No Turkish Delight in Syria: the Dilemma Beyond Kobani……..

_9OJik4N_normal Sharqeya-Baneen-15    DennyCreek2

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The Song of Istanbul, or——–> Turkish Delight

“Just a few kilometers away from the Turkish border, the war is raging. In the Kurdish city of Kobani, US jets bomb Islamic State positions while the town’s last defenders, equipped with more grit than guns, fight the jihadists on the ground. As the Turkish army impassively watches the deadly battle from its side of the boundary with Syria, it has opened its own mini-front on the outskirts of Suruç, a Turkish border city…………. The scene is prosaic and absurd…… Now that the city is being threatened with destruction by Islamic State Ankara is doing nothing to prevent it, and thus putting the future of Turkish-Kurdish reconciliation in danger — and domestic peace along with it……………”

In our native region we are obsessed with history, especially older history that spans the old Islamic Empire and goes beyond that to the Persian and Egyptian and other civilizations. Maybe it is so because the present is so dismal when compared to the distant past. Thus many Arabs have joked in recent years about a return of another not-too-distant era, a new Ottoman-less Empire with Caliph Erdogan as its leader.
Turkey probably did as much as anybody else to enable the ISIS and the Al-Nusra Front and other terrorist groups, to help them rise and thrive. Turkish help was essential for them to take hold of the Syrian uprising of 2011. It is true that the basic elements, the money, the weapons, and much of the volunteers came from among foreign Wahhabis, from the Persian Gulf to North Africa to Europe. But all these elements could not be of any use unless they reached Syria (and Iraq). Even Senator John McCain could not have snuck into Syria illegally without Turkish cooperation. Thus the role of Turkey in the past three years.

The Erdogan government believed some of the Gulf Arab and Western propaganda about an imminent early fall of the Al Assad regime in 2011. It gambled on that outcome and lost, and it has dug in deeper since. Now it seems that when the dust settles it may lose more than its expansionist Islamist face.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Paranoid Gulf Opposition: Dastardly Secret Alliances in the Eastern Mediterranean…..

_9OJik4N_normal Sharqeya-Baneen-15    DennyCreek2

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Following the currents of Saudi opinion on the media and especially the more spontaneous social media is becoming more interesting than ever. The traditional media is not as important anymore, since it is owned, controlled, or otherwise preempted by the rulers and their oligarchy allies. This applies to other Gulf countries as well.

The various shades of the Wahhabi opposition in Saudi Arabia are now very active on social media. They are now the most active, more active than the ‘traditional’ liberal (or the Wahhabi-liberal?) opposition. For one, the Wahhabi opposition are more driven and more ambitious, as more extreme groups often are, than the traditional opposition. They are more absolutist and more active, which sometimes makes them the ‘main opposition’ by sheer noise and default. Remember Lenin and Trotsky and the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks? Or Khomenie and the Tudeh Communists and the Mujahideen-e-Khalq? Or Hitler and von Hindenburg?
And the educational system and the theocratic bureaucracy still reinforce their ideology of excommunicating and killing the ‘others’.

The Saudi Wahhabi opposition has lately been trying to make a case for the existence of a secret alliance between the Al Saud and the resurgent Houthis in Yemen. They also try to make a case for a secret alliance between the Al Saud and Bashar Al Assad, between the Al Saud and the ruling Shi’a-Kurdish blocs in Iraq: plotting against the ISIS Caliphate and, in their words, “against the Sunnis”. During moments of wild clarity they even tie the Al Saud to Hezbollah of Lebanon, their main nemesis in the eastern Mediterranean. Need I elaborate on where this is leading? No, it it clear that this all leads to Tehran and Qom, via Karbala and Najaf.

To wit: the Al Saud, alleged guardians of the Wahhabi right, are in fact secret allies of the Shi’a left. But the Wahhabi and no-so-Wahhabi argument is commonly heard along the Paranoid Persian Gulf that the mullahs of Iran and their allies from Baghdad to Damascus to Beirut are secret allies of the United States. Hence, they are secret allies of Israel (to the delusional faithful it is a.k.a. TZE: The Zionist Entity).

This paranoia is more frenzied than ever these days, as the nuclear talks move on and the U.S. Knesset Congress has calmed down about its idiotic lobbyist-driven drive to bomb and maybe invade Iran. (BTW: how come the U.S. Congress never threaten to bomb North Korea, for example? Is it because it is not Muslim? Is it because of the aforementioned TZE? Is it both?)

