Posts tagged ‘Islam’

November 6, 2016

Islam without Extremists

by mkleit

Once in a while the news are filled about a group of extremist Muslims who slaughter people and commit the most unthinkable crimes under the name of Islam. ISIS is a recent example.

 

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If you ask such people that why they are committing such obvious wrong deeds and still consider it the command of the God, they would answer that they are trusting a Muslim scholar and that they receive the commands of the God through him. Based on this trust they consider the scholar’s commands equivalent to the God’s commands and blindly follow the scholar’s instructions to make the God happy.

But does not this method sound too similar to shirk, the exact opposite of Islam’s primary message, which is not following anybody except the God? How did this happen? How did that origin with the most clear message came to this obvious contradictory point?

 

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In the “Belief vs. Trust” article, we show that similarly to all modern religions, in the current understanding of Islam also believing in God is interpreted as trusting a religious package preached by the local religious scholars.

After analyzing the roots of such interpretation in all religions, the article shows that key element that legitimizes the incorporation of trusting scholars into islamic practice is considering Hadith as a pillar of Islam.

The current Islam which is mixed with Hadith has become so complicated that leaves an ordinary Muslim with no solution but seeking the advice of some Hadith experts (or scholars) about “what Islam says”. This blind obedience creates potential for extremism: if the religious scholar is extremist, the blind followers also apply the extremism in the name of religion.

 

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Then in the “Islam without Hadith” article, we list the pros and cons of existence of Hadith in the current Islamic practice, and show that by eliminating Hadith not only we do not lose any of the core Islamic values but also we are given the chance to rediscover the Simple Islam, the religion which guides us to nothing but reasonable, beautiful deeds. In Simple Islam, which is free from the complexities of Hadith, there is no space for religious scholars to instruct their blind followers to such unbelievable crimes.

In the “Scope” article, we then revisit some of the controversial topics in Quran, such as slavery and women rights, and observe a Quran very different from what the scholars have been preaching for years.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):
Q1: Those are bad scholars. But I am obeying good scholars!
A: Quran warns about blind obedience. Read Section D of Trust article.
Q2: Some extremists claim obeying no scholar and just following Quran!
A: They adopted a particular perverted interpretation of Quran stemmed from Hadith and backed by past scholars. They are essentially obeying those scholar’s viewpoint.
Q3: I read Quran myself. It says “kill the infidels”!
A: Taken out of context! Such verses are about a particular war with the criminals of Mecca. There were refereed to as “Kafir”, which means ungrateful, as they were ungrateful for the gift of the messenger. Quran uses the word “Kafir” sometimes even for Muslims. Mainstream translations offered by scholars however translate “Kafir” as “infidel” causing this confusion.
Q4: Extremists are using perverted Hadiths. There is a huge science of telling which Hadith is reliable. I am obeying good scholars who know this science well!
A: Extremists say the same about you. The bottom line is that both of you blindly obey, and both of you think that your scholar is the right one. Read trust article about blind obedience.
Q5: Why should I trust your article? are you a scholar?
A: Do not trust people. Read their arguments and decide by yourself
Q6: Without Hadith how could we know the details of rituals?
A: Section 4 of the article Islam without Hadith
Q7: Does not Quran itself tell us to follow Hadith?
A: No. Read here.
Q8: Ignoring Hadith is ignoring Muhammad (s.a.a.w.)?
A: No. Read Hadith-less Muhammad.
Q9: Can we understand Quran without Hadith?
A: Yes. Read Quran is understandable without Hadith
Q10: Did not Quran force conversion?
A: No. Islam in Quran means meeting the God with a heart filled with peace. What Muslims did along the history has nothing to do with what Quran describes.

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August 31, 2016

الاقتصاد السياسي للطائفية في الخليج

by mkleit

معهد كارنيجي للشرق الأوسط

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يُواجه حكّام الخليج العربي حوافز تدفعهم إلى تطوير مصادر غير اقتصادية للشرعية، بهدف الحفاظ على الدعم الشعبي مع زيادة الإيرادات الشحيحة من الموارد. ومن خلال زرع بذور الريبة المجتمعية، وتسليط الضوء على التهديدات، والتأكيد على قدرتها على ضمان الأمن، يمكن للأنظمة تعزيز التأييد المحلي والحدّ من الضغوط التي تطالب الإصلاح بتكلفة أقلّ من توزيع إعانات الرعاية الاجتماعية. وتُظهر بيانات الدراسة المسحية من دول خليجية أربعة (البحرين والكويت وعُمان وقطر) أن في وسع الحكومات إرغام السكان على القبول بالجمود السياسي، حتى في الوقت الذي تتضاءل فيه الفوائد الاقتصادية التي يحصل عليها المواطنون.

الأفكار الرئيسة

  • سنّت أنظمة الخليج قواعد انتخابية وتشريعية تضفي طابعاً مؤسسياً على الانقسامات القائمة على سياسة الهوية.
  • كثيراً ماتقتصر السرديات الوطنية الرسمية في الخليج على فئة معينة، بحيث تبرز الاختلافات بين المواطنين، ويتم تمييز بعض فئات السكان على الفئات الأخرى.
  • تعامل الأنظمة الخليجية المعارضة السلمية والاحتجاج على نحو متزايد باعتبارها تشكّل تهديدات حقيقية للأمن القومي، وليس على أنها تحدّيات سياسية عادية.
  • مارست بعض دول مجلس التعاون الخليجي سياسة خارجية حازمة ومغامرة، ساهمت في زعزعة الاستقرار الإقليمي وعزّزت النزعة الوطنية العسكرية.
  • تتزايد مشاعر عدم الأمان بسبب الوعود الحكومية بالقيام بعملية إعادة تنظيم اقتصادي جذرية، في مواجهة تراجع عائدات النفط والغاز.

