and Muslims
  8. Peace  on Earth
  9. References and notes 



Some Muslim nations as well as non-state actors (NSA) such as al Qaeda in many Arab lands and the Af-Pak region, Taliban of Pakistan and Hamas of Palestine, etc use terrorism to wage asymmetric wars hoping to resolve territorial disputes with militarily powerful neighbors. Al Qaeda, the most notorious organization was organized (1988-89) by Osama bin Laden, a billionaire Saudi Arab. Al Qaeda is a globally diffused Muslim terrorist organization engaged in asymmetric wars to challenge the US and Muslim dictators aligned with the US.

Osama was killed (2011) in a raid by a US special ops force in the garrison town of Abbotabad, Pakistan. The global arms of al Qaeda injected itself in to the Iraq war (2003 – 2011) and in several Arab nations in Africa and Middle East during the Arab Spring uprisings. It is alleged that the al Qaeda operatives were involved in killing of the US ambassador and three more CIA agents (September 11, 2012) in attacks on the US mission at Benghazi, Libya.

Judging from available evidence the weak powers that engage in the asymmetric wars are perusing self-destruction. If asymmetric war escalates to threaten global security the global powers and the UN are likely to get involved. The article summarizes the evolution of asymmetric wars in last more than three decades. It also draws conclusions from the November 2012 Hamas-Israeli war. It offers that terrorism can not solve problems related to territorial disputes or even overthrow dictators but as the War on Terrorism (WOT) showed it can start international wars.

The concluding remark suggests that for sustainable peace on earth all religious leaders should agree to observe mutual respect for followers of every faith.  It would be hard but it is doable especially if nearly two thousand years old political ideology is changed to terminate proselytization.  

Evolution of Asymmetric Wars 

Afghanistan hit the world’s headlines as Soviet troops occupied it in Christmas 1979. The US outsourced first Afghanistan War (1979 – 89) and in exchange Pakistan was provided military and economic aid for ten years. Withdrawal of Soviet forces in 1989 was followed by termination of aid to Pakistan; Afghans were left to fence for themselves.

Civil war among tribal leaders of Afghanistan left a political vacuum that was filled by NSA, namely al Qaeda and Taliban of Pakistan. Over ten years Pakistan had established an infrastructure to train NSA for regional proxy wars. To finance proxy wars processing of Afghanistan’s major crop, opium and networks for distribution of illegal drugs was set up in Pakistan.

Taliban co-linked with al Qaeda ruled the Emirate of Afghanistan (1996 – 2001), a theological state forcing extremist Taliban ideology Sharia. Al Qaeda operatives attacked (9/11/2001) and destroyed the World Trade Center in New York and damaged Pentagon in Washington DC. The terrorist attacks on the US started the War on Terrorism (WOT).

The US attacked Afghanistan (2001 – present) and Iraq (2002 – 2011) to fight WOT. The Iraq was a war of choice and that in Afghanistan a war of necessity. With completion (December 18, 2011) of withdrawal of American forces President Obama ended the Iraq war and that in Afghanistan may end in 2014.America enjoyed overwhelming supremacy in these intrastate wars.

Al Qaeda and Taliban were forced out of Afghanistan and allowed to escape to the Af-Pak region. The al Qaeda and co-linked Taliban regrouped as NSA in Pakistan (2002 – present). For a decade a lose network of the NSA groups from Af-Pak, Yemen and other Arab lands have waged asymmetric wars with terrorist attacks in UK, Spain and India.

There are known home grown Taliban and al Qaeda affiliated terrorist cells in US, UK, Spain and India. American-born Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terrorist David Headley and his accomplice Tahawwur Rana – a naturalized Canadian of Pakistan origin was accused in the 26/11/2008 Mumbai attacks. The accusations were based on confessions to the US authorities.

The IM or Indian Mujahedeen is a terrorist cell affiliated with LeT. The real time conversations recordings of terrorists getting instructions from a few IM operatives and LeT bosses in an operations center in Karachi are publicly available.

The entire Mumbai attacks operation was guided by serving and retired ISI officers and LeT bosses on phone from Karachi, PK (1*) (Star* = see, references and notes). The TV videos show terrorists attacks and how they attempted to burn down Taj Hotel, Oberoi Hotel and a Jewish tourist center in the heart of Mumbai as well as carnage at famous Mumbai landmark – the Victoria Train station.

