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May 27, 2016 / 19 Iyar, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘sunni’

The War of Ideologies in the Arab World

Wednesday, April 10th, 2013

If one were to ask an Arab what has happened to the Arab countries, and why the terrorism and extremism we see today did not exist in the 1950s and 1960s, the answer would probably point to the frustrations and struggles of dual identities: Arab nationalism and Islamism. After the collapse of Arab nationalism, Islamist movements and ideologies emerged to fill the void. The two developments that exposed the dangerous turn to extremism the Islamist movements had taken were the attacks of September 11, 2001 and the recent Arab uprisings, called the “Arab Spring.”

From the events of 2001 until the latest Arab upheavals, the West has pursued support for a moderate Islam in the region, to eliminate terrorism. Concepts such as a “new Middle East” and support for democracies rather than tyrants became prominent rhetorically. But do leaders in the West realize how rivalries and distrust persist among Muslims, between Muslims, and against other, non-Muslim minorities? Do the values of a moderate and pluralist Islam exist today or have they disappeared completely? If they exist, how can the West support such examples of moderate Islam?

Suspicion among Muslims and toward non-Muslim minorities has a long history, but has become aggravated especially now. Sunnis do not trust Shias and Islamists are suspicious of liberals, and tension is mutual, as each group reacts to the other. Many who do not belong to Islamist parties and who represent minority groups in Egypt and Tunisia are terrified of the Muslim Brotherhood and their more extreme counterparts, the so-called “Salafis” (imitators of the Saudi Wahhabis). An Islamist state could not be expected to guarantee liberty for everyone. Shias, for their part, are anxious about the power of political Sunnism and its impact on them.

Extremist and terrorist ideological networks are present throughout the Middle East and North Africa. The recent terrorist attack on Algeria, in which foreign hostages from Japan, Philippines, Romania, Britain and the United States were killed, is connected to the terrorist invasion of nearby northern Mali. Absence of security, arms smuggling from a collapsed Libya, and rising instability are aggravated, not resolved, by Islamists in power around the region. The horrible situation in Syria, with continued fighting between the regime and armed groups, is a breeding ground for terrorism. Lack of security and stability have spread in Iraq, Yemen, and Lebanon no less than Tunisia and Egypt.

This shift to extremism in the Arab world did not happen overnight. After the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire beginning in the nineteenth century, Pan-Arabism came forward with a vision of resistance to outside rule through a “new” social order, conceived along Islamic lines. Some Egyptian and the Syrian representatives of pan-Arab nationalism believed in an authoritarian state that would unify the heterogeneous Arabs into a single nation and creed. Pan-Arab nationalism was secular, and was crystallised as a political movement in the 20th century by a Syrian Christian, Michel Aflaq, who founded the Ba’ath (“Renaissance”) Party in Damascus in 1940. Aflaq, a Christian, said that Islam could not be dissociated from an Arab nationalist identity, but that the state must be separate from religious institutions. As cited by Kanan Makiya in his 1998 book Republic of Fear, Aflaq wrote, “We wish that a full awakening of Arab Christians takes place, so that they can see in Islam a nationalist education for themselves.”

When Gamal Abd Al-Nasser took power in Egypt in 1952, the country became the spiritual home of Arab nationalism. But enthusiasm for this identity did not liberate the Arab nation from foreign hegemony; nor did it generate the freedom, development and democracy that the people and especially the youth desired. Arab leaders in Egypt, Syria and Iraq, as extreme ultranationalists, disregarded the principles of freedom and democracy. One of the main causes of the decline of nationalist ideology seems to have been the 1967 Arab defeat in the Egyptian-led war against Israel.

The failure of, and disappointment in, nationalism allowed Islamists to gain new ground. At the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries, Muslim thought was occupied by the critical, philosophical views of reformers such as the Iranian Jamal ad-Din al-Afghani (1839-97), the Egyptians Muhammad Abduh (1849-1905) and Ali Abderraziq (1888-1966) as well as others who favored adoption of Western cultural achievements while preserving Islamic belief.

Najat Fawzy AlSaied

What is Really ‘Broken’ In Syria?

