Netanyahu Admits Israel has broken International Law, confident he will be protected by an U.S. veto at the UN

Netanyahu Admits to ‘Dozens’ of Syria Strikes, Attacks EU

Netanyahu Admits to ‘Dozens’ of Syria Strikes, Attacks EU in ‘Hot Mic’ Moment

Comments Were Made in Closed Door Meeting, But Microphone Was Still On

Some see it as an embarrassing blunder, while others view it as a carefully orchestrated political effort. Either way, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a series of undiplomatic comments during a closed-door meeting, the entirely of which was heard by reporters outside because Netanyahu left his microphone on.

In the course of his comments, Netanyahu confirmed “dozens” of Israeli military attacks against “Iranian-backed groups” inside Syria, a major shift from Israel’s long-standing stance of refusing to comment on virtually all reports they attacked Syria.

He also angrily attacked the European Union, calling the organization “insane”and accusing them of actively working to undermine Israel, and warning “Europe is undermining its own security by undermining Israel.” He also called former US President Obama “a big problem.”

While this risks further discrediting Israeli claims of “neutrality” on Syria, and harming Israel-EU ties in the near term, some are suggesting that Netanyahu deliberately made the comments to a live mic, believing the statements would further ingratiate him to President Trump.

The assumption is that Trump is so ideologically opposed to Europe and to the Obama Administration, that any “closed door” attack on them would please him, and further reinforce the notion that Netanyahu is on “his side” both publicly and behind the scenes

كيف ستتصرّف جماعة الرياض السورية؟

 كيف ستتصرّف جماعة الرياض السورية؟

يوليو 17, 2017

ناصر قنديل

m– يبدو واضحاً أنّ التفويض الذي مُنح للسعودية بإدارة التفاوض حول سورية عبر واجهة مؤتمر الرياض قد نزع كلياً منها أميركياً، بمجرد الإعلان عن التفاهم بين الرئيسين الأميركي والروسي على خطة لجنوب سورية، بعدما كان نزع جزئياً مع رفض منح أيّ تشكيلات عسكرية تابعة لجماعة الرياض دوراً في معارك الرقة، وحصر الأمر بالجماعات الكردية التي جرى تظهيرها كحليف رئيسي لواشنطن بين الجماعات السورية تليها جماعات منتقاة من العاملين في الأردن الذين أنيطت بهم معارك التنف. وهذا تحوّل كافٍ للقول إنّ جماعة الرياض المعارضة التي بقيت منذ وصول الرئيس الأميركي دونالد ترامب إلى البيت الأبيض تصرّح علناً بأنها تنتظر تبلور الاستراتيجية الأميركية الجديدة التي تعوّل عليها بالكثير من التغييرات، تكتشف اليوم أنها خارج هذه الاستراتيجية.

– من الضفة التي تقف عليها هذه الجماعة كان صحيحاً أن تنتظر الاستراتيجية الأميركية لأنها جوهر ما يقرّر سياسات الحلف الذي يقدّم لها التغطية والتغذية ويصنع لها الدور ويرسم حدوده، لكن وبعدما تبلورت علامات هذه الاستراتيجية وقوامها التفاهم مع روسيا على حلّ سياسي وأمني هو ما نطق به الرئيس الفرنسي، بحضور الرئيس الأميركي، وأعلنته «واشنطن بوست» كمحور للتغيير الأميركي، يقوم على الاعتراف بشرعية الرئيس السوري والتعامل معه كأمر واقع حتى تتمّ انتخابات جديدة متفق عليها، ضمن الحلّ السياسي وبعد نهاية الحرب على الإرهاب، يصير السؤال، كيف ستتصرّف جماعة الرياض تجاه القضية التي جعلتها محور تعطيلها لكلّ فرصة حلّ سياسي تحت عنوان أولوية البتّ بمصير الرئاسة السورية كشرط لأيّ حلّ؟

– واضح أنّ الأميركيين والروس والفرنسيين وقريباً الأتراك سيتعاونون لبلورة وفد معارض مفاوض يضمّ الأكراد، ويكون موحّداً، يضمن إلغاء خصوصية عسكرية كردية على حدود تركيا، ويضمن تمثيل مَن يهمّ أميركا وفرنسا وروسيا وتركيا تمثيلهم. والواضح أنّ مثل هذا المسعى بسقف سياسي متفق عليه بين اللاعبين الكبار سيُفرز مجموعة اتصال دولية إقليمية تضمّهم مع السعودية وإيران، وسيعرض على السعوديين الاختيار بين السير بهذا الحلّ أو الخروج من دون إحراج، والسعودية مثقلة بملفين كبيرين هما حربها في اليمن وأزمتها مع قطر، وفي كليهما تحتاج أميركا أكثر من حاجتها لجماعة مؤتمر الرياض، فماذا سيفعل هؤلاء؟

– تحدّث المبعوث الأممي وتحدّث السفير الروسي في جنيف عن تغييرات إيجابية بموقف جماعة الرياض. وقال السفير الروسي إنّ عناصر متطرفة لا تزال تعيش في الماضي وتعرقل وحدة المعارضة وواقعيتها، فجاء الردّ من منسق جماعة الرياض، رياض الأول وتأكيد رياض الثاني الناطق باسم الجماعة، بالنفي والتمسك بالموقف من مصير الرئاسة السورية عاملاً مقرّراً للحلّ السياسي، والسؤال هو ببساطة وقد خسرت هذه الجماعة أيّ تأثير عسكري، وآخر فلولها جيش الإسلام وممثلها التفاوضي ورئيس بعثتها العسكرية في أستانة، يعلن حلّ نفسه للانضمام إلى صيغة تتيح قبوله في مفاوضات حلّ للغوطة، وقد خسرت أيّ تغطية دولية لموقفها، بموقفي أميركا وفرنسا، وخسرت نصف الغطاء الإقليمي مع انضمام تركيا ضمناً عبر معادلة أستانة لما يتفاهم عليه الروس والأميركيون والفرنسيون مادام يضمن إنهاء الخصوصية الكردية العسكرية، عبر مشاركة الأكراد في جنيف. فهل يشكل الرهان على التعطيل السعودي سبباً كافياً لموقف لا تملك السعودية معه أكثر من التحفظ أو الانسحاب أو القول بترك الأمر لجماعة الرياض وما تقرّره؟

– الغباء السياسي وصف يبحث دائماً عن أمثلة حسية لأساتذة التاريخ والعلوم السياسية يشرحون عبره لتلامذتهم المعنى بوسائل إيضاح. والأكيد أنّ تاريخ جماعة الرياض المعارضة ورموزها ستُقدّم مثالاً دسماً يفرح به الأساتذة لشرح الغباء السياسي لتلامذتهم من دون عناء.

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Former UK Ambassador to Saudi Arabia: Saudis Are Funding Terrorism in Europe

BY AHT Staff

The Kurdish Connection: Israel, ISIS and U.S. Efforts to Destabilize Iran

Syrian Kurds claim to be fighting against terror as they strive for autonomy, a goal that they have yet to achieve even after decades of effort. But their efforts are being co-opted by Western powers that are using them to achieve their own ends in the Middle East.

Global Research, July 16, 2017
MintPress News 14 July 2017
SYRIA (Analysis)– In Part I of independent analyst Sarah Abed’s three-part analysis for MintPress News, Abed began exposing the modern day Kurdish/Israeli alliance that both parties have tried to keep hidden in order to avoid drawing the public’s attention to their ultimate plan, as well as the U.S.’ use of Kurdish factions in destabilizing the Middle East. The Kurds have engaged in such relationships in part because of internal divisions and disunity, which have also made it difficult to fulfill their goal of establishing a fully autonomous Kurdistan spanning over the four countries they currently occupy.

We also examined the Syrian government’s attempts at keeping the country united by addressing and implementing constitutional changes that benefit the Kurds – attempts that have still failed to convince separatist Kurds to abandon their goal of Balkanizing and illegally confiscating parts of Syria at the cost of the people who reside there.

Read Part I below

The Kurds: Washington’s Weapon of Mass Destabilization in the Middle East

By Sarah Abed, July 14, 2017

***

Part II examines this topic in greater depth in hopes of raising awareness of this little-known but imperative part of the Syrian puzzle. Abed will analyze the Kurds’ link to apartheid Israel and why the country has taken such a strong interest in the group, as well as the strange phenomenon of Western military veterans traveling to Syria to fight alongside the Kurds.

The Kurdish link to Daesh (ISIS) will also be covered, as a number of Kurds have chosen to fight on their side. Kurdish alliances with armed terrorist groups in Syria – particularly Daesh – are very telling signs as to what extremes Kurds will go to in order to bring their ideological manifestation of an independent, autonomous Kurdistan into existence.

Washington and Tel Aviv’s geopolitical plans for dominating the Middle East can only be dismantled if the majority of citizens understand the intricate behind-the-scenes mechanisms that are driving their plan. Ultimately, their goal is not only to destabilize Iraq and Syria and divide them into statelets, but also to weaken Iran’s global presence – objectives that are being pursued with the help of the Kurds.