One conclusion drawn by some of the leaders of this Wahhabi opposition is that “the Al saud will never execute Shaikh Nimr Al Nimr” (the Shi’a cleric who was sentenced to be beheaded and crucified). They opine this conclusion:”the Al Saud will never dare execute  him“, they write regretfully. This is supposed to be proof that they are in cahoots with the ‘unbelievers’. Or maybe they are just trying to dare the rulers into chopping the head of Al Nimr and crucifying him.

Cheers
MHG

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Oil Weapon Redux: Saudi Oil Policy vs. Iranian Regional Policy vs. Ebola vs. Obama Sanctions……..

_9OJik4N_normal Sharqeya-Baneen-15    DennyCreek2

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There is new speculation about the ‘oil weapon’ in Arab media, in independent Arab media that is not owned by the Saudi or UAE or Qatari princes and potentates. This speculation has now also spilled into some Western media outlets. It claims that the Saudis, the usual crude oil ‘swing producers‘ of OPEC, are not playing their usual role these days. And they attribute this to regional strategic reasons.
The speculation is that the Saudis want to apply some economic pressure on their Iranian rivals (and perhaps on the Russians as well). Not the kind of direct crude type of economic pressure in the form of the blockades used by the Obama administration, but a more genteel ‘market’ type of pressure. If oil prices are low enough, this theory seems to go, then the Iranians will feel the economic pinch and reduce their support for Al Assad in Syria, Hezbollah in Lebanon, and perhaps reduce their involvement in Iraq and other places.

The idea is not new: it was expressed by the Saudis after they lost out in Iraq a few years ago. At the time, some minion at the Saudi Embassy in Washington opined in American media (the Washington Post?) that his country can drown the market in oil and hurt the Iranians. I wrote then (presciently?) that this may be a delusion, that the Saudis themselves cannot afford very low oil prices, given population growth and emerging political pressures at home.
The reduction in oil prices also coincided with the initial Ebola panic which impacted the travel outlook and hence the demand for fuel.

As if responding to this policy, or speculation about it, the Iranians have just announced a huge offer of weapons for the Lebanese military (which is secular but represents the sectarian and confessional divisions within that country). They seem to be in a race with the Saudis (who earlier announced a conditional $3-4 billion of French weapons) and the Americans to arm the (so far multi-sectarian) Lebanese military.

Cheers
MHG 

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

French Islamic Micromanagement: Culture Wars and Democracy from Paris to the Gulf……..

_9OJik4N_normal Sharqeya-Baneen-15    DennyCreek2

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“France’s government is drawing up a new set of rules for theatres after Paris Opera ejected woman for wearing a veil during a performance, the institution’s deputy director said Sunday. The incident took place when a veiled woman was spotted on the front row of a performance of La Traviata at the Opera Bastille, Jean-Philippe Thiellay told AFP, confirming a media report. France brought in a law in 2011 banning anyone from wearing clothing that conceals the face in a public space, or face a 150 euro ($190) fine………. France’s ministry of culture said a bill was currently being drafted to remind theatres, museums and other public institutions under its supervision of the rules regarding veils……..”


The French worry a lot about losing ‘their culture’. Years ago they imposed rules and limits on how much foreign music French radio stations could broadcast. I am not sure how that affected stations that broadcast classical music: since the overwhelming majority of composers were Austrian, German, and Russian, with a smattering of other nationalities, including French. They were mainly worried about American music. Maybe that is why they were skeptical about NATO: they saw it as an Anglo-Saxon creation. They also tried to eliminate or limit ‘English’ words used in French media (no attempt was made to eradicate Latin influence since the original language of Gaul has vanished into it).

Now they continue to worry about hijab and niqab and Arabic (I have seen normally-rude Paris CDG airport staff openly mocking Arabic in front of foreign visitors). Yet, when they talk about ‘their culture’, they must mean the whole culture in France. That must surely include the ‘culture’ of the millions of French citizens and residents who are not of European descent. That means North African and African as well. Come to think of it, the French are as much in cultural denial as we are on the Gulf. This French denial is almost like, say, if the rulers of the United Arab Emirates ban such languages as Hindi or Urdu, which a majority of the population of the UAE and Qatar speak.

