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Why did Turkey opt for emergency

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Western powers, trumpeting that everything is bad in Islamic countries, quickly criticized the emergency clamped by Turkey for a brief period meant to set things right and their complaint is that now the people in Turkey would not have the freedom to even to open mouths.. Strangely enough, those that criticize Turkey for its emergency are supposed to be Turkey’s close allies. They stand totally exposed as anti-Turkish and anti-Islamic nations.

They also expected entire world and global network of anti-Islamic media to follow their footsteps as usual to condemn “new” authoritarianism in Turkey. Such has been the usual strategy of the western anti-Islamic powers to belittle and insult Islamic world. After the Sept-11 the NATO rouge forces even attacked Afghanistan, among others. They don’t want Turkey to undertake measures to check any future coups by their agents in Turkey.

The failed coup officially by a section of military in Turkey was meant to dethrone or kill President Erdogan, other leaders of his government and ruling AKP party, but it reveals the hidden agenda of western powers. The coup, apparently enacted jointly by anti-Islamic and anti-Turkish sources, signaled an acute danger emanating from different directions from within and from abroad for the Islamist government in Istanbul to rise up to face it and weed out all traces of danger once for all.

No nation would allow the rogue elements to destabilize it, ransack its institutions. Neither USA, nor Germany nor their NATO was kind even to the so-called “suspected terrorists” and the way they torture the suspects is criticized as the worst form of human rights violation by the USA and NATO. But they also talk about “greatness” of their own democracy, condemn the rule of law in Muslim countries.

The power of the President to call up massive crowds of supporters has been on clear display in Istanbul’s Taksim Square every night since last week’s failed coup. “Work during the day, and come to the square at night” is the message put out by the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. “The threat is not over.”

Emergency is a global phenomenon

Emergency is a global phenomenon and not a Turkey special. The military coup is very serious matter, because the fence has tried to destroy the crops – Islamic crops. Turkey ahs face coups before.

Turks are no strangers to military takeovers. Turkey experienced coups in 1960, 1971 and 1980. In 1997 and 2007, there were further interventions via strongly worded memorandums from the army.

Each putsch inflicted huge damage on an already fragile democracy and led to widespread human rights violations. The 1980 coup was the worst of all — thousands were arrested arbitrarily and many tortured, while critics were sent into exile. When the governing Justice and Development party (AKP) came to power in 2001, it attracted support from liberals by promising to keep the army confined to military and security matters — the way it should be in any mature democracy.

The events of July 15-16, when the government foiled an attempted coup by elements within the military, must be read against this historical backdrop. It was a horrible night. By the time it was over at least 290 people were dead and more than 1,400 injured. It felt as if the country had gone back years.

Now the destabilization effort has been put down intelligently, President Erdogan is undertaking a series of measures to deny chances n future for such coups and to make Turkey safe and secure, ignoring all “counseling” from sworn foes enemies disguised, once again, as “well-wishers”.

To check institutional collapse

With military playing usual mischief, Turkey genuinely faces risk of institutional collapse and President Erdogan needs to set the things right so that Turkish economy is back on rails.

Turkish nation is yet to recover from the shock it was administered by the coup plotters. As AKP government was busy fighting several forces at the same time like the powerful ISIS, Kurdish forces, Syria, Israel and Russia, Turkish government possibly did not notice how the anti-Islamic forces in Istanbul sponsored by western powers were busy plotting against the Islamist government and Turkey itself in order to destabilize the former Ottoman Empire and establish, like Pakistan, Afghanistan Libya, Iraq, Egypt and elsewhere, a puppet regime in Ankara directly remote controlled by Washington.

The unexpected coup attempt by Turkey’s military establishment with a view to killing or arrest President Erdogan and his cabinet members, the AKP party leaders has been put down by person involvement by the Precedent of Turkey himself who cancelled his vacation and rushed to Istanbul. Maybe the plotters had expected President Erdogan to run away to USA, UK or some Arab nation.

Germany indirectly hinted that next time the coup in Turkey would succeed by correcting their errors in strategic planning of the coup.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced in order to regain full control of the nation the nation attacked by the anti-Turkey coup plotters is clamping a three-month state of emergency in the aftermath of last week’s bloody coup attempt.

Before the announcement, Erdogan convened on July 20 with his national Security Council and council of ministers, the latter of which approved the state of emergency recommendation. “The purpose of the declaration of the state of emergency is, in fact, to be able to take the most efficient steps in order to remove this threat as soon as possible, which is a threat to democracy, to the rule of law and to the rights and freedoms of the citizens in our country,” Erdogan said, according to a government translation.

Erdogan, speaking later to a national television audience, said the state of emergency was not a threat to democracy. Governors will have expanded powers and the army will be under the command and control of the governors, the President said. Erdogan guaranteed that all the “viruses” in the armed forces would be cleansed during the period. “It is very similar to a cancer,” he said. “It is like a metastasis that is going on in the body that is Turkey. And we will clean it out.”

The President praised the popular anger and reactions to the coup attempt, in which 246 people died and 1,536 were wounded. “Every member of our nation came together as one,” he said.

Enemies of Islamist state and democracy

Unexpectedly for the enemies of Islam and Islamist Turkey, the coup failed and plotters have caught. Now the sponsors from abroad are deeply worried if the plotters caught would reveal the truth about who are behind the coup. So the Western media lords, seeking to shield the coup criminals, now focus on state reaction against the plotters, criticizing the government action against the plotters. Slowly they shift their focus to freedoms and democracy and criticize Turkey for not being kind to the plotting criminal gangs.

That is how the western media efficiently inspired by the strategy of Neocons targeting Islam and Arab nations, talk filth about Muslims, and their nations.