Kurdish ties to Israel

The Kurdish-Israeli relationship has matured significantly. Since at least the 1960s, Israel has provided intermittent security assistance and military training to the Kurds. This served mostly as an anti-Saddam play – keeping him distracted as Israel fought two wars against coordinated Arab neighbors – but mutual understanding of their respective predicaments also bred an Israeli-Kurdish affinity. All signs point to this security cooperation continuing today. Israeli procurement of affordable Kurdish oil not only indicates a strengthening of economic ties, but also an Israeli lifeline to budget-starved Erbil that suggests a strategic bet on the Kurds in an evolving region.

The people closest to the Jews from a genetic point of view may be the Kurds, according to the results of a recent study by Hebrew University.

The Kurds are allied with Syria’s fiercest enemy – Israel – whose planned Greater Israel project coincidentally aligns almost perfectly with the Kurds’ plans for “Kurdistan.”  In the Oded Yinon plan, which is the plan for a “Greater Israel,” it states the imperative use of Kurds to help divide neighboring countries in order to aid in their plans for greater domination. Interestingly enough, Kurds brush this alliance off as being just another step in achieving their ultimate goal of creating an autonomous Kurdistan.

Every major Kurdish political group in the region has longstanding ties to Israel. It’s all linked to major ethnic violence against Arabs, Turkmens and Assyrians. From the PKK in Turkey to the PYD and YPG in Syria, PJAK in Iran to the most notorious of them all, the Barzani-Talabani mafia regime (KRG/Peshmerga) in northern Iraq. Thus it should come as no surprise that Erbil supplied Daesh (ISIS) with weaponry to weaken the Iraqi government in Baghdad. And when it becomes understood that Erbil is merely the front for Tel Aviv in Iraq, the scheme becomes clear.

Israel has reportedly been providing the KRG with weapons and training even prior its military encounters with Daesh. On the level of economic strategy, Israel granted critical support to the KRG by buying Kurdish oil in 2015 when no other country was willing to do so because of Baghdad’s threat to sue. KRG Minister of Natural Resources Ashti Hawrami even admitted to the arrangement, saying that Kurdish oil was often funneled through Israel to avoid detection.

In January 2012 the French newspaper Le Figaro claimed that Israeli intelligence agents were recruiting and training Iranian dissidents in clandestine bases located in Iraq’s Kurdish region. By aligning with the Kurds, Israel gains eyes and ears in Iran, Iraq and Syria. A year later, the Washington Post disclosed that Turkey had revealed to Iranian intelligence a network of Israeli spies working in Iran, including ten people believed to be Kurds who reportedly met with Mossad members in Turkey. This precarious relationship between Israel and Turkey persists today.

Western veterans take up the Kurdish cause

The Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, and its Syrian spinoff, the YPG, are cult-like radical movements that intertwine Marxism, feminism, Leninism and Kurdish nationalism into a hodge-podge of ideology, drawing members through the extensive use of propaganda that appeals to these modes of thought. Abdullah Ocalan, the leader of the PKK, took inspiration from American anarchist Murray Bookchinin creating his philosophy, which he calls “Democratic Confederalism.”

The PKK spin-off group YPG represents most of the SDF in Syria. With Western political support, they have gained popularity and garnered an impressive amount of support from many military veterans in the West, some of whom have left the comfort of their home countries to fight with the group. One of their most productive marketing tools has been to use young, attractive female fighters as the face of the guerrillas. During their fight against Daesh, the PKK has saturated the media with images of these young female “freedom fighters,” using them as a marketing tool to take their cause from obscurity to fame.

Watch a BBC report on female Kurdish fighters in Syria, featuring Kurdish singer ‘Helly Luv’:

But what doesn’t get reported is how the movement has carried out kidnappings and murder – not to mention its involvement in trafficking narcotics.

Kurdish families are demanding that the PKK stop kidnapping minors. It started on April 23, the day Turkey marked its 91st National Sovereignty and Children’s Day. While children celebrated the holiday in western Turkey, the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) kidnapped 25 students between the ages of 14 and 16 on the east side of the country, in the Lice district of Diyarbakir.

Although the PKK has kidnapped more than 330 minors in the last six months, the Bockum family was the first in the region who put up a tent near their home to start a sit-in protest, challenging the PKK and demanding that it return their son. Sinan was returned to the family on May 4. Al-Monitor reported this incident from the beginning in great detail.

As Bebyin Somuk reported in her article, the PKK and PYD still kidnap children in Turkey and Syria. She states:

“As I previously wrote for Kebab and Camel, the PKK commits war crimes by recruiting children as soldiers. Some of the PKK militants that surrendered yesterday were also the PKK’s child soldiers. The photos clearly show that these children are not more than sixteen years old. The Turkish army released video of the 25 PKK militants surrendering in Nusaybin.”

SouthFront reported on female PKK fighters who have killed Turkish soldiers.

“The women fighters command of the Kurdistan Worker Party (PKK) have released a statement, claiming PKK female fighters killed 160 Turkish military servicemen in 2016. According to the statement, the women fighters command of the PKK carried out 115 operations against Turkish government forces in 2016. The group also vowed to ‘proceed the struggle during the new year for a life of freedom and until victory is achieved.’”

The PKK is also killing Kurds under the guise of protecting their rights.

“Senior PKK leader Cemil Bayık, in an interview with the Fırat News Agency (ANF) on Aug. 8, said, ‘Our war will not be confined to the mountains like it was before. It will be spread everywhere without making a distinction between mountains, plains or cities. It will spread to the metropolises.’ Terrorist Bayık’s statement signaled that the PKK would take increasing aim against civilians, targeting civilian areas more than ever. And it is happening. Since July 15, the day when the Gülenist terror cult, FETÖ, launched its failed military coup attempt to topple the democratically-elected government, the PKK perpetrated dozens of terrorist attacks, killing 21 civilians and injuring 319 others – most of them Kurdish citizens.”

According to The Washington Institute

 “On November 18, FBI Director Robert Mueller met with senior Turkish officials to address U.S.-Turkish efforts targeting the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), also known as Kongra-Gel. A press release from the U.S. embassy in Ankara following the meeting stressed that U.S. officials ‘strongly support Turkey’s efforts against the PKK terrorist organization’ and highlighted the two countries’ long history of working together in the fight against terrorism and transnational organized crime.

These discussions are timely. Despite Ankara’s recent bid to alleviate the Kurdish issue — a bid referred to as the ‘democratic opening’ — the PKK is one of a growing number of terrorist organizations with significant stakes in the international drug trade. In October, the U.S. Treasury Department added three PKK/Kongra-Gel senior leaders to its list of foreign narcotics traffickers. The PKK, along with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), is one of only a few organizations worldwide designated by the U.S. government as both a terrorist organization and a significant foreign narcotics trafficker.”

Drug smuggling is reported to be the main financial source of PKK terrorism, according to the organization International Strategic Research, whose detailed report can be seen here.

Their exaggerated triumphs against Daesh have helped them evolve from a radical militia to an alleged regional power player. Have they been successful in fighting against Daesh in Syria? Yes – but while the Syrian Arab Army has been more effective, it does not receive a fraction of the praise or recognition that the PKK does.

Pato Rincon, a U.S. military veteran, recently wrote about his experience training with the YPG in Syria. Although initially interested in their desire for autonomy, he soon got to know a different side of the group:

“While they are a direct ideological descendant of the Soviet Union, their take on Marxism has a much more nationalistic bent than that of their internationalist forebears. At their training camp that I attended, they constantly spoke of their right to a free and autonomous homeland–which I could support. On the other hand, they ludicrously claimed that all surrounding cultures from Arab to Turk to Persian descended from Kurdish culture. One should find this odd, considering that the Kurds have never had such autonomy as that which they struggle for. All of this puffed-up nationalism masquerading as internationalism was easy to see through…not only was their idea of Marxism fatuous, their version of feminism was even worse.”

Accounts such as this will certainly not make it to mainstream media, as they do not fit the narrative that the Kurds and their sponsors promote.

In another example of Western support for the YPG, Joe Robinson, an ex-soldier and UK national, recently returned to the UK after spending five months in Syria fighting with the group. He was detained and arrested by Greater Manchester Police officers on suspicion of terrorism offenses as soon as he returned. He joined the British military when he was 18 and toured Afghanistan with the Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment in 2012.

He left the UK when an arrest warrant was issued after he failed to appear in court. Robinson is pictured here in Syria with YPG fighters.

Joe Robinson Kurds Syria ISIS

Robinson is on the far left, holding his weapon while his fellow YPG comrades are holding a Daesh flag.  The writing on the wall speaks volumes about the relationship between Israel, the Kurds and the United States.

SDF working with Daesh

The most evident contradiction to be noted is that the Kurds in the SDF are working with the U.S. through its so-called “Operation Inherent Resolve,” which is the official name for its anti-Daesh operations. But at the same time, the U.S.-led coalition, including Kurdish armed units, lets “militants of the Islamic State terrorist group leave Raqqa instead of killing them,” according to Sergey Surovikin, the commander of Russia’s force grouping in Syria.

“Instead of eliminating terrorists guilty of killing hundreds and thousands of Syrian civilians, the U.S.-led coalition together with the Democratic Forces enters into collusion with ringleaders of ISIL, who give up the settlements they had seized without fighting and head to the provinces where the Syrian government forces are active,” he said.