I am not fond of the Neqab or Burqa: they raise security issues at airports and elsewhere. They are also probably imposed on many of the women who wear them. But I must admit that some of these women are probably better off to keep on wearing them. After all, occasionally there is something positive to be said for the imagination. Yet all this also has some worldwide implications.

So, maybe if and when a majority of the French parliament become of Muslim descent, then maybe this attire policy will change. Just as it is possible now for the UAE parliament, for example, to vote to make Hindi and Urdu official languages. 
Wait, my bad: there is no elected parliament in the UAE. Maybe after they impose free elections in a liberated Syria they will import the idea and have their own free elections. The same can apply for the Saudis and the Qataris. I can’t wait to see King Whatishisname and Shaikh Whatishisass bumbling in election debates.
Cheers
MHG

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Saudi Rainbow Opposition: Reactions to Regional Turmoil and ISIS………

_9OJik4N_normal Sharqeya-Baneen-15    DennyCreek2

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Saudi Arabia has several different kinds, actually strains, of opposition to the Al Saud rule and policies. It is a diverse rainbow of opposing opposition groups. There are three main strains:

  • There are relatively liberal human rights advocates among the educated city folks, but they are mostly heavily monitored and repressed. These are focused on the domestic issues of freedom and corruption and advocating for a civic society. Often they are thrown in prison on trumped up charges, as many ACPRAHR leaders are.
  • There are the marginalized restive Shi’as in their native homeland of the Eastern Province who have been restless and in an uprising mood for years.
  • Then there is a more interesting but growing animal, the relatively recent Wahhabi opposition. A Wahhabi opposition to a Wahhabi theocratic monarchy. Needless to say, these latter are groups that were born of the domestic and foreign efforts of the Saudi system itself.

This last one is a bit odd, since the Salafis, like the rest of the Saudi political and religious establishment, believe in obeying the Wahhabi ruler no matter what. In that they rely on an old Hadith, or a quote that alleges to quote the Prophet Mohammed about obedience to a ‘Muslim’ ruler. By their doctrine they can justify it only by insisting that a particular ruler is “not Muslim”, which these days means “not Wahhabi enough”. Of course they believe that anyone who i not a Wahhabi/Salafi is not a Muslim: that is how they justify blowing up Iraqi and Syrian civilians and beheading them and enslaving their women as sex concubines.

Needless to say much of this last Wahhabi opposition supports the more extremist groups like Al-Qaeda, AQAP, and especially the Caliphate of ISIS and Al-Nusra Front and their ilk in recent years. They focus exclusively on aiding these Jihadist groups from Yemen to Syria and Iraq and beyond. Yet like some other tribal/Salafi opposition movements on the Persian Gulf these latter are violently against the continuing Bahrain protests and are happy to have the Al Saud help crush them. These groups are also very active on the Internet social media. Some of their top “activists” have followers in the millions. They seem to have three main complaints:

  1.  the Al Saud are not following the true Salafi line of Islam. That is the only way a Salafi can justify disobedience;
  2. the Al Saud are too nice to the local Shi’as (as well as to those in Iran and Iraq and the Houthis in Yemen);
  3. the Al Saud are plotting with all of the above as well as with Al Assad of Syria against the true faithful of the ISIS Caliphate and Al Qaeda. Occasionally they throw in Israel and the United States, probably just to cover all their bases. This line in support of ISIS is also taken by other such Gulf groups, including much of the Kuwait opposition which also, oddly, rejects any local criticism of the Al Saud even as they blast the local ruling family.

These are Wahhabi ‘activists’ on the social media, although I believe the more prominent ones are doing it from the safety of Western capitals. None of them, as far as I know, has offered to relocate in Raqqa (Syria) or Mosul (Iraq). Mostly the more prominent among them comment openly under their own names. One of the most popular of them goes under the nom de plume of Mujtahidd (various meanings in Arabic: hard working, originator of ideas, interpreter of Shari’a, etc). He is not shy to comment freely, but is too ‘shy’ to write under his own name, which some might think makes him a bit less “hammam” than he claims to be in his brief Twitter bio. But he claims to have access to insider information deep within the Saudi power structure, sort of like those Hollywood gossip columnists of a bygone pre-Internet era.

Good news for the Al Saud: these various ‘opposition’ groups seem like young children, playing around each other rather than with each other. Studiously avoiding crossing paths. Ideological, tribal, and sectarian factors keep them separate and that keeps the Al Saud happy. This division of the opposition is certain to continue. 