Turkey on Tuesday formally requested the extradition of Gulen from the United States, where he lives in self-imposed exile.

US President Obama has joined his European counterparts in warning Erdogan against over-reacting, and Erdogan supporters have suggested US complicity in the coup which they saw was organized by US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen. Turkey is seeking Gulen’s extradition.

USA and EU ask President Erdogan to just forgive the criminal plotters (and move on further) who wanted to kill and jail President Erdogan and allies and destabilize Turkey and hand it over r to enemies of Islam. USA has refused to arrest the Gulen and allies in USA and hand them over to Turkish government.

All that European states want is as Turkey would be busy with “soul-searching” after the failed coup, the coup plotters would regroup and stage another “perfect’ coup to remove the elected Islamist government.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said European criticism won’t stop Turkey taking steps it deems necessary after last week’s failed coup. He projected a more conciliatory tone toward the USA and Russia. “The EU is not the whole world,” Erdogan said in an interview with Al Jazeera before announcing a three-month state of emergency. “It is just 28 countries. The USA has the death penalty, Russia has it, and China has it.”

Why not punish the coup plotters?

Turkey has now fired or suspended about 50,000 people after a failed coup over the weekend as it intensifies its vast purge — battering the country’s security forces and many of its democratic institutions. In total, more than 9,400 people are being detained, the vast majority of them from the military. Teachers, journalists, police and judges alike have been caught in a net authorities are casting wider by the day, in what, according to the Western media lords, is increasingly looking like a witch-hunt to suppress dissent.

In order to present themselves as kind people on earth, USA and EU are pressing for no-punishment for the coup plotters in Turkey.

The Western powers that have murdered millions of Muslims in Islamic world calling them the terrorists want Turkish government to be very very kind to the coup plotters, betrays their secret efforts to support the coup and keep the plan very hidden from Turkey leaders.

The natural purge has gutted the leadership in the country’s security forces, with at least 118 generals and admirals detained, stripping the general-rank command of the Turkish military by a third, according to Turkish state broadcaster TRT. Authorities have also suspended 8,777 Ministry of Interior personnel, mostly police, as well as 100 Turkish intelligence service personnel, according to the state-run Anadolu news agency.

Western leaders have urged Erdogan and his government to respect democratic principles and act within the law in response to talk of reviving the death penalty and heavy-handed punishments over the coup.

The coup efforts a rent new to Turkey but last time the plotters were caught and punished. The last executions in Turkey were in the mid-1980s and the death penalty was abolished in 2004. Erdogan said restoring capital punishment is being considered because of popular pressure, and the final decision rests with parliament.

Hundreds more have been suspended from the Prime Minister’s office and government bodies dealing with religious affairs, family and social policy and development. The total fired or suspended is around 50,000 people.

Anti-Islamic US-EU opposition to Turkey

The reactions from USA and EU reveal their essentially anti-Islamic joint hidden agenda against Turkey. They seek to destabilize the former Ottoman Empire. More than 9,000 people are currently in detention and are under investigation over the coup

It is unclear how many soldiers participated in the attack, during which two of Erdogan’s bodyguards were killed, and it is unclear how loyal the troops were, given that they were briefed on the coup so late in proceedings.

Asked if the extradition request would affect wider relations with the USA, Erdogan said “putting the two issues together is not the right thing to do.” “We have a strategic partnership, and we have to continue our solidarity,” he said. On Russia, Erdogan suggested that the two pilots who shot down a Russian jet on the Syrian-Turkish border in November may have been under orders from the coup plotters. The two pilots have been detained. “The judiciary must have their doubts because they are now in custody,” he said.

In order to ensure the safety of US nukes in Turkey is duty bound to take strict actions against the plotters. Rights group Amnesty International said that authorities had canceled 34 journalists’ press cards and called on Turkish authorities to not “arbitrarily restrict freedom of expression.” “We are witnessing a crackdown of exceptional proportions in Turkey at the moment,” said Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International’s Turkey researcher.

Will Gulen be extradited?

US President Barack Obama spoke with Erdogan after the failed coup about the coup and the status of Gulen, who lives in Pennsylvania. Obama “strongly condemned” the coup attempt and “expressed his support for Turkish democracy,” a White House news release said, without explaining whether Gulen would be extradited.

US Secretary of State John Kerry has, as USA does to Pakistan, outrightly rejected the Turkish demand to extradite Gulen, saying USA wants proof. The Muslim cleric has denied any involvement in the coup attempt.

In order to be on the safe side, Gulen, in a statement released said Erdogan “once again demonstrated he will go to any length necessary to solidify his power and persecute his critics.” The reclusive cleric leads a popular movement called Hizmet, which includes hundreds of secular co-ed schools, free tutoring centers, hospitals and relief agencies credited with addressing Turkey’s social problems, now targeting Islamic rule.

USA claims that under the US-Turkey extradition agreement, Washington can only extradite a person if he or she has committed an “extraditable act.” Treason — such as that implied by Erdogan’s demand for Gulen’s extradition — is not listed as such an act in the countries’ treaty.

As Washington does not want to punish President Erdogan’s opponent Gulen, Kerry said in Washington that he told his Turkish counterpart: “Please don’t send us allegations, send us evidence; we need to have evidence which we can then make a judgment about.”

In the aftermath of the coup, the numbers of those detained, suspended or suspected has risen to the tens of thousands.

For his opponents, the fear is that it’s the start of a more sinister era of what they call Erdogan’s authoritarian rule, an opportunity to crack down further on any voice of dissent, an opening to push through constitutional and other changes that would give him greater powers.

In Greece, a court sentenced eight Turkish military personnel who fled there aboard a helicopter during the coup attempt to two months in prison for entering the country illegally.

