What Fallujah?


What's the reaction in the Arab world to the U.S.-led assault on Fallujah? The NYT's Neil MacFarquhar calls it one of "deep ambivalence." The U.S. occupation may be abhorred, he writes, but most Arabs appear to be content to see the city's murderous jihadis wiped out.

According to MacFarquhar, "The bloodshed fomented by the resistance in the past months—including car bombings that killed children and the slaughter of young Iraqi policemen—has diluted support for the insurgents…"

There are numerous other factors at play, of course, among them the role of Iraqi government forces in the battle, a lack of images of injured civilians, the approach of a major Muslim holiday, and the relative prominence of the long-running Arafat story. Even so, the response is notably muted. The Arab League could muster only enough outrage to call the violence "regrettable."

In short, the Arab reaction to the battle of Fallujah provides yet more support for Gilles Kepel's thesis of a Jihad Backfire. In this context, that "the followers of Osama bin Laden have created chaos and destruction in the house of Islam" by, among other things, murdering many fellow Muslims, causing Islamist regimes to weaken or fall, and appalling and alienating millions of moderate Muslims.