Sputnik Arabic was able to talk to Husma Shaib, a Syrian expert on armed groups in Syria who explained why the SDF is comparable to the al-Nusra Front and what the actual aim of their operations in Syria is.

The loosely-knit coalition of Syrian rebel groups known as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), are armed, trained and backed by the U.S. The group is currently engaged in the early stages of battle in the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa, Syria.

The loosely-knit coalition of Syrian rebel groups, including Kurdish factions, known as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), are armed, trained and backed by the U.S.

“In Syria, we regard these forces as unlawful military formations which operate outside of the legal environment. They are the same a terrorist units like al-Nusra Front and Daesh. The Syrian Democratic Forces do not coordinate their activities with the Syrian Army. We regard them as terrorists,” Shaib told Sputnik.

The SDF is mostly comprised of the Kurdish YPG militia, which unanimously declared the “federalization” of what they call “Rojava,” or “Western Kurdistan,” in March 2016.

The leaders of the SDF announced that they’ll try to annex the majority-Arab city of Raqqa if they manage to liberate it.

The Kurds are ethnically cleansing Arabs from Raqqa en masse in order to pave the way for the city’s annexation to their unilaterally declared “Federation” after its forthcoming capture.

Hostility against SAA forces

On June 18, a U.S. jet shot down a Syrian Su-22 fighter-bomber near the city of Tabqa. The U.S.-led coalition said the Syrian aircraft attacked SDF positions, adding that the coalition downed the Syrian jet as part of “collective self-defense of coalition partnered forces,” according to Sputnik News.

However, the SAA stated that they were, in fact, attacking Daesh, not the SDF. The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) then sent in a rescue mission to retrieve the downed pilot. Al Masdar News (AMN) reported that they encountered intense resistance from the SDF, which would imply a serious escalation between the two.

The Syrian Army General Command responded with an official statement that the flagrant aggression undoubtedly affirms the US’s real stance in support of terrorism which aims to affect the capability of the Syrian Arab Army- the only active force- along with its allies that practice its legitimate right in combating terrorism all over Syria.

The fin and rear fuselage of a Syrian Airfore Su-22M, The same type of aircraft shot down by US forces while engaging ISIS targets fleeing Raqqa , Syria. (Photo: A.V.)

The fin and rear fuselage of a Syrian Airforce Su-22M, The same type of aircraft shot down by US forces while engaging ISIS targets fleeing Raqqa, Syria. (Photo: A.V.)

“The attack stresses coordination between the US and ISIS, and it reveals the evil intentions of the US in administering terrorism and investing it to pass the US-Zionist project in the region.” The statement added.

It affirmed that such aggressions would not affect the Syrian Arab Army in its determination to continue the fight against ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist organizations and to restore security and stability to all Syrian territories.

Earlier in the week, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told Sputnik that the U.S. strikes on SDF aircraft are aiding terrorists.

“In the case of strikes [by U.S. forces on the aircraft and drones of the Syrian Armed Forces], we are dealing with an open complicity with the terrorists operating on Syrian soil,” Ryabkov said.

CIA-armed Kurds in Syria

The U.S.-led coalition has on numerous occasions stated that it is working with the SDF to try to defeat Daesh in Syria. However, there have been numerous reports of U.S.-led airstrikes targeting Syrian civilians, military and infrastructure. These deadly and avoidable mistakes clearly illustrate how the US-led coalition’s presence in Syria has had a harmful impact on civilians. On June 26, the SDF cut off water supplies to 1 million civilians in Aleppo. Some sources stated that this was out of spite, whereas others stated they were unaware of the reason(s) behind such a destructive and deliberate against innocent civilians.

On July 5, 21st Century Wire reported on U.S. efforts to establish a greater military presence in Syria.

“The U.S. is setting up its military bases in the territories that were liberated from Daesh by our fighters during the fight against terrorism,” a senior SDF representative stated.

“The number of U.S. military installations in Syria has increased to eight bases according to recent reports, and possibly nine according to one other military analyst,” 21st Century Wire reported.

The Syrian government considers separatist Kurds to be just as dangerous as Daesh and other terrorist groups in the country. Their plans to destabilize the country are more dangerous than those of Daesh, especially since the West provides them with moral support, weapons, training, financial aid, armed vehicles and even air support.

“We’ll be recovering [weapons] during the battle, repairing them. When they don’t need certain things anymore, we’ll replace those with something they do need,” stated U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis in late June.

Kurds selling weapons given to them from Germany to fight against Daesh

Reporters from German broadcasters NDR and WDR found several G3 assault rifles and a P1 pistol, all engraved with the initials “BW” for Bundeswehr – Germany’s military – in the northern Iraqi cities of Erbil and Sulaymaniyah.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier pledges German military support to the Kurds in northern Iraq during a meeting in Erbil with Masoud Barzani, president of the Iraqi Kurdistan region.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier pledges German military support to the Kurds in northern Iraq during a meeting in Erbil with Masoud Barzani, president of the Iraqi Kurdistan region.

The weapons apparently came from stocks that the German government delivered to the Kurdish autonomous government in northern Iraq. The weapons were intended to be used in the fight against the Daesh. Several members of Germany’s Green and Left parties have long raised concerns in parliament that arms delivered to Peshmerga fighters could fall into the wrong hands.

There have been several credible reports since the U.S.-led military alliance formed to help combat Daesh in Syria and Iraq of American-supplied weapons falling into the hands of unallied militias and even Daesh itself.

The U.S. has armed the Kurds and supported their efforts since helping them establish the Syrian Democratic Forces on Oct. 10, 2015. The U.S. needed to fund a group within Syria that was fighting against Daesh, but that was not as extremist as the Free Syrian Army, which was outed as being affiliated with al-Qaeda. The U.S. has stated that its main reason for being in Syria is to fight Daesh, but its actions have proved otherwise. Its true mission is to destabilize the country by assisting the Kurds through the SDF and other armed opposition forces in liberating land that can be used as a bargaining tool in future negotiations.

Ron Paul explains why arming the Kurds was a dangerous idea: 

Washington has repeatedly brushed aside Ankara’s irrefutable evidence that the YPG is an extension of the outlawed PKK terrorist organization, which has terrorized Turkey for more than three decades. U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis has sent a letter to his Turkish counterpart Fikri Işık pledging that the United States will retrieve the weapons it sent to the YPG immediately after Daesh is defeated.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Defense will supply Turkey with detailed lists of the military materials and equipment dispatched to the YPG, implying that the U.S. aims to guarantee transparency in their bilateral relationship. This itself is an attempt to backtrack on a terrible decision that the U.S. may or may not believe they have made. If the reality hasn’t sunk in yet, it most certainly will when the Kurds refuse to give back the weapons or decide to sell them. Washington will then have to deal with an even more disgruntled Turkey.

Why Are Kurds Joining Daesh?

For over a year, Kurdish forces have united in defense against bloody Daesh attacks. So how has Daesh still managed to recruit hundreds of young Kurds to fight for the caliphate against their own families?

“There are Kurdish families in Halabja whose sons are in IS [Daesh] and their hearts are broken, but I’ll never go to their funerals,” said the grieving mother of Kaihan Borhan, a Kurd who died fighting with the Peshmerga against Daesh.

Her family is distraught that the people responsible for his death could well be Kurdish nationals.

“I have a friend whose brother died fighting for ISIS,” said Kaihan’s brother. “I never grieved for him and my friend cannot bear to look me in the eye.”

Here, we can see the path to extremism that many Kurds have taken. Dissatisfaction with the Kurdish intelligence service, Asayish’s persecution of Muslims and domestic grievances are being skilfully exploited by Daesh through the use of propaganda, led by Khattab Al-Kurdi and his Saladin Brigade.

“With God’s permission we will sow the seeds of the Caliphate throughout our land,” said Khattab, who has been one of the most persuasive forces in luring Kurds towards the caliphate.

Even with Khattab’s reported death in April 2015, the threat of more Kurds joining Daesh seems unlikely to diminish, with a new Kurdish imam carrying the rhetoric forward.

Kurds being used to destabilize Iran

Documents leaked by WikiLeaks in 2010 suggested that Israeli Mossad Chief Meir Dagan wanted to use Kurds and ethnic minorities to topple the Iranian government. The Israeli spy service was aiming to create a weak and divided Iran, similar to the situation in Iraq, where the Kurds have their own autonomous government, the spy chief told a U.S. official.

The Partiya Jiyana Azad a Kurdistane (PJAK), a militant Kurdish nationalist group based in northern Iraq, has been carrying out attacks on Iranian forces in the Kurdistan Province of Iran (Eastern Kurdistan) and other Kurdish-inhabited areas. Half the members of PJAK are women. The PJAK has about 3,000 armed militiamen. They represent yet another example of the Kurds finding themselves in the middle of a conflict and being used as a pawn by the West.

The party is closely linked to the PKK. Iran has often accused PJAK and other Kurdish nationalist groups from Iran of being supported by Israel. Journalist Seymour Hersh has also claimed that the U.S. supported PJAK and other Iranian opposition groups. However, both the U.S. and Israel have denied supporting PJAK. In fact, the U.S. Treasury branded PJAK as a terrorist organization last year.