Turkey has demanded their return to stand trial for alleged participation in the coup attempt. The eight, who deny involvement, have applied for asylum in Greece, saying they fear for their safety if they are returned.

Istanbul calm after storm

Turkey woke up to its first full day under a state of emergency on Thursday, imposed by the government the previous night. “Everything is looking normal” in the streets of Istanbul, a resident told journalists at 8 am (0500 GMT), with people commuting to work or taking coffees in the city’s cafes.

Away from the nightly Taksim Square celebrations there is a sense that people are going through the motions of daily life as if in a daze, conversations that invariably drift toward recent developments tend to still be preceded with exclamations. It appears there was a concerted effort to try to change the atmosphere of the square, even superficially, from a rallying ground for Erdogan supporters to something that stands more for the nation of Turkey itself. There are fewer political anthems lauding Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party, the AKP, and more songs that are simply patriotic or popular; there are fewer banners with Erdogan’s image fluttering in the breeze, more Turkish flags. Voices at the microphones — mostly AKP members and supporters — deliver a litany of messages about Turkey’s strength, not forgetting the price the nation paid.

There are more sinister reminders, too, such as one man who, standing in front of a newly erected billboard with the names of the dead, held a bullet and reminded the crowd: “This on Friday could have hit anyone of you, it could have had your name on it.”

Turkey have been through coups before, the successful ones of the past were bloodless. This one — violent — did not succeed. The anti-Islamic sources say a part of the reason for coup failure was because the authorities got wind of it just in time, and the attempted takeover was poorly executed. But arguably the key reason for failure was that the coup leaders did not take into account Erdogan’s popularity and his people power.

Erdogan’s supporters have no qualms about the government’s reaction. Erdogan is their man, they have unwavering faith in his abilities and they have proven they will lay down their lives for him. And, one could argue, they did not take into account that, whether Turks love Erdogan or hate him, the vast majority of this country does not want to have a democratically elected government brought down in a military coup. That night resulted in rare unity among Turkey’s main political party leaders and among its population.

The aims of three-month nationwide state of emergency includes end of Gulen empire in Turkey by creating a “parallel structure” of exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen, blamed for the coup, government spokesman Numan Kurtulmus said. Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek insisted the state of emergency would not curtail basic freedoms, including restrictions on movement, gatherings and free press. Parliament, dominated by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party, was to meet on Thursday to review the state of emergency.

The government has rounded up or dismissed tens of thousands of civil servants, teachers, lawyers and soldiers. Government supporters have called for the death penalty for coup plotters. Istanbul Mayor Kadir Topbas told a crowd in the city’s Taksim Square this week the he had ordered a burial plot to be set aside for any dead coup plotters, to be called “the graveyard for traitors.” “Everyone visiting the place will curse them and they won’t be able to rest in their graves,” he was quoted as saying by Hurriyet Daily news late on Wednesday.

Some locals were celebrating the coup’s failure in the streets on Wednesday night, the resident said. But many people were also deactivating their social media accounts, she added, saying she thought they were afraid of a clampdown. “Three people were dismissed in my company yesterday and there are rumours of 15 more on the list,” she said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Opposition politicians also expressed fear of reprisals. “Unfortunately, we are seeing a civilian counter-coup,” Lawmaker Ziya Pir of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party told journalists on Wednesday. Many opposition factions “are afraid of being lynched,” he said.

Under the Turkish Constitution, the emergency measures allow the government to “partially or entirely” suspend “the exercise of fundamental rights and freedoms,” so long as that doesn’t violate international law obligations. Lawmakers can sanction a state of emergency for a period of up to six months.

In order to avoid reoccurrence of coups and escape being the target of accusations of becoming authoritarian by anti-Islamic nations, Turkey pres Erdogan has been moving strictly as per law. Turkish lawmakers declare three-month state of emergency allowing president Recep Tayyip Erdogan to ramp up his crackdown after failed coup without parliamentary approval. Parliament voted 346-115 to approve the national state of emergency, which will give Erdogan the authority to extend detention times for suspects and issue decrees that have the force of law without parliamentary approval, among other powers.

Observation

The coup is perhaps a stark reminder of how shaky Turkish nation is, of how for many a sense of security they had once taken for granted is more shattered than it already was, of how deeply July 15 — despite the failure of the coup itself — continues to unsettle this country.

Turkey has to reinvent the prestige and prowess of a big nation.

Erdogan, who had been accused of autocratic conduct even before this week’s crackdown on alleged opponents, says the state of emergency will counter threats to Turkish democracy. The main opposition Republican People’s Party, CHP, slammed the state of emergency move as going too far. A state of emergency has never been declared nationwide although it was declared in Turkey’s restive, Kurdish-dominated southeast between 1987 and 2002.

Since the July 15 coup attempt, the government has arrested nearly 10,000 people. In addition, over 58,880 civil service employees — including teachers, university deans and police — have been dismissed, suspended, forced to resign or had their licenses revoked, accused of being Gulen followers.

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek defended the move, saying he hoped the state of emergency would be short-lived. He said it would be used to go after “rogue” elements within the state and that there would have been “carnage in the streets” had the military coup succeeded.

Turkey immediately said it was partially suspending the European Convention on Human Rights, allowing it more leeway to deal with individual cases, by invoking an article most recently used by France and Ukraine.

Countries around the world are keeping a close watch on developments in Turkey, which straddles Europe, the Middle East and Asia. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier advised Turkey that the state of emergency should only last as long as it’s “absolutely necessary,” thereby interfering with internal affairs of Turkey

Erdogan announced a three-month state of emergency to protect Turkey’s freedom and democracy, saying Turkey will work to cleanse the “viruses” within the armed forces and other groups.

