On March 7th, Al Qaeda’s now largest branch, which is its Syrian organization that used to be called Al Nusra, praised Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan because his Government stands up for Al Qaeda, and for other jihadist organizations which are trying to overthrow Syria’s secular Government, which is led by Bashar al-Assad. Al Qaeda in Syria now calls itself Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham, and their announcement basically reaffirms their continuing 9-year war against Syria’s Government (which war has been armed and funded mainly by the U.S. and the Saud family), and it especially damns Russia for assisting that secular Government’s efforts to destroy Al Qaeda and all other jihadist groups in Syria, which fight to eliminate all secular government and to replace it with God’s government. Before this group was called Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham, it called itself al-Nusra, but it is simply Al Qaeda in Syria, and it was the backbone of America’s effort to overthrow Syria’s secular Government and replace it with one that would be selected by the Saud family.
The Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham announcement is titled “The Moscow Agreement: A New Mirage” and it is signed by a pro-jihadist scholar, Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi. However, the CIA-edited and written Wikipedia’s article on him includes a section titled “Criticism” that quotes CIA assets such as the Bellingcat website as having ceased to endorse him because “his analysis was becoming more and more just pushing that narrative of the groups [ISIS] themselves.” That section of the Wikipedia article closes with “In response he has said, ‘I think there’s something to be said that I did try to ingratiate myself in these circles to get information, I agree that that was unethical.’ He has also defended himself in an article posted on his blog.” He routinely does sign articles that he publishes in English but that were originally in Arabic or some other language and not actually written by himself, and therefore the article in this case is almost certainly of that type: one that he had received from a jihadist organization and merely translated into English. (In that case, he would have been more honest to have said “posted and translated by Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi.”) The document’s authenticity will probably be challenged like virtually all such documents are, but Al-Tamimi’s reputation as a scholar of jihadism would be on the line if Al Qaeda’s leader Ayman al-Zawahiri were to disown it as not expressing Al Qaeda’s views. The document has been online for more than 24 hours, and no one has come forth to deny its authenticity. Furthermore, there is a statement by al-Tamimi in his introduction to the Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham statement, “Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham has issued its own statement on the new Turkey-Russia agreement, which I translate in full for this post. In sum:” and “Below is the full statement with translation.” Consequently, the alleged Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham statement should be accepted as being authentic unless and until there is an official Al Qaeda denial of it.
Tamimi’s article is titled “Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham Statement on Ankara-Moscow Agreement”, and it concerns the agreement that Turkey’s leader Tayyip Erdogan reached with Russia’s leader Vladimir Putin in Moscow on March 5th regarding Syria’s most-jihadist province, Idlib, which Erdogan wants to seize for Turkey, and where his forces in Idlib have been protecting Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham. Russia, Syria, and Iran, have been opposing Turkey’s attempts to do this. (The U.S. and its allies have supported Turkey against Syria and its supporters, but appear unwilling to provide military backing to Turkey for this effort to actually seize Syria’s Idlib Province.)
After Tamimi’s introduction comes the Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham statement itself. It praises:
the course of ten continual years of the blessed Syrian revolution and three-hundred days of fierce battles in defence of the capital of the revolution and its civilization in the liberated north, supported by its mujahideen hero sons, and their civil and political administration with a slogan written in blood: death and not humiliation, for there is no return or compromising on the aims of the blessed revolution.
The jihad and resistance are a legitimate path for the peoples whose abode has been usurped, and freedom taken captive, and sons bound behind bars, so let them defend themselves and their land by force and arms and patience and insistence and in that the rights are regained, and the fate of the lands is that they should return to their people however long the night of the oppressors lasts and the occupier through its grip takes root over the hearts of the defenceless peoples.
It condemns “the criminal gang in Damascus, supported by Russia and Iran.”
It praises Turkey: “We thank the Turkish government for clearly standing with and supporting the Syrian revolution and participating with it in defending the civilians and protecting them in the recent battle.”
It does not mention the United States nor any other NATO nation than Turkey. Though it is clear against Russia and against countries that cooperate with Russia, including Shiite Iran, it is not critical against the U.S. Government, nor against any U.S.-allied government. It is consistent with the policy of the Saud family who own Saudi Arabia, and who agreed with the jihadist Sunni cleric Mohammed bin Wahhab, in 1744, to do war against any non-believers, including against any Shiites, until the entire world become followers of Wahhab and of his interpretation of the Quran.
