By Gilles Kepel
The events of September 11, 2001, forever changed the world as we knew
it. In their wake, the quest for international order has prompted a
reshuffling of global aims and priorities. In a fresh approach, Gilles
Kepel focuses on the Middle East as a nexus of international disorder
and decodes the complex language of war, propaganda, and terrorism that
holds the region in its thrall.
The breakdown of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process in 2000 was the
first turn in a downward spiral of violence and retribution. Meanwhile,
a neo-conservative revolution in Washington unsettled U.S. Mideast
policy, which traditionally rested on the twin pillars of Israeli
security and access to Gulf oil. In Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan, a
transformation of the radical Islamist doctrine of Bin Laden and
Zawahiri relocated the arena of terrorist action from Muslim lands to
the West; Islamist radicals proclaimed jihad against their enemies worldwide.
Kepel examines the impact of global terrorism and the ensuing military
operations to stem its tide. He questions the United States' ability to
address the Middle East challenge with Cold War rhetoric, while
revealing the fault lines in terrorist ideology and tactics. Finally, he
proposes the way out of the Middle East quagmire that triangulates the
interests of Islamists, the West, and the Arab and Muslim ruling elites.
Kepel delineates the conditions for the acceptance of Israel, for the
democratization of Islamist and Arab societies, and for winning the
minds and hearts of Muslims in the West.