Turkey’s people are still reeling from the shocking events of the weekend and it is vital that press freedom and the unhindered circulation of information are protected, rather than stifled. There is a general incredulity, with the weight of what happened only just beginning to sink in.

It is not just funny but very dangerous that EU member states try to intervene in Turkey’s efforts to punish the culprits. Meanwhile, EU leaders have said that Turkey’s negotiations to join their bloc will be terminated if it brings back the death penalty to the coup plotting criminals and have criticized the wave of arrests that followed the failed putsch. Erdogan said the arrests were the state “doing its job” and told French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault to mind his own business given that France also introduced a state of emergency after last year’s attacks. “For 53 years, we have been knocking at the door and the EU leaders have kept us waiting, while others have joined,” he said. Turkey has no reason now to feel any urgency to be a part of EU, which has already shown signs of breakup following the Brexit.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the AKP are pinning responsibility for the failed coup on a cabal within the army sympathetic to Fethullah Gulen, the exiled Islamic cleric. These accusations must be investigated and those who are culpable must be brought to justice. Gulenists were active in the police, prosecution service and judiciary, often pursuing their own agenda. Their unbridled lust for power ruined them in the end. Turkish liberals and democrats will never support the ambitions of the Gulenist army officers

Erdogan says death penalty could return to deal effectively with future plotters in Turkey, so that the people and government can surge ahead to revitalize economy and Islamic assets that are the target of the anti-Islamic forces globally.

With the coup having been failed, Turkey’s increasingly warm relations with Russia spell trouble for the USA at a time when the already strained ties between Ankara and Washington have been further complicated following the unsuccessful attempt to overthrow President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Following the unsuccessful attempt to overthrow President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey is on its way to effect a dramatic shift in foreign policy from USA to Russia. As ties between the two countries normalize, Ankara could green light the Turkish Stream project, an initiative that Moscow has championed and Washington opposed.

Turkey’s new policy approach is based on its economic well-being which has been the basis of the weight and influence the country has been enjoying in the Middle East. Its economy had considerably gone down over the past few years and dipped further after its direct involvement in the war in Syria and Iraq

Every nation is duty bound to take revenge if there is a coup or grave subversive move by military and why not Turkey? USA still invades energy rich Arab nations blaming one Osama‘s terror attack on USA. Turkey is not a nation displaying its resilience in the face of a terrorist attack, as Turks have done in the past. This is not a nation that can bury the dead and try to move on. This is a nation in uncharted territory.

Turkey must now know who its real friends and foes are and criticize both USA and EU directly instead of taking an indirect route by criticizing only their tool Gulen or the military. Bur the coup plotters and those who help them achieve anti-Islamic agenda. That would make some sense to people in those countries.

Middle East

Algerian controversy over Salafism puts government control of religion on the spot

Dr. James M. Dorsey

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photo: Wikimedia Commons

A controversy in Algeria over the growing popularity of Saudi-inspired Salafi scholars spotlights the risk governments run in a region in which they strive to control religion in a bid to counter militant strands of Islam, often by touting apolitical, ultra-conservative trends.  These efforts are proving difficult to contain within the limits of the government’s agenda.

The controversy over Saudi support of Salafi scholars highlights how state control, frequently exercised through degrees of micro-management of weekly Friday prayer sermons, and/or putting clerics on the government payroll as well as supervision of mosques and school textbooks, often backfires.  For one, the credibility of government-sponsored Islamic scholars is undermined as they become increasingly viewed as functionaries and parrots of regimes.

It also thrusts into the limelight the slippery slope on which governments play politics with conservative and ultra-conservative religion for opportunistic reasons or as in the case of Turkey in a bid to establish state-controlled Turkish Islam as a global force.

Ultra-conservatism’s increasing attractiveness is magnified by the inability of governments to comprehensively police alternative expressions of religion on the Internet and social media as well as halt the popping up of unlicensed mosques and informal study groups.

As a result, Saudi-inspired ultra-conservative as well as militant strands of Islam emerge as the only alternative release valve, particularly in countries that restrict freedom of expression, the media and religion and have failed in their delivery of public goods and services

“Whatever the state does to control the religious realm, it cannot oblige or guarantee that people will rely on official bodies and individuals for their religious guidance. In fact, Algerian youths in particular are disillusioned and have lost confidence in their religious institutions. As such, they may be attracted to other religious voices, especially those offering ‘grab and go’ solutions to complex issues or a Manichean view of the world,” said Algeria scholar Dalia Ghanem-Yazbeck.

The controversy in Algeria further raises questions about definitions of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s declared effort to return the kingdom to what he termed ‘moderate Islam’ given that Saudi Arabia played a key role in globally promoting Sunni Muslim ultra-conservatism for almost half a century.

In Saudi Arabia, the jury is still out on Prince Mohammed’s approach to moderation. In an ultra-conservative country in which religious leaders were not only popular, but government employees who shared power with the ruling Al Saud family, Prince Mohammed has whipped the religious establishment into subservience and kowtowing to his reforms with little indication that they have had a true change of heart.

Algeria has long seen Saudi-inspired quietist strands of Salafism that preach unreserved obedience to a Muslim ruler as a way of countering expressions of popular discontent and more militant strands of Islam.

“The onset of the 2011 Arab uprisings only increased the utility of quietist Salafists to the state. All the main quietist figures issued calls for Algerians to resist the wave of political contestation rocking the Arab world… This drove a wedge between rulers and ruled, exacerbating social divisions, which would inevitably lead to a rise in insecurity and worsening corruption,” said international relations scholar Anouar Boukhars.

A recent study showed that many Algerians were turning on social media to Saudi and Egyptian rather than Algerian religious scholars.