Thursday, April 4th, 2013

Among the many noteworthy aspects of President Barack Obama’s recent tour of the Middle East was a comment on March 22, during a press conference with Jordanian King Abdullah II. Obama said, “Something has been broken in Syria, and it’s not going to be put back together perfectly, immediately, anytime soon – even after Assad leaves.”

Although the characterization of Syria’s condition was accurate, Syria has been “broken” for a longer time than most Weste­rners seem to think. A religious fissure in Syrian society – a tear that has now widened into a civil war and filled up with blood, bodies, and ruins – dates at least to 1970. That was the year Hafez Al-Assad (1930-2000), father of the current dictator, Bashar Al-Assad, who are both members of the Alawite religious minority, seized power within the Syrian wing of the Ba’ath party, which had ruled the country since a coup in 1963.

Supporting both Al-Assads, and serving as their main subordinates and followers, were – and are – other members of the Alawite denomination, which some consider Muslim and others do not. The world was slow to recognize in the Syrian civil conflict, commencing in 2011, a sectarian confrontation. The Syrian war pits the Alawites, who are typically counted as about 11% of the country’s population of 22.5 million, against the Sunni Muslims, who total around 75%. There is also a small Alawite presence in Lebanon, which is vulnerable to involvement in the Syrian contest.

When Hafez Al-Assad became dictator of Syria, Alawites had already infiltrated the Syrian army on a wide scale, a pattern that began under the French mandate controlling Syria from 1920 to 1946. Hafez Al-Assad installed still more Alawites as Ba’athist leaders, at the summits of military elite and state administration in Syria – an Alawite ascendancy maintained by Bashar Al-Assad. Between the Alawites and the Sunni Arabs stand small communities of Sunni Kurds and Turkmens, Christians, Druze (an esoteric faith derived from Shia Islam), other variants of traditional Shi’ism, and even a microscopic Jewish contingent. While favoring the Alawite minority, the Al-Assad regime pursued, under both father and son, a policy of public secularism. This included protection of the marginal creeds, as a bulwark against the overwhelming Sunni multitude.

Even though the Alawites are typically described as an “offshoot of Shia Islam,” from their emergence in the 9th century until the 20th century, their identification with an Islam of any kind has been denied by Muslim rulers and theologians.

Rejection of their claim as Muslims was, and is, based above all on their worship, as God, of Ali Ibn Abi Talib – the fourth caliph who succeeded Muhammad (and three others from among Muhammad’s companions). Ali, assassinated in 661 CE, was a cousin and son-in-law of Muhammad, and is considered by Shias to have possessed divine knowledge – one of the core differences between Shias and Sunnis, who refuse any such an assumption about Ali.

All Muslims, both Sunni and Shia, accept Ali as a righteous leader of the Muslims. The Alawites, however, have taken their devotion to Ali so far as to believe that Ali was the creator of the world, of humanity, of Muhammad of a third member of the “Alawite trinity,” Salman Al-Farsi, a companion of Muhammad and the first translator of the Koran out of Arabic, into his native Persian. Ali, as the Alawites conceive him, was the final manifestation of God.

The notion that Ali was God and created Muhammad, has been treated by Sunnis and, until the late 20th century, conventional Shia Muslims, as a departure from Islam, if not a tradition with which Islam was never directly involved. The Alawite sect has been said by foreign scholars to have roots in, and reflections of, ancient Phoenician practices, Persian religious movements derived from Zoroastrianism, and even Christianity.

Through the centuries, several important Sunni fatwas [Islamic clerical judgments] proclaimed that the Alawites were not Muslim. These fatwas include three issued by Ibn Taymiyya (d. 1328), an ultra-fundamentalist Sunni, considered the leading forerunner of Wahhabism, the state religion in Saudi Arabia. Al Qaeda frequently praises Ibn Taymiyya a a source of inspiration. Ibn Taymiyya’s knowledge of the Alawites, however, was imperfect, according to Yvette Talhamy of the University of Haifa, who summarized 650 years of fatwas made against Alawaites in a 2010 article in Middle East Studies, “The Fatwas and the Nusayri/Alawits of Syria.” In 1516 and in the 1820s, high Ottoman Sunni clerics issued even more fatwas against the Alawites which justified repression of the minority.

