web analytics
August 21, 2014 / 25 Av, 5774
Israel at War: Operation Protective Edge
 
 
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘shiites’

Next on the Israeli-Turkish Agenda: Sending Assad to Jordan

Sunday, March 31st, 2013

Last year, I wrote that if diplomatic relations between Turkey and Israel returned to normal, there was no doubt that the first thing the leaders of both countries would do is sit down to discuss Syria. So, if someone asks what happens next between Turkey and Israel, the answer is quite simple: Syria.

Above all, Turkey and Israel feel the most threatened considering the all too real possibility of a radical Islamic groups taking control of the country and another despotic regime coming on the scene in the Middle East.

However, it is not right to merely watch the bloodshed from a distance and be reluctant to take a stance against cruelty, just because of the fear of radicalism and the possibility of Syria becoming an attractive base for terrorist groups.

Israel and Turkey are the two neighboring countries that will not allow a fanatic and totalitarian regime to reign in the region. Similarly, they are the two countries that serve as protectors of democracy and secularism. Having this common stance, they should cooperate to usher Bashar Assad out of power and to move him and his family to a secure country such as Jordan. Turkey and Israel are the ideal regional countries to resolve this issue.

It goes without saying that despite the fact that Assad has all but lost control of the country, it is still essential that he step down in order for the bloodshed to end and for things to calm down. Given the current situation, it is highly probable that Assad feels under a great deal of pressure and that his life is in very real danger, much like the late Colonel Qaddafi.

The sordid end of Muammar Qaddafi no doubt is in President Assad’s thoughts. That is why Turkey and Israel should work together to take Assad—of his own volition and with his family—from Syria to Jordan, since Jordan has already agreed to his settlement on its soil. Provided that the Russian government is informed, Israeli and Turkish jets and helicopters can take him out of Syria. He should be allowed to bring a legitimate amount of his possessions and personal wealth out with him, enough for his needs, and provided a comfortable place in Jordan to live out the rest of his days. It would be very good that Turkey and Israel ensure the safety of Assad and his wife and children.

Assad’s fall will not end the clashes in Syria, since far too much blood has been spilled and the ones whose family members have been killed will doubtlessly seek to avenge themselves on the supporters of the regime. Additionally, the conflict between various ethnic groups and minorities are also expected to intensify unless a new government takes command of the situation through peaceful means. The slaughter of non-Muslims would be a terrible disgrace and utterly immoral. Turkey must declare its opposition to such a thing.

Neither non-Muslims nor Alawites should be harmed in the slightest way; nobody must seek to do such a thing. But if there are people who have been involved in murder, they must be put on trial. They should be arrested, but they must not be treated like animals, of course. Dragging people on the ground, beating and torturing them is immoral. They should be tried for their crimes, detained under normal conditions, and be given whatever sentence is fitting in a legitimate, lawful way. Another slaughter would be utterly wrong, and neither Turkey nor Israel or Russia should support summary executions.

Israel, Turkey and Russia must also take special protective precautions regarding Syrian Alawites and Christians. Naturally, Syria is likely to adopt a Muslim worldview, but there is absolutely no need for slaughter or any similar disgrace. The Syrians must quietly install a democratic government. It is also important for Turkey, Israel and Russia to issue a statement that the current opposition cannot act outside the boundaries of International Law.

The new government should be a representation of all individuals—regardless of their ethnicity, religion, sect or ideology—and guarantee that no one will face coercion again. Thus, a temporary government can be set up through common agreement among Turkey, Israel, Russia, and other nations, until free and fair elections can be held. Of course, the establishment of a democratic government through free elections by the citizens of Syria must be the primary aim, but it will be easier to create these conditions if Turkey, Israel and Russia become involved as guarantors.

The question is what kind of a leader should emerge after Assad’s fall. The leader of a democratic government to be established in Syria must embrace the Alawites and the Sunnis, Shiites, Christians and others. In other words, he must be a leader who embraces all faiths and all sects; he must state that he will love and embrace them all. He must make people feel that he will only act against the despots, tyrants, killers and the state within a state inside Syria, and even then only by the most scrupulous and legal means.

Assad is currently killing Sunnis, but it would be a disaster if the next leader takes action against Alawites in revenge. Such killings of Alawites, Christians or other minorities would be a catastrophe. The person who emerges must guarantee the full rights of all religions and minority populations. It is imperative that he make it clear that he is not a despot and that he declare his democratic intentions in a clear, coherent and reassuring manner.