Some Saudi scholars like Sheikh Mohamed al-Arefe, a controversial ultra-conservative, known for his misogynist and anti-Shiite tirades, who ranks among the top 100 global and top 10 Arab social media personalities with 21.6 million followers on Twitter and 24.3 million on Facebook boast a larger following in Algeria than in the kingdom itself.

The study concluded that Mr. Al-Arefe had two million Algerian followers as opposed to 1.3 million Saudis.

Algerian media reports, echoing secular concerns, detailed earlier this year Saudi propagation of a quietist, apolitical yet supremacist and anti-pluralistic form of Islam in the North African country. The media published a letter by a prominent Saudi scholar that appointed three ultra-conservative Algerian clerics as representatives of Salafism.

“While Saudi Arabia tries to promote the image of a country that is ridding itself of its fanatics, it sends to other countries the most radical of its doctrines,” asserted independent Algerian newspaper El Watan.

El Watan and other media reproduced a letter written by Saudi Sheikh Hadi Ben Ali Al-Madkhali, a scion of Sheikh Rabia Al-Madkhali, the intellectual father of what French Islam scholar Stephane Lacroix terms a loyalist strand of Salafism that projects the kingdom as the ideal place for those who seek a pure Islam that has not been compromised by non-Muslim cultural practices and secularism.

The letter appoints three prominent Algerian scholars, including Mohamed Ali Ferkous, widely viewed as the spiritual guide of Algerian Madkhalists, as Salafism’s representatives in Algeria.

“Madkhalism…(is) perhaps Saudi Arabia’s own Trojan Horse,” quipped North Africa scholar George Joffe. “State-approved imams in Algeria now find themselves under considerable pressure, in mosques that have been targeted, to adapt their teachings and doctrines to Salafi precept, even if this challenges the authority of the ministry of religious affairs,” Mr. Joffe added.

The mixed results of the Algerian government’s effort to control and use religion are replicated across the Muslim world.

Pakistan, a country in which ultra-conservatism and militancy has over decades been woven into the fabric of the state and society and that is struggling with political violence against the state as well as minorities, serves as an example of the risks involved in playing politics with religion and state support for non-pluralistic, intolerant and supremacist interpretations of Islam.

Attempting to rollback the fallout of such policies is proving to be a gargantuan task. The Pakistani government earlier this year launched a pilot project in Islamabad to regulate Friday prayer sermons. The problem is that it controls a mere 86 of the city’s 1,003 mosques.

Some critics warn that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan may be taking his country down a road like that of Pakistan. They compare the Turkish leader to former Pakistani ruler General Zia ul-Haq who in the 1980s accelerated Islamization of Pakistani society.

Former Pakistani ambassador to the United States and director of South and Central Asia for the Washington-based Hudson Institute Husain Haqqani asserted that Mr. Erdogan was adopting the “Pakistani formula of mixing hard-line nationalism with religiosity” and pouring money into Islamic schools.

“Erdogan has taken the Pakistani formula of mixing hard-line nationalism with religiosity. Zia imposed Islamic laws by decree, amended the constitution, marginalized secular scholars and leaders, and created institutions for Islamization that have outlasted him. Erdogan is trying to do the same in Turkey,” Mr. Haqqani told journalist and columnist Eli Lake.

Mr. Lake argued that Turkey, despite having tacitly supported the Islamic State at one point during the Syrian civil war, Turkey had not yet “sunk” to Pakistan’s level of cooperation with Islamic militants in its dispute with India and manoeuvring in Afghanistan.

However, suggesting that Turkey risked becoming another Pakistan, Mr. Lake quoted former US ambassador to Turkey Eric Edelman as saying: “Turkey is not Pakistan yet, but if it continues the trajectory that Erdogan has put it on, there is a prospect it could become like Pakistan.”

At the other extreme, Chinese authorities in the north-western province of Xinjiang, home to China’s Uyghur Muslim minority, were several months ago shutting down some 100 illegal, underground religious seminaries a month despite creating in the region the world’s most repressive surveillance state, according to a Chinese communist party official.

The crackdown involves the banning of religious practices and the teaching of the Uyghur language in schools and the detention of thousands in political re-education camps.

The controversy in Algeria, Mr. Erdogan’s embrace of Islam, Pakistan’s struggle to come to grips with the fallout of ultra-conservatism, China’s efforts to crackdown on religion, anti-government and anti-clergy protests in Iran earlier this year, and examples of societies elsewhere in Asia turning towards intolerance and conservatism as governments employ or repress religion for opportunistic political purposes, suggest that political leaders have learnt little, if anything.

Yet, the lesson is that government control and/or playing with religion seldom produces sustainable results. The lesson is also that repression, including restricting freedoms of expression, media and religion, aggravates problems and benefits ultra-conservatives and militants.

Finally, the lesson is that the solution likely lies in inclusive rather than exclusionary policies and transparent and accountable governments capable of delivering pubic goods and services that ensure that all segments of the population have a stake in society. That lesson is one that governments in Algeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and China seemingly prefer to overlook.

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Middle East

A Mohammedan Game of Thrones: Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the Fight for Regional Hegemony

James J. Rooney, Jr.