Cheers
MHG

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Draining the Swamp: from the Gulf to Pakistan and Iraq and Europe………

_9OJik4N_normal Sharqeya-Baneen-15    DennyCreek2

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“As an Ahmadi leader in his locality, Kahloun knew he was a target for hired assassins in the bustling but lawless metropolis of Karachi. General insecurity in Pakistan is multiplied manifold if you are, like Kahloun, an Ahmadi – a sect of Islam that many orthodox Muslims abhor as heretic. “I never thought they would target my family,” says Kahloun, 57, a successful businessman who left everything behind, obtained political asylum and moved to Memphis, Tennessee, where he lives with his wife and daughter. In 1974, under pressure from Saudi Arabia, Pakistan’s parliament declared Ahmadis as non-Muslim (similarly pressured, the newly independent Bangladesh refused). A decade later, a military dictator made it a criminal offence for them to “pretend” to be Muslims…………”

The influence of Wahhabi oil money and Wahhabi ideology and overseas teachings is now worldwide. This phenomenon is widespread, having seeped like Persian Gulf crude petroleum, like petro-money, across the globe. There is so much hatred where none existed before. There is active intolerance, violent discrimination and mass sectarian murder in Pakistan and Indonesia. There is now religious and sectarian discrimination in Malaysia, in once-tolerant Egypt and North Africa. In Iraq, thousands of civilians are killed on the street because of the suspicion they might be of the wrong sect or faith. In the Wahhabi-ized ‘liberated’ parts of Syria and Iraq, women and girls of other faiths and sects are captured, used, sold, and bought as sex slaves. In Western cities, they collect money, distribute money, enlist volunteers, inject them with hatred and send them back to our region to kill, maim, and enslave.

The Wahhabis carry their hatred with them into exile, creating new forms of discrimination and potential violence deep inside European cities. Against their hosts and against people of other faiths and sects, including Muslims.

We all know who is fighting and murdering in Syria and Iraq and Yemen and North Africa and other places. We also know who has the funds to finance them. It takes many millions to run a Caliphate, much more than the revenues from a few oil wells they control in Syria. Many of the Jihadi volunteers come from the West, fueled by Persian Gulf money and the Wahhabi ideology of hate from the cradle of sectarianism. Perhaps helped along by alienation in European society: but it must take a lot of alienation to mow down, mass murder, innocent civilians.

That ideology, most of the killers, and the money that sustains it mostly come from the absolute tribal princes and potentates. The same princes and potentates on whom the West is now pretending to rely for salvation in Syria and Iraq. The ones Mr. Obama “is proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with“.

Is it any wonder few have faith in the outcome of this war? Is it any wonder most Arabs who cannot express themselves in the vast controlled Saudi and Emirati and Qatari media are skeptical?

After the 9/11 attacks, George W Bush liked to speak of ‘draining the swamp‘. He was focusing on the wrong swamps: Taliban-controlled Wahhabi Afghanistan and secular Baathist Iraq. He may have misunderstood or was ill-advised. The genesis, the true swamp from whence Al-Qaeda launched its terrorism was not in Afghanistan or Iraq: it was, and still is, within the realm of some of his allies.

The bloody trails from the killing fields of Syria and Iraq and other places lead in that direction.

Cheers
MHG

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

A Kingdom of Beheading and Crucifixion: Wahhabi ‘Justice’ Rides a Tiger in Qatif………

_9OJik4N_normal Sharqeya-Baneen-15    DennyCreek2

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“A well-known Shiite cleric was sentenced to death Wednesday by a court in Saudi Arabia, sparking fears of renewed unrest from his supporters in the kingdom and neighboring Bahrain……….. Al-Nimr had faced charges that include disobeying the ruler, firing on security forces, sowing discord, undermining national unity and interfering in the affairs of a sisterly nation. A statement by the cleric’s family described the verdict as discretionary, saying the judge had the option of ordering a lighter sentence. The family said the verdict sets a “dangerous precedent for decades to come. Prosecutors asked for execution followed by crucifixion…………”

Mr. Obama famously claimed last month that he was “proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with allies in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, etc, etc……….” That is what we can politely call doublespeak: I doubt that privately he is really proud of it: no American can or should be.


So
, maybe he will get an invitation to attend this execution of Al Nimr, this beheading and crucifixion, in a public square. It is, after all, a moderate Arab execution, carried on by a tolerant freedom-loving, democracy-seeking family oligarchy that is trying hard to liberate Syria (and probably Iraq) for the joys of Wahhabism. And, more important in this case, it is tinged with the aroma of petroleum and lucrative weapons deals and not an insubstantial dose of the odor of corruption.

Al-Nimr was arrested under suspicious and almost certainly phony pretexts, a common practice of Saudi internal security services. His will be only the latest of many executions by beheading and crucifixion in the Kingdom Without Magic. Yet his case sets a terrible precedent: he is an activist cleric who avoided violence and is very popular with the native Shi’as of the Eastern Province. I have heard and watched him in action: he may be the best and most-stirring Arab orator of recent times. Perhaps that dangerous charisma, so different from the distinctly un-charismatic and uninspiring Al Saud, is what made him such a target of their malevolence. No doubt his harsh sentence also somehow fits into the power struggle raging between Saudi princelings over who will inherit the throne and the peoples of the Arabian Peninsula from the current elderly rulers.

Al Nimr‘s name means Tiger in Arabic. It could be an omen: the princes could be riding a wilder tiger than they think.

(FYI: Death by beheading is the method used in the Wahhabi kingdom. This year so far more than 50 people have been reported beheaded by the sword. Sometimes the convict is also crucified, depending on the crime. So the regime must be truly angry with cleric Al-Nimr. The biggest one-day ‘batch’ of Saudi executions by beheading that I know of occurred in September of 1989. That was when 16 young Kuwaiti Shi’as were executed by beheading in the kingdom. Probably all in one day. It was done North Korean style: there was no prior media report of a trial or an appeal. They were accused of plotting bombings in Mecca, a strange and blasphemous thing for any Muslim to plot. Nobody knows what happened to them after that. To this day the Saudis insist on keeping their remains. They refuse to send the bodies, the remains, back home to their families. The dead remain in forced exile among their executioners).

Cheers
MHG

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Revenge of Yemeni Nerds? New ‘Liberators’ Trounce Old Guard Tribal Islamists………

_9OJik4N_normal Sharqeya-Baneen-15    DennyCreek2

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“The Houthis’ rise to power reached a new peak in September, when the group successfully seized control over the capital, Sanaa, following a seemingly effortless armed campaign. Prior to the group’s arrival in Sanaa, the Houthis trailed across Northern Yemen, dislodging and challenging Yemen’s main powerhouse, Islah — a faction that acts as a political umbrella for several groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafis — at every corner of every road. Yemen’s former undesirables accomplished what no one thought possible when they defeated Islah’s founding tribal family, the Ahmars, in their ancestral home of Amran, thus throwing the country’s balance of power off its axis. Endowed with a new sense of power, Abdul-Malik al-Houthi presented himself as the vessel of Yemenis’ discontents, the spokesperson of the weak and the poor, the liberator of Yemen…………”

This article makes it seem as if the Houthis were the classic unpopular abused ‘nerds‘ of Yemen who got their revenge in the end. Sort of like some people might think of Hezbollah compared to the bygone Lebanese society preceding the civil war years. Maybe it was so, but it is too early to tell in Yemen. It is always too early to tell how things will turn out in Yemen, just as it is in Afghanistan.

Yemen has had close tribal and trade ties with the Hijaz region of the Arabian Peninsula since pre-Islamic days. It is all mentioned, nay recorded, in the Holy Quran. The Al Saud invaded the country in the 1930s but wisely pulled back after annexing a huge chunk of the northern part of that country.

In 1962 the Imamate monarchy of Hammediddeen was overthrown by military officers, after failed earlier attempts. The new and newly-deposed Imam started a lasting Arab tradition: he sought asylum and military help from his family’s old enemies, the Al Saud. Among those the Saudis enlisted to help reverse the order in Yemen were the predecessors of the Houthis (or now Ansarallah). With Nasserist Egyptian forces helping the Republicans on their border, the Al Saud struck back. The British who were worried about their colony in Aden and the ever-willing humorless Jordanians also helped. Nasser did not win the Yemen war of attrition, but he managed to salvage a compromise out of it: a republican regime in Sana’a, but a conservative one. That Yemen War degraded and tied down the Egyptian military, and any fighting experience gained did not benefit it in facing the shocking Israeli blitzkrieg of 1967.

Saudi media that are owned by the royal princes like Asharq Alawsat, Al-Hayat, and Alarabiya, have now dug up photos and other material from those 1960s days to show that the Houthis are a bunch of savages. Except that they were doing then what the Al Saud have always done, what they still do.

More than forty years later the Al Saud tried for a repeat, sending a military incursion into Yemen for the third time since their kingdom was established. They tried to intervene militarily on the Yemeni border against a Houthi rebellion in 2009. The lightly-armed Houthis handed a resounding defeat to Prince General Field Marshal Khalid Bin Sultan Al Saud and his superbly-armed but inept military. Which means the Saudis and their Emirati sidekicks will now probably limit their intervention to what they can do best: pump more money and sponsor acts of political and other disruption.

But we know that Yemen is not hospitable territory for outside invaders and meddlers. The current Yemen conflict is further complicated by Al-Qaeda (AQAP) imported from Saudi Arabia, local Wahhabis nurtured by Saudi money and ideological education, and Southern separatists. Any foreign power that thinks it can tame the country by military force will be disappointed: just as the Egyptians and the Saudis were disappointed in the past. That is why Arab media speculation on the Gulf about a coming Iranian intervention is mostly propaganda aimed at discrediting the Houthis and their allies. They know that nothing can excite and motivate American policy-makers more than mentioning the dual threats of Al-Qaeda and growing Iranian influence.

Yet the Iranians have had an interest in Yemen in the past, the Persians even controlled the country in ancient times, appointing satraps to rule it. The mullahs know that Yemen pokes uncomfortably right into the Saudi ribcage, so it might be tempting for them. Last year Gulf media reported that a ship carrying weapons from Iran was apprehended off Yemen. But they are probably not reckless enough to intervene in Yemen directly, at least they are not that reckless yet. So far they have avoided direct military intervention even in the more vital conflicts in Syria and Iraq. And it is not clear how things will settle down in Yemen, if and when they do settle down.

But then wars and revolutions and military incursions have their own logic: they can take you in directions you had never intended to go…………

Cheers
MHG

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Final Iteration of the Free Syrian Army: End of a Wahhabi Shill in Syria……….

_9OJik4N_normal Sharqeya-Baneen-15    DennyCreek2

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“For most of the three years of the Syrian conflict, the U.S. ground game hinged on rebel militias that are loosely affiliated under the banner of the Free Syrian Army, or FSA. Their problems were no secret: a lack of cohesion, uneven fighting skills and frequent battlefield coordination with the al Qaida loyalists of the Nusra Front. This time, Allen said, the United States and its allies will work to strengthen the political opposition and make sure it’s tied to “a credible field force” that will have undergone an intense vetting process. “It’s not going to happen immediately,” Allen said……………..”

The Free Syrian Army (FSA) was from the beginning mainly a creation of foreign Arabs. Almost like the various iterations of the Syrian National Coalition (or Council) that hung around the luxury hotels of Istanbul and Qatar and Abu Dhabi. Keeping close to the sources of money, close to the royal forces of absolute counter-revolution and intolerance in the Arab world.

I called it in 2011 the Free Syrian Salafi Army, knowing were the support and the money and eventually the flow of men was coming from. As the Syrian conflict continued, it became clearer what the FSA was, in spite of royal Arab media on the Persian Gulf raising it to the level o a “liberation” army. They celebrated every colonel and sergeant and corporal who “defected” and hung around the Turkish border.

Yet the FSA became a shill for the true goal of the Wahhabis, and that became clearer with every passing month. It was the others that dominated the field with the FSA doing the cheerleading and excusing. The Jabhat Al-Nusra (I called them from the very beginning Jabhat Al-Qaeda) and the Ahrar Al-Sham, and all the Abu Al-WTF, and Jaish Al-Salafi and Ansar Al McCain, among others. FSA was ineffectual in the field. It became more like a Public Relations arm of the Salafis, defending acts of beheading and desecration and kidnappings of civilians.

Of course, the frustrated Saudis tried a ‘reset’ in Syria in 2013, when they attempted  to create their very own Army of Islam in Syria, along the (humorless) Jordanian border. Probably something like the old Ikhwan Wahhabi militias of their father Sultan King Andulaziz Ibn Saud. But it is hard to imagine any Islamist ‘zealots’ anywhere fighting for the glory of the Al Saud princes and princelings, even if they were well-paid. Predictably it did not get anywhere, so they reportedly focused again on a Jordanian (hence also by necessity also humorless) option.