Stephen Schwartz

Jordan Warns Obama on Islamists

Sunday, March 31st, 2013

Originally published at Rubin Reports.

“Don’t scare anyone. But once you gain ground then move ahead. You must utilize as many people as possible who may be of use to us.”
–Joseph Stalin to future Communist dictator of Hungary Mattyas Rakosi, December 5, 1944.

It really isn’t too hard to understand what is happening in the Middle East if you watch the facts.

Jordan’s King Abdallah, who President Barack Obama just visited, is clearly telling us what’s going wrong. The Muslim Brotherhood is dangerous and so why is the United States supporting it? Presumably, this is what Abdullah told Obama.

U.S. policy is now escalating support for a Muslim Brotherhood regime in Syria and the Syrian rebels increasingly have open Brotherhood leadership.

Repression is gradually escalating in Egypt with arrests of moderates, Islamists being sent to the military academy, and many more measures.

Regarding Jordan, Jeffrey Goldberg’s has done an extremely valuable profile of Abdullah. The Jordanian monarch is telling Western visitors that their countries are making a big mistake by supporting the Islamists. He complains that the U.S. State Department is ignoring his complaints and that U.S. officials are telling him, “The only way you can have democracy is through the Muslim Brotherhood.”

He responds that the Brotherhood wants to impose anti-American reactionary governments and that his “major fight” is to stop them. No margin may be left for relative moderate and pro-American states between a Sunni Islamist alliance led by Egypt and including Turkey versus a Shia-Islamist alliance led by Iran says Abdullah and he’s right. The only difference, Abdullah explains, between the Turkish and Egyptian regimes are their timetables for installing dictatorships. Egypt’s new president, says the king, is obsessed with a hostile view of Israel.

Here’s the delicious irony: Last August the Jordanian Prime Minister Fayez Tarawneh launched a ferocious personal attack on me. Why? Because I said that the Sunni-Shia battle was going to replace the Arab-Israeli conflict. Well, that’s what his king just said.

Meanwhile, as President Barack Obama was love-bombing Israel during his visit, U.S. policy was helping to install a Muslim Brotherhood supporter as the putative next leader of Syria. Obama’s strategy is, with appropriate adjustments to the national scene, the same as his disastrous policy in Egypt.

The new leader of the opposition coalition is Ghassan Hitto, an obscure figure who has been long-resident in the United States. His actual election contained two hints: He only received 35 votes from 63 members of the Syrian National Coalition. That show of support matches the number of Muslim Brotherhood’s supporters there. Secondly, only 48 out of the 63 even cast a ballot at all, showing lack of enthusiasm and possible U.S. pressure on groups to abstain rather than oppose Hitto.

During the Cold War, American policy toward Third World countries frequently looked for a “third way” democratic alternative, leaders who were neither Communists nor right-wing authoritarians. Today, however, the Obama administration doesn’t do the equivalent at all, despite pretenses to the contrary. Rather it seeks leadership from the most seemingly moderate people who represent Islamist groups. Of course, this moderation is largely deceptive.

That was the pattern in Egypt; now it is the same failed strategy in Syria. Hitto is a typical example of such a person. He has lived in the United States and went to university there, so presumably knows America and has become more moderate by living there. He is involved in hi-tech enterprises so supposedly he is a modern type of guy. Remember how now-dictator of Syria Bashar al-Assad was lavishly praised because he studied and lived in London and was supposedly interested in the internet?

In addition, nobody has (yet) come up with an outrageous Hitto statement. His ties to the Brotherhood are not so blatant—even though they are obvious—that the Obama Administration and the mass media cannot deny and ignore them.

Yet the connections between Hitto and the Muslim Brotherhood—and those are only the ones documented quickly following his election—are extensive.

He is the founder of the Muslim Legal Fund of America, largely directed by Muslim Brotherhood people. He was a secretary-treasurer of the American Middle Eastern League for Palestine (AMELP), which is closely linked to the Islamic Association of Palestine (IAP), which supports Hamas and terrorism against Israel. He was vice president of the CAIR Dallas/Fort Worth chapter and director of the Muslim American Society (MAS) Youth Center of Dallas which was a Muslim Brotherhood front group.

