Is there any doubt that government forces have visited far greater destruction on this planet and caused far greater immediate and long-term damage than a million “terrorists” could in a 1000 years? Is there any doubt that Europe has caused far greater damage to the entire Muslim world in the past three centuries than any terrorist organization could in a million years? From the end of WWII, the US has followed the path of Europe largely because of the oil and only partly because of geopolitical considerations.
Although there has been a great deal of academic literature on the anatomy of “terrorism”. Some analysts at least acknowledge that “terrorism” is political thus defined subjectively by the political opponent (s). This is not to suggest that those carrying out unconventional warfare (terrorism) are not immersed in grand illusions and propaganda even more forceful, although not nearly as effective, as that of the organized state, nor is this to suggest that the protagonists are above harming innocent human life and property to achieve the political goal.
For the hunted “unconventional warriors” (terrorists) defending their ideas and ideals on their own soil against imperialism, it matters none whether fire emanates from NATO or US, who define the enemy according to their current interests, who define who is a terrorist to be destroyed along with his entire culture and way of life. Unlike the Communist Bloc that fell after several decades and became integrated with the West, Islam–Sunni and Shia– will continue to grow in the future and as long as there are authoritarian regimes operating in Islamic countries and inordinate Western interference in the internal affairs of these countries for the sole purpose of economic, political, and strategic exploitation. This is well known to EU and US and to apologists of Western interference in Muslim countries that are perpetually trying to portray social conflict in terms of 'tribal and/or Sunni-Shi'a' rivalries.
Sunni-Shia rivalry that is more than 1300 years old could be one of the consequences of the Arab uprisings of 2011, but only if Arab leaders and followers of each sect permit such developments that would only help exacerbate divisions and make easier for foreign powers to exploit Muslim nations. Sectarian identity is stronger in some Muslim countries than in others, but sectarian violence is inevitable only if a few people on either side and from outside the region agitate to advance their own political agendas.
When the Europeans carved out the Middle East into Mandates at the end of WWI, colonial rule brought to the surface and intensified the Sunni-Shi'a conflict. The Iran-Arab rivalry intensified owing to the Western, mostly US demonization of Iran, and when the US invaded Iraq, the Shi'a-Sunni rivalry and violence became pronounced although the Iran-Iraq war in which the US had sided with Iraq had set the stage for the rivalry.
Like the Europeans from the19th century until the end of WWII, the US has also exploited the Sunni-Shia rivalry as part of a divide and rule strategy. This does not mean that there is no sectarian rivalry, only that it has been exacerbated and exploited by external forces, as has been the case in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and now amid the popular uprisings in Bahrain and Yemen. Ever since the Iranian Revolution, the perception on the part of some governments, including Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan has been that there is a need to have a containment policy of revolutionary tide. However, the uprisings of 2011 proved that it is in Sunni-dominated countries that radicalism has taken root.
In the case of Bahrain, 70% of the population is Shia, but the US-backed government is Sunni. Nevertheless, the issue is not about sectarianism, but about the Khalifa family's domination of government for the last four decades, and the fact that 95% of the wealth is owned by the ruling family. The government in Bahrain claims that the political opposition is Hezbollah-trained, thus trying to drive a chasm between Sunni and Shi'a sects and projecting the idea that the uprising is terrorist-inspired. In the case of Libya, Gaddafi has repeatedly stated that the rebels are al-Qaeda backed, also giving the same impression as the royal family of Bahrain.
Western media and analysts have tried their best to argue that in the first months of 2011, Arab uprisings have causes that are purely internal, directed mostly at the authoritarian regimes, and to a degree tribal and sectarian. Sound analysis of the causes can only be carried out when the uprisings are no more, when new regimes have succeeded the old ones, and when balanced documentation is available to researchers to determine the causes of what took place in each country from Tunisia and Egypt to Yemen and Libya, and the rest of the Arab countries. Research will also need to be conducted on the covert operations of US and Western European countries in agitating in the countries experiencing uprisings either to overthrow a regime as in the cases of Libya and Syria, or presumably to support the old regime as in the case of Bahrain and Yemen.
Islam will grow more radical precisely because the imperial West has launched a Cold War-style campaign and has yet to shift policy and strategy. But the Islamic Iron Curtain lives on and it will continue to live in the hearts and minds of young Muslims because Western anti-Islamic propaganda has narrowly defined an entire civilization based on its own interests to the detriment of the subjugated population dismissed as “terrorist.” The question for the Judeo-Christian West is whether it wishes to shift gears from old Cold War mindset and proceed toward harmonious co-existence for the mutual development of both civilizations, or whether it opts for political propaganda reminiscent of the Cold War “better dead than Red!”