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Posts Tagged ‘Shiite’

Kuwait Bans Sunni Cleric’s Show for Hate Speech

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013

Kuwait has banned the television show of a prominent Sunni Muslim cleric over accusations that he instigated hatred with speeches and comments on social media, Reuters reported.

Kuwaiti Information Minister Sheikh Salman al-Humoud al-Sabah said an investigation was pending regarding the permission that was given Shafi al-Ajmi to broadcast on state television. The show was cancelled after the first episode aired on Monday.

Ajmi has gained fame by calling for the torture and killing of the Shiite Hezbollah fighters in Syria.

“The Ministry of Information does not approve of airing episodes for any individual who instigates hatred and promotes such rhetoric,” Sheikh Salman told local media.

Ajmi has nearly a quarter of a million followers on Twitter, and he airs his anti-Shiite commentary is shown on YouTube.

Will Hezbollah Terrorism Save Israel from Delusional Peace with PA?

Monday, August 5th, 2013

“All of Palestine, from the sea to the river, must return to its people,” Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said in Beirut Friday night in a rousing and inciting speech against the American-led “peace process.”

“No one in the world, no king, prince, sayyid, leader, president or state has the right to give up a single grain of sand of Palestine’s land,” he stated adamantly.

Supporters of Israel “want us Shia to exit the Arab-Israeli conflict and to get Iran out of the conflict,” Nasrallah declared in his public speech in 11 months.

“Call us infidels, call us terrorists, call us criminals, say what you want, try and kill us anywhere, target us any way you want, we are the Shia of Ali and we shall not abandon Palestine.”

His speech came one week after the resumption of direct talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, under the guiding if not manipulative hand of the Obama administration.

President Barack Obama has out-maneuvered Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu into accepting a process that has an end goal of forcing Israel to accept virtually all of chairman Mahmoud Abbas’ demands, with the probable exclusion of allowing the immigration of several million foreign Arabs claiming Israel as home.

Nasrallah’s threatening speech indicates Israel may be in the macabre situation of Hezbollah terrorist attacks thwarting a so-called peace agreement that would leave Israel dependent on written promises to act as a security from a new armed Arab state within Israel’s current borders.

A deal between Israel and the PA would make the United States a renewed power in the Middle East and would pose a direct threat to Hezbollah.

“Americans and Qataris have tried to push the compass away from this priority (Israel) by inventing other enemies” to incite Muslims against Shi’ite, Nasrallah said in his speech,

“There are a lot of terms being used deliberately against the Shia, and the side standing behind this language hopes that the Shias will curse and insult our Sunni colleagues,” he said. “But the two groups are on the same side, they are both fasting during Ramadan.”

Nasrallah spoke Friday on International Quds ([Jerusalem] Day, devoting a large part of his speeches to his harshest-ever descriptions of Israel and echoing remarks once made by former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Israel is “a cancerous growth” that must be eliminated, according to Nasrallah.

“The only solution is to destroy it without giving it the opportunity to surrender,” he added, For good measure, he tossed in the United States as a prop for his declared war on any American-led agreement between Jerusalem and Ramallah.

“We say to America, Israel, Great Britain and their regional tools, we say to every enemy and friend … we in Hezbollah will not abandon Palestine and the people of Palestine,” Nasrallah stated.

The ‘Arab Spring’ Culminating in a Bloody ‘Sushi’

Friday, June 14th, 2013

Translated from Hebrew by Sally Zahav with permission from the author.

Among scholars of the Middle East, the term “sushi” is used as shorthand for the expression, “Sunni-Shi’a.” Anyone interested in the history of Islam knows that the seeds of the Sunni-Shi’a conflict were planted the moment Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, closed his eyes forever, in the year 632 CE, without leaving a mechanism for choosing a successor to lead the nation. The conflict that developed as a result, has become an open, bloody battle over the years, and it has been a thread in the fabric of Islamic history throughout all of its 1400 years. This conflict is being expressed on many levels: personal, familial, political and religious. The battle between the two factions of Islam is “for the whole pot,” and it continues to this very day.

In modern times, attempts have been made to bridge over the conflict and to find common ground between the factions of Islam, in order to create a sense of calm between the factions, on the basis of which it will be possible to manage states such as Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, where the two factions live side by side, Shi’ites and Sunnis.