Barry Rubin

The Obama Visit: A Parable

Sunday, March 24th, 2013

Originally published at Rubin Reports.

After some years, marked by tensions between them, a baron decided to pay an unexpected visit to the village. The people were very excited and turned out to give him a warm welcome. The mayor and the baron spoke of the eternal friendship between the castle and the village.

Everyone cheered, especially when the baron promised his help in defending the village from dangers prowling around its borders. The baron urged the village to make peace with those forces but said he understood if it couldn’t do so and confirmed his support for the village’s right of self-defense.

The people were pleased but the mayor remarked to the town clerk: “Funny he didn’t mention his ongoing role in creating the problem.”

Still, the visit of Baron Viktor Frankenstein could be considered a big success.

Of course, President Barack Obama did not fully create the new monstrous threats facing Israel as much as Frankenstein did his monster. But the president has done a lot to nurture these problems to life or made them much worse by coddling Iran for most of his first term, taking a soft stance toward Syria, praising the Turkish regime despite its anti-Israel and even antisemitic activities, and encouraging or even supporting Islamists who took over Egypt and are seeking to take over Syria.

Make no mistake. Obama’s visit to Israel and the Palestinian Authority did mark an important shift but only on part of his policy. He has given up on promoting the “peace process” as a high priority.

While publicly his administration blames Israel more, it also acknowledges that it cannot press Israel into taking high risks and making big concessions. The White House clearly knows that the P.A. is a large part of the problem, though it publicly remains silent on this point and doesn’t comprehend that the P.A. is almost all of the problem.

In practical terms, that means he understands that pushing on the peace process won’t work and trying to bully Israel will damage him in several ways. American public opinion and Congress, including most of the Democrats, are supportive of Israel. He has no interest in throwing away political capital that he needs for other things in order to pursue a goal that he knows cannot be attained.

The main international problem he needs to deal with is the Middle East itself, especially the two issues he focused on for his visit: Iran and Syria. Obama intends to spend 2013 negotiating—futilely—with Iran. While the strong sanctions against Tehran have damaged the economy they are unlikely to force it to stop the nuclear weapons’ drive.

As Iran gets closer to obtaining nuclear weapons, Israel’s government will increasingly consider an attack on Tehran’s facilities. Obama has spoken of all options being on the table and Israel’s right of self-defense. But assuming, which seems accurate, that Obama does not want to back an Israeli attack how is he going to restrain Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government? Obama needs Netanyahu’s cooperation in making a very tough decision and for that the president must have Israel feeling more secure and rewarded by the United States.

On the second issue, Syria, another country neighboring Israel is on the verge of a revolution that will bring the Muslim Brotherhood to power and even more extremist Salafists into having a powerful armed presence. While Obama still claims Syria will produce a democratic and moderate regime, that outcome seems increasingly unlikely.

What appears quite possible is that the weapons and training supplied with U.S. support will be turned against Israel. So how will Obama get Israel’s cooperation in trying to keep things quiet despite that new threat? This, too, requires him to be friendlier to Israel on bilateral issues.

There is also a third issue that parallels Syria and that is Egypt, where the Muslim Brotherhood is already in control and armed Salafist groups roam the Sinai Peninsula. If Egypt breaks the peace treaty, Israel will call on the United States to put pressure on Cairo, a demand that Obama wants to avoid. Here, too, he wants Israel to exercise restraint and once again this requires an Israel that feels the United States is defending its back.

Barry Rubin

The New Strategic Environment

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

The way it looks now, it seems that the regime of al-Assad will not last more than a number of days or weeks. A coalition of Sunni jihad organizations will succeed in toppling the government of an Arab state despite the state having used every weapon in its arsenal – including scud missiles – in order to survive.

During the past two years all of the red lines have been crossed in Syria , and both sides are sunk deep in this dirty, ugly struggle, which is fought with no moral or legal constraints.  Tens of thousands of citizens, women, children and elderly, have been brutally murdered , hundreds of thousands of houses and apartments have been rendered uninhabitable; infrastructures of the country are collapsing; the economy is paralyzed and the organizational framework of the state is falling apart.