النتائج

  •  يكشف تحليل بيانات الدراسة المسحية المستقاة من المنطقة عن أن المزيد من المواطنين الخليجيين ذوي التفكير الأمني، مستعدون للقبول بمستويات أقلّ من الأداء الاقتصادي من جانب الحكومة في مقابل توفير الاستقرار. إذ يمثّل توفير الدولة للأمن، بالنسبة إلى هؤلاء، بديلاً عن الفوائد المالية التي يتوقع المواطنون الحصول عليها في الدول الغنية بالنفط.
  • بهذه الطريقة، يمكن لحكومات دول الخليج الاستفادة من المخاوف الأمنية للمواطنين لشراء الدعم السياسي الشعبي بتكلفة أقلّ من تكلفة توزيع المنافع المادية.
  • وبالتالي، لدى أنظمة الخليج أسباب اقتصادية وسياسية لتلوين أو اصطناع التهديدات الداخلية والخارجية، بهدف تأجيج المخاوف الشعبية على الأمن وبالتالي خفض تكلفة زيادة الدعم السياسي
  •  حكّام الخليج غير قادرين في الغالب على إدارة التوترات الاجتماعية حين تنطلق، وقد انتهى الأمر ببعضهم إلى تأجيج المعارضة ذاتها التي رغبوا في قمعها. وهذه الاستراتيجية الخطرة تنطوي على مخاطر جدّية لرفاهية المواطنين ولبقاء الأنظمة على المدى البعيد.
April 18, 2016

A Photographic Surf inside Damascus

by mkleit

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After spending four days in the Syrian capitol, Damascus, after covering the parliamentary elections, I couldn’t but share the beauty of the city that seemed to be well and alive despite the on-going war.

The main focus of the photo-tour was the what makes Damascus great: its history, diversity, and strength to survive against all odds.

All photos were taken by me: Mhamad Kleit

I hope you would enjoy them as much as I did while taking them.

March 25, 2016

Stop Wahhabist School to Fight Terrorism

by mkleit
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Young man sitting in front of Brussels’ stock exchange building

 

Terrorist attacks in Europe has caused a two-way incitement between Europeans and Muslims, which is a result that terrorist group ISIL is trying to reach as they’ve said after the Charlie Hebdo attacks on the 7th of January 2015: “compel the Crusaders (Europeans) to actively destroy the garrison themselves… Muslims in the West will quickly find themselves between one of two choices, they either apostatize… or they emigrate to the Islamic State and thereby escape persecution from the Crusader governments and citizens”.

The latest attacks on the Belgian capitol Brussels left 35 dead and 270 injured when suicide bombers hit Zaventem airport and Maalbeek metro station on Tuesday morning. Recent reports from Belgian media showed that people involved in the terrorist attacks are Muslims and of Arab background.

Mostly, Europeans would blame the millions of Muslims in Europe (and a lot of them have done so) for being the cause of religious incitement, and by far that’s sort of right, since there’s a minority of Muslims whose taking a big part of inciting against the “Crusaders”.

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Wahhabism from Saudi Arabia hitting several nations

The Arab – Muslims whom are able to go to Europe and live there (aside of refugees and asylum seekers) can afford the living, where the biggest percentage comes from the GCC countries (Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, and Emirates). And the ideology that all of these countries share (except Oman and partially Kuwait) is Wahhabism or Salafism. This sect is considered to be the most fanatic, extremist, and inciting amongt all Muslim sects – consider them as the KKK or the Nazis of Islam. This ideology is also the root of many terrorist groups, such as Al-Qaeda (Iraq, Syria, Morocco, Egypt, Afghanistan..) ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and Levant/ Syria and Iraq), Boko Haram (Nigeria), al Nusra Front (Jabhat al Nusra/ Syria), Ahrar al Sham (Syria), Jaysh al Islam (Syria), al Shabab(Somalia), Taliban (Afghanistan, Pakistan) etc…

One might think that abolishing ISIL, the most prominent terrorist group would save the world from terrorism, but no! Such an action wouldn’t do anything, because religious fanaticism is not bound by a group, it’s an idea, and ideas don’t die by bombs and bullets; ideas should be fought by ideas.

In their book, Global Terrorism and New Media, Philip Seib and Dana M. Janbek argue that terrorist groups are teaching younger generations (between 10 and 12 years old) their ideology through boot camps and schools that are in their area of control. This strategy elongates the group’s survival for a longer time. They would teach students how to be hate-filled fighters, as well as how much other sects and religious groups are “sinners and blasphemers”, most evidently the crusaders (Euro-Christians) and the Rawafids (Shiites Muslims, the second biggest sect in Islam). And among this, they would teach them that it’s okay to call them blasphemers and punish them for being from a different sect, where punishment varies from flogging to beheading and public execution.

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These schools of thought are not solely found in areas of terrorist groups, but also in countries like Saudi Arabia. And they’re also expanding to European countries – under Saudi funding – such as France, Belgium, Germany, and Britain; since the mentioned countries have close relations with the Gulf state, as well as big Muslim communities.

