Jihadi after Action Report: SYRIA   [open pdf - 271KB]

"Despite its crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood in the early 1980s, the Asad regime has had to contend with a rising tide of Islamist activity due, in part, to its pandering to the Sunni religious establishment to shore up its legitimacy. However, the growing appeal of Islamism (the notion that Islam should be the primary source of law and identity in Muslim-dominated countries) has made it more difficult for the Jihadis to attract a large following. This is due to the following factors: (1) the Jihadis' uncompromising puritanism, which makes their ideology religiously repugnant and prevents them from engaging in pragmatic political actions and alliances; (2) the Jihadis' lack of scholarly firepower, which makes it hard for them to stand up to government-sponsored clerics and justify their cause and their violent tactics to the masses; (3) improved security measures in the past year; (4) the infiltration of Jihadi groups by clerics; (5) the influence of Sufism (Islamic mysticism); (6) popular televangelists that preach tolerance and pacifism; (7) the willingness of popular Islamist groups like Hamas and Hizbullah to participate in democratic elections; (8) competing identities, either ethnic (e.g., Kurds), sectarian (e.g., Alawite, Shia, Christian, Druze), or nationalist; and (9) the pull of Western culture, particularly among the youth."

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