The IM operatives used Pakistani passports to escape from Pakistan to Saudi Arabia. The Saudi authorities captured two IM terrorists and send them to India; they are awaiting trials in India.

A captured Pakistani terrorist, Ajmal Kasab (2*) was convicted in Indian courts and sentenced to death. The death sentence was recently carried out.

Statistical Islam 

The trilogy of Islamic scriptures glorified the life of Mohammed and a statistical analysis (3*) of the scriptures by the Center for the Study of Political Islam – a Jewish think tank identified Jihad against Kafirs or infidels as a core value of Muslim political ideology for global domination. The ongoing jihadi terrorism is the best Muslim weak powers can do to try in futility to impose their will on non-Muslim followers in pursuing control of infidel’s lands, wealth and women.

Righteous Muslims emulate life of Mohammed in waging jihad against Kafirs. Trying same asymmetric war strategy over and over and expecting different results have become the DNA of extremist Muslim psych over last century. It has yet to dawn on the righteous Muslims that several centuries’ old war making technology in 21st century creates asymmetric wars that they have been losing.

Muslims supporting current wave of asymmetric wars forget that Mohammed with an army was effective against opponents who were similarly armed. These were symmetric fights for the spoils of war – control of land, wealth and women. A grand vision of welfare state was an easy sell to impoverish disheartened humiliated opponents. The losers played victim card and submission was an easy out for survival. Those days are gone as Muslims have neglected learning sciences for development of modern technologies (4*).

For four of past five centuries ME Muslims were governed by the Ottoman Caliphate (1517 – 1918); an iron empire (5*) ruled with iron fist to keep Muslims of various sects in line. The Caliphate was partitioned by British at conclusion of WWI (1918) to set up current borders of Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Jordan.  Minorities ruled under the Ottoman fist gained power in new states. British held on to Palestine territory to maintain a beach head on the Mediterranean Sea.

Muslim Terrorism 

The term terrorism is politically and emotionally charged. The international community has been slow to formulate a universally agreed upon, legally binding definition of this crime. There is neither an academic nor an international legal consensus regarding the definition of the term “terrorism” (6*).

Many progressive Muslim pundits to be politically correct are against terrorism but condone it, especially the Hamas attacks on Israel, al Qaeda attacks on the US and LeT attacks on India. They ignore, “Terror is terror, wherever it appears. It is evil, it has no justification, and it must be fought resolutely and condemned without hesitation by all freedom-loving nations.”

Irfan Husain (7*), a progressive Pakistani journalist asserted that terrorism is a weapon of weak to support Palestinians against Israel. Otherwise well intentioned progressive Muslim, he defends Palestinian terrorism by appealing to morality and helplessness – “use it or lose it” justification. By playing the victim card he tried to shame non-Muslims.

Husain continued insisting that until Israel submits to Palestinian demands terrorism supported by Arab nations and Iran for an asymmetric war will go on. With this logic psychologically at some point playing shame and guilt cards will be similar to “crying wolf”. Someday the victim card ploy will stop working.

The pundits IMO are equally culpable of supporting terrorism. Condemnations of terrorism against certain states including Israel by most progressive Muslims don’t happen. A small state with 7.6 million Jews appears to be but isn’t an easy target to defeat.

Conflicts in Middle East and South Asia 

Questions are many. If terrorism is the instrument of choice in the asymmetric war waged by Hamas and al Qaeda then is targeting leaders for all time a proper defense for Israel and other non-Muslim states?

The weak states [nations of Middle East (ME) and Pakistan (PK)] sponsored NSA to engage in jihadi terrorism driven asymmetric wars against the US and its allies. The victims of NSA attacks are soft targets – civilians and destruction of property. The 9/11 attacks in the US, bombing of trains in UK and Spain, and the 2008 Mumbai attacks were examples of soft targets. Some terrorist attacks in PK were on hard targets – military installations, a Pakistani naval base in Karachi and several military installations in Peshawar and Rawalpindi (8*).

Israel was established after WWII partly to atone for the crimes of Holocaust in occupied Europe by the Nazi army. British colonial Empire started collapsing as WWII left it in economic ruins. British created artificially drawn borders for two colonies – Palestine and South Asia. British departures created political vacuums and the new states got engulfed into long term border conflicts.