When Europeans blame Muslims for this problem, they are partially correct, but they’re mistaken when they blame the refugees for causing the damage. Although some of the latter have took part in the battles in Syria, as many pictures show ex-fighters from extremist factions seeking refuge with the influx to Europe. But the problem is inside Europe itself, where it comes from these school and extremists Salafi-Wahhabi communities that are spreading fanaticism. Thus, they serve as a “shelter” and “sanctuary” for extremists coming from the MENA region and Asia, whether these countries are suffering from turmoil like Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Nigeria, or countries that serve as a holder for this thought like Saudi Arabia.

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The only way to protect the EU, is to do what Tunisia has been recently doing by their campaign “tomorrow is better”, where they are re-educating inmates imprisoned for terrorist act by extracting the extremist thought from their heads and planting patriotic and moderate-religious ideology. As for the schools, the government is keeping an eagle’s eye on academic curricula, so that they would not contain topics of incitement and fanaticism.

If such procedures are made, alongside other educational and security ones, not only in  Europe but also in the countries that are being vastly effected by extremist thoughts like Lebanon, Syria, Pakistan, Iraq and others, we would gradually defeat extremist thoughts and potential terrorism, because it’s not fair nor right to blame millions of people for the acts of a few.

January 4, 2016

Situation in KSA after the Execution of Sheikh al Nimr

by mkleit

Source: unknown

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The situation is quite tense in KSA and in the region, due to the recent development in the political confrontation between Iran & KSA, due to the execution of the cleric Nimer Baqir Al Nimr, who was executed along with others 47 convicted with terrorism charges.

The Saudi authority announced cuts the diplomatic relationships with Iran and evicts Iranian diplomats from KSA within 48 Hours.

Mutable security implications expected in the short term in various locations, including the KSA eastern province, Bahrain and the Yemeni front.
1.    Armed confrontations between the Saudi police and Shiite militant groups in the eastern province.(with a very likely & possibilities of deterioration in the civil unrest condition in these areas).
2.    Armed confrontations between the Bahraini police and Shiite revolts groups in & around the Shiite villages. (Light firearms and improvised Explosive devises are expected to be used by the militant groups).
3.    Wide confrontations between police forces and protesters will be wetness along the areas& village with high Shiite population.
4.    Intensified confrontation between Saudi forces and Ansar Allah (Al Houthi) rabbles along the Saudi Yemeni borders.
5.    Also IS terrorist organization might get involved to benefit from the security & political tense situation by carrying out sectarian attacks against Shiite community to ignite sectarian conflict in the region.

 

August 31, 2015

التمدد الإسلامي عبر النزوح يواجه الإسلاموفوبيا

by mkleit

محمد قليط وفاطمة جلعوط

شاهد نيوز

صلاة المسلمين في ستراسبوغ، شرقيّ فرنسا

قال الرئيس الليبي السابق معمر القذافي في تمبكتو، مالي، يوم 10 أبريل 2006 إن “أوروبا ستصبح مسلمة بدون الغزو بالسيف أو الانتحاريين، ولكن 50 مليون مسلم سيحولونها إلى ذلك”. وهذا ما يحصل في أوروبا مؤخراً عبر حركة النزوح العالمية باتجاه القارة العجوز، حيث وصل قرابة 107500 لاجئ خلال شهر حزيران فقط، وهو أعلى معدل لجوء في تاريخ أوروبا.

بدأت تظهر بوادر أزمة النزوح من العالم الإسلامي – أكثر النازحين من سوريا وأفغانستان – في أوروبا بشكل الإسلاموفوبيا على المستويين الشعبي والرسمي، وقد دفع ضغط تدفق اللاجئين وبخاصة السوريين دولة سلوفاكيا إلى “انتقاء” اللاجئين الذين ترغب في إيوائهم، فوقع النصيب على أولئك الذين يعتنقون المسيحية، وتم إقرار منع المسلمين لأنهم “لن يشعروا بالراحة” و”لن يعجبهم البلد”، بحسب ما قال المتحدث باسم وزارة الداخلية السلوفاكية إيفان نيتيك الأسبوع المنصرم. لم تكن الدولة السلافية الأولى التي تتخذ هذا القرار، إذ كانت بلجيكا قد سبقتها بسنة حين “انتقت” 244 سورياً مسيحياً من حلب بنية حمايتهم “من المسلمين المتشددين في سوريا”، بحسب تصريح وزير الدولة البلجيكية لشؤون اللاجئين تيو فرانكن.

ويعود سبب رهبة الأوروبيين إلى عدة عوامل منها: قلة الإنجاب لدى الأوروبيين مع غياب ثقافة التكاثر العددي منذ عدّة سنوات. ولعل آخر دعوة إلى زيادة الإنجاب كانت في ألمانيا النازية سنة 1938 حين شجّع رئيس وزرائها آنذاك أدولف هتلر على كثرة الإنجاب مقابل إعفاءات ضريبية (25% إعفاء ضريبي لكل ولد من أم وأب ألمانيّين). ولعل هتلر درى ما فعله للحضارة الألمانية، كما ذكر المتخصص في علم الاجتماع والتاريخ العالمي دان مارتن في كتابه “Apocalypse: How to Survive a Global Crisis” من أن “معدّل الإنجاب لبقاء أي حضارة على مدى ربع قرن يجب أن يكون 2.11 طفل لكل عائلة، ولم تنجُ أي حضارة كان معدل الإنجاب فيها 1.9 طفل لكل عائلة. وكلما قلّ معدل الإنجاب قلّت نسبة انتشار الحضارة في منطقة معيّنة”. ومن المعروف عالمياً أن الدول الأوروبية تستحوذ على أقل معدلات إنجاب، حيث إن 31 دولة لديها معدل عام 1.38 طفل لكل عائلة.