As Hersh noted in 2004:

“The Israelis have had long-standing ties to the Talibani and Barzani clans [in] Kurdistan and there are many Kurdish Jews that emigrated to Israel and there are still a lot of connection. But at some time before the end of the year [2004], and I’m not clear exactly when, certainly I would say a good six, eight months ago, Israel began to work with some trained Kurdish commandos, ostensibly the idea was the Israelis — some of the Israeli elite commander units, counter-terror or terror units, depending on your point of view, began training — getting the Kurds up to speed.”

Why are the so-called Kurdish “freedom fighters” willing to get in bed with any and every group that has an interest in destabilizing Syria? The provocative manner in which the SDF has teamed up with terrorist organizations during the war in Syria is a blaring contradiction to the “revolutionary” public relations image that they have fought hard to establish in recent years.

Iraq, Syria, Turkey and Iran, continue to oppose the notion of having their borders and sovereignty divided by the U.S. for yet another U.S./NATO-dictated social engineering experiment in the Middle East.

Attempts to rewrite geographic history

An estimated 30 million Kurds reside primarily in mountainous regions of present-day Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey. They remain the world’s largest nomadic population without a sovereign state. The Kurds are not monolithic, however, and tribal identities and political interests often supersede a unifying national allegiance.

Some Kurds, particularly those who have migrated to urban centers, such as Istanbul, Damascus and Tehran, have integrated and assimilated, while many who remain in their ancestral lands maintain a strong sense of a distinctly Kurdish identity. A Kurdish diaspora of an estimated two million people is concentrated primarily in Europe, with over a million in Germany alone. These migratory wanderers never possessed their own country at any point in their history, but were always part of a larger country or empire that took them in and provided them refuge.

The version of events that the Kurds present is in staunch contrast with the account that is supported by most historians. This has proven to be a point of contention between the Kurds and the citizens of other countries.

The Kurds claim to have been conquered and occupied throughout their history, for instance. Here is an example of their attempt to rewrite history to fit their narrative:

“The Kurdish region has seen a long list of invaders and conquerors: Ancient Persians from the east, Alexander the Great from the west, Muslim Arabs in the 7th Century from the south, Seljuk Turks in the 11th Century from the east, the Mongols in the 13th Century from the east, medieval Persians from the east and the Ottoman Turks from the north in the 16th Century and most recently, the United States in its 2003 invasion of Iraq.”

In Part III of MPN’s Sarah Abed analysis of the Kurds’ role in helping the U.S. and Israel destabilize the Middle East, she will cover human rights violations, both past and present, committed by the Kurds against Arabs and Christian minorities, as well as address misconceptions as to why the Kurds remain stateless.

Sarah Abed is an independent journalist and political commentator. Focused on exposing the lies and propaganda in mainstream media news, as it relates to domestic and foreign policy with an emphasis on the Middle East. Contributed to various radio shows, news publications and spoken at forums. For media inquiries please email sarahabed84@gmail.com.

You Can’t Understand ISIS If You Don’t Know the History of Wahhabism in Saudi Arabia

By Alastair Crooke

July 14, 2017 “Information Clearing House” –  BEIRUT — The dramatic arrival of Da’ish (ISIS) on the stage of Iraq has shocked many in the West. Many have been perplexed — and horrified — by its violence and its evident magnetism for Sunni youth. But more than this, they find Saudi Arabia’s ambivalence in the face of this manifestation both troubling and inexplicable, wondering, “Don’t the Saudis understand that ISIS threatens them, too?”

It appears — even now — that Saudi Arabia’s ruling elite is divided. Some applaud that ISIS is fighting Iranian Shiite “fire” with Sunni “fire”; that a new Sunni state is taking shape at the very heart of what they regard as a historical Sunni patrimony; and they are drawn by Da’ish’s strict Salafist ideology.

Other Saudis are more fearful, and recall the history of the revolt against Abd-al Aziz by the Wahhabist Ikhwan (Disclaimer: this Ikhwan has nothing to do with the Muslim Brotherhood Ikhwan — please note, all further references hereafter are to the Wahhabist Ikhwan, and not to the Muslim Brotherhood Ikhwan), but which nearly imploded Wahhabism and the al-Saud in the late 1920s.

Many Saudis are deeply disturbed by the radical doctrines of Da’ish (ISIS) — and are beginning to question some aspects of Saudi Arabia’s direction and discourse.

THE SAUDI DUALITY

Saudi Arabia’s internal discord and tensions over ISIS can only be understood by grasping the inherent (and persisting) duality that lies at the core of the Kingdom’s doctrinal makeup and its historical origins.

One dominant strand to the Saudi identity pertains directly to Muhammad ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhab (the founder of Wahhabism), and the use to which his radical, exclusionist puritanism was put by Ibn Saud. (The latter was then no more than a minor leader — amongst many — of continually sparring and raiding Bedouin tribes in the baking and desperately poor deserts of the Nejd.)

The second strand to this perplexing duality, relates precisely to King Abd-al Aziz’s subsequent shift towards statehood in the 1920s: his curbing of Ikhwani violence (in order to have diplomatic standing as a nation-state with Britain and America); his institutionalization of the original Wahhabist impulse — and the subsequent seizing of the opportunely surging petrodollar spigot in the 1970s, to channel the volatile Ikhwani current away from home towards export — by diffusing a cultural revolution, rather than violent revolution throughout the Muslim world.

But this “cultural revolution” was no docile reformism. It was a revolution based on Abd al-Wahhab’s Jacobin-like hatred for the putrescence and deviationism that he perceived all about him — hence his call to purge Islam of all its heresies and idolatries.

MUSLIM IMPOSTORS

The American author and journalist, Steven Coll, has written how this austere and censorious disciple of the 14th century scholar Ibn Taymiyyah, Abd al-Wahhab, despised “the decorous, arty, tobacco smoking, hashish imbibing, drum pounding Egyptian and Ottoman nobility who travelled across Arabia to pray at Mecca.”

In Abd al-Wahhab’s view, these were not Muslims; they were imposters masquerading as Muslims. Nor, indeed, did he find the behavior of local Bedouin Arabs much better. They aggravated Abd al-Wahhab by their honoring of saints, by their erecting of tombstones, and their “superstition” (e.g. revering graves or places that were deemed particularly imbued with the divine).

All this behavior, Abd al-Wahhab denounced as bida — forbidden by God.

Like Taymiyyah before him, Abd al-Wahhab believed that the period of the Prophet Muhammad’s stay in Medina was the ideal of Muslim society (the “best of times”), to which all Muslims should aspire to emulate (this, essentially, is Salafism).

Taymiyyah had declared war on Shi’ism, Sufism and Greek philosophy. He spoke out, too against visiting the grave of the prophet and the celebration of his birthday, declaring that all such behavior represented mere imitation of the Christian worship of Jesus as God (i.e. idolatry). Abd al-Wahhab assimilated all this earlier teaching, stating that “any doubt or hesitation” on the part of a believer in respect to his or her acknowledging this particular interpretation of Islam should “deprive a man of immunity of his property and his life.”

One of the main tenets of Abd al-Wahhab’s doctrine has become the key idea of takfir. Under the takfiri doctrine, Abd al-Wahhab and his followers could deem fellow Muslims infidels should they engage in activities that in any way could be said to encroach on the sovereignty of the absolute Authority (that is, the King). Abd al-Wahhab denounced all Muslims who honored the dead, saints, or angels. He held that such sentiments detracted from the complete subservience one must feel towards God, and only God. Wahhabi Islam thus bans any prayer to saints and dead loved ones, pilgrimages to tombs and special mosques, religious festivals celebrating saints, the honoring of the Muslim Prophet Muhammad’s birthday, and even prohibits the use of gravestones when burying the dead.

Those who would not conform to this view should be killed, their wives and daughters violated, and their possessions confiscated, he wrote.

Abd al-Wahhab demanded conformity — a conformity that was to be demonstrated in physical and tangible ways. He argued that all Muslims must individually pledge their allegiance to a single Muslim leader (a Caliph, if there were one). Those who would not conform to this view should be killed, their wives and daughters violated, and their possessions confiscated, he wrote. The list of apostates meriting death included the Shiite, Sufis and other Muslim denominations, whom Abd al-Wahhab did not consider to be Muslim at all.

There is nothing here that separates Wahhabism from ISIS. The rift would emerge only later: from the subsequent institutionalization of Muhammad ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhab’s doctrine of “One Ruler, One Authority, One Mosque” — these three pillars being taken respectively to refer to the Saudi king, the absolute authority of official Wahhabism, and its control of “the word” (i.e. the mosque).

It is this rift — the ISIS denial of these three pillars on which the whole of Sunni authority presently rests — makes ISIS, which in all other respects conforms to Wahhabism, a deep threat to Saudi Arabia.

BRIEF HISTORY 1741- 1818

Abd al-Wahhab’s advocacy of these ultra radical views inevitably led to his expulsion from his own town — and in 1741, after some wanderings, he found refuge under the protection of Ibn Saud and his tribe. What Ibn Saud perceived in Abd al-Wahhab’s novel teaching was the means to overturn Arab tradition and convention. It was a path to seizing power.

Their strategy — like that of ISIS today — was to bring the peoples whom they conquered into submission. They aimed to instill fear.

