Failure of the Nation-States in Islamic World

We are publishing exclusive translation of an article by Sergey Israpilov, a Russian expert based in Dagestan (North Caucasus), on the threatening sociopolitical trends in Islamic world. Originally issued in Russian almost a year ago, the article has acquired new reading and complimentary grounds after the 2010-2011 North Africa and Middle East protests.

Globalization is extremely toxic. Sooner or later it will lead to the break-up of nation-states, social chaos and economic collapse. This process is on-going. The states are already failing where national idea is weak, first of all within the Islamic world. Today an ordinary Islamic state looks like a tree without roots with the history of nationhood rarely exceeding 50 years and Islam dominating in minds instead of national idea. This is why any collapsed nation-state in Islamic world would never be restored.

Nowadays we can hardly imagine that there is no other stable form of social organization but national state. Nevertheless such is the case. The majority of existing states are younger than 100 years. And everything once initiated would cease to exist someday…

The decline of the national epoch is most notable in Islamic world. A good half of Muslim states have got permanent political crises and terrorist activities, every third national government doesn’t control the situation within its territory. Most probably the majority of Islamic states would not survive the next few years.

Table 1. Political stability index in Islamic states (2010).

Country

Population (2007)

% of Muslims

Year of
Independence

Internal
conflicts

Failed
State

Afghanistan

31,889,923

99%

1919

+

+

Albania

3,844,841

70%

1944

Algeria

33,333,216

99%

1962

+

+

Azerbaijan

8,587,000

97,8%

1991

Bahrain*

708,573

81.2%-98%

1971

Bangladesh

150,448,339

88.3% – 89.7%

1971

+

Brunei

374,577

64%

1984

Burkina Faso

14,326,203

50%-55%

1960

+

Bosnia & Herzegovina

4,552,198

40%

1992

Chad

9,885,661

51%

1960

+

+

Comoros Islands

711,417

98%

1975

+

Djibuti

496,374

94% – 99%

1977

+

Egypt*

80,335,036

90% – 94%

1922

Eritrea

4,906,585

48% – 60%

1991

+

+

Gambia

1,688,359

90% – 95%

1963

Guinea

9,947,814

85%

1958

+

+

Guinea-Bissau

1,472,780

45%

1974

+

+

Indonesia

234,693,997

85.2% – 88.20%

1949

+

+

Iran

65,397,521

98%

1942

Iraq

27,499,638

97%

1958

+

+

Jordan

6,053,193

95%

1946

Kazakhstan

15,284,929

67%

1991

Kuwait

2,505,559

80%

1961

Kyrgyzstan

5,284,149

75% – 80%

1991

+

Lebanon

3,826,018

55%

1943

+

Libya*

6,036,914

97%

1951

Malaysia

24,821,286

60.4%

1963

Maldives

369,031

99.41%

1965

+

Mali

11,995,402

90%

1960

+

+

Mauritania

3,270,065

99.9%

1960

+

Marocco

33,757,175

98.7% – 99.9%

1956

Niger

12,894,865

80% – 95%

1960

+

+

Nigeria

135,031,164

50%

1960

+

+

Oman

3,204,897

92.66%

1971

Pakistan

164,741,924

96% – 97%

1947

+

+

Qatar

907,229

77.5%

1971

Saudi Arabia

27,601,038

92.8% – 100%

1932

Seneral

12,521,851

94% – 95%

1960

Sierra-Leone

6,144,562

60%

1961

+

Somalia

9,118,773

99.9%

1960

+

+

Sudan

39,379,358

70%

1956

+

+

Syria*

19,314,747

90%

1946

Tajikistan

7,076,598

90%

1991

+

+

Tunisia*

10,276,158

98%

1956

Turkey

71,158,647

94% – 99%

1923

+

Turkmenistan

5,097,028

89%

1991

UAE

4,444,011

61.75%— 76%

1971

Uzbekistan

27,780,059

88%

1991

Palestine

4,018,332

83.74%

+

+

Western Sahara

382,617

99.8%

1976

+

+

Yemen*

22,230,531

99%

1990

+

 

 

* OR Note: During the past year as a result of 2011 North Africa & Middle East ‘popular protests’ Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Syria, Yemen and Bahrain have joined the list of unstable countries.

Thus in more than half of Islamic countries political system is unstable. Central governments have limited capacity to control the territory of these states where the majority of Muslims live.

In some of them the governments are backed only by the foreign military contingents: Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Sudan, Chad, Niger, Nigeria, Western Sahara, Palestine. The total population of these failed states is 270 million people.

17 countries populated by 743 million people are torn by the local or regional armed conflicts of low or high intensity. Algeria, Afghanistan, Sudan, Nigeria, Indonesia and Pakistan are among them.