تعود أبرز أسباب التضخم السكاني في القارة العجوز، منذ 1990 إلى اليوم، إلى الهجرة واللجوء. ويشير مارتن في كتابه إلى أهمية عامل الهجرة في تحويل الطابع المسيحي في الدول الأوروبية إلى إسلامي، وأضاف أنه في سنة 2027، شخص واحد من أصل خمسة سيكون مسلماً في فرنسا، وفي 39 سنة (منذ سنة 2008)، فرنسا ستكون دولة مسلمة، أما في بريطانيا فقد ازدادوا من 82 ألفاً إلى 2.5 مليون شخص، مع وجود أكثر من ألف مسجد، معظمها كانت كنائس سابقاً”. وقد ذكرت الحكومة البلجيكية في تصريحات سابقة أن ثلث الأطفال الأوروبيين سيولدون لأهل مسلمين سنة 2025. بينما المكتب الفدرالي الألماني للاحصاءات أكد على “عدم قدرتنا على إيقاف هبوط النمو السكاني الألماني (أي من والدين ألمانيّين)… وألمانيا سوف تصبح دولة إسلامية بحلول سنة 2050”.

The Economist

هذه العوامل كلها تشكّل هاجس خوف عند الأوروبيّين، بالأخص في المناطق الشرقية والوسطى. ففي جمهورية التشيك، مثلًا، حصل عدد من التعديات على المساجد والمسلمين في الأيام الأخيرة، حيث هاجم بعض المتشددين يوم الثلاثاء الماضي مسجداً وألصقوا على عمود بالقرب منه ملصقاً كُتب عليه “المسلمون وحوش” في منطقة فيدنتسكا في مدينة برنو، جنوب البلاد، وبرغم قلة عدد المسلمين في هذه المدينة والذين يبلغ عددهم 800 مسلم فقط، فلم يكن هذا الاعتداء الأول من نوعه على مسلميها وعلى المسجد نفسه، ففي عام 2013 تم رمي قطع من لحم الخنزير أمام المسجد وكتب عليه عبارات. وصرّح مؤخراً رئيس الوقف الإسلامي الأستاذ منيب الراوي قائلا “الاعتداءات بحقنا تتصاعد ولكن لن ندعها تؤثر بنا”. وقد ذكر أن نسبة الاعتداءات ضد المسلمين في التشيك زادت في السنوات الأخيرة،

مع وجود هاجس مادي أيضاً، حيث تقول سيدة تشيكية إنه تمّ تخفيض معاشها من 18000 كرون (أي 752$) إلى 14000 كرون (585$) في سبيل إجراءات الدولة لدعم اللاجئين القادمين من الشرق. ولكن التغيّر الديموغرافي لصالح المسلمين القادمين من الأراضي السمراء يشكل هاجساً أكبر عند “البيض”، شبيهاً بذلك إبّان الأيام الأولى لانتشار المسيحية في أوروبا حين كانت الوثنية العقيدة الطاغية على معظم القارة.

July 20, 2015

Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

by mkleit

Independent

How far is Saudi Arabia complicit in the Isis takeover of much of northern Iraq, and is it stoking an escalating Sunni-Shia conflict across the Islamic world? Some time before 9/11, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, once the powerful Saudi ambassador in Washington and head of Saudi intelligence until a few months ago, had a revealing and ominous conversation with the head of the British Secret Intelligence Service, MI6, Sir Richard Dearlove. Prince Bandar told him: “The time is not far off in the Middle East, Richard, when it will be literally ‘God help the Shia’. More than a billion Sunnis have simply had enough of them.”

The fatal moment predicted by Prince Bandar may now have come for many Shia, with Saudi Arabia playing an important role in bringing it about by supporting the anti-Shia jihad in Iraq and Syria. Since the capture of Mosul by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis) on 10 June, Shia women and children have been killed in villages south of Kirkuk, and Shia air force cadets machine-gunned and buried in mass graves near Tikrit.

In Mosul, Shia shrines and mosques have been blown up, and in the nearby Shia Turkoman city of Tal Afar 4,000 houses have been taken over by Isis fighters as “spoils of war”. Simply to be identified as Shia or a related sect, such as the Alawites, in Sunni rebel-held parts of Iraq and Syria today, has become as dangerous as being a Jew was in Nazi-controlled parts of Europe in 1940.

There is no doubt about the accuracy of the quote by Prince Bandar, secretary-general of the Saudi National Security Council from 2005 and head of General Intelligence between 2012 and 2014, the crucial two years when al-Qa’ida-type jihadis took over the Sunni-armed opposition in Iraq and Syria. Speaking at the Royal United Services Institute last week, Dearlove, who headed MI6 from 1999 to 2004, emphasised the significance of Prince Bandar’s words, saying that they constituted “a chilling comment that I remember very well indeed”.

He does not doubt that substantial and sustained funding from private donors in Saudi Arabia and Qatar, to which the authorities may have turned a blind eye, has played a central role in the Isis surge into Sunni areas of Iraq. He said: “Such things simply do not happen spontaneously.” This sounds realistic since the tribal and communal leadership in Sunni majority provinces is much beholden to Saudi and Gulf paymasters, and would be unlikely to cooperate with Isis without their consent.