The success of the Sunni coalition (Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Jordan) in eliminating the heretical Alawite regime, which is supported by a Shi’ite coalition (Iran, Iraq and Hizb’Allah) might trigger a wave of terror in Arab countries, especially in Iraq and Turkey, because oppressed groups in these countries – such as Sunnis in Iraq and the Kurds in Turkey – will be encouraged by the success of the jihad organizations that are fighting in Syria and by the methods that they used in their battle against the regime.

This filthy war taking place in Syria is not a battle of good versus evil, because the regime and the rebels have both used inhumane, illegal and immoral practices. Both sides have committed crimes against humanity by eliminating groups of citizens indiscriminately and both sides have resorted to repressive measures and degrading treatment of helpless citizens.

As soon as the violence began, for example, the rebels understood that every time they show up in an open area, the forces of the regime could easily destroy them with merciless determination, so they transferred their activity to the crowded urban and settled areas. As a result, they turned citizens into human shields, without their having any say in the matter, dragging the cities and the settled neighborhoods into a rebellion that they were not at all interested in.

THE MOST SIGNIFICANT feature of the rebellion in Syria is that it has become a magnet for jihadists from all over the Arab and Muslim world who poured into Syria to take part in the jihad against the heretical ‘Alawites and their tyrannical regime. As of today there are hundreds of combat groups in Syria, and a few tens of them speak non-Syrian Arabic dialects such as Iraqi, Saudi and Moroccan. The linguistic diversity is even more complex because some of the jihadists speak non-Arabic Muslim languages – Turkish, Bosnian, Chechen, Pashtu (Afghanistan), Urdu (Pakistan) and languages from the Caucasus. The problem with having to deal with a multitude of dialects and languages is that the intelligence organizations get a significant amount of information by listening to various means of communication, but their work may have no value, because it is especially the most dangerous groups that speak dialects and languages not understood by the listeners of other countries that exist in the area.

Conventional forces too will have a great problem in dealing with jihadi communication methods. The jihadist organizations – contrary to a regular army- use the internet as a means of passing messages, reports and commands, and it is not easy to detect the communications channels they are using in the civilian network. There are organizations that pass coded messages via the internet, and it is difficult to identify, locate and decode them. Also the way the jihadist organizations use other civilian networks such as cellular telephones, makes it difficult to locate their communications and to keep track of their operatives.

The intelligence problem becomes even more complicated regarding visual intelligence, where the information is collected from observation points on the ground and in the air. Military intelligence gatherers undergo training on the various types of tanks, cannon, and the rest tools of destruction that a regular army has. But how are they supposed to identify jihadists? According to the type of jeans or T-shirt he’s wearing? According to the type of hiarcut or beard? The problem of identification becomes more difficult regarding vehicles in the service of jihadists, which are ordinary vehicles,indistinguishable from many others. How is a drone or someone who sees the material photographed by the drone supposed to identify the vehicle of a jihadist?

Dr. Mordechai Kedar

IDF Intelligence Chief: Terror Organizations on the Rise

Friday, March 15th, 2013

Head of the Military Intelligence Directorate Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi spoke at the 13th annual Herzliya Conference on Thursday, where he delivered a comprehensive review of the strategic changes currently shaping the Middle East and the threats that such changes pose to Israel’s national security. THE IRANIAN THREAT

Maj. Gen. Kochavi related to the Iranian nuclear program, and was explicit in describing the great threat that Iran poses to the security of the State of Israel, describing it as Israel’s “primary threat”.

“We estimate that they will continue to advance their nuclear program,” he said, explaining that “Iran does not see a high chance of a military attack by the international community on [their] nuclear facilities.”

Maj. Gen. Kochavi said that the Iranian government is in possession of the necessary infrastructure to procure nuclear weapons. “Right now [Iran] has ten thousand spinning centrifuges and another five thousand have been installed,” he said, adding that “should the [President of Iran Mahmoud Ahmadinejad] decide to move forward towards a bomb, they already have enough material for five or six bombs.”