Even the Egyptian Sheikh Dr. Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who is the Mufti (religious arbiter) of the Emirate of Qatar, has spoken and written about the need to find a way to “bring the schools of thought closer together,” as if Shi’a is another legitimate school of thought, in addition to the four Sunni schools: Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi’i and Hanbali. In the good, old days, they used to call the Shi’a faction the “Jafari school,” after one of the fathers of Shi’a.

The rapprochement year between the Sunni and Shi’a was 2006, following the Second Lebanon War, when Hezbollah managed to create the impression that it had won a “divine victory” over Israel. After all, Hasan Nasrallah had survived despite 33 days of heavy Israeli attacks, some of which were aimed at him personally. Hezbollah was compared favorably with the armies of the Arab countries, which had failed in all of their attempts to destroy the state of Israel, and were defeated by Israel’s army in only six days in 1967.

As a result of the Second Lebanon War, Hasan Nasrallah declared in every public arena—especially on his al-Manar (“the beacon”) television channel—that the victory belongs to the whole Arab and Islamic nation, creating for himself the image of being the only leader in the Middle East doing the right thing, ignoring the objections of the infidel West and its paltry servants, meaning most of the rulers of the Arab states. Bashar Assad declared that Hezbollah’s way is the only way to fight and the only method that can defeat the Zionist enemy.

During the war, in the summer of 2006, great crowds across the the Middle East erupted in emotional demonstrations where pictures of Hasan Nasrallah were held high, and those who wanted to make a point also carried pictures of Bashar Assad, the great supporter of Hezbollah. It was convenient for everyone—including religious figures such as Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi—to ignore the fact that Hezbollah was a Shi’ite group, backed by Iran, because if the Sunni Hamas movement ended up in the same boat as Hezbollah, what evil could possibly have sprung from the Lebanese “al-Muqawama wal-mumana’a” (“Resistance and Defense”) movement, which supports all of the “liberation movements” regardless of religious sect?

The al-Jazeera channel, which serves as a mouthpiece for the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood movement, embraced Hezbollah and dedicated many hours of positive programming to it, and in many Islamic societies—including Israel’s—more than a few people crossed over from the Sunni side of Islam to the Shi’a. Only a small group of Saudi religious authorities were not overcome by the waves of sympathy for Hezbollah. They always had a jaundiced view of the Shi’ite dominance of Lebanon, as well as its influence on the collective Arab discourse.

But enthusiasm for Hezbollah has not survived the storm buffeting the Middle East ever since December 2010, known romantically in the media as “the Arab Spring,” as if presently in the Middle East the birds are chirping, the trees are budding, the flowers are blooming, the butterflies are fluttering, people are smiling and there is an air of rising optimism.

Without Allies in the Fourth Great War

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013

The announcement by Secretary of Defense Hagel that the United States will “rethink all options” including arming Syrian rebel groups, was carefully hedged. “It doesn’t mean… you will” (choose any particular path). The statement however moves the U.S. closer to picking sides in a war with no good options and no good allies, and which American public opinion has thus far eschewed. It is important to understand in the broadest sense how we got here.

In two of the three global conflicts of the 20th Century, the United States took sides; in the third, it was a side. In World War I, we were less against Germany than with our long-time cultural and political allies, Britain and France. The cordial reception given to Americans in Germany between the wars, and the American affinity for parts of German society made some Americans reluctant to criticize the rise of Hitler. (See Hitlerland, by Andrew Nagorski.) In the Cold War, the United States faced off against Russia. The Cuban Missile Crisis was not about Cuba; the Central American wars of the 1980s were not about Central America. It was a war to the death between communism and democracy.

The end of the Cold War had two generally overlooked consequences. First, non-communist Russia retained its historic imperial nature, characterized by deep concern for and violent repression of threats to its “near abroad.” Second, countries and groups in the Middle East were no longer bound to choose between Soviets and Americans as patrons. This was particularly important because neither democracy nor communism is compatible with Islamist thinking. (Obligatory disclaimer: This in no way implies that Muslim people cannot live in democracies or be democrats; or live in communist countries or be communists, for that matter.)

The fourth Great War is less “Islam against the West” (although that surely is there) than it is Sunni expansionists vs. Shiite expansionists. Neither is an appealing partner for the United States in the region, and neither has a natural claim on our politics or our interests.

For reasons having to do with Iran itself, the U.S. will not choose to support Iranian-backed Shiites. However, Sunni expansionists are simply no better; Saudi and Qatari-supported Islamists run from the unacceptable Muslim Brotherhood to the even more unacceptable Wahabis, al Qaeda or Jabhat al Nusra – it is like a choice between cancer and a heart attack. (Second obligatory disclaimer: That is not to say the U.S. has no interests in the Middle East/North Africa/Southwest Asia, or that there is no humanitarian impulse due. It is to say both Sunni and Shiite expansionists have views and values inimical to Western liberal democracies, and neither is better than secular despots.)