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Authors: James J. Rooney, Jr. & Dr. Matthew Crosston*

The people in the United States didn’t think well of those living in the Soviet Union during the Cold War. There was a basic mistrust and a lack of kind words on both sides. But what you didn’t hear was anyone excitedly talking about wanting to completely annihilate the other side despite both having the capacity to do just that. Fast forward to 2018: to Saudi Arabia and Iran and a new regional Middle East version of Mutually Assured Destruction, where it takes on a whole new meaning. Both of these nations maintain terrible images of each and neither would probably shed a tear if the Earth suddenly opened up and swallowed the other. Forgive the propensity to reach hyperbole, but in truth this rivalry goes back 1,385 years when, just after the death of the prophet Mohammed in AD 632, there arose among the faithful a disagreement concerning the issue of succession. Mohammed drafted a Last Will & Testament and set up an ancient version of a Trust Fund for the kids’ college/ lifeneeds, but never said a word about succession. In hindsight we now know what colossally poor planning this was as it led to a split between two key factions that would come to be known as the Sunni (who favored a vote for succession) and the Shi’a (who favored keeping it in Mohammed’s bloodline). “The Sunnis prevailed and chose a successor to be the first caliph.” (Shuster, 2017, 1) What followed was a swinging pendulum of tension with hundreds of years of both war and peace interspersed between the two sides. Today, it looks like they’re heading back to war in some form. But the real question is, are they heading back to war because of a 1,000+ year old religious grudge match? Many experts think not. Some say that the bad blood that has been forming between Saudi Arabia and Iran is not about religion, but something else: competing and hostile legitimizing myths. “With the aim of uniting peoples behind their leaders in distinction to ‘the other’, as it is so often the case, religion is misused as a dividing tool in order to enforce a political agenda.” (Reimann, 2016, 3) Not surprisingly, there are religious overtones embedded within these regional hegemonic politics pushing both sides continuously to greater episodes of dangerous tension.

The House of Al Saud, the ruling royal family of Saudi Arabia, is composed of the descendants of Muhammad bin Saud, founder of the Emirate of Diriyah, which was known as the First Saudi state (1744–1818), and his brothers. The ruling faction of the family, however, is primarily led by the descendants of Ibn Saud, the modern founder of Saudi Arabia. The government of Iran is a modern Shia theocracy that was forged in part by the overthrow of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the last Shah of Iran, in 1979. Today, “Iran is considered a unitary Islamic republic with one legislative house. The country’s 1979 constitution put into place a mixed system of government, in which the executive, parliament, and judiciary are overseen by several bodies dominated by the clergy. At the head of both the state and oversight institutions is a ranking cleric known as the rahbar, or leader, whose duties and authority are those usually equated with a head of state.” (Editorial Staff, 2017. 1) Ironically, many have argued that Iran has one of the most democratically structured Constitutions in the world, if not for these extra-constitutional religious oversight bodies that sit over all of the constitutional structures. Even putting the religious affiliations and religio-political structures aside, these two countries are as different as Persian night and Saudi day.

Both Saudi Arabia and Iran view themselves through the legitimizing myth of being the purer form of Islam and true holder of Mohammed’s legacy. As if that wasn’t conflictual enough, to make matters worse, the Wahhabist theocratic leadership in Riyadh sees the government and family of Saud as secular barbarians that strategically use their Sunni Wahhabist religious connections as a hedge to maintain power. The royal family of Saudi Arabia, for its part, views the theocracy of Iran as a bastardized form of Islam led by illegitimate Imams that hold a potentially progressive nation hostage to outdated religious edicts that have no relevance in the modern Islamic world. Even more dismissively, the Saudi royal family sneer at how this ‘Iranian backwardness’ has led directly to decades of crippling American sanctions against the people. Of course, the theocracy in Iran sees the cozy relationship between the Saudis and Americans as proof of the infidel fall of the keepers of the Prophet’s two great cities, Mecca and Medina. The Saudis are in bed with the Great Satan.

These underlying myths that debate ancient religious legitimacy may be fueling the hatred and Muslim-on-Muslim discrimination found on both sides. But disturbingly, there is one more legitimizing myth that might actually rule over all the others and it’s tied to the massive political power and influence greased by black crude. Saudi Arabia comes in as number 2 in terms of the world’s known oil reserves. Iran sits at number 4. That oil, and the wealth and political power it translates to, is not lost on either side. Oil is easily the top revenue-producing commodity in both countries. While ups and downs in the global market can have serious consequences for both countries, it means more damage for Iran than Saudi Arabia. The royal Saudi family has wisely/secretly over the past half century stashed away over half a trillion dollars to uniformly smooth out the revenue curves that are innate to the natural resource market in a volatile global economy. Since Tehran has been the subject of severe sanctions, due to its association with Islamic extremism and terrorism, it simply has not been able to create the same safety net/golden pillow of economic protection. Consequently, Iran has not been able to capitalize on its vast reserves of oil, selling much of it on the black market for rock bottom prices to less-than-ideal market consumers. This disparity in oil wealth, the freedom of action within the world market, and the subsequent ability to wield enhanced political power in the region is the real legitimizing myth that acts as a true political hammer separating the two and concretizing their strife with one another.

Iran’s political and military expansion into Syria, and its alliance with Russia, is another facet of its hegemonic intentions and desire to unseat Saudi Arabia as the real regional power broker. Iran appears willing to become a client or “dependent” ally of Russia, much as Saudi Arabia has a similar arrangement with the United States. Obviously, this is a dangerous recipe: regional power pretenses, advanced weapons from larger global powers, divergent religious positions, and political gamesmanship operating in the middle of another country’s civil war. Both Russia and the United States have cautiously moved their respective chess pieces as events develop in Syria, but unfortunately this caution does not exhibit the press for peace: rather, the American-Russian chess game in Syria only seems to exacerbate the animosity between the Saudis and Iranians. The alleged chemical weapon attacks on rebel positions inside Damascus by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, backed by Russian forces, caused a direct but limited military response by Washington. American cruise missile attacks on Syrian chemical weapons plants, though marginally effective, nevertheless was a message to Russia and Iran that the U.S. would defend its interests in the region. Those interests are decidedly in favor of a Saudi regional hegemonic leadership. Thus, what we have are cross-competing and hostile legitimizing myths being created in real time about what the future role of each of these players is going to be, America supporting the Saudi myth and Russia supporting the Iranian one.