Despite the progress of Iran’s nuclear program, Maj. Gen. Kochavi said, the international community still has the power to stop them. “The [international] pressure on Iran is intensifying and the economic sanctions are influencing Iran in the most significant way,” he said, adding that such sanctions will become an ever-more influential factor in the decision making in Iran. CHANGING MIDDLE EAST

The intelligence chief stated the IDF’s Intelligence Directorate has identified three central pillars around which the most significant changes influencing the region revolve: the economic situation, social upheaval and Islamization.

“The social upheaval is here to stay,” Maj. Gen. Kochavi said, referring to the massive political and social changes that have occurred throughout the Middle East in recent years. “It will continue to seethe and bubble and remain the central determining factor in the Middle East,” he said.

He explained that the social upheaval has removed many of the Middle East’s traditional power structures from authority, leaving room for radical Islam to take over. “[The upheaval] is becoming more violent every day, and it is creating a vacuum which is being filled with Islamist and Jihadist political factions,” he warned.

The Head of Military Intelligence said that while political turmoil abounds, governance has vanished and borders are being breached, leaving Israel surrounded by increasingly lawless areas. The lack of control, he says, is leading to the unfettered passage of weapons and munitions. “For the first time in decades Israel has four active borders which could open up from terror attacks,” Maj. Gen. Kochavi said. THE RISE OF TERROR IN SYRIA

Maj. Gen. Kochavi related to the sustained political turmoil in Syria, saying that there too radical Islamism has risen up to fill the void left by political instability. “For some of the [new terror] organizations, Israel is not the focus, but the moment they accomplish their Plan A – the fall of Assad, for instance – they will turn their energy towards Israel,” he said.

Elaborating on the situation in Syria, Maj. Gen. Kochavi said that “it is necessary to think of Syria not as a complete state, but as Assad’s state and the rebels’ state – which includes two thirds of Syria’s populated area.” He added that there are rebel enclaves camped all along the border in the Golan Heights from where they lead the day to day fighting.

“11 of 17 crossings [from Syria into the demilitarized UNDOF zone] are in the hands of the rebels, which enables the passage of refugees, weapons and even Jihadist elements,” Maj. Gen. Kochavi said.

The Head of Military Intelligence went on to say that Hezbollah, a traditional ally of Assad, is concerned that should he lose power, Iran may lose free passage through Syria to arm the Lebanese terror organization – a concern which has caused them to become involved in the conflict.

“Assad is intensifying cooperation with Hezbollah and Iran, which maintain a presence in Syria, and are the primary supports of his regime,” Maj. Gen. Kochavi said. “The damage of Syria’s demise would be very grave for them. Iran would lose its only Arab ally which borders Israel and thus lose the capability to open fire on Israel from Syria,” Maj. Gen. Kochavi said.

IDF Spokesperson's Office

Only a Strong, United and Consolidated Israel Will Survive the Coming War against the Sunnis

Wednesday, December 19th, 2012

Every Israeli would say that the alliance between Hamas and Iranis strong and firm, based on the shared world-view between Palestinian Islamic zealots who are Sunni, and Iranian Islamist zealots, who are Shi’ite. Iran has even stronger affiliations with other organizations like Islamic Jihad and the Committees of Popular Resistance, than with Hamas. The anti-Israeli, anti-American and anti-West interest, that Iran shares with these organizations has allowed the world and Israeli politicians to place Iran, Hamas and the rest of the terror organizations into a single framework of Islamic terror.

But matters are not so simple. The conflict between the Sunnis and the Shi’ites, which began approximately 1350 years ago, continues in full strength and severity, and is expressed gruesomely today in the civil war that is currently grinding Syria into dust. The Shi’ite coalition of Iran, Iraq, Hizb’Allah and the Syrian regime is conducting an all-out war against the Sunni coalition of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, Jordan and Egypt, which supports the rebels against Asad, most of whom are Sunni, with all of its strength and means. The number of fatalities in the massacre, which has reached almost 50,000 men, women and children, as well as the Iranian involvement in the genocide in Syria, raises a question regarding the Islamic legality of collaboration between Shi’ite Iran and Palestinian organizations, which are Sunni.

A short historical background: The Muslim Arabs conquered Persia in the middle of the seventh century CE and imposed Islam on the Persian nation. In 1501, sociological and political turmoil brought a group of descendants of a sheikh by the name of Safi al-Din to power over the Persian population, and they forced Persia to adopt Shi’ite Islam. Even today, the Sunnis are angry that the Persians adopted Shi’a, because many Sunni Muslims, mainly the Saudi Hanbalis, see Shi’a as a type of heresy.

