The second coming of Saladin


The second coming of Saladin
By Pepe Escobar

The best lack all conviction
While the worst are full of passionate intensity.
– W B Yeats, The Second Coming

DAMASCUS – The discreet green-and-white tomb of the greatest warrior of Islam, Saladin – by the splendid Ummayad Mosque in

the former seat of the caliphate – may be the ideal place to meditate on if, where and when Islam may be shaken again by the advent of a new Saladin, nine centuries after the illustrious deeds of the great Muslim general.Saddam Hussein, not least because he was also from Tikrit (although Saladin was a Kurd), fashioned himself as the genuine article – fighting (twice) the infidel Christian armies of the US. He is now no more than a martyr for a minority. Osama bin Laden carefully fashioned his iconography as a cross between Saladin, Che Guevara and the Prophet Mohammed. But as in the immortal line in Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now, “his methods are unsound”; despite the marketing success in the expansion of the al-Qaeda brand, bin Laden will never be able to capture the collective conscious of the ummah.

The new Saladin might be the son of a Palestinian refugee victim of the Nakhba (“catastrophe”) 59 years ago. He might be a computer wizard too sophisticated to be tempted by al-Qaeda’s Salafi-jihadism. He might be an angry young man straight out of the “sanctions generation” in Iraq – deprived of everything while he was growing up, courtesy of the “international community”.

He won’t be a tourism developer in Dubai, self-styled “city of captivating contrasts” (between the Western/Arab business elites and the South Asian slaves, maybe?). He won’t be the pampered son of the Sunni business aristocracy in Damascus showing off his Porsche Cayenne. He won’t be a billionaire international playboy posing as politician a la Saad Hariri in Beirut. He won’t be a gas-dealing executive in gas nirvana Qatar.


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