Clearly, Saudi Arabia and Iran are going to remain deeply entrenched in hostile efforts for political and military dominance in the region. Though ancient religious strife seems like a convenient excuse for continued bad feelings between the two powers – and is focused on to a heavy extent by world media – modern strategic reasons are more dangerous and multi-layered. What we can recognize is an old fashion game of power politics in which both sides have aligned themselves with powerful and protective allies. This game is being made manifest in a critical region of the world where resources are converted to global wealth and power. The parties should remember that oil is combustible. Politics built on oil even more so. But politics built on oil, doused in religious fervor, and shaken vigorously by outside players with their own agendas is the most combustible of all. For the time being, this Mohammedan Game of Thrones seems to have a plotline that will be as deadly and bloody as its more famous Hollywood moniker.

*Dr. Matthew Crosston is Executive Vice Chairman of ModernDiplomacy.eu. He is Senior Doctoral Faculty in the School of Security and Global Studies at the American Military University and was just named the future Co-Editor of the seminal International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence. His work is catalogued at:  https://brown.academia.edu/ProfMatthewCrosston/Analytics

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Middle East

Might Trump Ask Israel to Fund America’s Invasion-Occupation of Syria?

Eric Zuesse

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On 16 April 2018, the internationally respected analyst of Middle-Eastern affairs, Abdel Bari Atwan, headlined about Trump’s increasingly overt plan to break Syria up and to establish permanent U.S. control over the parts it wants, “Attempting the Unachievable”. He stated that “The coming few months are likely to prove very difficult for the Americans, and very costly, not just in Syria but also in Iraq.” He closed: “Who will cover the costs of this American move? There are no prizes for guessing the answer: it has already been spelled out.” The only country that his article mentioned was Israel: “It would not be surprising if Israel and the various lobbies that support were behind this American strategic volte-face. For Israel is in a state of panic.”

The U.S. already donates $3.8 billion per year to Israel’s military, in order for Israel to purchase U.S.-made weapons. However, Atwan argues that the costs of this invasion-occupation of Syria are likely to run into the trillions of dollars. The Gross Domestic Product of Israel is only $318.7 billion as of 2016. So, America now already donates a bit more than 1% to that amount, and Atwan’s thesis is that Israel will now become instead a net donor to America’s international corporations (funding some of the Pentagon, which then will pay that money to America’s weapons-firms), in order to avoid adding the enormous costs of this increasing invasion-occupation of Syria, onto America’s taxpayers, fighting forces, etc.

I do not consider this enormous reversal of Israel — from recipient to donor — to be likely. Far likelier, in my view, is Saudi Arabia, to finance the invasion.

The GDP of Saudi Arabia is $646.4 billion as of 2016, more than twice Israel’s — and the Saud family, who own that country, are accustomed to paying for the services they buy, not having them donated (unless by their fellow fundamentalist Sunnis, to spread the faith). Furthermore, the royal family, the Sauds, are extremely close to America’s leading oil families, who also donate heavily to Republican politicians. Ever since at least 2012, the Sauds have been the U.S. Government’s main partner in the long campaign to overthrow and replace Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad, by a Sharia-law, fundamentalist-Sunni, regime, which will do what the Sauds want.

America’s oil companies and pipeline companies, and military contractors such as Lockheed Martin, profit from America’s invasion-occupation of Syria, but U.S. President Donald Trump isn’t doing it only with their welfare in mind; he has an international campaign to press America’s allies to foot a larger percentage of the cost to U.S. taxpayers for America’s military. He wants America’s allies to pay much more, in order for them to be able to enjoy the privileges of staying in America’s alliance against Russia, China, and other countries whose economies threaten to continue growing faster than America’s. U.S. aristocrats fear that such challengers could replace them as the global hegemon or Empire, the über-aristocracy. Empire is expensive, and the general public pay for it, but Trump wants foreign taxpayers to pay a bigger share of these costs in order to relieve part of the burden on U.S. taxpayers. His famous comment about the invasion-occupation of Iraq, “We should have taken the oil”, is now being put into practice by him in Syria. However, that money goes only to corporations, not to the U.S. Treasury.

Which allies could finance escalated war against Syria?

On 24 September 2017, the Wall Street Journal bannered, “U.S.-Backed Forces Seize Syrian Gas Plant From Islamic State”, and reported: “U.S.-backed forces said Sunday they were advancing through eastern Syria after seizing a gas plant there from Islamic State, striking a blow to the terror group’s dwindling finances, which rely heavily on its control of Syria’s oil and gas fields. The plant, one of the most important in the country, is capable of producing nearly 450 tons of gas a day.”

Trump wants the profits from that to go to American companies, not to Syrian ones. That’s the type of arrangement Trump has been favoring when he says “We should have taken the oil.” Syria is allied with Russia, and with Iran. The U.S. is allied with Saudi Arabia and Israel, which are the two countries that call Iran an “existential threat” — and which have been urging a U.S. invasion to overthrow Assad.

