Very often you hear people talking about wars of religion, for both the wars of the 20th and the 21st centuries. I would like to give some examples about why it is very wrong to describe these wars as wars of religion. At the following map I have marked with red the West Central Asia, a region predominantly Muslim, which came under Russian control in the 19th century, and remained under Russian control until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. East Central Asia, also a region with Muslim majority, today called the Xin Jiang Province of China, came under Chinese control and remains under Chinese control to this very day. The Turkish nationalists call Xin Jiang “East Turkestan” and consider it as a region that should be under Turkish influence, as the rest of Central Asia should be according to them.
At the map you can also see with green another predominantly Muslim region, which was controlled by the Ottomans until the First World War 1914-1918, when it came under British and French control, after the Ottoman defeat.
What we observe during the 20th and 21st century wars is that the Russian Christians supported the Muslims to drive away from the Middle East the English and French Christians. We also observe the English and the French Christians, and also the American Christians, supporting the Muslims of Pakistan and Afghanistan in order to drive away from Central Asia the Russian Christians. In all that we cannot see wars of religion. We can only see wars between the West and the Soviet Union. But if we do not look at the big picture, and we focus on regional wars, we might think that this is about wars of religion.
Today we might once more think that we are dealing with wars of religion, but that’s not true either. For instance Russia, France, England and Germany might have started aligning against Turkey, which is the greatest military power of the Muslim world, but the United States, a Christian country, is a Turkish ally.
It is true that the Americans and the Turks have many problems in Syria and Iraq. In Syria the Americans support the Kurds of Syria and the Turks the Sunni Arabs of Syria. In Iraq the Americans support the Shiite Arabs and the Kurds, while the Turks support the Sunni Arabs of Iraq i.e. the people of Saddam Hussein. But the Americans and the Turks remain united against Russia.
At the following map you can see the Sunni, Shiite (Shia), Alawite and Kurdish parts of Syria and Iraq.
Map 2 Alawites, Sunnis, Shiite (Shia) and Kurds of Syria and Iraq
Some analysts predict that the Americans might have to cooperate with Russia in the future, because all of the US allies in Europe are already doing it to some extent. This might happen in the future, but that’s not what we see for now. Note that the cooperation between Russia, France, Germany and England is not a true alliance. They are just cooperating against Turkey and ISIS even though they have many differences among them.
For all of us who live in Europe, especially the ones living near Turkey, today’s wars might again seem like wars of religion. But also note that the European left is aligned with the Islamists today. See Jeremy Corbyn in England (Labour Party), Pablo Iglesias in Spain (Podemos), Alexis Tsipras in Greece (SYRIZA) and many others. After the collapse of the Soviet Union most of the leftists turned to the Islamists. Actually the Islamists pay better than the Soviets used to.
Note that Islamic countries i.e. countries where the Koran is the law, fall into two categories i.e. the Islamic Monarchies and the Islamic Republics. Islamic Monarchies are countries where the Koran is the law and they have kings (monarchs) as their leaders. Islamic Republics are the equivalent of the communist countries in the Muslim World. Communist countries are called Democratic Republics or People’s Republics, and the equivalent in the Muslim world is the so called “Islamic Republic”. Communism almost bans religion and communism is normally not very welcome in the Muslim World.
People’s Republics and Islamic Republics have almost the same economic models, but the Koran is the law of the Islamic Republic, while religion is almost non existent in the People’s Republics, where the law is the General Secretary of the Communist Party. Saudi Arabia, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait etc are Islamic Monarchies, and Iran, Pakistan and Sudan are Islamic Republics. Note that Turkey is in the process of becoming an Islamic Republic. The Turkish Islamists came to power in 2003, and they are gradually moving Turkey from a secular state to an Islamic Republic.
Today the communist leaders are cooperating very well with Islamists leaders. I have mentioned before that a Greek Member of Parliament, Kostas Zouraris, an ex-member of the Greek Communist Party, and currently a member of the governing coalition, clearly supported the Jihadists who carried out the terrorist attacks in Paris (November 2015). Kostas Zouraris called the Jihadists fighters of freedom and dignity who fight against the French colonialists. All European communists would agree with him, even though they would not openly admit it.
Before the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, communists would normally support socialist terrorists who were trained by Muammar Gaddafi in Libya, Hafez Assad in Syria, Saddam Hussein in Iraq, Yasser Arafat in West Bank and Gaza, Fidel Castro in Cuba etc. But now European communists also support terrorists who are trained by Islamic countries. It does not even have to be Islamic Republics, it might as well be Islamic monarchies. For example Qatar, an Islamic Monarchy with great influence on European left, is a famous supporter of Islamist terrorists.
The thing is that communists and Islamists see us in exactly the same way. They believe that our countries are not really countries but a sum of corporations, and that we are so corrupted and greedy that we would even be willing to sell our own mothers for money. Nothing from what I say seems to be a war of religion. The main elements are always the economic and the cultural ones.