Prince Bandar bin Sultan

Prince Bandar bin Sultan

Dearlove’s explosive revelation about the prediction of a day of reckoning for the Shia by Prince Bandar, and the former head of MI6’s view that Saudi Arabia is involved in the Isis-led Sunni rebellion, has attracted surprisingly little attention. Coverage of Dearlove’s speech focused instead on his main theme that the threat from Isis to the West is being exaggerated because, unlike Bin Laden’s al-Qa’ida, it is absorbed in a new conflict that “is essentially Muslim on Muslim”. Unfortunately, Christians in areas captured by Isis are finding this is not true, as their churches are desecrated and they are forced to flee. A difference between al-Qa’ida and Isis is that the latter is much better organised; if it does attack Western targets the results are likely to be devastating.

The forecast by Prince Bandar, who was at the heart of Saudi security policy for more than three decades, that the 100 million Shia in the Middle East face disaster at the hands of the Sunni majority, will convince many Shia that they are the victims of a Saudi-led campaign to crush them. “The Shia in general are getting very frightened after what happened in northern Iraq,” said an Iraqi commentator, who did not want his name published. Shia see the threat as not only military but stemming from the expanded influence over mainstream Sunni Islam of Wahhabism, the puritanical and intolerant version of Islam espoused by Saudi Arabia that condemns Shia and other Islamic sects as non-Muslim apostates and polytheists.

Dearlove says that he has no inside knowledge obtained since he retired as head of MI6 10 years ago to become Master of Pembroke College in Cambridge. But, drawing on past experience, he sees Saudi strategic thinking as being shaped by two deep-seated beliefs or attitudes. First, they are convinced that there “can be no legitimate or admissible challenge to the Islamic purity of their Wahhabi credentials as guardians of Islam’s holiest shrines”. But, perhaps more significantly given the deepening Sunni-Shia confrontation, the Saudi belief that they possess a monopoly of Islamic truth leads them to be “deeply attracted towards any militancy which can effectively challenge Shia-dom”.

Western governments traditionally play down the connection between Saudi Arabia and its Wahhabist faith, on the one hand, and jihadism, whether of the variety espoused by Osama bin Laden and al-Qa’ida or by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s Isis. There is nothing conspiratorial or secret about these links: 15 out of 19 of the 9/11 hijackers were Saudis, as was Bin Laden and most of the private donors who funded the operation.

Sir Richard Dearlove

Sir Richard Dearlove

But there has always been a second theme to Saudi policy towards al-Qa’ida type jihadis, contradicting Prince Bandar’s approach and seeing jihadis as a mortal threat to the Kingdom. Dearlove illustrates this attitude by relating how, soon after 9/11, he visited the Saudi capital Riyadh with Tony Blair.

He remembers the then head of Saudi General Intelligence “literally shouting at me across his office: ‘9/11 is a mere pinprick on the West. In the medium term, it is nothing more than a series of personal tragedies. What these terrorists want is to destroy the House of Saud and remake the Middle East.'” In the event, Saudi Arabia adopted both policies, encouraging the jihadis as a useful tool of Saudi anti-Shia influence abroad but suppressing them at home as a threat to the status quo. It is this dual policy that has fallen apart over the last year.

Saudi sympathy for anti-Shia “militancy” is identified in leaked US official documents. The then US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wrote in December 2009 in a cable released by Wikileaks that “Saudi Arabia remains a critical financial support base for al-Qa’ida, the Taliban, LeT [Lashkar-e-Taiba in Pakistan] and other terrorist groups.” She said that, in so far as Saudi Arabia did act against al-Qa’ida, it was as a domestic threat and not because of its activities abroad. This policy may now be changing with the dismissal of Prince Bandar as head of intelligence this year. But the change is very recent, still ambivalent and may be too late: it was only last week that a Saudi prince said he would no longer fund a satellite television station notorious for its anti-Shia bias based in Egypt.

The Sunni Ahmed al-Rifai shrine near Tal Afar is bulldozed

The Sunni Ahmed al-Rifai shrine near Tal Afar is bulldozed

The problem for the Saudis is that their attempts since Bandar lost his job to create an anti-Maliki and anti-Assad Sunni constituency which is simultaneously against al-Qa’ida and its clones have failed.

By seeking to weaken Maliki and Assad in the interest of a more moderate Sunni faction, Saudi Arabia and its allies are in practice playing into the hands of Isis which is swiftly gaining full control of the Sunni opposition in Syria and Iraq. In Mosul, as happened previously in its Syrian capital Raqqa, potential critics and opponents are disarmed, forced to swear allegiance to the new caliphate and killed if they resist.

The West may have to pay a price for its alliance with Saudi Arabia and the Gulf monarchies, which have always found Sunni jihadism more attractive than democracy. A striking example of double standards by the western powers was the Saudi-backed suppression of peaceful democratic protests by the Shia majority in Bahrain in March 2011. Some 1,500 Saudi troops were sent across the causeway to the island kingdom as the demonstrations were ended with great brutality and Shia mosques and shrines were destroyed.

An alibi used by the US and Britain is that the Sunni al-Khalifa royal family in Bahrain is pursuing dialogue and reform. But this excuse looked thin last week as Bahrain expelled a top US diplomat, the assistant secretary of state for human rights Tom Malinowksi, for meeting leaders of the main Shia opposition party al-Wifaq. Mr Malinowski tweeted that the Bahrain government’s action was “not about me but about undermining dialogue”.

