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Islam’s war with itself

The "long war" between Islam and the west is a side-show to the much deeper conflict over modernisation within Muslim societies. Interests of states, ethnic rivalries and confessional differences between Sunnis and Shiites all play a part

By Fred Halliday   November 1998

Events of the past few weeks have provided plenty of new evidence for those who believe in a headlong clash between the Muslim and western worlds-from academic analysts of confrontation in the west such as Samuel Huntington, to the Islamic fundamentalist advocates of such a confrontation in the east. Following the firing of US missiles against targets in Sudan and Afghanistan on 20th August, Bill Clinton was at pains to say that this was not the start of a war with the Islamic world; but Madeleine Albright talked in starker terms. “This is going to be a long-term battle against…

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