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Solidarity Is a Country Far AwayAnna Simone Reumert 01.12.2021A review of Darryl Li, The Universal Enemy: Jihad, Empire, and the Challenge of Solidarity (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2019). What is it about the foreign fighter that makes him inherently suspect in international politics? Darryl Li argues that jihadists represent “the universal enemy.” They are perceived as the enemy of all, but they are also universalists in their aspiration for a transnational Muslim fellowship through jihad. This fellowship poses a challenge to international society, which deploys United Nations peacekeepers and engages in a Global War on Terror. The versions of the universal that these missions promote do not recognize the jihadists’ universalism and cannot speak for them. Arab and African mujahideen fought in the Bosnian war in the 1990s in the name of a different universalism: global Muslim solidarity. Attached to a political project that exceeds the nation-state, these men struggled to define themselves as citizens with a claim to belonging in Bosnia-Herzegovina after the conflict. Li’s ethnographic history of their lives reveals that foreign fighters are feared as much for their mobility across borders of belonging as for their ability to become rooted in one place. As an original study of transregional mobility and political belonging, Li’s anthropological take on international law and history of empire upsets common assumptions about the politics of identity and solidarity in the context of contemporary warfare. Fighting Difference Who is the jihadi and what does he want? Since September 11, 2001 and the Global War on Terror, politicians, scholars, journalists and anxious citizens have pondered this question without getting any closer to an answer. Li suggests they have been asking the wrong questions. As a universalist project, jihadism unites people in a shared aspiration for a different world, but it does not define who they are. Li’s ethnographic history upsets any preconceived notion that a jihadi arrives ready-made to fight.As a universalist project, jihadism unites people in a shared aspiration for a different world, but it does not define who they are. Li’s ethnographic history upsets any preconceived notion that a jihadi arrives ready-made to fight.Transregional solidarity is a driving force for foreign fighters who join “other people’s wars.” Li argues that this universalist aspect of jihadism has been overlooked by analyses that focus on how Islamism operates within nation-states. The efforts of Bosnia and Herzegovina (territories of the former Yugoslavia) to seek independence faced armed opposition from Bosnian Serbs, leading to civil war. Political leaders in Bosnia-Herzegovina soon recruited volunteer fighters who claimed allegiance to their struggle as fellow Muslims. Some joined the fight from abroad, but many of the Arab and African men who became mujahideen in the Balkans arrived first as students in Yugoslavia during the 1970s and 1980s, in the era of the Non-Aligned Movement, then stayed and later joined forces with political Islam. Jihadism was for them not a preconceived aspiration but a cause that emerged in a context of political alignments in the early 1990s. What united these men, Li argues, is how they came of age through this journey into a joint cause. Jihadism provided them a rite of passage into becoming their version of better Muslims and better men. Through conversations with mujahideen who fought in the Balkans, Li maps their lives from fighting in the field to retirement after the conflict. Some gained citizenship in Bosnia, while others migrated elsewhere or returned to their countries of origin. Li allows us to encounter the mujahid before and after the fighting. We meet the veteran mujahid as a street peddler, asylum seeker, aid worker, scientist and, above all, a family man.In framing his study as a story of the lives of those who fought in a conflict over national and ethnic affiliations that they did not properly belong to, Li is not rewriting the story of the Bosnian war. Rather, he uses the presence of foreign fighters in this conflict to argue that the mujahid is driven by a universalist project that is not attached to a specific nation or nationalist call for sovereignty. As a political figure committed to a project that exceeds the national framework, the mujahid is opposed to the citizen-soldier, as the ideal (masculine) political subject who volunteers his life for national sovereignty. This tension was explicit in the Bosnian war, where the mujahideen were respected by Bosnian Muslims for their supposed authority as Arab Muslims, but also viewed with suspicion because they were fighting for global Islam, whereas their Bosnian comrades fought for national recognition and territorial sovereignty.Is it possible for one to fight in solidarity with the other’s cause without compromising it or adopting it as one’s own? Solidarity is an action motivated through a uni

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