Jihadi Reflections on the Arab Spring

Cole Bunzel (Stanford University)

How have jihadi actors and groups, including al-Qaida and the Islamic State, approached and interpreted the Arab Spring revolutions of 2010-11? In the early days of the revolutions, the jihadis sought to appropriate them in a way befitting their ideological worldview—one that considers the ruling Arab regimes as “apostate” and thus an appropriate target for jihad. But the revolutions also challenged jihadi ideology in fundamental ways and led to vast divisions in the jihadi operational environment. This paper examines how the jihadis reflect on and understand these revolutions of a decade ago, and their aftermath, as they continue to pursue their central objective—establishing God’s rule on earth by means of jihad.