Iraqi leader al-Maliki

Iraqi leader al-Maliki

Western powers and their regional allies have largely escaped criticism for their role in reigniting the war in Iraq. Publicly and privately, they have blamed the Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for persecuting and marginalising the Sunni minority, so provoking them into supporting the Isis-led revolt. There is much truth in this, but it is by no means the whole story. Maliki did enough to enrage the Sunni, partly because he wanted to frighten Shia voters into supporting him in the 30 April election by claiming to be the Shia community’s protector against Sunni counter-revolution.

But for all his gargantuan mistakes, Maliki’s failings are not the reason why the Iraqi state is disintegrating. What destabilised Iraq from 2011 on was the revolt of the Sunni in Syria and the takeover of that revolt by jihadis, who were often sponsored by donors in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and United Arab Emirates. Again and again Iraqi politicians warned that by not seeking to close down the civil war in Syria, Western leaders were making it inevitable that the conflict in Iraq would restart. “I guess they just didn’t believe us and were fixated on getting rid of [President Bashar al-] Assad,” said an Iraqi leader in Baghdad last week.

Of course, US and British politicians and diplomats would argue that they were in no position to bring an end to the Syrian conflict. But this is misleading. By insisting that peace negotiations must be about the departure of Assad from power, something that was never going to happen since Assad held most of the cities in the country and his troops were advancing, the US and Britain made sure the war would continue.

The chief beneficiary is Isis which over the last two weeks has been mopping up the last opposition to its rule in eastern Syria. The Kurds in the north and the official al-Qa’ida representative, Jabhat al-Nusra, are faltering under the impact of Isis forces high in morale and using tanks and artillery captured from the Iraqi army. It is also, without the rest of the world taking notice, taking over many of the Syrian oil wells that it did not already control.

The Shia Al-Qubba Husseiniya mosque in Mosul explodes

The Shia Al-Qubba Husseiniya mosque in Mosul explodes

Saudi Arabia has created a Frankenstein’s monster over which it is rapidly losing control. The same is true of its allies such as Turkey which has been a vital back-base for Isis and Jabhat al-Nusra by keeping the 510-mile-long Turkish-Syrian border open. As Kurdish-held border crossings fall to Isis, Turkey will find it has a new neighbour of extraordinary violence, and one deeply ungrateful for past favours from the Turkish intelligence service.

As for Saudi Arabia, it may come to regret its support for the Sunni revolts in Syria and Iraq as jihadi social media begins to speak of the House of Saud as its next target. It is the unnamed head of Saudi General Intelligence quoted by Dearlove after 9/11 who is turning out to have analysed the potential threat to Saudi Arabia correctly and not Prince Bandar, which may explain why the latter was sacked earlier this year.

Nor is this the only point on which Prince Bandar was dangerously mistaken. The rise of Isis is bad news for the Shia of Iraq but it is worse news for the Sunni whose leadership has been ceded to a pathologically bloodthirsty and intolerant movement, a sort of Islamic Khmer Rouge, which has no aim but war without end.

The Sunni caliphate rules a large, impoverished and isolated area from which people are fleeing. Several million Sunni in and around Baghdad are vulnerable to attack and 255 Sunni prisoners have already been massacred. In the long term, Isis cannot win, but its mix of fanaticism and good organisation makes it difficult to dislodge.

“God help the Shia,” said Prince Bandar, but, partly thanks to him, the shattered Sunni communities of Iraq and Syria may need divine help even more than the Shia.

May 10, 2015

Al-Jazeera Host Incites Genocidal Hatred Towards Syrian Alawites

by mkleit

almasdar

The controversial Syrian host of Al-Jazeera’s “The Opposite Direction”, Dr. Faisal Al-Qassem, posted a disturbing tweet on Wednesday, inciting sectarian hatred and blame towards the minority Alawite Muslims for allegedly “destroying” Syria for their own personal interests.

In his tweet, Dr. Faisal Al-Qassem asks the Syrian people if they would like avenge the Alawites of Syria for destroying the country; this tweet followed the main topic of his TV program on Tuesday, where he invited a number of guests to discuss the Alawite situation at the Islamist controlled city of Jisr Al-Shughour in Syria.

For over an hour, the tweet was shared by numerous Twitter accounts that not only questioned his professionalism, but also, his motives, as Dr. Qassem pinned blame on this minority religious group as a whole.

Finally, after receiving an unexpected number of tweets condemning his post, Dr. Qassem deleted the tweet; however, this was not before he engaged Dr. Joshua Landis – Associate Professor at the University of Oklahoma – in a heated conversation on Twitter, further proving his bias and antipathy for Alawites.

Dr. Qassem is notorious for making comments that have stirred-up controversy in the past (e.g. Lebanese Army comments in 2014), but never to the extent of inciting genocidal thoughts against a Levantine religious group.

Faisal’s Tweet: Isn’t it the Syrians’ right to take vengeance from Alawites that destroyed Syria and displaced its people for their own interests?

May 7, 2015

Preaching Hate and Sectarianism in the Gulf

by mkleit

Why did Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates provide a pulpit for a firebrand cleric who calls for the destruction of Shiites, Alawites, Christians, and Jews?

BY OREN ADAKI, DAVID ANDREW WEINBERG

Source

Arab Gulf states

Saudi Arabia expands its involvement in wars across the Middle East, the kingdom has given a platform to an extremist cleric who seems to believe this struggle is not just against the Islamic State or rivals in Yemen. Saad bin Ateeq al-Ateeq, a Saudi preacher with long-standing ties to the kingdom’s government, recently called upon God to “destroy” Shiites, Alawites, Christians, and Jews.