Table 2. Notable conflicts within the Islamic world (2010)

Country Armed conflict Crisis of the state Features
Afghanistan

+

+

Ineffective central authority not controlling major territory, Taliban activities.
Algeria

+

Terrorist activities by Al-Qaeda Organization in the Islamic Maghreb
Bangladesh

+

Riot of border guards, intensive political strife.
Chad

+

+

Insurgent actions, involvement in Darfur conflict.
Guinea

+

+

Military coup d’état in 2008, mass opposition rallies.
Iraq

+

+

Weak central government, terror war, Sunni-Shia face-off.
Kyrgyzstan

+

Weak government, major territories controlled by narcobarons.
Mali

+

+

Tuareg guerrilla insurgency.
Niger

+

+

Coup d’état by junta in 2010.
Nigeria

+

+

Inter-religious clashes, guerrilla war.
Pakistan

+

+

Terrorist activity, vast areas out of control of central government.
Somalia

+

+

Failed state, lawless territory, base for international pirates.
Sudan

+

+

War in Darfur, inter-ethnical and inter-religious conflicts, separation of South Sudan, territorial claims to Egypt.
Tajikistan

+

+

Extremist activity, mass impoverishment and emigration.

In historical retrospective the crises in major part of Islamic countries in trouble were provoked by interference of the great powers. With the failure of Soviet project many of former ‘emerging socialist states’ of the third world were unable to withstand criminal gangs, clans and religious fanatics. Until now those predominantly Muslim states that opted for ‘socialist way’ cannot recover from political crisis (OR note: the only exception is Libya, still resisting direct foreign intervention.)

But even when Islamic state was destroyed by an external force, the crisis always had internal underlying causes. One of them is the shallow rooting of the nation-state ideology in the minds of most Muslims. Radical Islamists, more and more popular and influential in the Islamic world, do not recognize the legitimacy of the nation-statehood at all. Nationalistic roots which are absolutely necessary for national unity are commonly brought to Islamic countries from abroad with foreign education and secular thinking.

A prominent Moroccan writer, founder of the Swedish ‘Radio Islam’ Ahmed Rami explains:

Today’s islamic and Arab states cannot be described as nation states. There is only one Islamic nation: the “umma”. According to today’s Arab and Islamic ideology, the only entirely legitimate nation state is that comprising the entirety of the Islamic nation. The loyalty of a truly believing Muslim relates very much more to the ideal state which has yet to be created than to the state existing in reality.

According to the Koran, a Muslim is only obliged to be loyal to the state if the state is a legitimate political organization which is based on genuine Islamic principles and does not acknowledge that there are any borders separating Muslims. Otherwise, oppression (z.ulm) prevails, and it is the justification for rebellion, that is to say revolution. The Islamic and Arab states are hopelessly splintered at present. The power proceeding from the religious confession makes the temporary and basically illegitimate character of those states appear still more glaringly, and it weakens the believers’ loyalty to them.

All the régimes governing the Arab world today are illegitimate, but they employ all kinds of hypocritical devices to try to give themselves an appearance of Islamic legitimacy.

(An abstract taken from A.Rami’s article ‘Islamic World’)

End of epoch of ‘national romanticism’ in Islamic world

Dismantling of colonial system in the middle of XX century led to the formation of national elites, e.g. national bureaucracy, armed forces, police, legislation boards, judicial system etc. Commonly the movements for national liberation were headed by people who had received European secular education largely influenced by Western (liberal or socialist) ideas. 31 out of 51 Islamic countries have acquired independence between 1945 and 1975. That was a period of ‘national romanticism’, when ideas of national statehood, previously alien to local masses, have stirred the third world and forced colonial powers to withdraw. The struggle for national liberation spread throughout the world and became the banner of that epoch.

Globalization process diminishes the role of nation-state. In recent decades we see that the states become weaker, national and socialist ideas have drastically lost popularity in former colonies. But this weakening cannot be eternal. Sooner a later this process would lead to the collapse of nation-states and creation of criminal and tribal zones on its territories.

With this regard there is a notable phenomenon. The decay of a nation-state naturally leads to the criminal outburst. Then the criminal gangs are being replaced by ‘Islamic’ radicals who consider national statehood as their adversary and promote the idea of Caliphate. Usually the street trusts and supports them as a remedy capable to cope with the lawlessness. In Afghanistan the Movement of the Talibs came to power because of it. That was the case in Sudan. Same pattern we saw in Somalia and some other countries.