With that, God willing, peace will take hold in Syria and life can begin to return to normal for the people of Syria and the entire region.

The Sectarian Genie: The Sunni-Shi’ite Struggle Released by the Arab Spring

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

The Islamic Oral Law (the Hadith) quotes the prophet Muhammad who stated: “My nation will be split into seventy two factions, and only one of them will escape Hell.”  Since Muhammad closed his eyes for eternity in the year 632 CE, the Muslims – regarding this tradition – have been absorbed by two questions, one theoretical and one practical. The theoretical one is: which is the correct and righteous faction which is destined to inherit Paradise, and which are all of the other factions to whom the gates of Hell are open wide to receive them. The practical question, which stems from the theoretical, is how each faction verifies that it – the correct and the righteous – is the one that will live in an earthly paradise, and how can it make concrete life hell for the other factions.

Shi’ites

These questions were first dealt with immediately after Muhammad’s funeral, when the Muslim elders met to decide who will be the Caliph, Muhammad’s successor. Ali bin Abi Talib, Muhammad’s cousin, who was also his son-in-law, claimed that the caliphate belonged to him, but his claim was not accepted and three others were named as caliphs before him. He waited twenty-four long years until he was named as the fourth Caliph. During this time he consolidated around him a support group, who were even willing to engage in violent battle in order to take over the status of sovereignty. They were the first Shi’ites. The meaning of the word Shi’a in Arabic is “faction”, meaning the faction of Ali.

After Ali was murdered in 661, his son, Hussein, continued to claim that the leadership belongs to him, because he was of the clan of Hashem, the family of the Prophet, and not the Caliphs of the Umayyad clan, a branch of the Quraysh tribe, which seized control. Because of this claim he was seen as a rebel and in the year 680 he was caught by the army of the regime near the city of Karbala in Southern Iraq, and slaughtered together with most of his family and supporters. This event was the seminal event of the Shi’ites until today, and the Shi’ites mark the “Ashura” – the “yahrzeit” – of Hussein with memorial rites, some of them beating and wounding themselves until they bleed.

Over the years, Shi’a developed its own theology and religious laws so different from that of Sunni, which is mainstream Islam, that there are those who claim that the Sunna and the Shi’a are two different religions. Many Sunnis see Shi’ites as heretics of a sort, and more than a few Shi’ites see Sunnis in the same way. Many Shi’ites see Sunni as najas, or unclean. The Shi’ites say that their claim to leadership is based on two chapters in the Qur’an, while the Sunnis claim that these two chapters are a Shi’ite forgery. For all of history the Shi’ites have been considered as a group which is rebelling against the regime and therefore the judgement for a Shi’ite is death. In areas where the Shi’ites have ruled, this was the fate of the Sunnis.

The struggle between the Sunna and the Shi’a continues in full strength until today, with Iran leading the Shi’a side while Saudi Arabia is in the forefront of Sunni Islam.

In Saudi Arabia, the Hanbali school leads, with its extreme Wahhabi version of Islam, according to which the Shi’ites are heretics. Therefore the Shi’ites who live in Eastern Saudi Arabia are ground into dust: they are forbidden to sound the call to prayer on loudspeakers because their call includes a Shi’ite addendum. They are forbidden to mark the Ashura publicly and they are forbidden to demonstrate. The Saudi regime relates to them with fierce determination and zero sensitivity.

The Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988) which cost one million people their lives on both sides, was part of the struggle between the Shi’a and and the Sunna, because Saddam Hussein was Sunni. In Lebanon, the Shi’ite Hizb’Allah fights the Sunnis and their friends over hegemony in the Land of the Cedars, and in Bahrain the Farsi-speaking Shi’ite majority has been trying for years to free itself from the Sunni minority which rules over it with an iron fist and an outstretched arm. This past year, when the spirit of the “Arab Spring” brought the Shi’ite majority into the streets, Saudi Arabia occupied Bahrain and forced the sectarian genie back into its bottle.