Saudi King Salman insists that Sunni-Shiite hatred only motivates intervention in Yemen by other “regional powers” — meaning Iran. Ateeq, however, tells a different story: Speaking to the Saudi state news channel al-Ekhbariya one day after Riyadh went to war, he argued that Yemen’s lands were designated “purely for monotheism” and “may not be polluted, neither by Houthis nor Iranians.” He labeled these groups “rafidis,” a derogatory label bashing Shiite Islam, and ominously elaborated: “We are cleansing the land from these rats.”

Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates — the three most influential members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) — have recently displayed surprising unity through their shared participation in multilateral military operations, first against the Islamic State in Syria and now against Houthi insurgents in Yemen.

Yet these three governments have another thing in common — each has provided a platform for the radical preaching of Ateeq, whose toxic incitement against other religions parallels the narrative of terrorist groups such as the Islamic State and al Qaeda. That America’s allies would tolerate a religious leader as extreme as this Saudi preacher poses a threat to U.S. interests and suggests the Gulf is failing to live up to its explicit commitments to repudiate the Islamic State’s hateful ideology.

It’s not like these Persian Gulf states can claim not to know about Ateeq’s hate-filled rhetoric — he has been repeating it for years in prominent, government-affiliated places of worship. Earlier this year, Ateeq delivered a televised sermon at Qatar’s state-controlled Grand Mosque beseeching God to “destroy the Jews and whoever made them Jews, and destroy the Christians and the Alawites and whoever made them Christian, and the Shiites and whoever made them Shiite.” He also prayed for God to “save [the] Al-Aqsa [mosque in Jerusalem] from the claws of the Jews.”

Yet calling for the wholesale destruction of other religions appears to be one of the preacher’s favorite refrains. In February 2013, Ateeq delivered a Fridaysermon at Qatar’s Grand Mosque using an almost identical formulation, once again urging God to destroy the Christians and Jews. Similarly, in October of that year, Ateeq declared from Qatar’s Grand Mosque that Jews and Christians are enemies of God, and this February he delivered anothersermon, apparently from Sudan, calling for the destruction of Christians, Alawites, Shiites, and Jews.

When approached for comment regarding Ateeq’s views, Ali Saad al-Hajiri, the director of the media office at the Qatari Embassy in Washington, D.C., said Doha “in no way endorses or supports this individual” and “rejects any divisions in Arab society along sectarian lines.” Hajiri added that Qatar “faces the challenge of balancing the needs of a free society and freedom of speech with the need to take the strongest possible stance against terrorism and hate speech.” The Saudi and Emirati embassies in Washington did not respond to requests for comment.

Despite Ateeq’s unmistakable incitement of religious hatred, he is treated as an establishment figure in the Gulf. He regularly preaches in Qatar, addressing crowds in the gas-rich emirate on at least 13 occasions since 2010, typically as a guest of Qatar’s Ministry of IslamicAffairs. Notably, half of these invitations transpired after his 2013 sermon under government supervision calling for the destruction of other religions. He has spoken several times to different branches of Qatar’s security services: According to local media, one lecture in July 2013 to the Qatari navy, a frequent U.S. military partner in the Gulf, was attended by the commander of the Qatari Royal Navy Forces; that same month, Ateeq gave another lectureto security officials organized by the Qatari Interior Ministry’s airport security and airport passports departments. Qatar has invested billions of dollars in its airports in hopes of becoming a global aviation hub, and the Interior Ministry is Washington’s main interlocutor for discussing terror finance.

But it’s not just Qatar, which has long been accused of turning a blind eye to Islamist radicals, that has lent official legitimacy to Ateeq’s message. The United Arab Emirates (UAE), which has arrayed itself against Islamist forces in Egypt and Libya, has also given him a platform: In July 2014, the preacherwas featured as a speaker at the Dubai International Holy Quran Award, a yearly competition promoting Quranic memorization and Islamic culture. The event was organized “under the sponsorship” of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the vice president and prime minister of the UAE as well as the ruler of Dubai.

According to Sheikh Mohammed’s official website, his advisor for humanitarian and cultural affairs — who chaired the contest’s organizing committee — announced that Ateeq would be attending as one of the “elite group of scholars and preachers” hosted by the event. Ateeq singled out the advisor in the audience by name, saying that he deserved the “thanks of God,” and the two were photographed shaking hands on stage.

Yet it is Saudi Arabia where Ateeq has most firmly embedded himself within government institutions. According to the biography on his website, heserves as a “supervisor for Islamic awareness” at the Saudi Education Ministry and directs an Islamic awareness council at the Riyadh regional government’s Department of Education. His involvement with Riyadh’s education department apparently goes back to the days when Saudi Arabia’s current king was the region’s governor. Ateeq has regularly been involved in educational events in the region, including lecturing to children.

Ateeq also exerts an influence over the next generation of the Saudi armed forces, serving as the director of the Guidance Office for housing at King Khaled Military Academy (KKMA). The academy is classified by the Saudi Arabian National Guard Ministry as one of its “departments and units,” and graduates of the academy automatically earn the rank of lieutenant. His role as a preacher at the university goes back to 1994, when Saudi Arabia’s late — supposedly reformist — King Abdullah was the commander in charge of the National Guard.

Ateeq also has contributed in other ways to shaping the ideology of members of the Saudi security forces. In 2013, the Interior Ministry’s Facilities Security Force (FSF), which is in charge of protecting Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities,hosted Ateeq at its headquarters to run a seminar under the direction of the FSF’s commanding general regarding the hajj, including how to treat pilgrims properly. The Interior Ministry is under the control of Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, who was just promoted to next in line to inherit the Saudi throne.