Demographic Greetings from Socialism

Influenced by socialism and nationalism for the last 50 years, the Islamic world has experienced a demographic outburst. Its main cause was the establishment of the ‘society of solidarity’. Socialism and nationalism created an illusion that society and the state are able and ready to take care of all citizens, whatever the quantity of children would be in every family. Moreover the focal states of the bipolar world in 1950-1980s were heavily investing in their allies among the countries of the third world transferring technologies, equipment, capitals to them. This process inevitably led to significant economic growth of the developing countries. Progress seemed eternal and social regulators of the birth rate which are in force in traditional society, ceased working. Thus the population of the Islamic world has increased enormously.

Table 3. Demographic outburst in Islamic countries in XXth century

Country

Population  (1900), in thousands

Population (2007), in thousands

Country

Population (1900), in thousands

Population (2007), in thousands

Afghanistan 3 671 31 890 Malaysia 3 255 24821
Albania 825 3 845 Maldives 50 369
Algeria 4 675 33 333 Mali 2 672 11 995
Azerbaijan 1 745 8 587 Mauritania 502 3,270,065
Bahrain 68 708 Marocco 3 800 33 757
Bangladesh 29 012 150 448 Niger 1 459 12 894
Brunei 18 374 Nigeria 15 589 135 031
Burkina Faso 2 222 14 326 Oman 204 3 204
Bosnia and Herzegovina 1 678 4 552 Pakistan 19 759 164 742
Chad 675 9 886 Qatar 10 907,229
Comoros Island 105 711 Saudi Arabia 1 503 27 601
Djibuti 36 496 Senegal 1 200 12 522
Egypt 10 186 80 335 Sierra-Leone 6 144
Eritrea 260 4 906 Somalia 279 9 118
Gambia 90 1 688 Sudan 5 588 39 379
Guinea 1 432 9 948 Syria 955 19 314
Guinea-Bissau 165 1 473 Tajikistan 1 000 7 076
Indonesia 42 746 234 694 Tunisia 1 900 10 276
Iran 9 860 65 397 Turkey 11 900 71 158
Iraq 2 060 27 499 Turkmenistan 894 5 097
Jordan 450 6 053 UAE 75 4 444
Kazakhstan 4 947 15 285 Uzbekistan 4 250 27 780
Kuwait 45 2 505 Palestine 516 4 018
Kyrgyzstan 1 284 5 284 Libya 422 6 037
Lebanon 591 3 826 Yemen 2 372 22 230

Till the middle of XXth century the Islamic population demonstrated very moderate growth. On the eve of demographic outburst (1950) the total number of Muslims was 330-350 million, or 13-14% of the world population. By the end of the century this figure has risen to 1-1,5 billion people, thus increasing 4 times. The share of Muslims in global population has reached 20-23%.

Most probably the era of socialist or nationalist regimes in Islamic world is over. They are replaced by ‘liberals’ or ‘moderate Islamists’. Liberalism says: ‘Survive as long as you can…’, ‘…insha’Allah!’, – Islamism adds. So liberalism, that has replaced nationalism in the West, tends to dominate throughout the modern world. It can’t respond to the challenges of the outdated economy and multiplied population. It just doesn’t seek the answers. But liberalism is paradoxically very organic with ‘moderate’ and ‘radical’ Islamism which is already the main authority within the Islamic world.

Western liberalism is vitally interested in collapse of the nation-state in Islamic countries. Partly because the nation-state in its essence is a type of ‘guardian’ who does not allow deflating energy, provisions, financial and human resources free of charge. And partly because liberalism erodes nation-state in the West itself and accelerating decay of other nation-states is purposed to mask this process.

Today a nation-state in the Islamic world, once destroyed, cannot be regenerated and its territory turns into a zone of everlasting conflicts and hostile criminal gangs. Surprisingly such perspective doesn’t scare Islamist politicians who consider nation-state much more dangerous adversary than chaos, famine and poverty.

 

19 Comments

  1. Though the article is nothing but written by someone who did not bother to study Muslim sources. The population % is based on Jewish Wikipedia.

    The ‘nation-state’ or ‘nationalism’ has no place in Islam. These concepts, like Capitalism and anti-Semitism were brought into Muslim world by the western colonialists. The Western powers, from US to Russia – all are afraid a united Muslim world (Ummah), which is an Islamic command. The western countries which never stop lecturing Muslim countries on ‘democracy’ – have never practiced among them.In May 2011 – Professor Noam Chomsky, a Crypto Zionist, had blamed Washington and its allies for doing everything in their powers to make sure that the people in the Middle East don’t get regimes of their choices……

    http://rehmat1.wordpress.com/2011/05/13/chomsky-us-considers-democratic-me-a-threat/

  2. @Rehmat:
    Thank you for the comment. You just confirmed the central idea of the article. As far as the ‘fear of Muslims’ is concerned your view is very doubtful. Right, Westerners being an extremely secular society are afraid of any motivation and behavior beyond their understanding. The same way they are afraid of Russians, for example. But Russians do not have any problem with Muslims and moreover we seek for alliance with Islamic world to face the challengers of the future together. Those who put Russia and the West on the same side of the geopolitical board are intriguingly posing the desired for factual.