Turkey is led by a fellow-Sunni, Tayyip Erdogan, all of whose schooling took place in schools that taught a Sunni interpretation of the Quran. Basically, Syria’s Al Qaeda, in this document (whose main protector used to be the U.S. Government), is praising Erdogan for his effort to conquer Bashar al-Assad and to seize for Turkey Syria’s most pro-jihadist province, Idlib, where Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham is headquartered. Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham praises Turkey, for trying to protect them.
War Victim Becomes Hope For Pakistan’s Tribal Districts
A 10-Year-old boy Irfan Ullah Jan would walk down the streets of Sadda, Kurram district heading to his school with one simple fantasy: one day he would become something. He aspired to return something back to his loved ones. Sadly, Jan’s fantasy didn’t remain simple as it seemed to be after a deadly bomb blast. But today, he is giving back a lot more to the once war-torn Tribal districts.
An IED blast ripping through the Awami Bazar, Sadda in Kurram District killed three people on spot, leaving several injured back in July 2011. Among them was Jan, whose legs had to be amputated to rescue his life. It took almost 10 years for him to formulate an organization in the once war-torn Tribal districts of Pakistan called as “FATA Disable Welfare Organization”. Till date, he has enrolled thousands of poor disabled students in private schools.
Furthermore, he rendered social services for disables by forming an organization “Kurram Union of Special Persons”. This union facilitated disabled children to get their early education without any cost. The union after years of hard work has been matured into FDWO – FATA Disable Welfare Organization. The now chairman of FDWO, Irfan Ullah Jan has successfully assisted hundreds of war victims in getting free access to education. FDWO has rehabilitated more than one thousand disabled persons by providing them with artificial limbs. Philanthropist Mr Jan has reintegrated the disabled persons by arranging community activities like Sports galas. Speaking to us on the support he has been receiving, Irfan Ullah Jan says “FDWO receives charity money from public at large. Pakistan Army has been pivotal in facilitating me to inaugurate rehabilitation center for Special Persons along with an imperative support in educating disabled children of the area. I received “President’s Pride of Performance Award” this year for the services FDWO has been providing in the region.”
He expresses that “the tribal region has seen worst militancy in the past which includes deaths, economic losses and instability. Apart from these challenges, rehabilitating war victims was the biggest challenge for the government of Pakistan and this was the aim behind the foundation of his organization to rehabilitate and bring normalcy in the region.”
The long wave of militancy which effected people economically and socially especially in the tribal districts has now transformed into a wave of rehabilitation. Youth like Irfan Ullah Jan are returning a lot more to the once war-torn Tribal districts.
With Al Qaeda down but not out, killing Zawahiri is symbolic
President Joe Biden was not wrong when he declared that “justice has been served” with the killing of Al Qaeda leader Ayman Zawahiri in a US drone strike.
The problem is that’s only half of the truth; the other half is that Mr. Zawahiri was more a has-been than a power to be reckoned with on the jihadist totem pole. In death, he may have scored his most significant achievement since becoming head of Al Qaeda as the symbol of the failure of decades of war in Afghanistan.
Mr. Zawahiri’s presence in Kabul in a house owned by Sirajuddin Haqqani, Afghanistan’s de facto deputy head of state, will be touted as evidence that Afghanistan has reverted to being a base for terrorist groups. Mr. Haqqani’s son and son-in-law are believed to have also died in the drone strike.
In addition, the killing will likely become a partisan issue in domestic US politics, with Republicans pointing to Mr. Biden’s bungled withdrawal a year ago of US troops from Afghanistan.
In anticipation of the criticism, Mr. Biden said the killing demonstrated the United States’ post-withdrawal ability to protect Americans without “thousands of boots on the ground.”
Even so, the withdrawal resulted from a war that the United States and its allies could not win and a fundamentally flawed US-Taliban agreement negotiated by the administration of former President Donald J. Trump that helped the Taliban regain power.
Since succeeding Osama bin Laden after the United States killed him in 2011, Mr. Zawahiri, the man who helped shape Al Qaeda from day one, could not garner the stature of the group’s former leader. Nor was he able to impose his will on Al Qaeda franchises in Yemen, Somalia, and elsewhere in Africa.
Researcher Nelly Lahoud argues in a recently published book based on computer files confiscated in the US raid that killed Mr. Bin Laden that Al Qaeda had lost much of its operational capability in the immediate years after the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan.
The Islamic State, the foremost jihadist organization locked into a bitter fight with the Taliban, increasingly overshadowed Al Qaeda, showcasing Mr. Zawahiri’s inability to fill Mr. Bin Laden’s shoes.
In fact, the Islamic State today poses a greater threat to the United States than Al Qaeda. Equally importantly, the Islamic State also constitutes a more significant threat to Central Asian states like Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, as well as Russia and China.