In broad terms, the current fighting in the region is Sunni-Shiite: Iraq, Lebanon, Bahrain, Yemen, Pakistan, and rumblings in Kuwait all have a Sunni-Shiite component. Turkey thinks of the Ottoman Empire, particularly after the freeing of the “Stans” from Russian control. Iran revisits the Persian Empire. The Muslim Brotherhood, al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas, Jabhat al Nusra, and others all find patrons in the region rather than in the U.S. or Russia. Oil money, particularly Saudi, Iranian and Qatari, greases various paths.

As both Sunnis and Shiites try to expand both deeper into their own societies and move farther afield, they run headlong into other regional, tribal, ethnic, religious, and familial interests. Christians, particularly in Iraq, Egypt, and Nigeria, have been hard hit as intolerance increases; it is estimated that half of Iraq’s Christians have left the country. As a corollary, the minority communities of Syria backed the secular Assad regime for fear of an Islamist takeover. The U.S. has been attacked and vilified, and Europe is being subverted through “no go” zones for police, the installation of elements of Sharia law, and rising Muslim anti-Semitism. Venezuela and Argentina are Iran’s hoped-for proxies, and Hezbollah operates freely in several South American countries.

Long involved in the repression of Sunni Caucasian nationalists, although the Chechen war only took on religious overtones in its second incarnation (2002-2007), Russia has chosen the Shiite side of the larger war. Even the idea of a nuclear Iran does not disturb Russia as much as the idea of shoulder-fired anti-aircraft weapons in the hands of Sunni terrorists. Russia preferred secular despots in the Middle East as well — Saddam, Assad father and son, Nasser — who would repress the Muslim Brotherhood and other internationalist Sunnis. The despots obliged. Nasser outlawed the Brotherhood, Assad killed tens of thousands in Hama, and Saddam ran a savagely secular state to ensure that his minority Sunnis could remain in power. Russia’s commitment to Bashar Assad should not be underestimated.

High Stakes in Iran for Ahmadinejad

Monday, May 6th, 2013

In Iran almost nothing is what it seems to be. Iranian culture is formal; it places a premium on politeness and manners. By violating both principles, Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been mesmerizing Iranians, to the delight of the masses and the embarrassment of the few. When Iranian reporters in New York, for instance, told him that the Iranian parliamentarians had criticized him, he shot back “Goh khordand” (“They can go eat [explitive]“).

Referring to the U.S.-Iranian relationship, Ahmadinejad refers to breast-feeding babies and uses profanity, and his audience loves him! The first reference comes from a Persian expression: Mamaro looloo bord ["The ogre has taken away the mother's breastfeeding"], meaning: From now on, the rules have been changed and you had better listen to me.

Ahmadinejad constantly belittles the regime’s enemies — and is the most successful leader to do so since the death of Khomeini. Khomeini prophetically proclaimed, “America cannot do a damn thing,” and history seems to have proven him right — both throughout the presidency of Jimmy Carter, the pullback of the Marines from Beirut by President Reagan, through the present failure of the U.S. to halt Iran’s nuclear program.

Ahmadinejad keeps standing up to America and America keeps doing nothing to stop him. It was America alone, by doing nothing, that enabled Khomeini to achieve greatness and maintain his grip on power.

Ahmadinejad follows in Khomeini’s footsteps. He proclaims the holocaust is a myth; he constantly belittles America, and the U.S. still does nothing. When Ahmadinejad is interviewed by the American media, the interviewers are ill-prepared: they never ask follow-up questions, challenge his lies, or call his bluff.

Iranian society, like most of us, likes winners, and if winning comes through the principle of zerangi [winning at the expense of others], and you come out on top, all the better.

Ahmadinejad is, moreover, known as a big teller of tall tales and white lies: a chakhan. Telling tall tales and white lies is embedded within the Islamic culture of Iran: in the religious writings, telling white lies to your enemies is encouraged. As a devout Shi’ite Muslim, Ahmadinejad is practicing taqiya [dissimulation] — completely acceptable if used to advance the goals of the Islamic Republic — and also possibly your rule — whenever and wherever necessary.