  3. Russian do not have any problem with Muslims?

    So Who occupied muslim lands of Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kirghizia, Tatar and Bashkar, Caucasia, Cremia, Chechnya, Daghestan and others – slaughtered hundreds of ythousands of Muslims, destroyed their mosques and madrassas – Iranians?

    Jew Stalin is known to murdered over two million Muslims.

    http://rehmat1.wordpress.com/2010/05/13/western-wars-on-islamic-world/

  4. @Rehmat
    Funny statements :) Christianity came to Georgia, Armenia, Crimea, Caucasus and ‘others’ well before Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was born. If you want, I can make an excursus in the deep history of Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan to show you that Islam was nor organic faith of these peoples, but imposed externally by force in Middle Ages.
    Russians never ‘occupied’ Muslim lands, in most cases they used to come voluntarily under patronage of Russian tsars.
    According archived documents, during 25 years of Stalin’s rule around 600 thousand people were repressed in whole Soviet Union. The share of Muslim population at that time not exceeded 5%. Even if we presume a ‘proportional repression’ (which was not the case as the main burden of terror was fallen on Russians), the sorrowful figure should be around 30 thousands.
    Now think how many Muslims died in the Islamic world since 2001 as a result of ‘war against terror?’

  5. Andre Fomine – If one follow your idiotic thinking then one can say that United State is not an occupied country because its 100 million natives were all Christians an not pagans!!

    Read some objective source before proving yourself to be a propaganda fool.

  6. Degrading culture is a regretful feature of the post-modernity. Even worse that self-appointed ‘voices of Islam’ are in the vanguard of this drawback. Rehmat, when you understand the following sentence: ‘Iuppiter iratus ergo nefas’ and, being a guest here, change your shameful tone, then we will try to overview the US history as well.

  7. Neyth it’s ignorance and propaganda lies which has destroyed the creditbility of people like you.

  8. Switch on BBC for propaganda lessons, not ORIENTAL REVIEW.

  9. Writer should tell us where is USSR ?

  10. Andre: Thank you for an excellent essay.
    What do you expect for the next months, as the price of cereals is supposed to climb? A process has been set in motion, which will reshape the world as we know it, and whose outcome is for me very hard to predict. Perhaps you can write your analysis on the subject? I am no historian, but some facts are unmistakable and can not pass unnoticed (and I can not figure out the reason most people ignore).
    Thank you
    Daniela

  11. @rehmat :The ‘nation-state’ or ‘nationalism’ has no place in Islam. These concepts, like Capitalism and anti-Semitism were brought into Muslim world by the western colonialists.

    our nationalism is nationalism that makes us god tools (soekarno)
    real islamis is not anti to nationalism and socialism (i forgot the continuation) (dibawah bendera revolusi/under revolution flag)

  12. @Silentvoices
    With the collapse of Soviet Union in 1991 the worldwide agony of nation-statehood has been started. As a matter of fact the sovereignty of most countries is already delivered to supranational organizations like WTO, EU etc. It is time to analyze honestly the advantages and disadvantages of globalization and make choices. The outcome of Russia’s talks with WTO will be very symptomatic…

    @Daniela
    I will certainly follow and analyze the events.

  13. Andre Fomine – you’re no less Islamophobic idiot than Rupert Murdoch of BBC. He was honored by Israel Lobby Anti-Defamation League last year for running an anti-Muslim campaign on BBC.

    fia – Yes nationalism, being a sort of racism is against Islamic ideology.

    http://rehmat1.wordpress.com/2009/08/16/nationalism-another-name-for-racism/

  14. Rehmat, your attempts to upset me are useless. My readers are much more smart and prudent than you think. Calling me Islamophobic is a bathos of stupidity and lack of knowledge.

  15. Andre Fomine – upset you? No body expect the Wailing Wall to get upset even if some Islamophobe dog pisses on it.

    Have not you heard English proverb: “A stupid is always the first person to call others, stupid?”

  16. Rehmat – :) I see that now you are getting aware of your own faults :) You’ve been compensating the lack of arguments by insults for a long time already :)

  17. Thank you for the good writeup. It if truth be told was a entertainment account it. Look complex to far delivered agreeable from you! By the way, how can we communicate?

  18. Pingback: The Arab World: From Nationalism to Tribalism | Oriental Review

  19. Stalin was the second biggest murderer he killed lots of different people, the greatest in number were the Apparatiks (some 30 million Jews)! It is true many muslim states are run solely 4 the benefit of the rulers. I suppose democracy, rule of law and Islam are well practised in countries like Malaysia, Turkey, Morocco and the Maldives!

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