- During the 1880s and 1890s, Germany became convinced that it could turn the forces of jihad against British, French, and Russian rivals. The kaiser presented himself as the Muslim world’s friend and German propaganda even hinted that their ruler had converted to Islam.
From a pamphlet following the Kaiser's speech in Constantinople in 1898,
proclaiming Kaiser Wilhelm to be the Protector of Muslims everywhere.
Obama has stiff competition! Credit: Geoffrey Miller. Hat tip: JED
- In World War One, the Germans launched a jihad, complete with the Ottoman caliph’s proclamation. Wiser heads warned that the Ottoman ruler didn’t have real authority to do so or that the raising of the jihad spirit could cause massacres of Christians in the empire. They were ignored.
As a result, few responded to this jihad; Armenians were massacred at times with the at least passive complicity of the German government.
- Nevertheless, Adolf Hitler, whose close comrades included many veterans of the earlier jihad strategy, tried the same approach in World War Two. This time, the Jews in the Middle East were to be the massacred scapegoats. Yet despite close collaboration by the leader of the Palestine Arabs, Hajj Amin al-Husseini, and the Muslim Brotherhood, among others, the defeat of the German armies along with other factors (incompetence, unkept Arab promises, and German priorities) prevented this alliance from succeeding.
By the way, the Nazi collaborators were the same Muslim Brotherhood to which the United States is allied today. There are huge amounts of archival evidence, including documents showing Nazi payments to the Brotherhood and providing them with arms for a rebellion to kill Christians and Jews in Egypt.
But if the West after all this time will not learn from its mistakes, there is something that may yet save the West from itself:
As we are already seeing, the Sunni-Shia conflict, increasingly a war, has divided the Muslim-majority world. There are ideological differences, ethnic ones, the ambitions of different nation-states to rule the empire, and the extremism that alienates potential Muslim and Western allies.But that does not mean that blindly going after alliances with the likes of the Muslim Brotherhood won't have nasty consequences.
This is the main hope of the world at present because Western leaders have clearly not learned anything much about the Middle East in the last century.
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