From the moment the Hamas movement began to depend on the money, weapons and political support of Iran, the question arose as to whether it is permissible for a Sunni to accept help from a Shi’ite, specifically from those who were Sunni until 500 years ago, and have switched affiliation.

Muhammad Asaad Bayud al-Tamimi, an Islamist from a family that is identified with radical Islam inSamaria, published an article this month on the subject, which was “adopted” by hundreds of internet sites. The title of the article: “A Covenant with the Safavid Shi’ites (Iran) is forbidden by Islam, and if someone engages in such a pact, he forfeits his status as a Muslim.” The title makes clear his position that collaborating withIran excludes a Muslim from Islam as if he had become a heretic and converted to another religion.
Nevertheless, it is important to note that many do not agree with al-Tamimi’s approach. They take the logical approach that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” and thus Sunnis may join hands with Shi’ite Iran in order to fight their common enemies.

It is also important to note that currently there are trends to bring Sunnis and Shi’ites closer together. The most eloquent spokesman for political Sunni Islam, Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, has called in the past for finding ways to bridge the differences between Sunna and Shi’a which were expressed in al-Tamimi’s article.

Ultimately, each organization decides for itself regarding this matter, and this decision may change over time: when Syria was an orderly state, there was no important reason for the leaders of Hamas to give up the support of Iran, but since the civil war broke out and the slaughter of Sunni citizens began as a result of demonstrations that began in March 2011, collaboration with Iran has become fairly problematic for Hamas. In his article, Tamimi calls on the last Palestinians who are still collaborating with Iran to leave it, and we must wait to see if this call falls on listening ears or will remain a solitary call in the desert. It depends on the desire of other states like Qatar,Saudi Arabia,Egypt or Turkey to support Palestinian organizations with weapons, money and political support.

Is this an impossible scenario? If the Marmara was possible then the possibility of similar developments in the future cannot be discounted. In the Middle East, several scenarios that seemed totally delusional two years ago are being played out today in front of our eyes. Slogans that politicians disseminate might become actual reality: if the Damascus regime falls, the image of Iran will become that of a loser; from under the carpet will come all of those sectarian anti-Shi’ite snakes that al-Tamimi fosters, the Sunni bloc will be encouraged and Israel – as we know – is not the favorite of Mursi, Erdogan and Sheikh Hamed of Qatar.

Since Israel announced that it plans to build in the area of E-1 between Jerusalem and Ma’aleh Adumim, a chorus of protest has arisen, led by Turkish President Abdullah Gül, who announced that “Israel is playing with fire.” Without getting too deeply into the Turkish announcement, nothing good can come from this, because this is Turkey’s way of encouraging Hamas, the ideological ally of the Islamic party that rules in Turkey, to do in Judea and Samaria what it has already done in the Gaza Strip since July of 2007: establish armed and aggressive Islamic emirates. Anyone who thinks or speaks about an Israeli withdrawal in Judea and Samaria must take into account that any area that Israel vacates might turn into a terror swamp, like Gaza. Can anyone promise it will not happen?

In facing a cohesive Sunni front, Israel must appear strong, united and consolidated behind its leadership which knows well that only those who are strong and invincible enjoy peace and stability in the Middle East.  In the arid, forsaken and violent area that we live in, if you beg for peace you get a kick in the behind and thrown out of the arena. Here, only he who is ready for war wins peace, and that peace will survive only as long as he presents a credible threat to anyone who dares to conspire to attack him. The Middle East is no place for bleeding hearts, rather it is for those of strong spirit, imbued with a sense of security and faith in the justice of their cause.

Al-Tamimi is an enemy who is not willing to give up his ideology for interests, no matter how important. The question for us is how much we stick to our ideology, and how ready we are to surrender it for other interests.

Originally published at Middle East and Terrorism

Dr. Mordechai Kedar

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/dr-mordechai-kedar/only-a-strong-united-and-consolidated-israel-will-survive-the-coming-war-against-the-sunnis/2012/12/19/

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