During Ahmadinejad’s latest trip to Isfahan province, the Fars News Agency, which is friendly towards him, carried multiple pictures of him and his choice for the next president, Esfandyar Mashai; it went on to show single photographs of Mashai. It just so happens that Mashai is also related to Ahmadinejad by marriage: his son married Mashai’s daughter. Blood alliances are a big factor in Iranian politics.

If we are to understand the fierce battles now raging among Iran’s rulers, we need to find answers to the following questions: What has emboldened Ahmadinejad to use such foul language in public when addressing his adversaries?

  • Who and what is emboldening him openly to support, as his successor, Mashai, a man singled out by other forces in the regime for criticism?
  • Are these signs of a major power shift in the Islamic Republic?

We can draw two conclusions from the above:

  • Ahmadinejad dares not give the impression that he is weak;
  • He is certain that his opponents — three Larijani brothers and Khamene’i — are weak.
  • As an activist, however, within the ranks of the veterans of the Revolutionary Guards, he must feel that they cover his back. This is a game of high-stakes poker, following in the footsteps of large sums that have been transferred out of Iran by the cronies of the regime.

The stakes are so high, in fact, that Ahmadinejad is providing videos of another Larijani brother, Fazael Larijani, demanding bribes. This video was screened in parliament to the shame and amazement of the speaker of parliament, Ali Larijani.

For Ahmadinejad, this is a win-win gamble. He can either succeed by blackmailing his opposition within the ruling Islamic regime not to harm him, or, should he be harmed, he will be granted martyrdom — a lofty and much sought-after status in the current messianic Shi’ite regime.

Jihadist Control at Israel’s Northern Borders Casts Shadow of War

Monday, April 8th, 2013

Fierce clashes between Syrian rebels and Hizbullah at the Lebanese-Syria border, coupled with anarchy across from Israel’s Golan Heights, point to increasing chances of jihadist leaders taking control across the Israeli border from the Mediterranean Sea to the Golan.

Syrian soldiers loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad have left the Golan region to back up the defense of Damascus against rebels, the London Guardian reported Sunday.

Mortar shell firing on the Golan Heights, initially errant but later followed by gunfire aimed at Israeli soldiers, have become more commonplace in the strategic mountainous area.

Syria occupied the Golan Heights before the Six-Day War in 1967. It never developed the area and never used it for anything else except as military posts to lob shells on Israel’s agricultural communities below.

Syria’s loss of the Golan to Israel, despite its nearly successful effort to retake it in the bloody Yom Kippur War in 1973, left Israel with a natural fortress of defense along with rich water sources. Every Israeli government since 1967 has encouraged development in the Golan, and more than half of the Golan Heights population now is Jewish. It is the home of major factories, including a winery with an international reputation, and a water bottling plant.

Unlike southern Israel, where the government and the IDF have played footsie with the Palestinian Authority and ensuing Hamas regime for more than 25 years, the IDF is quick to respond to any fire from Syria. The army fired guided missiles across the ceasefire line in the past two weeks.

The absence of the control of Assad, without any justification of his horrendous war crimes, has left Syrian rebels,  Al Qaeda and other jihadist groups in control of most of the area.

“We are seeing terror organizations gaining footholds increasingly in the territory,” IDF Chief of Benny Gantz said last week. “For now, they are fighting Assad. Guess what? We’re next in line.”

Israel can no longer count on the United Nations peacekeeping force to man the demilitarized zone between the Israeli and Syrian borders. Rebels have ambushed and kidnapped U.N. troops, and the United Nations last week admitted it has been forced to “adopt a posture which is somewhat more static.”

As The Wall Street Journal wrote Monday, “In other words, fewer patrols and observation posts.”

The newspaper quoted a report a month ago from the Washington Institute, which stated, “Jihadist tactical gains on the Golan and the bleak outlook for Undof [U.N. peacekeeping forces] are fueling concerns that the days of longstanding quiet along the border are numbered…. Undof’s dissolution or incapacitation would end [up] … turning the area into a ‘hot border’ where jihadists could challenge Israel and provoke retaliation – a dynamic not dissimilar to Lebanon.”

Baruch Spiegel, former IDF commander of the IDF liaison unit responsible for relations with peacekeeping forces, told the Journal, “We have never faced this situation, but we have to act very responsibly. But worst case scenarios can bring us worst case answers.”

The situation in Lebanon  is no better, if not worse. Ostensibly, the Lebanese government controls the country, but in reality, Hizbullah controls southern Lebanon. Sunni Muslims in control of Tripoli engage in violent clashes on a weekly, if not daily basis, in an effort to wage war against the government dominated by Hizbullah’s political party and pro-Syrian parties.