If Mr. Zawahiri’s presence in Kabul raises questions about the Taliban’s willingness and determination to prevent militant groups from operating from its territory, repeated Islamic State attacks on domestic Afghan targets, and the firing of rockets into Tajikistan and Uzbekistan call into question the group’s ability to do so.
To be sure, granting Al Qaeda leaders shelter does not by definition amount to Taliban acquiescence of the group launching attacks from Afghan soil.
The questions are particularly acute given that Mr. Zawahiri was killed days after the Taliban engaged with representatives of 30 countries at a conference in the Uzbek capital of Tashkent in a bid to unfreeze some US$7 billion in Afghan foreign currency reserves.
Days later, Tashkent hosted foreign ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Council (SCO), who had Afghanistan high on their agenda. The SCO groups India, Russia, China, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan.
The Taliban regime has yet to be officially recognized by any country. Countries across geopolitical divides have insisted that the Taliban first demonstrate their willingness and ability to control all of Afghanistan and curtail militant groups.
The international community also required the Taliban to form an inclusive government and ensure women’s rights. The Taliban have yet to deliver on any of its promises.
Reporting to the United Nations Security Council in January, UN Special Representative for Afghanistan Deborah Lyons noted that “the existence of numerous terrorist groups in Afghanistan remains a broad international and especially regional concern. The desire of the de facto authorities to take on this threat across the board remains to be convincingly demonstrated.”
Ms. Lyons’ remarks have seemingly gone unheeded in Kabul. In response to the Islamic State attacks on Tajikistan, home to Russia’s largest foreign military base, the Taliban are building a watchtower on the two countries’ border with the help of a Tajik group bent on changing the regime in Dushanbe.
Adding insult to injury, graffiti near the tower celebrates Muhammad Sharipov, aka M. Arsalon or Mahdi Arsalon, a Tajik national wanted by authorities for the past eight years on terrorism charges.
During talks last month, Tajik President Emomali Rahmon cautioned his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, against a possible recognition by Moscow of the Taliban regime. Mr. Putin insisted that he would consider Tajik concerns about ethnic minority rights in Afghanistan.
While ethnic minority rights may be a Tajik concern, the opposite may be true for China. China fears that the militant Turkestan Islamic Party (TIP), also known as the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), hardened by the war in Syria, may want to use Afghanistan as a launching pad for attacks in retaliation for China’s brutal crackdown on the Uyghur Turkic Muslim minority in the northwestern province of Xinjiang.
A United Nations Security Council report said last month that the group had built strongholds in Badakhshan near the Chinese border in northeast Afghanistan, where it had “expanded its area of operations and covertly purchased weapons, with the aim of improving its capabilities for terrorist activities.”
The Taliban suggested that they had moved the estimated 1,000 Uyghur fighters away from the Chinese border to other parts of Afghanistan last October. China has long pressed the Taliban to curtail the group’s activity.
Creating distance between Uyghur militants and the Chinese border may not be good enough. The Islamic State sought to make that clear when it employed an Uyghur as a suicide bomber in an attack last October on a Shiite Muslim mosque in the Afghan city of Kunduz.
The message was: Uyghur militants have alternatives. The Taliban may not be their best bet.
Afghanistan on the Verge of Religious Terrorism and Sectarian Warfare
In Afghanistan, the Taliban’s position towards the Salafists has become punitive and ruthless once again. Albeit followers of numerous religious Sects live in Afghanistan, such as Ismailia, Shia, Jafri, Ahle-Hadith/Wahhabis, and Sunni-Hanafi. The position of the Taliban militants concerning the Sunni-Hanafi religion is soft and the level of danger to its followers is very low and even zero, compared to followers of other religions. Nevertheless, there are three religious sects, whose followers are utmost risk, and are under the greatest threat and danger.
These three religious groups are particularly tarnished in Afghanistan, since they are assumed to be the elements of foreign intelligence organizations and are used for a common intelligence goal. The first category is the Shias, whose lives are currently under threat in the country, and there are always deadly attacks on their religious ceremonies. Even the Taliban militants intervene in their rites, while disrupting their religious rituals and beating them up. Meantime, attacks against the Shia religions by the Daesh group or using the name of this group have been intensified, while slaying them, are tactics of foreign intelligence especially CIA.