Ibn Saud’s clan, seizing on Abd al-Wahhab’s doctrine, now could do what they always did, which was raiding neighboring villages and robbing them of their possessions. Only now they were doing it not within the ambit of Arab tradition, but rather under the banner of jihad. Ibn Saud and Abd al-Wahhab also reintroduced the idea of martyrdom in the name of jihad, as it granted those martyred immediate entry into paradise.

In the beginning, they conquered a few local communities and imposed their rule over them. (The conquered inhabitants were given a limited choice: conversion to Wahhabism or death.) By 1790, the Alliance controlled most of the Arabian Peninsula and repeatedly raided Medina, Syria and Iraq.

Their strategy — like that of ISIS today — was to bring the peoples whom they conquered into submission. They aimed to instill fear. In 1801, the Allies attacked the Holy City of Karbala in Iraq. They massacred thousands of Shiites, including women and children. Many Shiite shrines were destroyed, including the shrine of Imam Hussein, the murdered grandson of Prophet Muhammad.

A British official, Lieutenant Francis Warden, observing the situation at the time, wrote: “They pillaged the whole of it [Karbala], and plundered the Tomb of Hussein… slaying in the course of the day, with circumstances of peculiar cruelty, above five thousand of the inhabitants …”

Osman Ibn Bishr Najdi, the historian of the first Saudi state, wrote that Ibn Saud committed a massacre in Karbala in 1801. He proudly documented that massacre saying, “we took Karbala and slaughtered and took its people (as slaves), then praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds, and we do not apologize for that and say: ‘And to the unbelievers: the same treatment.’”

In 1803, Abdul Aziz then entered the Holy City of Mecca, which surrendered under the impact of terror and panic (the same fate was to befall Medina, too). Abd al-Wahhab’s followers demolished historical monuments and all the tombs and shrines in their midst. By the end, they had destroyed centuries of Islamic architecture near the Grand Mosque.

But in November of 1803, a Shiite assassin killed King Abdul Aziz (taking revenge for the massacre at Karbala). His son, Saud bin Abd al Aziz, succeeded him and continued the conquest of Arabia. Ottoman rulers, however, could no longer just sit back and watch as their empire was devoured piece by piece. In 1812, the Ottoman army, composed of Egyptians, pushed the Alliance out from Medina, Jeddah and Mecca. In 1814, Saud bin Abd al Aziz died of fever. His unfortunate son Abdullah bin Saud, however, was taken by the Ottomans to Istanbul, where he was gruesomely executed (a visitor to Istanbul reported seeing him having been humiliated in the streets of Istanbul for three days, then hanged and beheaded, his severed head fired from a canon, and his heart cut out and impaled on his body).

In 1815, Wahhabi forces were crushed by the Egyptians (acting on the Ottoman’s behalf) in a decisive battle. In 1818, the Ottomans captured and destroyed the Wahhabi capital of Dariyah. The first Saudi state was no more. The few remaining Wahhabis withdrew into the desert to regroup, and there they remained, quiescent for most of the 19th century.

HISTORY RETURNS WITH ISIS

It is not hard to understand how the founding of the Islamic State by ISIS in contemporary Iraq might resonate amongst those who recall this history. Indeed, the ethos of 18th century Wahhabism did not just wither in Nejd, but it roared back into life when the Ottoman Empire collapsed amongst the chaos of World War I.

The Al Saud — in this 20th century renaissance — were led by the laconic and politically astute Abd-al Aziz, who, on uniting the fractious Bedouin tribes, launched the Saudi “Ikhwan” in the spirit of Abd-al Wahhab’s and Ibn Saud’s earlier fighting proselytisers.

The Ikhwan was a reincarnation of the early, fierce, semi-independent vanguard movement of committed armed Wahhabist “moralists” who almost had succeeded in seizing Arabia by the early 1800s. In the same manner as earlier, the Ikhwan again succeeded in capturing Mecca, Medina and Jeddah between 1914 and 1926. Abd-al Aziz, however, began to feel his wider interests to be threatened by the revolutionary “Jacobinism” exhibited by the Ikhwan. The Ikhwan revolted — leading to a civil war that lasted until the 1930s, when the King had them put down: he machine-gunned them.

For this king, (Abd-al Aziz), the simple verities of previous decades were eroding. Oil was being discovered in the peninsular. Britain and America were courting Abd-al Aziz, but still were inclined to support Sharif Husain as the only legitimate ruler of Arabia. The Saudis needed to develop a more sophisticated diplomatic posture.

So Wahhabism was forcefully changed from a movement of revolutionary jihad and theological takfiri purification, to a movement of conservative social, political, theological, and religious da’wa (Islamic call) and to justifying the institution that upholds loyalty to the royal Saudi family and the King’s absolute power.

OIL WEALTH SPREAD WAHHABISM

With the advent of the oil bonanza — as the French scholar, Giles Kepel writes, Saudi goals were to “reach out and spread Wahhabism across the Muslim world … to “Wahhabise” Islam, thereby reducing the “multitude of voices within the religion” to a “single creed” — a movement which would transcend national divisions. Billions of dollars were — and continue to be — invested in this manifestation of soft power.

It was this heady mix of billion dollar soft power projection — and the Saudi willingness to manage Sunni Islam both to further America’s interests, as it concomitantly embedded Wahhabism educationally, socially and culturally throughout the lands of Islam — that brought into being a western policy dependency on Saudi Arabia, a dependency that has endured since Abd-al Aziz’s meeting with Roosevelt on a U.S. warship (returning the president from the Yalta Conference) until today.

Westerners looked at the Kingdom and their gaze was taken by the wealth; by the apparent modernization; by the professed leadership of the Islamic world. They chose to presume that the Kingdom was bending to the imperatives of modern life — and that the management of Sunni Islam would bend the Kingdom, too, to modern life.

On the one hand, ISIS is deeply Wahhabist. On the other hand, it is ultra radical in a different way. It could be seen essentially as a corrective movement to contemporary Wahhabism.

But the Saudi Ikhwan approach to Islam did not die in the 1930s. It retreated, but it maintained its hold over parts of the system — hence the duality that we observe today in the Saudi attitude towards ISIS.

On the one hand, ISIS is deeply Wahhabist. On the other hand, it is ultra radical in a different way. It could be seen essentially as a corrective movement to contemporary Wahhabism.

ISIS is a “post-Medina” movement: it looks to the actions of the first two Caliphs, rather than the Prophet Muhammad himself, as a source of emulation, and it forcefully denies the Saudis’ claim of authority to rule.

As the Saudi monarchy blossomed in the oil age into an ever more inflated institution, the appeal of the Ikhwan message gained ground (despite King Faisal’s modernization campaign). The “Ikhwan approach” enjoyed — and still enjoys — the support of many prominent men and women and sheikhs. In a sense, Osama bin Laden was precisely the representative of a late flowering of this Ikhwani approach.

Today, ISIS’ undermining of the legitimacy of the King’s legitimacy is not seen to be problematic, but rather a return to the true origins of the Saudi-Wahhab project.

In the collaborative management of the region by the Saudis and the West in pursuit of the many western projects (countering socialism, Ba’athism, Nasserism, Soviet and Iranian influence), western politicians have highlighted their chosen reading of Saudi Arabia (wealth, modernization and influence), but they chose to ignore the Wahhabist impulse.

After all, the more radical Islamist movements were perceived by Western intelligence services as being more effective in toppling the USSR in Afghanistan — and in combatting out-of-favor Middle Eastern leaders and states.

Why should we be surprised then, that from Prince Bandar’s Saudi-Western mandate to manage the insurgency in Syria against President Assad should have emerged a neo-Ikhwan type of violent, fear-inducing vanguard movement: ISIS? And why should we be surprised — knowing a little about Wahhabism — that “moderate” insurgents in Syria would become rarer than a mythical unicorn? Why should we have imagined that radical Wahhabism would create moderates? Or why could we imagine that a doctrine of “One leader, One authority, One mosque: submit to it, or be killed” could ever ultimately lead to moderation or tolerance?

Or, perhaps, we never imagined.

Part II

Middle East Time Bomb: The Real Aim of ISIS Is to Replace the Saud Family as the New Emirs of Arabia

By Alastair Crooke

ISIS is indeed a veritable time bomb inserted into the heart of the Middle East. But its destructive power is not as commonly understood. It is not with the “March of the Beheaders”; it is not with the killings; the seizure of towns and villages; the harshest of “justice” — terrible though they are — that its true explosive power lies. It is yet more potent than its exponential pull on young Muslims, its huge arsenal of weapons and its hundreds of millions of dollars.

“We should understand that there is really almost nothing that the West can now do about it but sit and watch.”

Its real potential for destruction lies elsewhere — in the implosion of Saudi Arabia as a foundation stone of the modern Middle East. We should understand that there is really almost nothing that the West can now do about it but sit and watch.