This is apparently the last and final iteration of the FSA. I am doubtful that this new American ‘reset’ can be as effective as needed against ISIS, especially if the Saudis and Emiratis and Qataris are part of the game, the ‘ground’ game. It is like resorting to “a bit of the hair of the dog that bit you” but much less reliable. They will screw it up again, as only they know how to do, speaking militarily.


Logically, strategically, but probably not politically, the best allies to encircle and defeat the Caliphate of ISIS are the Iraqis and the Syrians. I mean the official armed forces. Do I here a collective gasp from Washington to Riyadh?

Imagine, General Whatishisname, formerly of West Point and Army War College, calling up former enemy Brigadier Qassem Suleimani of Al Quds Brigade and discussing campaign strategy in Iraq and Syria! Suleimani, assuming his pious masters are amenable, will also do as his American counterparts will do. He will grimace and take the call.

Enough to give any potentate in Riyadh or Abu Dhabi a royal tribal kleptocratic infarct. Enough to give many in the newly-to-be-elected U.S Congress some lobbyist-financed and inspired palpitations.

It is unlikely to happen, but the sheer amusement of thinking about it……………

Cheers
MHG

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Women of ISIS: Religion and Slavery and the Onus of Islamic History……….

_9OJik4N_normal Sharqeya-Baneen-15    DennyCreek2

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“Women in Syria and Iraq are at high risk for sexual enslavement by ISIS. ISIS is capturing, abusing, raping, trading, and selling women in areas it controls. America is politically polarized and citizens are divided on the U.S. policy on ISIS. Some think the U.S. should be doing more to combat the organization. They think America should use its full strength to ward off possible terrorist attacks on home soil. Others worry that air strikes will incur too many civilian deaths and collateral damage. They believe America should be more cautious about declaring war on another country in the Middle East………”

Classic slavery in the Middle East and North Africa lasted well after Europe and the Americas ended it. Slavery was ‘officially’ ended in Saudi Arabia only in the 1960s. In Mauritania, an Arab League member, there have been sporadic reports that slavery still exists.

Reports of Wahhabi Jihadis enslaving women and using them for sex and other labor are not exactly new. This Jihadi inclination has been more publicized in recent years, starting with developments in Iraq and Africa. These are a new wilder breed and they make their Al-Qaeda predecessors seem tame and absolutely family-oriented in comparison. (Maybe a case of “the devil you know“, etc).

Trafficking in women by these groups inside Iraq has been reported for years. Now, with full-blown wars raging in both Iraq and Syria and their territorial gains, they have the expanded access and the excuse to replenish their supply of females. The victims come mainly from among the religious minorities and non-Sunnis, but probably not exclusively so.
Others, including many in the West, also traffic in women as sex objects. But this new breed of Wahhabis are not subtle about it and they take it to historic extremes. They have a certain historical flair for the subject. They simplify the matter by throwing the onus on ancient history, blaming their ancient predecessors, their Salaf, for it.

They claim, and correctly, that early Muslims in the Arabian Peninsula took women as war booty after battles and often they sold them or used them as slaves and concubines. They also converted and married them in a few famous cases. But that was during the early ‘tribal stage’ of the expansion of Islam, when the battles were with and among the rival Arab tribes. A few of the battles were also against the Jewish tribes and clans of Madina and other parts of Hijaz in western Arabia. These latter battles also yielded slaves, concubines, and at least one famous very good wife.

Slavery existed from long before the three monotheistic religions appeared and continued long afterwards. It was an important part of the economy of the Roman Empire: the wealth and the income, the GNP. None of the major faiths of the Middle East, Judaism or Christianity or Islam, banned slavery. This is the basis of the alibi that the Caliphate of ISIS uses in taking female war captives and distributing them among its fighters to ‘use’ or sell or trade. It revives slavery because it existed under Islam and anything that existed under early Islam is considered kosher and mandatory by the Salafis.

That is why the Salafis are widely reputed in the Middle East to prefer toothpicks (miswak) to toothpaste (I am not being flippant here, it is common to profile them so in our Gulf region). You see, early Muslims did not have access to Crest or Colgate…………

Cheers
MHG

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Multidisciplinary: Middle East, North Africa, Gulf, GCC, World, Cosmos…..