Further, Ateeq’s biography states that he chairs the board of a quasi-governmental Saudi religious authority known as the Cooperative Office for Preaching, Guidance, and Direction in the Neighborhoods of West Naseem in Riyadh. Such cooperative offices around Saudi Arabia have sponsored dozens of Ateeq’s lectures throughout the country, with fliers featuring the logo of the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, which supervises the government-subsidized offices. Saudi Arabia’s official news wire has similarly promoteddozens of lectures by Ateeq, going back as far as a decade.

This March, Ateeq delivered a lecture at Riyadh’s King Khaled Mosque. The mosque’s “religious and social activities” come with the “sponsorship” of the King Khaled Charitable Foundation, the board of which is overseen by six princes and princesses fathered by the late King Khaled. Fliers used by the mosque to promote Ateeq’s lecture included logos of the Saudi Islamic Affairs Ministry and the late king’s foundation, and the foundation’s logo was also prominently featured behind Ateeq during his talk. The King Khaled Charitable Foundation did not respond to requests for comment on its involvement with Ateeq.

It is perhaps an irony of the Arabic language that Ateeq’s last name translates to “archaic” or “antiquated,” since he embodies the Gulf’s most backward impulses. But the Saudi preacher’s obvious incitement is far from an isolated case: The kingdom systematically indoctrinates its youth with hateful views in official, government-published school textbooks. Recent government-published textbooks state that those who renounce Islam to convert to another religion should be killed and that the most important debate about homosexuality is how gay people should be murdered. That is unlikely to change anytime soon so long as religious hard-liners such as Ateeq are granted influence over the Saudi education system.

As the region’s superpower patron, it is up to Washington to voice its displeasure about the continued flow of state privileges to preachers of hate. Such incitement undoubtedly poses a long-term threat to the fight against terrorism and to U.S. national security.

U.S. President Barack Obama should say as much when he sits down with GCC leaders at Camp David later this month. The president himself warned recently that the Gulf states face an internal threat from a “destructive and nihilistic” ideology; when he meets with the Gulf leaders, he can argue that tackling this sort of religious incitement is in these regimes’ best interest. By providing an official platform to hate preachers such as Ateeq, Gulf rulers are feeding an ideological chimera that threatens their ultimate survival.

April 4, 2015

Who’s more dangerous, ISIL or Houthis?

by mkleit

 Telegraph

Iraqi soldier in the markets of Karbala https://www.flickr.com/photos/98070911@N05/16446372336/

Iraqi soldier in the markets of Karbala
https://www.flickr.com/photos/98070911@N05/16446372336/

“We neither need sympathy nor denunciations; we need better weapons and more ammunition!” – Haidar, an Iraqi soldier keeping an eagle’s eye on a busy market in Kadimiya, a district located northern Baghdad, while replying to the merchants’ salutations as he walks by their small colorful shops, which covered the atmosphere with the scent of spices and Arabian musk. “We are strong, but we’re exhausted as well (..) it takes one day to assemble forces and launch an attack on terrorism”, implying to the fact that none of the Arab nations have come to aid Iraqis against the threat of the Islamic State in Iraq and Levant “ISIL”, unlike what is happening nowadays in Yemen

A Saudi-led aerial assault hit Yemeni capital, Sanaa, alongside other Houthi-controlled areas, after Yemeni president Abed Rabbu Mansour’s request to “protect Yemen from Houthis”; but why haven’t the 10 participating Arab and Asian nations did the same thing when ISIL conquered much of Western Iraq and North-Eastern Syria?

Probably the answer lies in the Bab el Mandeb, the world’s most strategic and profitable strait, found in the southwest of the Arabian Peninsula. Almost 3,300,000 oil barrels pass daily through that very strait, which is equivalent to 4% of global demand, as well as 21,000 trade vessels annually, which is 10% of global trade shipment movements. Once Houthis have reached the provinces surrounding Bab el Mandeb, Saudis have declared war against Houthis and stated that it is a case of “national security and interests”, without giving any sort of hard evidence proving so, probably because Saudis would not want another strait controlled by “the enemy”, such the Iranian-controlled Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf

Moreover, Houthis have sufficed for solely rejecting Saudi interference in Yemeni affairs; ISIL leaders have recently stated that Saudi Arabia is a target-country, urging its followers in the kingdom to target economical institutes and social gatherings. Even before that, assassinated al-Qaeda leader in Yemen Anwar al-Awlaki has repeatedly called for attacks against Saudi Arabia for the latter’s cooperation with “the imperialist powers against the Islamic Umma”

Another answer might be found in the oil wells of Iraq and Syria.  So far, ISIL has been indirectly serving the Saudi oil monopoly and trade – Saudi Arabia has 18% of petroleum reserves and prominent petroleum exporter worldwide – in face of other regional rivals, especially Iraq, which has the fifth largest oil reserves, yet the terrorist group controls a big portion of the oil wells

The third answer is in the ideological and religious closeness of ISIL and Saudi Arabia’s religious authority. Unlike Houthis, whom are Yazdi-Shiites of the Islamic religion, ISIL and Saudi Arabia’s religious authority share many methods of internal governance, such rule of Wahhabist law, forcing women to wear burqa’, imprisoning activists for charges of defamation of royalty or religious figures; though they slightly differ in political goals – each wants a pan-Islamic governance for itself.

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