The fragile government fell last week, and the new prime minister, Tammam Salaam, is faced with the influx of nearly one million Syrian refugees, both pro and anti-Assad. He also operates in the shadow of  the Iranian-backed Hizbullah terrorist army, which had deployed itself alongside Assad’s forces.

Another bloody  clash on Sunday between Syrian rebels and Hizbullah left dozens of the terrorist army’s fighters wounded or killed, according to opposition sources quoted by the London-based Arabic language Al Asharq Awsat.

Throughout Lebanon, Sunni and Shi’ite Muslim factions are in all-out war against each other, and as each side gains allies and weapons from Syrian, there are enough arms to blow up the country into a civil war that would make the 15-year civil war in the 70s and 80s look like a schoolyard brawl.

Hizbullah alone has been estimated to have more missiles than most governments in the world.

Obama Training Radical Islamists in Syria

Sunday, March 17th, 2013

Originally published at Rubin Reports.

In a new development, the Obama Administration is apparently not only arming (indirectly, technically) but now training Syrian rebels. We know that the weapons are going to radical Islamists–both Muslim Brotherhood and smaller groups.

We don’t know which groups are now being trained militarily by the CIA in Jordan. It has been suggested that these are only Syrian army defectors who are thus likely not to be from radical Islamist groups including the Brotherhood. But is that selectivity certain? Finding out who is receiving this military training–which they are sure to use for other purposes in future–should be a priority in the national debate and in questions from Congress.

What might be happening is this: Qatar backs the Muslim Brotherhood; the Saudis who hate the Brotherhood are backing the smaller Salafi groups; and Jordan which is terrified by the Islamists is supporting the Free Syrian Army which is run by ex-army officers.

Such is the nature of U.S. policy that it goes along with all three rather than directs the process toward a specific goal. The State Department is trying to find people who are relatively moderate while also able to have links to the Brotherhood.

You can imagine how tough that is to achieve. What a mess. In the 1980s the United States was convulsed by a scandal because the Reagan Administration was providing arms–through Saudi Arabia–and training to the pro-American Contra group in Nicaragua that were fighting against the Marxist regime there. It was alleged that the Contras participated in some torture and killing of civilians. Well, today the Obama Administration is conducting the same strategy–with Saudi and Qatari help–in Syria, with much more likelihood of atrocities by those it is helping. On top of that, those being helped are largely anti-American and radical Islamist. Yet there is no serious concern being raised.

Largely due to the local situation but reinforced by U.S. policy, radical Islamists will one day rule Syria. What will follow will not be real democracy but another Islamist dictatorial state. Islamist militias armed with U.S. weapons and that new regime might well use U.S. weapons and training to kill Christians and Alawites; enforce second-class status on women; and intimidate moderates as well as to attack Israel. While the mass media has widely reported the U.S. role in arming the rebels and is now picking up the training story, virtually nowhere is the significance of this policy and its escalation analyzed.

As I have repeatedly explained, the issue regarding Syria is not whether the United States should help more—it is already helping to supply arms indirectly through Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey—but to whom the arms and help flow. In principle, the Syrian opposition is fighting against a terrible dictatorship (see my book, The Truth About Syria for details, available free here). Yet for all practical purposes, it is dominated by radical Islamist militias (except for the Kurds who are faced with local rule by a radical Marxist militia).

The reality, then, is that the United States is helping arm and perhaps helping to train radical Islamist guerrillas who want a Sharia state in Syria, who believe Israel should be wiped off the map, and who may soon be murdering and oppressing Christians and other groups in Syria itself.

Shouldn’t this be an issue–one day it might be a scandal–that’s widely discussed in Congress and the mass media? There might be a way around this, as is being hinted, if the Americans, British, and French are only training former Syrian army soldiers, relatively few of whom would be in Islamist groups. The excuse would then be that only regular soldiers are qualified for the training but that would also be designed to keep out Islamists. This would be a better approach though it still has dangers.

This brings us to the second problem: the Islamists are getting more international military help than the moderates.

While the nominal Syrian opposition leadership backed by the United States is better than before (up until recently the Obama Administration openly backed the Brotherhood-dominated Syrian National Council!) it is powerless on the ground. The guys with guns—fully automatic weapons by the way with large magazines—are a nightmare.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/rubin-reports/obama-training-radical-islamists-in-syria/2013/03/17/

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