The clue to its truly explosive potential, as Saudi scholar Fouad Ibrahim has pointed out (but which has passed, almost wholly overlooked, or its significance has gone unnoticed), is ISIS’ deliberate and intentional use in its doctrine — of the language of Abd-al Wahhab, the 18th century founder, together with Ibn Saud, of Wahhabism and the Saudi project:

Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, the first “prince of the faithful” in the Islamic State of Iraq, in 2006 formulated, for instance, the principles of his prospective state … Among its goals is disseminating monotheism “which is the purpose [for which humans were created] and [for which purpose they must be called] to Islam…” This language replicates exactly Abd-al Wahhab’s formulation. And, not surprisingly, the latter’s writings and Wahhabi commentaries on his works are widely distributed in the areas under ISIS’ control and are made the subject of study sessions. Baghdadi subsequently was to note approvingly, “a generation of young men [have been] trained based on the forgotten doctrine of loyalty and disavowal.”

And what is this “forgotten” tradition of “loyalty and disavowal?” It is Abd al-Wahhab’s doctrine that belief in a sole (for him an anthropomorphic) God — who was alone worthy of worship — was in itself insufficient to render man or woman a Muslim?

He or she could be no true believer, unless additionally, he or she actively denied (and destroyed) any other subject of worship. The list of such potential subjects of idolatrous worship, which al-Wahhab condemned as idolatry, was so extensive that almost all Muslims were at risk of falling under his definition of “unbelievers.” They therefore faced a choice: Either they convert to al-Wahhab’s vision of Islam — or be killed, and their wives, their children and physical property taken as the spoils of jihad. Even to express doubts about this doctrine, al-Wahhab said, should occasion execution.

“Through its intentional adoption of this Wahhabist language, ISIS is knowingly lighting the fuse to a bigger regional explosion — one that has a very real possibility of being ignited, and if it should succeed, will change the Middle East decisively.”

The point Fuad Ibrahim is making, I believe, is not merely to reemphasize the extreme reductionism of al-Wahhab’s vision, but to hint at something entirely different: That through its intentional adoption of this Wahhabist language, ISIS is knowingly lighting the fuse to a bigger regional explosion — one that has a very real possibility of being ignited, and if it should succeed, will change the Middle East decisively.

For it was precisely this idealistic, puritan, proselytizing formulation by al-Wahhab that was “father” to the entire Saudi “project” (one that was violently suppressed by the Ottomans in 1818, but spectacularly resurrected in the 1920s, to become the Saudi Kingdom that we know today). But since its renaissance in the 1920s, the Saudi project has always carried within it, the “gene” of its own self-destruction.

THE SAUDI TAIL HAS WAGGED BRITAIN AND U.S. IN THE MIDDLE EAST

Paradoxically, it was a maverick British official, who helped embed the gene into the new state. The British official attached to Aziz, was one Harry St. John Philby (the father of the MI6 officer who spied for the Soviet KGB, Kim Philby). He was to become King Abd al-Aziz’s close adviser, having resigned as a British official, and was until his death, a key member of the Ruler’s Court. He, like Lawrence of Arabia, was an Arabist. He was also a convert to Wahhabi Islam and known as Sheikh Abdullah.

St. John Philby was a man on the make: he had determined to make his friend, Abd al-Aziz, the ruler of Arabia. Indeed, it is clear that in furthering this ambition he was not acting on official instructions. When, for example, he encouraged King Aziz to expand in northern Nejd, he was ordered to desist. But (as American author, Stephen Schwartz notes), Aziz was well aware that Britain had pledged repeatedly that the defeat of the Ottomans would produce an Arab state, and this no doubt, encouraged Philby and Aziz to aspire to the latter becoming its new ruler.

It is not clear exactly what passed between Philby and the Ruler (the details seem somehow to have been suppressed), but it would appear that Philby’s vision was not confined to state-building in the conventional way, but rather was one of transforming the wider Islamic ummah (or community of believers) into a Wahhabist instrument that would entrench the al-Saud as Arabia’s leaders. And for this to happen, Aziz needed to win British acquiescence (and much later, American endorsement). “This was the gambit that Abd al-Aziz made his own, with advice from Philby,” notes Schwartz.

BRITISH GODFATHER OF SAUDI ARABIA

In a sense, Philby may be said to be “godfather” to this momentous pact by which the Saudi leadership would use its clout to “manage” Sunni Islam on behalf of western objectives (containing socialism, Ba’athism, Nasserism, Soviet influence, Iran, etc.) — and in return, the West would acquiesce to Saudi Arabia’s soft-power Wahhabisation of the Islamic ummah (with its concomitant destruction of Islam’s intellectual traditions and diversity and its sowing of deep divisions within the Muslim world).

“In political and financial terms, the Saud-Philby strategy has been an astonishing success. But it was always rooted in British and American intellectual obtuseness: the refusal to see the dangerous ‘gene’ within the Wahhabist project, its latent potential to mutate, at any time, back into its original a bloody, puritan strain. In any event, this has just happened: ISIS is it.”

As a result — from then until now — British and American policy has been bound to Saudi aims (as tightly as to their own ones), and has been heavily dependent on Saudi Arabia for direction in pursuing its course in the Middle East.

In political and financial terms, the Saud-Philby strategy has been an astonishing success (if taken on its own, cynical, self-serving terms). But it was always rooted in British and American intellectual obtuseness: the refusal to see the dangerous “gene” within the Wahhabist project, its latent potential to mutate, at any time, back into its original a bloody, puritan strain. In any event, this has just happened: ISIS is it.

Winning western endorsement (and continued western endorsement), however, required a change of mode: the “project” had to change from being an armed, proselytizing Islamic vanguard movement into something resembling statecraft. This was never going to be easy because of the inherent contradictions involved (puritan morality versus realpolitik and money) — and as time has progressed, the problems of accommodating the “modernity” that statehood requires, has caused “the gene” to become more active, rather than become more inert.

Even Abd al-Aziz himself faced an allergic reaction: in the form of a serious rebellion from his own Wahhabi militia, the Saudi Ikhwan. When the expansion of control by the Ikhwan reached the border of territories controlled by Britain, Abd al-Aziz tried to restrain his militia (Philby was urging him to seek British patronage), but the Ikwhan, already critical of his use of modern technology (the telephone, telegraph and the machine gun), “were outraged by the abandonment of jihad for reasons of worldly realpolitik … They refused to lay down their weapons; and instead rebelled against their king … After a series of bloody clashes, they were crushed in 1929. Ikhwan members who had remained loyal, were later absorbed into the [Saudi] National Guard.”

King Aziz’s son and heir, Saud, faced a different form of reaction (less bloody, but more effective). Aziz’s son was deposed from the throne by the religious establishment — in favor of his brother Faisal — because of his ostentatious and extravagant conduct. His lavish, ostentatious style, offended the religious establishment who expected the “Imam of Muslims,” to pursue a pious, proselytizing lifestyle.

King Faisal, Saud’s successor, in his turn, was shot by his nephew in 1975, who had appeared at Court ostensibly to make his oath of allegiance, but who instead, pulled out a pistol and shot the king in his head. The nephew had been perturbed by the encroachment of western beliefs and innovation into Wahhabi society, to the detriment of the original ideals of the Wahhabist project.

SEIZING THE GRAND MOSQUE IN 1979

Far more serious, however, was the revived Ikhwan of Juhayman al-Otaybi, which culminated in the seizure of the Grand Mosque by some 400-500 armed men and women in 1979. Juhayman was from the influential Otaybi tribe from the Nejd, which had led and been a principal element in the original Ikhwanof the 1920s.

Juhayman and his followers, many of whom came from the Medina seminary, had the tacit support, amongst other clerics, of Sheikh Abdel-Aziz Bin Baz, the former Mufti of Saudi Arabia. Juhayman stated that Sheikh Bin Baz never objected to his Ikhwan teachings (which were also critical of ulema laxity towards “disbelief”), but that bin Baz had blamed him mostly for harking on that “the ruling al-Saud dynasty had lost its legitimacy because it was corrupt, ostentatious and had destroyed Saudi culture by an aggressive policy of westernisation.”

Significantly, Juhayman’s followers preached their Ikhwani message in a number of mosques in Saudi Arabia initially without being arrested, but when Juhayman and a number of the Ikhwan finally were held for questioning in 1978. Members of the ulema (including bin Baz) cross-examined them for heresy, but then ordered their release because they saw them as being no more than traditionalists harkening back to the Ikhwan— like Juhayman grandfather — and therefore not a threat.

Even when the mosque seizure was defeated and over, a certain level of forbearance by the ulema for the rebels remained. When the government asked for a fatwa allowing for armed force to be used in the mosque, the language of bin Baz and other senior ulema was curiously restrained. The scholars did not declare Juhayman and his followers non-Muslims, despite their violation of the sanctity of the Grand Mosque, but only termed them al-jamaah al-musallahah (the armed group).

The group that Juhayman led was far from marginalized from important sources of power and wealth. In a sense, it swam in friendly, receptive waters. Juhayman’s grandfather had been one of the leaders of the the original Ikhwan, and after the rebellion against Abdel Aziz, many of his grandfather’s comrades in arms were absorbed into the National Guard — indeed Juhayman himself had served within the Guard — thus Juhayman was able to obtain weapons and military expertise from sympathizers in the National Guard, and the necessary arms and food to sustain the siege were pre-positioned, and hidden, within the Grand Mosque. Juhayman was also able to call on wealthy individuals to fund the enterprise.