South Asia was portioned (1947) into India and Pakistan. British were in a hurry to withdraw from colonies and could care less for the well being of British Indians, just like that for Jews and Palestinians. An estimated more than a million people were killed inSouth Asiaand about 10+ million suffered as they had to escape from the carnage on both sides of artificially drawn borders of two independent states. Hostilities between India and Pakistan followed to resolve territorial disputes (1947 to present).

Following passing of the UN resolution (November 29, 1947) the State of Israel was formed (May 14, 1948) using artificially drawn borders partitioning the British colony of Palestine over the objections of Arab states. British pull out left behind dysfunctional Palestinians in ill-defined territory.

European survivors of Holocaust as well as Jews from every corner of the world including India joined Palestinian Jews in Israel. The hostilities followed (1948 – present) between Israel and Arab supported Palestinians. A list of wars involving Israel and Arabs is available at the Wikipedia (9*).

Israel survived Arab organized attacks and gained lands as the war spoils in the six day 1967 war and the War of Attrition (1967 – 70). Following the wars, the territory held by Israel expanded significantly (“The Purple Line“): The West Bank (including East Jerusalem) from Jordan, Golan Heights from Syria, Sinai, and Gaza from Egypt. Israel now had contiguous access to the holy land of Jerusalem. New Jewish settlements were established in lands after 1967.

Israel also setup a very advanced military-industrial complex to develop overwhelming military supremacy in ME reducing Arabs to weak states. Israel demonstrated effectiveness of its latest Iron Dome technology to protect its urban population centers against missile attacks from Palestine Gaza strip. In latest war (November 2012) more than 1,000 missiles were fired by Hamas from Gaza strip and with effective Iron Dome defense Israel blunted Hamas rocket attacks that claimed three Israeli civilian lives. Hundreds of Palestinians including some notorious Hamas leaders were victims of Israeli rockets and other air attacks. Property damages in Gaza were extensive.

An unintentional benefit of Israeli successes are providing security to non-Muslim lands from Muslim war, explained a retired British Armed Forces Commander, who served in Afghanistan (10*). Defensive technologies including Israeli Iron Dome and the US drones for targeted attacks to kill terrorist leaders may dissuade potential attacks on non-Muslim lands.

The flipside of Arab Spring movement is unwittingly, Arab Spring movements may be setting up stages for Islamist to come to power as it has happened in Egypt. Islamist may come to power in three more states – Lebanon, Syria and Jordan that borders Israel. Immutable Arab hatred in immediate neighborhood poses existential threat to security that Israel cannot under estimate.

Arab Springs 

The WOT and Arab Spring (11*) movements have destabilized entire ME adding to weakness of Arab states. Arab youth want freedoms of expression and universal human rights. Arab Spring movements are essentially against theocratic dictatorships and for democratic political process. The outcomes of Arab Springs do not present a pretty picture as political vacuum created by over throwing of dictators makes it a fertile ground for the political take over by entrenched Islamists like Egypt’s Brotherhood.

The militarily weak dictatorships are fragile; they can be shattered given a blow by Arab Spring uprisings. To date, rulers have been forced out in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Yemen; civil uprisings have erupted in Bahrain and Syria; major protests have broken out in Algeria, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, and Sudan; and minor protests have occurred in Lebanon, Mauritania, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Djibouti, and Western Sahara.

As fragile (12*) dictatorships are shattered, progressive Muslims will be for democracy and as is happening in Egypt progressives for democracy may be sidelined. The shattered political order may destabilize entire ME and the existing borders in entire ME may be redrawn.

The Syrian Assad regime has been fighting for two years a civil war that erupted following the Syrian Arab Springs uprising. Unlike shattering of dictatorships in Egypt the Assad regime has not yet been shattered. Not far from Syrian borders Palestine will remain a side show – not welcomed in Arab lands and perusing a delusion to occupy Israel.

UN and Muslims 

The UN has become a tool for pursuing competing political ideologies and agendas of member states. The UN declared universal human rights charter (13*) is not upheld by every UN member. Muslims nations defy it as it challenges Muslim political ideology. The Sharia denies human rights including freedoms of thought and expression to women and non-Muslim faith followers. Muslim political ideology is for preservation of tribal culture.

Muslim pundits do not shy away from rejoicing if the UN Resolution favors the causes they support. A recent example is the general assembly passed UN resolution (November 30, 2012) granting a non-member state observer status to ‘Palestine within the 1967 borders’ (14*).