The Sauds and their allied fundamentalist Sunni Arab royal families are considering to finance an American-led invasion of Syria. Turkey’s newspaper Yeni Safak headlined on 15 June 2017, “Partitioning 2.5M barrels of Syria’s oil”, and reported:

A meeting was held on June 10 for the future of Syrian oil on the premise of the intelligence of Saudi Arabia and the US in Syria’s northeastern city of Qamishli, which borders with Turkey. One of the US officers who visited terrorist organizations in the Sinjar-Karachok region after Turkey’s anti-terror operation in northern Syria and spokesman for the Global Coalition to Counter Daesh, Colonel John Dorrian, attended the meeting. Representatives from Egypt, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia, as well as some tribal leaders from Syria and senior Democratic Union Party (PYD) members attended the meeting. The delegation gathered for the purpose of determining a common strategy for the future of Syrian oil, and decided to act jointly after Daesh. Former President of the National Coalition of the Syrian Opposition and Revolutionary Forces, Ahmed Carba, determined the tribal and group representatives from Syria, and Mohammed Dahlan determined which foreign representatives would attend the meeting. Representatives agreed on a pipeline route. Radical decisions were made regarding the extraction, processing and marketing of the underground wealth of the Haseke, Raqqah and Deir ez Zor regions, which hold 95 percent of Syrian oil and natural gas’ potential.

That’s “taking the oil.” There could be lots of it.

This article also reported that, “Syria produced 34,828,000 barrels of crude oil in the first quarter of 2011 and reached 387,000 barrels per day during the same period” and that, “there are 2.5 billion barrels of oil reserves in Syria.”

On 16 April 2018, Whitney Webb at Mint Press bannered “How the US Occupied the 30% of Syria Containing Most of its Oil, Water and Gas”, and reported that, “Though the U.S. currently has between 2,000 to 4,000 troops stationed in Syria, it announced the training of a 30,000-person-strong ‘border force’ composed of U.S.-allied Kurds and Arabs in the area, which would be used to prevent northeastern Syria from coming under the control of Syria’s legitimate government.”

She noted, regarding the area in Syria’s northeast, where U.S.-armed, Saudi-funded, Syrian Kurds are in control: “those resources – particularly water and the flow of the Euphrates – gives the U.S. a key advantage it could use to destabilize Syria. For example, the U.S. could easily cut off water and electricity to government-held parts of Syria by shutting down or diverting power and water from dams in order to place pressure on the Syrian government and Syrian civilians. Though such actions target civilians and constitute a war crime, the U.S. has used such tactics in Syria before.”

She says: “Given the alliance between Syria and Iran, as well as their mutual defense accord, the occupation is necessary in order to weaken both nations and a key precursor to Trump administration plans to isolate and wage war against Iran.”

That type of plan could be worth a lot to Israel, but Yeni Safak headlined on 18 April 2018, “US to build Arab force in NE Syria as part of new ploy: The US is seeking to amass an Arab force in northeastern Syria comprised of funding and troops from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE.” This report said:

The Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said that the kingdom is willing to send troops to Syria in a press conference on Tuesday. The minister noted that discussions on sending troops to Syria were underway. “With regards to what is going on now, there are discussions regarding what kind of force needs to remain in eastern Syria and where that force would come from. And those discussions are ongoing,” said al-Jubeir. He stressed that troop deployment in Syria will be done within the framework of the Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition and also suggested Saudi Arabia would provide financial support to the U.S.

How likely is it that Israel would be funding this huge escalation in The West’s invasion-occupation of Syria — an escalation in which fundamentalist-Sunni armies would then be serving Israeli masters? Though Arab royals might find it acceptable, their soldiers would not.

The Sauds are the world’s wealthiest family, and they can and do use the state that they own, Saudi Arabia, as their investment asset, which they aim to maximize. This war will be a great investment for them, and for their allies, in U.S., UK, Israel, and elsewhere. Israel can’t take the lead in such a matter. But the Sauds and their friends could.

Funding by the Sauds would be the likeliest way. On 21 May 2017, I headlined “U.S. $350 Billion Arms-Sale to Sauds Cements U.S.-Jihadist Alliance” and reported that the day before, “U.S. President Donald Trump and the Saud family inked an all-time record-high $350 billion ten-year arms-deal that not only will cement-in the Saud family’s position as the world’s largest foreign purchasers of U.S.-produced weaponry, but will make the Saud family, and America’s ruling families, become, in effect, one aristocracy over both nations, because neither side will be able to violate the will of the other. As the years roll on, their mutual dependency will deepen, each and every year.” That turned out to be true — and not only regarding America’s carrying the Sauds’ water (doing their bidding) in both Yemen and Syria, but in other ways as well. Now the Sauds will pitch in to pay tens of thousands of troops in order to dominate over Iran and Shiites, whom the Sauds hate (and have hated since 1744).

On 21 March 2018, CNBC bannered “Trump wants Saudi Arabia to buy more American-made weapons. Here are the ones the Saudis want”, and reported what Trump had just negotiated with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman al-Saud, which was a step-up in that $350 billion sale, to $400 billion. So: Trump is working on the Sauds in order to get them to take over some of the leadership here — with American weapons. It’s a business-partnership.

On 16 April 2018, which was the same day that Atwan suggested Israel would take the lead here, the Wall Street Journal bannered “U.S. Seeks Arab Force and Funding for Syria: Under plan, troops would replace American military contingent after ISIS defeat and help secure country’s north; proposal faces challenges,” and reported that:

The Trump administration is seeking to assemble an Arab force to replace the U.S. military contingent in Syria and help stabilize the northeastern part of the country after the defeat of Islamic State, U.S. officials said. John Bolton, President Donald Trump’s new national security adviser, recently called Abbas Kamel, Egypt’s acting intelligence chief, to see if Cairo would contribute to the effort, officials said. The initiative comes as the administration has asked Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates to contribute billions of dollars to help restore northern Syria. It wants Arab nations to send troops as well, officials said.

If the U.S. will invade, Israel will participate in this invasion-occupation, but the Sauds will lead it — with U.S.-made weapons. And taxpayers everywhere will lose from it, because invasions just get added to the federal debt. The invading nation goes into debt, which that nation’s public will pay. The invaded nation gets its wealth extracted and sold by the invading aristocracy. It’s happened for thousands of years.

first published at strategic-culture.org

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