ISIS VS. WESTERNIZED SAUDIS

The point of rehearsing this history is to underline how uneasy the Saudi leadership must be at the rise of ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Previous Ikhwani manifestations were suppressed — but these all occurred inside the kingdom.

ISIS however, is a neo-Ikhwani rejectionist protest that is taking place outside the kingdom — and which, moreover, follows the Juhayman dissidence in its trenchant criticism of the al-Saud ruling family.

This is the deep schism we see today in Saudi Arabia, between the modernizing current of which King Abdullah is a part, and the “Juhayman” orientation of which bin Laden, and the Saudi supporters of ISIS and the Saudi religious establishment are a part. It is also a schism that exists within the Saudi royal family itself.

According to the Saudi-owned Al-Hayat newspaper, in July 2014 “an opinion poll of Saudis [was] released on social networking sites, claiming that 92 percent of the target group believes that ‘IS conforms to the values of Islam and Islamic law.’” The leading Saudi commentator, Jamal Khashoggi, recently warned of ISIS’ Saudi supporters who “watch from the shadows.”

There are angry youths with a skewed mentality and understanding of life and sharia, and they are canceling a heritage of centuries and the supposed gains of a modernization that hasn’t been completed. They turned into rebels, emirs and a caliph invading a vast area of our land. They are hijacking our children’s minds and canceling borders. They reject all rules and legislations, throwing it [a]way … for their vision of politics, governance, life, society and economy. [For] the citizens of the self-declared “commander of the faithful,” or Caliph, you have no other choice … They don’t care if you stand out among your people and if you are an educated man, or a lecturer, or a tribe leader, or a religious leader, or an active politician or even a judge … You must obey the commander of the faithful and pledge the oath of allegiance to him. When their policies are questioned, Abu Obedia al-Jazrawi yells, saying: “Shut up. Our reference is the book and the Sunnah and that’s it.”

“What did we do wrong?” Khashoggi asks. With 3,000-4,000 Saudi fighters in the Islamic State today, he advises of the need to “look inward to explain ISIS’ rise”. Maybe it is time, he says, to admit “our political mistakes,” to “correct the mistakes of our predecessors.”

MODERNIZING KING THE MOST VULNERABLE

The present Saudi king, Abdullah, paradoxically is all the more vulnerable precisely because he has been a modernizer. The King has curbed the influence of the religious institutions and the religious police — and importantly has permitted the four Sunni schools of jurisprudence to be used, by those who adhere to them (al-Wahhab, by contrast, objected to all other schools of jurisprudence other than his own).

“The key political question is whether the simple fact of ISIS’ successes, and the full manifestation (flowering) of all the original pieties and vanguardism of the archetypal impulse, will stimulate and activate the dissenter ‘gene’ — within the Saudi kingdom. If it does, and Saudi Arabia is engulfed by the ISIS fervor, the Gulf will never be the same again. Saudi Arabia will deconstruct and the Middle East will be unrecognizable.”

It is even possible too for Shiite residents of eastern Saudi Arabia to invoke Ja’afri jurisprudence and to turn to Ja’afari Shiite clerics for rulings. (In clear contrast, al-Wahhab held a particular animosity towards the Shiite and held them to be apostates. As recently as the 1990s, clerics such as bin Baz — the former Mufti — and Abdullah Jibrin reiterated the customary view that the Shiite were infidels).

Some contemporary Saudi ulema would regard such reforms as constituting almost a provocation against Wahhabist doctrines, or at the very least, another example of westernization. ISIS, for example, regards any who seek jurisdiction other than that offered by the Islamic State itself to be guilty of disbelief — since all such “other” jurisdictions embody innovation or “borrowings” from other cultures in its view.

The key political question is whether the simple fact of ISIS’ successes, and the full manifestation (flowering) of all the original pieties and vanguardism of the archetypal impulse, will stimulate and activate the dissenter ‘gene’ — within the Saudi kingdom.

If it does, and Saudi Arabia is engulfed by the ISIS fervor, the Gulf will never be the same again. Saudi Arabia will deconstruct and the Middle East will be unrecognizable.

 

“They hold up a mirror to Saudi society that seems to reflect back to them an image of ‘purity’ lost”

 

In short, this is the nature of the time bomb tossed into the Middle East. The ISIS allusions to Abd al-Wahhab and Juhayman (whose dissident writings are circulated within ISIS) present a powerful provocation: they hold up a mirror to Saudi society that seems to reflect back to them an image of “purity” lost and early beliefs and certainties displaced by shows of wealth and indulgence.

This is the ISIS “bomb” hurled into Saudi society. King Abdullah — and his reforms — are popular, and perhaps he can contain a new outbreak of Ikwhani dissidence. But will that option remain a possibility after his death?

And here is the difficulty with evolving U.S. policy, which seems to be one of “leading from behind” again — and looking to Sunni states and communities to coalesce in the fight against ISIS (as in Iraq with the Awakening Councils).

It is a strategy that seems highly implausible. Who would want to insert themselves into this sensitive intra-Saudi rift? And would concerted Sunni attacks on ISIS make King Abdullah’s situation better, or might it inflame and anger domestic Saudi dissidence even further? So whom precisely does ISIS threaten? It could not be clearer. It does not directly threaten the West (though westerners should remain wary, and not tread on this particular scorpion).

The Saudi Ikhwani history is plain: As Ibn Saud and Abd al-Wahhab made it such in the 18th century; and as the Saudi Ikhwan made it such in the 20th century. ISIS’ real target must be the Hijaz — the seizure of Mecca and Medina — and the legitimacy that this will confer on ISIS as the new Emirs of Arabia.

Alastair Crooke, a former top British MI-6 agent in the Middle East, is author of Resistance: The Essence of Islamic Revolution.

This article was first published by Huffington Post 

See also

U.S. Doubled Support for Saudi Bombing Campaign in Yemen

Saudi Arabia boosting extremism in Europe, says former ambassador

Theresa May buries report feared to show Saudi links to extremism

The West Must Face Reality: Saudi Regime Is the Root Cause of Islamist Terrorism

Thanks to State Department Cables, a Torture Victim Won a Rare $10 Million Settlement

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Information Clearing House.

كيف سيتصرّف الحريري مع شرعية الأسد؟

كيف سيتصرّف الحريري مع شرعية الأسد؟

يوليو 15, 2017

ناصر قنديل

– بغض النظر عن الدرجة التي سيُحسب فيها تأثير موقف رئيس الحكومة اللبنانية سعد الحريري على شرعية الرئيس السوري، خصوصاً بعدما يعلن الاعتراف بها والتعامل معها رؤساء أميركا وفرنسا وسواهما، لكن من حق اللبنانيين أن يتساءلوا عن كيفية تصرّف رئيس حكومتهم تجاه تغيير بحجم من هذا النوع يبدو متسارعاً مع التفاهم الروسي والأميركي والإعلان الأميركي الفرنسي. وليس خافياً أن في كليهما كلمة مفتاحاً هي أن لا بند تفاوضي في جدول أعمال الحل السياسي لسورية عنوانه مصير الرئيس السوري، خصوصاً أنه رغم التوازنات الداخلية المحيطة بعمل الحكومة اللبنانية وآلية اتخاذ القرار دستورياً فيها، إلا أن الناطق بلسان الحكومة يبقى هو رئيسها، وفقاً لنصوص الدستور.

– خلال الفترة الفاصلة عن نهاية العام، كما يبشّر دي ميستورا، ستحدث تطورات كبرى باتجاه الحل في سورية. وهذا يعني حكماً توقع أن تتداعى بسرعة جبهة التحالف التي استند إليها رئيس الحكومة اللبنانية في موقفه من الرئيس السوري، الذي يمثل رأس الدولة وفقاً لدستور بلاده وهو القائد العام للقوات المسلحة، فكل تعاون مع حكومة سورية يحتاج توقيعه وكل تعاون مع الجيش السوري يمرّ بهذا التوقيع، والمسارات الآتية تتوضح تباعاً، فتح السفارات الغربية خريف هذا العام في دمشق، كما تنقل الصحف الفرنسية عن استعدادات الخارجية الفرنسية. وكل التقارير الآتية من واشنطن وموسكو تشير إلى توسيع جنيف ليضمّ الأكراد في وفد معارض موحّد ينتهي بتشكيل حكومة الراغبين بالمشاركة في الحرب على الإرهاب تحت قيادة الجيش السوري، ولاحقاً تشكيل قوات دفاع وطني تحمل خصوصيات مكوّناتها تكون جزءاً من الحالة التطوّعية القائمة بعد تسوية أوضاع عناصرها وقادتها وتتولى المشاركة مع الجيش السوري في حربه على الإرهاب. وسيكون مسار أستانة إطاراً عسكرياً تعاونياً أميركياً روسياً إيرانياً تركياً، لخوض الحرب بوجه الإرهاب، وسيصير النظر لدور حزب الله في سورية باعتباره شرعياً على المستوى الدولي، وربما يُطلب من لبنان المشاركة كما دول جوار سورية في أستانة، وتصير جبهة الحدود مع سورية ضمن تعاون روسي أميركي سوري مع حزب الله والجيش اللبناني، ويطلب الأميركيون من لبنان توفير التغطية الرسمية لذلك.