IMO, the UN vote on Palestine does not change realities except giving more fodder to talking heads for and against Israel. A reality is that Israel has necessary effective defensive power to maintain status quo and Muslim nations don’t. As was seen in the recent Hamas-Israel missile attack exchanges, repeating terrorist attacks against Israel are likely to kill more Muslims.

Sustainable negotiated peace is attainable if two powers are equally matched for mutual self-destruction. The outcome of a declared war is acceptable if a decisive victory results. Terrorism can not solve the problem but it can lead to a declared war. Terrorism is essentially a self-destruction process (15*). In this cold cruel world without a matching power machine asymmetric war can deliver self-destruction, may start an international war but not necessarily deliver a sustainable negotiated peace as is the case with the Af-Pak region (2001 – present).

Peace on Earth 

The source of war of civilization is the core value of two of three Abrahamic faiths to dominate world through proselytization. If Muslims and Christians would stop proselytizing the world may revert to a relative peace for 7+ billion inhabitants.

We acknowledge that there is only one God. He is every where in the universe and perceived in infinite ways by naturally creative and innovative people. In human perception God has many avatars; Christian God, Jewish YHWH, Muslim Allah and as many avatars as creative Hindus can think of, etc. Least we as believers can do is to appreciate that God is perceived in many avatars and for peace on earth we should respect every faith.

Brainwashed ideologues insist that “There is no God but Allah.” It is a flawed concept. All variations of the concepts are equally flawed as it suppresses creativity and innovation. Such cliché appeals to politically motivated proselytizers to destroy peace on earth.

Isn’t it a shame and a blot on humanity not to show mutual respect for all avatars of God?

References and notes 

  1. “26/11: LeT camp pics among proof given to Pak court,”
  • In the face of stiff international pressure Pakistani courts have started hearing the evidence in a case against seven accused ISI and LeT bosses for training and guiding ten terrorists that carried out Mumbai attacks.
  1. Wikipedia, “Ajmal Kasab”,
  2. CSPI, “Statistical Islam,”
  3. Briefly, lack of modern war capabilities in Muslim lands started with marine chronometers (1714) and it continued with warships, especially marine military platforms (1920s; aircraft carriers and a fleet of support vessels), nuclear weapon delivery systems – planes (1945), ballistic missiles (1967) and defense technologies (2012 Israeli Iron Dome missiles and the US drones for targeted attacks).
  4. Thomas L Friedman, “Iron empires, iron fists, iron domes,”
  5. Wikipedia, “Definitions of terrorism,      “
  6. Irfan Husain, “Gaza verses Goliath”
  7. Military targets of Taliban from PK in Afghanistan were the US and NATO troops. The US drone attacks in the Af-Pak region as well as Yemen killed most al Qaeda linked bosses to essentially eliminate al Qaeda’s top leaderships. Drone attacks are likely to continue as long as Dr Zawahiri, al Qaeda successor of Osama bin Laden continues to hide in the Af-Pak region. The me-too al      Qaeda operatives continue to surface in ME; Benghazi and Syria, etc.
  8. Wikipedia, “List of wars involving Israel”,
  9. Col Richard Kemp, “Former British Armed Forces Commander Speaks About the IDF”,
  10. Wikipedia, “Arab Spring,”
  11. Nassim Nicolas Taleb, “Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder,” Random House (2012)
  12. United Nations, “The Universal Declaration of Human Rights,“
  13. In historic vote, Palestine becomes non-member UN state with observer status,
  14. Given political will and firm military action, the extremist scourge can be defeated. Terrorists, whether in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, India or any European and the US have very little public support. The terrorist leaderships have dwindled due to drone attacks or captured by authorities to be convicted and either jailed or executed after the legal due process.
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One Response to "Analyzing Muslim Asymmetric Wars"

  1. M Patel says:

    Good article but at end it shows preference for Monotheism. Monotheism,by it’s nature, is an exclusive monolithic belief with very little room for diversity; Hence, The followers are prone to supremacist tendency. It’s not possible for a hard-core Monotheist to respect, what they consider, devil worship or monkey worship. Thus, We are stuck with preaching tolerance. Just image a family at dinner table where tolerant members have no respect for others. At best, Tolerance, without respect, will generate tense peace.

    Personally, I don’t care about faith. However, Almost all other theism, like polytheism, pantheism, panentheism etc, are inclusive, pluralist, universalist, and all respecting. BTW, Hinduism is hard to fit in a theism strait-jacket but closest one, as per Shree Krishna in Bhagvad Gita, is panentheism.

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