Steering an intelligence war tactics in the name of religion between Daesh/Salafi and Shia religions in Afghanistan, like Mosul and other parts of Iraq, which will in turn strain the relations between the new administration of the Taliban of Afghanistan and Iran, is part of the CIA’s policy. Because it will force Iran to use the Fatimun proxy group to defend the right of the Shia religion’s followers in Afghanistan. Thus, the practice of anti-Taliban armed forces and fronts against the Taliban to indirectly control the Taliban in Afghanistan is a special part of the US foreign policy. Nonetheless, if the US wants to directly control the Taliban, then they are supposed to intervene militarily, or apply tremendous external pressure on the Taliban, to get them abide by the US policy.
However, after August 15, the United States used some methods to directly control the Taliban, but the result was deleterious. Because the relationship between America and the Taliban has strained and the United States almost lost control over, this organized and faith-based armed militia. Consequently, the United States, with the help of the Daesh group or using its name, incited the followers of the Shiite religion against the Taliban in Afghanistan.
As they want to create such anti-Taliban fronts against the Taliban in Afghanistan letting other countries support them financially, providing them with training centers and sanctuaries, and on the international level, they will be defamed, while benefiting America indirectly. The United States will keep the Taliban amused by claiming to defend the Taliban against those groups, and in some cases, the United States will conduct airstrikes to defend the Taliban against the anti-Taliban fronts. Actually, the US tries to wage a religious and ethnic war in Afghanistan, by means of the Daesh group to multiply the heat of the civil war in Afghanistan.
Moreover, the first juncture of the civil war, is the use of the Daesh group against the Shia religions in Afghanistan, and for the defense of Shia sects, Iran will deploy its proxy-armed groups, namely Fatimiun fighters. Keeping the ethnic war upward in Afghanistan, the main victims are supposedly Tajiks, Hazaras and other non-Pashtun tribes, but the likely victims of this war will be Pashtuns as well.
The second sect’s follower whose lives are under severe threat and danger, are Ahle-Hadith/ Wahhabis/Salafis. The Wahhabi religion has many followers in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Turkey, Egypt, Malaysia, and Indonesia. In Afghanistan, Wahhabis are called by the Taliban as Khariji and the pedigrees of ISIS. Henceforth, its followers have been either killed, missing or persecuted.
Wahhabis, whose financial supporters are said to be the Gulf countries, customarily some of their citizens are active members of Daesh.
The third sect of which followers’ lives are currently under threat in Afghanistan are the Ahle-tasawuf/ Sufis, whose followers were targeted and their worship places have been blown up recently.
Subsequently, a new phase of intelligence warfare between the US’ CIA and Iran’s VAJA, thru their proxies will begin, and Afghanistan will turn into a hotbed of state sponsored Jihadi terrorism, which will in turn extensively divide Afghanistan into numerous fronts. Moreover, the contemporary values such as democracy, peace, political stability, republicanism and social-market economy will remain vague and unachievable.
The first Africa-Caribbean Trade and Investment Forum Comes On 1-3 September at Barbados
With the new dawn gradually unfolding, African financial institutions such as the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) are making tremendous efforts...
Samoa welcomes international travellers with airport celebrations as borders reopen
After years of the COVID-19 pandemic throwing international travel into turmoil, Samoa’s beautiful shorelines have once again welcomed international travellers...
Enjoy a staycation at Casa De Amor, Goa
A dream destination in itself, Goa has serene palm trees, untouched roads, open blue skies and cafes galore to explore....
Wither India’s secularism?
Florets International School in Kanpur’s Gandhinagar area is owned by Hindu owners. It is viewed as a paragon of quality...
The Changing Political Dynamics of the Middle East
It is often said that the politics of the Middle East is as clear as mud. The fresh events that...
An interview with Joel Angel Bravo Anduaga: Are international organizations still relevant?
With recent developments in the international arena, and ghost conflicts from the past exacerbating contemporary global issues, it is inevitable...
Al-Qaeda, ISIS, Taliban and the Modus Operandi of Jihadi Terrorism in Africa
According to sources, the violence in the Southern African country of Mozambique is on the rise and there is a...
Defense3 days ago
Escalating Big Power Contestation on Taiwan: Can It Lead to War?
Africa3 days ago
Russia and Zimbabwe Relations Remain Work-in-Progress, says Brig. Gen. Nicholas Mike Sango
Russia3 days ago
Astana Trilateral Summit 2022: What did Russian President Achieve?
World News3 days ago
Horn of Africa faces most ‘catastrophic’ food insecurity in decades
South Asia3 days ago
The Need for Feminist Foreign Policy in India
Urban Development4 days ago
Nature-based solutions generate greener urban renewal
Finance4 days ago
Algeria: Strengthening Resilience to Better Address Future Shocks
New Social Compact3 days ago
Ups And Downs of Women’s Property Rights