Qadhafi and militant Islamism: Unprecedented conflict

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Abstract

Unlike its neighbours, Libya under Qadhafi has never maintained close political ties with the West, which would have added fuel to the fire of circles of Islamist opposition. On the contrary, it has persistently pursued a vigorously anti-Western policy. Furthermore, Libya has never accepted the existence of the State of Israel, unlike certain other Arab regimes that are subsequently vulnerable to Islamist subversion. Thus, by injecting a new militant Islamic dimension into Libya's domestic affairs, opposition groups found a useful tool for political motivation. Ironically, the opposition followed the exact path of the regime in resorting to Islamic discourse to promote its political cause. The major difference, however, was that the Islamists failed, while the regime remained firm in the saddle, marking its thirty-second year in power in 2001 - an impressive record. In conclusion, however, the Islamist threat, although currently contained, could be re-ignited if Libyans, particularly the young urban population, seek new alternatives. Any future success by Islamist movements in Libya's regional vicinity might also help to rekindle anti-regime Islamist zeal.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalMiddle Eastern Studies
Volume38
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2002

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