CONDEMNING al-Shabaab or Islam won't make either go away. The power vacuum and the incessant violence, wars, invasions and terrorism in the Middle East and Africa derive their fuel from a set of complex inter-related factors: historical, geo-political, economic, moral and resistance to change.
It does not derive from the "72 virgins for jihadees" hypothesis. The demise of the Ottoman Empire has allowed Western powers and Russia to impose imperial control over the region, and thus fuel further instability, divide-and-rule tactics, proxy wars, regime change and terrorism.
Osama Bin Laden started his war with the West on a simple request: "Mr President Bush, please remove your bases from Saudi Arabia and don't interfere" when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. We know the response from America in 1991 was Desert Storm and the counter-response from al-Qaeda in 2001 was 9/11.
On the other hand, when Israel invaded the West Bank and Gaza in 1967, there was no "coalition of the willing". Western imperialism and double standards are products of Muslim disunity.
If Muslims are all united into one or two large functioning states, then Western imperialism will be a thing of the past.
There have been no invasions of Russia and China, and the reason is obvious.
There were great expectations when the youth of Islam rebelled against the existing power structures and hoped to achieve political expression through the ballot box instead of terrorism. But the inability of fundamentalist Islam, represented by groups like the Muslim Brotherhood and al-Nahda to reform is the main reason why the Arab Spring has ground to a halt.
The youth are aware that Islam is the solution, but Islamist philosophers are unable to translate Islamist principles of compassion, equity, justice and moderation into practical solutions and institutions. Rather, the gullible youth are attracted to the extremist ideologies of al-Shabaab, al-Qaeda and al-Nusra who have a message: fight oppression and establish an Islamic theocratic state.
They have a practical solution, the moderates do not. This is a fallacy since Islam is not a theocracy and neither have existing theocracies such as Iran and Saudi Arabia delivered on compassion, equity, justice and moderation.
A permanent solution can only arise when both the West and the Muslim world go through fundamental moral, social and political reforms.
From the West, what is required is a change in morality and leadership to guide the world towards a new world order based on justice, equity and equality, and not self-interest alone. From the Muslims, what is required is a change in mentality, to democratise and unite their societies, educate their peoples and continue reforms to free women from slavery, and remove the scourge of poverty and tribalism.
N Omar, East London