– حكومة سورية جديدة تتشكّل بقرار من الرئيس الأسد ويشارك فيها معارضون وتفتح ملف عودة النازحين، بشراكة ودعم دولي، وتستدعي حكومات الجوار للحوار لن تكون حدثاً بعيداً، فيكون ربما على الوزير معين المرعبي أن يلتقي بالوزير هيثم منّاع، بعد تعيينه ضمن المرسوم الرئاسي الذي يصدره الرئيس بشار الأسد بتسميته وزيراً لشؤون النازحين ويوجه دعوة للوزير اللبناني وتنتهي الزيارة بلقاء الرئيس السوري، فبماذا يوجّه الرئيس الحريري وزيره، وماذا يقول لوزير الداخلية عن اجتماع لوزراء داخلية دول الجوار السوري يعقد في دمشق ويحضره وزراء داخلية تركيا والعراق والأردن، فهل يغيب عنه لبنان، أم يعتذر الوزير اللبناني عن سماع الكلمة التوجيهية للرئيس السوري في بداية الاجتماع أو عن الموعد الختامي معه أو مائدة الغداء التي يقيمها للوزراء الضيوف؟

– قد تبقى السعودية بحكم الجغرافيا وتراجع أهميتها دولياً وإقليمياً، والفشل الذي أصابها في سورية والعراق خارج الاهتمام بكيفية تصرفها مع سورية في مرحلتها المقبلة بسرعة، ولن يكون بمستطاع لبنان ضبط إيقاع خطواته على إيقاع خطواتها، فكيف سيتصرّف الرئيس الحريري؟ سؤال لا بدّ من أن يسأل مستشاريه مبكراً عن الجواب عليه.

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YEMEN’S ANSAR ALLAH MOVEMENT (HOUTHIS): WHAT IS IT?

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Yemen's Ansar Allah Movement (Houthis): What Is It?

The Ansar Allah Movement was founded in 1992 under the name of “Faithful Youth Movement”. The movement’s followers are known as the Houthis, named after the founder of the movement Badr al-Din al-Houthi, who is considered its religious leader. While many believe that the Houthis are Shiites, they are in fact from the Zaydi faith, which is fundamentally different from the Shiite faith. The Zaydis in Yemen are of Hashemite origins.

One of the main reasons behind the establishment of the movement by Badr al-Din al-Houthi is the marginalization and persecution by the Yemeni governments of the Hashemites and Zaydis where the Hashemites were expelled from all important positions in the country after the establishment of the Republic of Yemen. In addition, Badr al-Din al-Houthi established the movement out of fear of the disappearance of the Zaidi doctrine, especially after many Zaydis converted to the Sunni faith following great persecutions by the Yemeni governments.

Sa’ada is the main center of Ansar Allah which now has between 300 and 500 thousand members many of whom are fighters. The heavy shelling of Sa’ada by the several right-wing parties during the civil wars in Yemen led most of the population to join the the Ansar Allah movement. Badr al-Din al-Houthi died on November 25, 2010, and his successor in the leadership is his son Abdul Malik al-Houthi.

Despite the movement’s adoption of the slogan “Death to America”, the movement has never gone against the American interests in the region, nor did it plan at any time to target US forces. On its behalf. the United States does not regard Ansar Allah a terrorist organization and had tried to push the Yemeni government to give the Zaydis their rights prior to 2011. After the outbreak of the Saudi-Yemeni war in 2014, the United States sided with Saudi Arabia, but still regards al-Qaeda and ISIS as the only terrorist organizations in Yemen.

Regardless of the claims that Ansar Allah is an Iranian Shiite movement, the movement is not Shiite. There are major differences between the Shiites and Yazidis. The movement also denies any direct links to Iran or Iranian intelligence as well. Moreover, despite claims by the Yemeni government and the U.S. and Saudi intelligence sources that the movement of Ansar Allah was in contact with Iranian intelligence services on several occasions, these parties did not provide any evidence.

Yemeni President Abdullah Mansour Hadi announced in 2009 that members of the Ansar Allah were arrested for working as spies for the Iranian intelligence, however, he did not present any evidence to prove his claim. These defendants were released when the Yemeni court proved their innocence.

Iran hasn’t denied those claims and is using them in propaganda campaigns in the Arab region. It is also believed that Ansar Allah has received some financial support and arms from Iran since 2009.

In 2004, the first clashes between Ansar Allah and the Yemeni government began after the Yemeni government demanded that Ansar Allah must hand over donations from their supporters in Sa’ada and several other areas. Thus, the limited clashes began and continued sporadically between 2004 and 2011 for various reasons.

The most important of these small wars were the following:

  • First War: June – September 2004
  • Second War: March – May 2005
  • Third War: November 2005 – January 2006
  • Fourth War: January – June 2007
  • Fifth War: March – July 2008.

The Houthi-Yemeni wars in many cases ended in political agreements. However, in the sixth war from August 2009 to February 2010, the crisis expanded as Saudi Arabia intervened against the Houthis.  The war began when the Yemeni Army launched an operation on August 11, 2011 under the name “Scorched Earth Operation” against the Houthis in Sa’ada. In the early days of the war, 80 civilians, supporters of the Ansar Allah movement, were killed. The Houthis attacked the Saudi border positions where they accused Saudi Arabia of allowing the Yemeni Army to use its land and border positions to attack them in Sa’ada.

On November 5, 2009 the Saudi Army and the Saudi Air Force began a bombing campaign in Sa’ada and targeted Ansar Allah fighters. However, Ansar Allah managed to advance and capture 46 Saudi villages in Jizan and Najran inside Saudi territory, causing important losses to the Saudi Army and managed to kill 133 Saudi soldiers within days.

A political agreement was reached to withdraw Ansar Allah from the Saudi villages and Sa’ada. The clashes ended on February 12, 2010. The withdrawal of the Houthis and the Yemeni army, allowed the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to enter Sa’ada.

In 2014, the clashes resumed following provocations by extremist Saudi religious organizations such as the Sunni Yemeni Wissal to fight Ansar Allah. Through Saudi provocations, the forces of Sheikh Hussein al-Ahmar and the Osaimat tribe cut off the road between Sa’ada and Sana’a and began to persecute the Houthis. Ansar Allah quickly attacked Amran, the center of the Osaimat tribe and Al Ahmar.

The Yemeni Army maintained its neutrality during the violent clashes, which ended with an agreement between the Houthis and the Osaimat to reopen the road. However the agreement failed due to Saudi provocations and the Houthis managed to capture Amran on July 8, 2014.

Abdul Malik al-Houthi called on the Yemenis to protest in Sanaa against the increase of the fuel prices, where heavy clashes broke out in Hamdan, north of Sanaa, during which 32 civilians were killed. The Houthis began military actions to capture the capital and managed to do so on September 21, 2014. A national government to include all parties led by Khalid Bahah was formed.

Yemen's Ansar Allah Movement (Houthis): What Is It?

Hadi did not abide by the agreement which resulted in the Houthis attacking his home and government headquarters on January 19, 2015, and capturing it without any resistance. They also captured all the Yemeni Army bases. Most of the Yemeni Army divisions supported the Housthis, most notably the Republican Guard. Former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh supported Ansar Allah as well.

Hadi fled to Saudi Arabia. On March 25, 2015 Saudi Arabia, along with other Arab countries, the most important of which was the UAE, and with direct American support, launched operation “Decisive Storm” to return Hadi to power on the pretext that he was the legitimate president. Despite the heavy bombardment, the Saudi coalition was unable to recapture Sanaa city. In addition, Saudi Arabia imposed a land and sea blockade on the areas captured by Ansar Allah.

The end of Operation “Al-Hazm Storm” was announced on April 21, 2015 and on the same day the Saudi coalition launched Operation “Restore Hope”. The bombing continued without the Saudi alliance achieving any real gains on the ground.

The Saudi military intervention strengthened al-Qaeda’s influence in Yemen again, and ISIS managed to capture many areas in northeastern Yemen. The siege has led to severe shortages of food and famine in some areas. Diseases and epidemics such as cholera have spread, and the Saudi coalition bombings have resulted in the killing of large numbers of civilians, most notably of which was the bombing of a funeral hall on October 8, 2016 in Sana’a by Saudi warplanes, killing 140 civilians and wounding 525 others.

The Saudi Air Force used British-made cluster bombs against the civilian areas. It is believed that the Saudi coalition used heavy or prohibited weapons against civilians, especially American, British and Canadian-made. Although Britain has raised some restrictions against the export of arms to Saudi Arabia, Canada and the United States have still not done that.

Since 2015, Saudi Arabia has refused any political solution, although the Yemeni parties have reached several agreements to end the war. The Saudi coalition, however, has always worked to thwart any political agreement or ceasefire agreement through provocative bombardments.

Since the beginning of 2017, with the increase of ISIS influence in Yemen, some Saudi-UAE disagreements have begun to emerge in Yemen, especially after the Yemeni forces, backed directly by the UAE, seized the Aden International Airport and expelled the Saudi-backed forces from it in May 2017.

With the increasing complexity of the crisis in Yemen and the increase in the number of parties, it is widely believed that the Saudi alliance will not achieve any of its objectives in Yemen, and that they’ll continue the military intervention only to provoke Iran.

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