Mordechai Kedar: The Syrian Crisis Spills Over into Lebanon

Sunday, May 20th, 2012

As a result of the bloody events in Syria beginning in March 2011, Lebanon has become a place of refuge for Syrians who live near the border between the two countries. This open border, through which for years Hizbollah has transferred whatever it desired from Syria, has now become an escape route for those Syrians who oppose the regime and seek shelter in Lebanon – even if only temporarily – from the cruelty of the “Shabikha”, the murderous gangs of the Asad regime. The Syrian army, despite the fact that it feels “at home” in Lebanon, usually refrains from pursuing Syrians who have found sanctuary there, so as not to offend the European countries, especially France, which see Lebanon as their “back yard”. Only in a very few cases did a military force cross the border into Lebanon in order to apprehend refugees who oppose the regime, and in a few cases, even shot Syrian canons into Lebanese villages where some Syrians had found shelter and sanctuary.

The society in Lebanon is polarized regarding the events in Syria: the Shi’ite Hizbollah, the main power in the state, actively supports Asad, and has sent more than a few of its soldiers – mainly snipers – to fight those citizens of Syria who are rebelling against the regime. Those who are opposed to Hizbollah, the “March 14 Coalition”, headed by Sa’ad al-Hariri, hold clear anti-Syrian positions. In the background there is always the possibility that the Syrian regime will collapse. If this occurs, the fear is that Hizbollah will quickly take over Lebanon and prevent the opposition from taking advantage of the weakness that may follow the loss of Syrian support. Nasrallah, of course, flatly denies that he has any such intentions. As long as the internal argument was conducted verbally, the words did not represent an immediate threat to the stability of the state.

However, lately an internal confrontation has developed, regarding the active support of the Sunni Muslim insurgents in Syria. For a long time rumors have been circulating about ships that arrive in the middle of moonless nights to locations near the recesses of the Lebanese coast; and boats with people in black clothing and covered faces who race from the shore towards the ships. The people clothed in black unload wooden crates full of “all good things,” and then the boats disappear back into the darkness from which they emerged. The crates are brought into Syria, where their contents – weapons and ammunition – serve the Free Syrian Army. The rumors about the boats were not substantiated until this month. In early May,  the Lebanese army apprehended a ship with the name “Lotef Allah 2″ in Lebanese territorial waters, which had departed from Libya and moored in Alexandria on its way to Lebanon. On this ship, a number of containers with light weapons were found and seized, but there were also a few French rocket launchers that had been sent last year to the insurgents in Libya. There were also explosives, and the whole shipment was sent by a Syrian company. The loading document, of course, did not reveal the actual contents of the shipment. Twenty one employees of the ship were arrested, but it is not clear what they knew about their deadly cargo.

The Lebanese army must certainly have known about the ship and its cargo and it is safe to assume that they got their information from an intelligence organization acting in cooperation with the Syrian regime, Iran or Russia, who were quick to register a complaint with the UN Security Council regarding the smuggling of weapons into Syria from the neighboring countries. Russia and Iran are very concerned about the increasing strength of the Free Syrian Army, which – thanks to the great number of weapons that flow to it- has recently been more successful in retaliating and killing many Syrian soldiers. The seizure of the weapons in the port of Tripoli immediately raised the question in Lebanon: who was supposed to receive the weapons and transfer them to the Syrian insurgents?

The question was answered  on Shabbat, May 12, when a twenty five year old man by the name of Shadi al-Mawlawi was arrested in Tripoli, along with five of his friends. The young man, a Lebanese Sunni and a member of a Salafi group, known as an activist working for the Syrian insurgents, was arrested when he returned from Syria on suspicion of assisting the insurgents and coordinating the transfer of the weapons that had arrived by ship. Tripoli has been in turmoil since the moment of his arrest: the Al-Manar channel, mouthpiece for the Hizbollah Shi’ites, claims that the ship belongs to Al-Qaeda, and served as the connection between global jihad organizations and the Syrian insurgents; while al-Mawlawi’s Sunni friends claim emphatically that he is simply a good young man, who – like many others – gave humanitarian support to Syrian refugees that managed to escape to Tripoli. The circumstances of his incarceration are interesting: according to some versions he was apprehended in the office of the Lebanese minister of the Treasury, Mahmud al-Safdi, in Tripoli, which brings up the possibility that al-Mawlawi might also have supported the Syrian insurgents monetarily, and that he was an emissary sent by members of the political establishment in Lebanon who are engaged in plotting against the Asad regime.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/dr-mordechai-kedar/mordechai-kedar-the-syrian-crisis-spills-over-into-lebanon/2012/05/20/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: