Live from Baghdad: the secret of Iraq’s renaissance

November 14, 2017

by Pepe Escobar of the Asia Times (cross-posted by special agreement with the author)

BAGHDAD – On a sandstorm-swept morning in Baghdad earlier last week, Abu Mahdi al-Mohandes, the legendary deputy leader of Hashd al-Shaabi, a.k.a. People Mobilization Units (PMUs) and the actual mastermind of numerous ground battles against ISIS/Daesh, met a small number of independent foreign journalists and analysts.

This was a game-changing moment in more ways than one. It was the first detailed interview granted by Mohandes since the fatwa issued by Grand Ayatollah Sistani – the immensely respected marja (source of emulation) and top clerical authority in Iraq – in June 2014, when Daesh stormed across the border from Syria. The fatwa, loosely translated, reads, “It is upon every Iraqi capable of carrying guns to volunteer with the Iraqi Armed Forces to defend the sanctities of the nation.”

Mohandes took time out of the battlefield especially for the meeting, and then left straight for al-Qaim. He was sure “al-Qaim will be taken in a matter of days” – a reference to the crucial Daesh-held Iraqi border town connecting to Daesh stronghold Abu Kamal in Syria.

That’s exactly what happened only four days later; Iraqi forces immediately started a mop up operation and prepared to meet advancing Syrian forces at the border – yet more evidence that the recomposition of the territorial integrity of both Iraq and Syria is a (fast) work in progress.

The meeting with Mohandes was held in a compound inside the massively fortified Green Zone – an American-concocted bubble kept totally insulated from ultra-volatile red zone Baghdad with multiple checkpoints and sniffer dogs manned by US contractors.

Adding to the drama, the US State Department describes Mohandes as a “terrorist”. That amounts in practice to criminalizing the Iraqi government in Baghdad – which duly released an official statement furiously refuting the characterization.

The PMUs are an official body with tens of thousands of volunteers linked to the office of the Commander in Chief of the Iraqi Armed Forces. The Iraqi Parliament fully legalized the PMUs in November 2016 via resolution 91 (item number 4, for instance, states that “the PMU and its affiliates are subject to military regulations that are enforced from all angles.”)

Its 25 combat brigades – comprising Shi’ites, Sunnis, Christians, Yazidis, Turkmen, Shabak and Kurds – have been absolutely crucial in the fight against Daesh in Samarra, Amerli, Jalawla, Balad, Salahuddin, Fallujah (35 different battles), Shirqat and Mosul (especially over the western axis from Qayarah base to the Iraq-Syrian border, cutting off supply chains and sealing Mosul from an attempted Daesh escape to Syria).

Retaking Kirkuk “in a matter of hours”

Mohandes describes the PMUs as “an official military force” which plays a “complementary role” to the Iraqi Army. The initial plan was for the PMUs to become a national guard – which in fact they are now; “We have recon drones and engineering units that the Army does not have. We don’t mind if we are called gendarmes.” He’s proud the PMUs are fighting an “unconventional war”, holding the high ground “militarily and morally” with “victories achieved in record time”. And “contrary to Syria”, with no direct Russian support.

Mohandes is clear that Iran was the only nation supporting Iraq’s fight against Daesh. Iraq reciprocated by helping Syria, “facilitating over flights by Iranian planes.” With no Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) between Washington and Baghdad, “the Americans withdrew companies that maintain Abrams tanks.” In 2014

“we didn’t even have AK-47s. Iran gave them to us. The US embassy had 12 Apache helicopters ready to transport diplomats if Baghdad fell to Daesh”.

One year later, “Baghdad would have been occupied” were not for the PMUs; “It’s like you’re in a hospital and you need blood. The Americans would show up with the transfusion when it was too late.” He is adamant “the US did not provide a single bullet” in the overall fight against Daesh. And yet, Mohandes clarifies that the “US may stay in Iraq should the Iraqi government decide it. My personal opinion is well known.”

Mohandes considers the [Western] “media war waged against Hashd al-Shaabi” as “normal from the beginning”; “Countries that supported terrorism would not perceive that a popular force would emerge, and did not recognize the new political system in Iraq.” On that note, he added ruefully, “you can smell petrol”.

Mohandes was personally wounded in Halabja and also in Anfal – Saddam Hussein’s anti-Kurdish operations. He was “pleased to see Kurdistan saved after 1991”; stresses “we had martyrs who fell in Kurdistan defending them”; and considers himself a friend of the Kurds, keeping good relations with their leaders. Iranian advisors, alongside the Iraqi Army and the PMUs, also “prevented Daesh from conquering Erbil.”

Yet after a “unilateral referendum, Iraq had to assert the authority of the state”. Retaking Kirkuk – largely a PMU operation – was “a matter of hours”; the PMUs “avoided fighting and stayed only in the outskirts of Kirkuk”. Mohandes previously discussed operational details with the Peshmerga, and there was full coordination with both Iran and Turkey; “It’s a misconception that Kurdish leaders could rely on Turkey.”

Fallujah, finally secured

The PMUs absolutely insist on their protection of ethnic minorities, referring to thousands of Sabak, Yazidi and Turkmen – among at least 120,000 families – forced by Daesh rule into becoming IDPs. After liberation battles were won, the PMUs provided these families with food, clothing, toys, generators and fuel. I confirmed that many of these donations came from families of PMU fighters all across the country. PMU priorities include combat engineering teams bringing families back to their areas after clearing mines and explosives, and then reopening hospitals and schools. For instance, 67,000 families were resettled into their homes in Salahuddin and 35,000 families in Diyala.

Mohandes stresses that, “in the fight against Daesh in Salahuddin and Hawija, the brigade commanders were Sunnis”. The PMUs feature a Christian Babylon brigade, a Yazidi brigade, and a Turkmen brigade; “When Yazidis were under siege in Sinjar we freed at least 300,000 people.”

Overall, the PMUs include over 20,000 Sunni fighters. Compare it with the fact that 50 per cent of Daesh’s suicide bombers in Iraq have been Saudi nationals. I confirmed with Sheikh Muhammad al-Nouri, leader of the Sunni scholars in Fallujah, “this is an ideological battle against Wahhabi ideology. We need to get away from the Wahhabi school and redirect our knowledge to other Sunni schools.” He explained how that worked on the ground in Haditha (“we were able to control mosques”) and motivated people in Fallujah, 30 minutes away; “Fallujah is an Iraqi city. We believe in coexistence.”

After 14 years in which Fallujah was not secure, and with the Haditha experience fast expanding, Sheikh Muhammad is convinced “Iraq will declare a different war on terror.”

The inclusive approach was also confirmed by Yezen Meshaan al-Jebouri, the head of the Salahuddin PMU brigade. This is crucial because he’s a member of the very prominent Sunni Jebouri family, which was historically inimical to Saddam Hussein; his father is the current governor of Tikrit. Al-Jebouri decries “the state corruption in Sunni regions”, an “impression of injustice” and the fact that for Daesh, “Sunnis who did not follow them should also be killed.” He’s worried about “the Saudi accumulation of developed weapons. Who guarantees these won’t be used against the region?” And he refuses the notion that “we are looked upon by the West as part of the Iranian project.”

Military victory meets political victory

Far from the stereotyped “terrorist”, Mohandes is disarmingly smart, witty and candid. And a full-blooded Iraqi patriot; “Iraq now reinstates its position because of the blood of its sons. We needed to have a military force capable of fighting an internal threat. We are accomplishing a religious national and humanitarian duty.” Soldiers apart, thousands of extra PMU volunteers do not receive salaries. Members of Parliament and even Ministers were active in the battlefield. Mohandes is proud that “we have a chain of command just like the army”; that the PMUs harbor “thousands of people with college degrees”; that they run “dozens of field hospitals, intensive care units” and have “the strongest intel body in Iraq.”

In Baghdad, I personally confirmed the narrative accusing the PMUs of being Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s private army is nonsense. If that was the case, Grand Ayatollah Sistani should take the blame, as he conceptually is the father of the PMUs. Hadi al-Amiri, the secretary-general of the powerful Badr organization, also extremely active in the fight against Daesh, stressed to me the PMUs are “part of the security system, integrated with the Ministry of Defense”. But now “we need universities and emphasis on education.”

Pakistani Prof. Hassan Abbas, from the College of International Security Affairs at the National Defense University in Washington, went even further, as we extensively discussed not only Iraq and Syria but also Afghanistan and Pakistan; “Iraq is now in a unique position heading towards a democratic, pluralistic society”, proving that “the best answer to sectarianism is religious harmony.” This “inclusiveness against Takfirism” must now connect in the streets “with the rule of law and a fair justice system”. Abbas points out that the base for Iraq to build up is law enforcement via scientific investigation; “Policing is the first line of defense”.

Baghdad has been able, almost simultaneously, to pull off two major game-changers; a military victory in Mosul and a political victory in Kirkuk. If Iraq stabilizes, erasing the Daesh death cult, so will Syria. As al-Jebouri notes, “now every community must have a cut of the cake.” At least 7 million jobs and pensions are paid by Baghdad. People want the return of regularly paid salaries. That starts with decent security all over the country. Mohandes was the engineer – his actual profession – of key battles against Daesh. There’s a wide consensus in Baghdad that without him Daesh would be firmly installed in the Green Zone.

Hashd al-Shaabi is already an Iraqi pop phenomenon, reflected in this huge hit by superstar Ali al-Delfi. From pop to politics is another matter entirely. Mohandes is adamant the PMUs won’t get involved in politics, “and directly won’t contest elections. If someone does, and many individuals are now very popular, they have to leave Hashd.”

From hybrid warfare to national renewal

After days talking to Hashd al-Shaabi personnel and observing how they operate a complex hybrid warfare battlefield coupled with an active recruitment process and heavy presence in social media, it’s clear the PMUs are now firmly established as a backbone underpinning Iraqi state security, an array of stabilization programs – including much needed medical services – and most of all, introducing a measure of efficiency Iraq was totally unfamiliar for almost three decades.

It’s a sort of state-building mechanism springing out of a resistance ethic. As if the ominous Daesh threat, which may have led to as many as 3.1 million IDPs, shook up the collective Iraqi subconscious, awakened the Iraqi Shi’ite proletariat/disenfranchised masses, and accelerated cultural decolonization. And this complex development couldn’t be further from religious bigotry.

Amid Wilsonian eulogies and references to the Marshall Plan, Foreign Minister Ebrahim al-Jaafari is also a staunch defender of the PMUs, stressing it as “an experiment to be studied”, a “new phenomenon with a humane basis operating on a legal framework”, and “able to break the siege of solitude Iraq has suffered for years.”

Referring to the Daesh offensive, Jaafari insisted “Iraq did not commit a crime” in the first place, but hopefully there’s “a new generation of youth capable of reinforcing the experiment”. The emphasis now, following reconciliation, is on “an era of national participation”. He’s adamant that “families of Daesh members should not pay for their mistakes.” Daesh informers will be duly put on trial.

I asked the Foreign Minister if Baghdad did not fear being caught in a lethal crossfire between Washington and Tehran. His response was carefully measured. He said he had enough experience of dealing with “radical” neocons in D.C. And at the same time he was fully aware of the role of the PMUs as well as Iran in Iraq’s reassertion of sovereignty. His warm smile highlighted the conviction that out of the ashes of a cultish black death, the Iraqi renaissance was fully in effect.

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خطبتا الجمعة للشيخ احمد بدر الدين حسون من جامع الروضة في مدينة حلب 14 7 2017

خامنئي: السعودية كالبقرة الحلوب بالنسبة لأميركا وسيُقضى عليها في النهاية..

خامنئي: السعودية كالبقرة الحلوب بالنسبة لأميركا وسيُقضى عليها في النهاية

قال المرشد الإيراني السيد علي خامنئي «إنّ السعودية كالبقرة الحلوب بالنسبة لأميركا»، معتبراً أنّ «المجتمع الإسلامي اليوم كبقية المجتمعات يعاني من مشاكل».

ولفت خامنئي إلى أنّ «هناك بعض الناس الوضيعين ممن سلبوا بعض عناصر الأمة الإسلامية حقها في تقرير المصير كالحكومة السعودية، وهذا بسبب البعد عن القرآن وانعدام الإيمان «.

وقال: «لا يجب الانخداع بالمظاهر وهؤلاء سيسقطون، لأنهم باطل وسيزولون ويُقضى عليهم، وسرعة ذلك مرتبطة بصحة عمل المجتمع المؤمن».

وأضاف «حماقة السعوديين جعلتهم يظنون أن بإمكانهم جلب صداقة أعداء الإسلام بالأموال، لكنهم في الحقيقة يفرطون بالثروات الوطنية لأعداء الشعوب».

وذكّر خامنئي بأنه «يوماً ما كانت هناك حكومة إيرانية قال لها الأميركيون صراحة إنها شرطيهم في المنطقة، لكن الشعب الإيراني تمكن من إسقاطها رغم كل الدعم الذي كانت تحظى بِه وجاء بنظام الجمهورية الإسلامية الذي لا تطيق القوى العالمية رؤيته».

ودعا الحكومة الإيرانية «للوضوح في التأكيد على أصول الإسلام»، معتبراً أنّ هذا الأمر «لا ينافي العلاقات العالمية». وأوضح المرشد الإيراني خلال جلسة «الأنس بالقرآن» في أول يوم من شهر رمضان المبارك أنّ «السعوديين أشداء علی المسلمین، رحماء مع الكفار، لكن سيقضى عليهم في النهاية».

‘Political’ Takfirism in #AlSaud Kingdom: From Ancestor to Grandson

September 8, 2016

 

Al Saud’s Mufti

Israa al-Fass

Saudi Mufti, Abdul Aziz Al Ash-Sheikh’s statement considering Iranians not Muslims was not unprecedented to what Muslims know concerning the Takfiri ideology upon which the Saudi kingdom was based. Takfirism wasn’t but the kingdom’s weapon in the battles to push up its political system. It recalls to demonize the rival, and ignores the same thoughts based on its interests.

The descendent of the Al ash-Sheikh family, which goes back to the master of Takfirism in the Arabian Peninsula “Mohammad Abdul Wahhab” (the ancestor), couldn’t but defend the “worst catastrophe in the history of Hajj”, according to France Presse, by claiming the Iranians are non-Muslims.

464 Iranian martyrs were among more than 7 thousand martyrs from over 30 Muslim nations. There is no harm in killing them as long as the Iranians are “the enemies of Muslims” according to Al ash-Sheikh who is far worse than the crime itslef.

Commenting to Saudi newspaper “Mecca”, Al ash-Sheikh considered that appealing Saudi special measures on the Hajj rituals “is not surprising for those (Iranians),” according to him. He further added that: “We must understand that those are not Muslims, they are Zoroastrians, and their animosity with Muslims is a very old issue, especially with Sunnis.”

The Mufti used Takfirism to respond to Imam Ali Khamenei, who embarrassed the Al Saud. He said that “Muslims should seriously consider solving the issue of the Two Holy Mosques and the Hajj pilgrimage issue.”

“Instead of apologizing, the Saudis boldly shuffled off forming a fact-finding committee on the Mina tragedy,” he added.

Imam Khamenei also unveiled that “the Saudis gathered those wounded from the Mina accident with those martyred in closed containers, so they killed them instead of treating them.”

For his part, Abdul Aziz Al ash-Sheikh responded to the evidences that indict the Kingdom with committing the crime as he considered the Iranians as non-Muslims, re-describing them as Zoroastrians. The mufti, perhaps, forgot to review the latest announcement of the kingdom’s officials regarding the Iranians. He said they are not Muslims, ignoring the praise Turki al-Faisal related to them in his last statement in the French capital city of Paris.

Some two months earlier, al-Faisal stood to hail the Presians, he recalled that they were among the first monotheist people before converting to Islam. He also honored the Persian heritage and the prominent Muslim scholars of Persian origin, namely al-Ghazali, Ibn Sina and Omar al-Khayyam.

The Saudi schizophrenia is not surprising… And the contradiction between the “Sheikh” and the “Emir’s” words won’t be viewed as disagreement in the opinions of a kingdom that knows nothing about a united vision.

The realistic explanation is politicizing Takfirism, once revived by Saudi practices to provoke against Muslims, and then ignored when its princes’ interests provide approaching those who are considered “non-Muslims”.

One day, Salman bin Abdul Aziz, the guardian of Abdul Aziz Al ash-Sheikh, started dancing and cheering as he received “the Gulf officer”, the Iranian Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. What was Al ash-Sheikh’s view towards the Pahlavi descendent?

Despite this, it wouldn’t be any weird that Takfirism is tongued by the grandson of Mohammad bin Abdul Wahhab, the first theorizer of Takfirism in the Muslim Peninsula. Abdul Wahhab’s ideology didn’t consider only the Persians as non-Muslims, but almost all other Muslims were excluded from this circle.

In the book of “Princes of the Sacred Country”, the Guardian of the Two Holy Mosques and Shafi’i Mufti in the late years of the Ottoman Empire, Sheikh Ahmad bin Zaini Dahlan al-Hasani, who witnessed the collapse of the first Saudi state, says the following: “Mohammad bin Abdul Wahhab and his group used to judge people (meaning Muslims) as infidels. They legalized killing and stealing them, and they violated the Prophet’s (PBUH) sanctity. They have been clear in considering the nation as infidel since 600 years ago. The first person to declare this was Mohammad bin Abdul Wahhab who used to say: I came up to you with a new religion. He believed that Islam is restricted with him and his followers, while the rest of people are all infidels.”

Wahhabism considered almost all Muslims as infidels. It started with Sunnis before any other Muslim sect. Mohammad bin Abdul Wahhab offered his service to label the people of Najd and al-Hijaz as infidels to legalize Mohammad ibn Saud and his sons’ invasions, upon which the first Saudi state was established. Now, the son of Al ash-Sheikh revives the history of his grandfather, to offer the same service now with considering the Iranians as non-Muslims. Hence, he approves crimes of killing and targeting them under the kingdom’s regional conflict, in which it is recruiting Muslims to kill Muslims.

“There isn’t any resemblance between the Islam of Iranians and most of the Muslims on the one hand, and extremism and intolerance preached to by Wahhabi scholars and masters of Saudi terrorism on the other,” according to Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif’s Twitter account.

Zarif’s words represented the same thoughts approved in the Chechen’s Grozni Conference’s implications when ousting Wahhabism from Sunni Islam, before retreating the position under Saudi threats… the same is documented in the history of the Two Holy Mosques’ Guardians and the Shafi’i scholars.

To read the original article in Arabic, click here.

Translated by website team

Source: Al-Manar Website

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Iran’s Leader issues message on 2016 Hajj pilgrimage

(Saker note: note the *very* harsh words of Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei against the Saudi Wahabis)
Imam Khamenei issues message on 2016 Hajj pilgrimage

 In the Name of Allah, the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful And all praise belongs to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds, and Allah’s greetings be upon our Master, Muhammad (PBUH), and upon his Immaculate Household and chosen companions and upon those who follow them rightfully until the Day of Judgment.Muslim brethren and sisters all over the world,

For Muslims, the Hajj season is a period of honor and glory in the eyes of [all] human beings, and a period for the illumination of hearts and humility and supplication before the Creator. Hajj is a sacred and mundane and divine and communal obligation. On one side, [the Quran] commands “Then remember Allah as you remember your forefathers, or with [much] greater remembrance” and “Remember Allah during [specific] numbered days” and on the other side, the declaration [that] “[Masjid al-Haram is a placIran’s Leader issues message on 2016 Hajj pilgrimagee] which We made for the people; equal are the resident therein and one from outside,” shed light on its infinite and diverse aspects.

In this one-of-a-kind obligation, temporal and spatial security bestows serenity upon the hearts of human beings like a clear sign and a shining star and frees the Hajj pilgrim from the siege of factors of insecurity [created] by hegemonic tyrants, which have always threatened all humanity, and let him taste the pleasure of security during a specified period.

The Abrahamic Hajj, which Islam has bestowed upon Muslims, is the manifestation of dignity and spirituality and unity and glory. It shows off the greatness of Islamic Ummah and their reliance on the eternal divine power to ill-wishers and enemies, and highlights their distance from the quagmire of corruption and humiliation and oppression, which international bullying powers impose on human societies. Islamic and monotheistic Hajj is the manifestation of [the Quranic verse, which describes the faithful as being] “firm against the unbelievers, [and] compassionate among themselves.” It is a venue for disavowal of polytheists and [promoting] friendship and unity with believers.

Those who have reduced the Hajj to a mere pilgrimage-tourism trip and have hidden their enmity and grudge against the faithful and the revolutionary nation of Iran under the title of the “politicization of the Hajj” are puny and belittled devils, who shudder as soon as the ambitions of the Great Satan, America, are put in jeopardy. Saudi rulers, who have obstructed the path to Allah and the Masjid al-Haram this year and blocked the way of the fervent and faithful Iranian pilgrims to the House of the Beloved, are disgraced misguided people, who tie their survival on the throne of [their] oppressive power to defending global arrogant powers and [forming] alliance with Zionism and America and making efforts to meet their demand, and they do not shy away from any act of treason to that end.

About one year has passed since the horrible Mina incidents in which several thousand people, on the day of Eid and attired in the Ihram [garment], lost their lives tragically under the [searing] sun and with thirsty lips. A short while before that at the Grand Mosque, a group [of pilgrims] were killed while they were in worship and circumambulation and [saying] prayers. The Saudi rulers are to blame in both incidents; this is something on which all attendants [in Hajj] and observers and technical analysts agree, and some experts [even] speculated the intentionality of the incident. Dawdling and negligence in saving the half-alive injured people whose enchanted souls and eager hearts were busy with dhikr [mention of God] and whispering the divine verses [of the Quran] on [the day of] Eid al-Adha are also definite and proven facts. The ruthless and criminal Saudi men locked them up along with the dead in tightly closed containers and martyred them instead of providing treatment to them and assisting them or even supplying water to their thirsty lips.

Several thousand families from a variety of countries lost their beloved ones and their nations were rendered bereaved. From the Islamic Republic, there were nearly 500 among the martyrs. The families’ hearts are still hurt and bereft and the nation is still in grief and enraged.

However, instead of offering apology and expressing regret and prosecuting those directly behind this horrible incident, the Saudi rulers even refused to set up an international Islamic fact-finding mission in ultimate shamelessness and impudence. Instead of taking the stand as defendant, they took the seat of claimant and brought further to the fore their age-old enmity with the Islamic Republic and with any Islamic flag, which stands against blasphemy and arrogance, with more wickedness and insolence.

Their propaganda mouthpieces, ranging from politicians, whose behavior vis-à-vis Zionists and America is a source of disgrace for the Islamic world, to non-pious muftis living on haram [prohibited] income, who openly issue fatwas against the [holy] Book and [the Prophet’s] Sunna, to media footmen, who cannot be kept from fabricating and spreading lies even by professional conscience, are making a futile attempt to hold the Islamic Republic responsible for the denial of Iranian pilgrims this year’s Hajj.

Seditionist rulers, who have embroiled the Muslim world in civil wars and the carnage of innocents and who have stained Yemen, Iraq, the Levant, Libya and some other countries with blood by forming and equipping Takfiri and evil groups; godless politicians, who have extended the hand of friendship to the occupying Zionist regime and have turned a blind eye to the heart-wrenching suffering and plight of Palestinians and have broadened the extent of their oppression and treason to cities and villages in Bahrain; [as well as] unfaithful and unconscientious rulers, who created the great tragedy of Mina and under the guise of [being] Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques flouted the sanctity of the safe divine sanctuary and slaughtered the guests of the Compassionate God on the Eid day in Mina and before that at the Grand Mosque, are now speaking about non-politicization of the Hajj and accuse others of the big sins they have themselves committed or caused to happen. They are a flagrant example of the clearly enlightening expression of the Holy Quran [where it says]: “And when he turns his back, his aim everywhere is to spread mischief through the earth and to destroy crops and cattle and Allah does not love mischief.  And when it is said unto him: Be careful of your duty to Allah, pride takes him to sin. Hell will settle his account, an [what an] evil resting-place [it is].”

This year too, according to reports, in addition to blocking the Hajj pilgrims from Iran and some other nations, they (the Saudis) have subjected Hajj pilgrims from other countries to unprecedented surveillance with the help of espionage agencies of America and the Zionist regime and have rendered the secure House of God unsafe for all. The Muslim world, including Muslim governments and nations, must know the Saudi rulers and truly realize the reality of their sacrilegious, unfaithful, dependent and materialistic nature; they must not let them go with impunity after [all] the crimes they have caused across the Muslim world, [but] in response to their unjust treatment of the guests of the Merciful God, they must think of a fundamental solution for the management of the Two Holy Mosques and the issue of Hajj. Shirking from this duty will expose the Islamic Ummah to bigger problems in the future.

Muslim Brethren and Sisters! This year, the eager and devoted Iranian pilgrims are missed in the Hajj ritual, but they are in attendance with their hearts and they are standing along Hajj pilgrims from across the globe and are concerned about them and pray for them to be spared any harm from the accursed tree of tyrants. Remember your Iranian brethren and sisters in your prayers and acts of worship and invocation, and pray for the Muslim communities to get rid of their troubles and to have the hand of arrogant powers and Zionists and their stooges cut off the Islamic Ummah.

I personally honor the memory of last year’s martyrs of Mina and the Grand Mosque and the martyrs of Mecca in [the Hajj pilgrimage in] 1987 and I pray to the Almighty God to bestow His forgiveness and mercy upon them and reserve them high positions [in the Heavens]. I salute Hadhrat Baqiatallah al-A’zam (Shall our souls be sacrificed for him) and request that venerable figure’s accepted prayer for the exaltation of the Islamic Ummah and salvation of Muslims from sedition and malevolence of enemies.

And providence belongs to Allah and reliance is on Him.

Dhu al-Qa’dah, 1437-September 2016

Seyyed Ali Khamenei

Al Saud... The Cursed Tree!

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The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant: A genocidal campaign – part 1: The origins of sectarianism in Islam

July 07, 2016

by Aram Mirzaei

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant: A genocidal campaign – part 1: The origins of sectarianism in IslamA plague upon the world, a terrorist group who hates humanity. Many are the words describing the Daesh phenomenon which has been unleashed upon humanity. The terrorist group who allegedly originated out of Iraq as a result of the US- led invasion in 2003 has now become a worldwide known phenomenon which few people have never heard of. Their atrocities are reported daily, and mainstream media have several times reported about this death cult’s genocidal campaigns in the Middle East, ranging from ethnic cleansing to attempts to wipe out the region’s culture and history. The highlighted targets have been Christians and the Yezidis of Iraq.

What the mainstream media however rarely mentions is their campaign against their true enemy, the Shia community of Iraq and Syria. This three-part article series will analyse and explain the motivational drive behind this terrorist group and its funders, and why they attack other Muslims who they deem to be “infidels”.

The practice of excommunication where one Muslim declares another one to be a “Kafir” or infidel, is called Takfir, a practice which is almost as old as Islam itself. One who practices this excommunication is called a Takfiri.

The first part of this article series will focus on the history of the concept and where it once originated from. The second part will focus on the imperial European powers and their relationship with Takfiris in the 18th century. The last part will focus on the modern Takfirism and its aims in the region amid the Syrian and Iraqi wars.

The historical background and the concept of Takfir

The Daesh terrorists are known by the Shia community mainly as Takfiris because they deem the entire Shia community and all other branches of Islam to be infidels who deserve death. There is a very wide range of ideas surrounding what could justify declaring someone to be an infidel (Kafir). Some Muslims consider this to be a prerogative of divine revelation, while others consider it to be the prerogative of the state (Caliphate) which represents the Muslim community as a whole. There is no consensus among the Muslim community as to what actually constitutes sufficient justification for declaring Takfir, as such, there are disputes among different scholars surrounding this topic.

In order to truly understand what the concept of Takfir means, and how it has formed the Islamic community, we need to go back in time to the early days of Islam, and study the predecessors of the Daesh terror group, a group known as the Khawarij.

The Khawarij

The Khawarij (the outsiders) were notorious Takfiris who appeared in the first century of Islam during what is today known as the First Fitna, the first Islamic civil war caused by disunity regarding the leadership after the death of Prophet Muhammad. The First Fitna, 656–661, followed the assassination of Uthman (Osman), the third Caliph of Islam, continued during the caliphate of Ali, and was ended by Muawiyah’s assumption of the caliphate. This civil war is often referred to as the end of the Islamic unity, also known as the Ummah.

Divisions began to grow as disagreement began to rise considering the capital of the newly established Islamic Caliphate. This was a result of a deep rooted rivalry between Syria, formerly under the rule of the Byzantine Empire and Iraq, part of the Persian Sassanid Empire. Ali was convinced to move his capital to Kufa, in Iraq.

Later Muawiyah I, the governor of Levant and the cousin of Uthman, refused Ali’s demands for allegiance. Ali opened negotiations hoping to regain his allegiance, but Muawiyah insisted on

Levant autonomy under his rule. Muawiyah began mobilising his Levantine supporters and refusing to pay homage to Ali on the pretext that his contingent had not participated in Ali’s election.

Ali then moved his armies north and the two armies encamped themselves at Siffin for more than one hundred days, most of the time being spent in negotiations. Although Ali exchanged several letters with Muawiyah, he was unable to dismiss the latter, nor persuade him to pledge allegiance.

When Muawiyah’s forces met with Ali’s forces in the battle of Siffin in 657 A.D, Muawiyah’s forces were on the brink of defeat. Muawiyah wanted to put the dispute aside and called for the two sides to arbitration according to the Quran.

The two armies finally agreed to settle the matter of who should be Caliph by arbitration. The refusal of the largest bloc (the Kufans) in Ali’s army to fight anymore was the decisive factor in his acceptance of the arbitration. Ali’s army suffered from mutiny led by the Kufans. The question as to whether the arbiter would represent Ali or the Kufans (Qurra) caused a further split in Ali’s army. Ali presented his representative for arbitration, the mutineers on their part, presented Abu Musa Ashaari, against Ali’s wishes while Muawiyah presented his representative Amr ibn Al-As.

Seven months later the two arbitrators met at Adhruh about 10 miles north west of Maan in Jordan in February 658. Amr ibn Al-As convinced Abu Musa Ashaari that both Ali and Muawiyah should step down and a new caliph be elected. Ali and his supporters were stunned by the decision which had lowered the caliph to the status of the rebellious Muawiyah. Ali had been betrayed. Rallying under the slogan “arbitration belongs to God alone”, the Qurra had turned on both Ali and Muawiyah.

Ali refused to accept the verdict of him stepping down and for an election to be held and found himself technically in breach of his pledge to abide by the arbitration. This put Ali in a weak position even amongst his own supporters. The most vociferous opponents of Ali in his camp were the very same people who had forced Ali to appoint their arbitrator. Feeling that Ali could no longer look after their interests. Also fearing that if there was peace, they could be arrested for the murder of Uthman they broke away from Ali’s force.

So the Qurra then became known as the Khawarij (the outsiders, referring to those who left Ali’s side). It is important to note that the Khawarij were not simply dissatisfied with a particular man or family or economics, rather their dissatisfaction was with the whole social structure which was represented by both Uthman and Ali. Before, they had freedom in the affairs of the tribe. Now they were in the “super-tribe” of Islam and could not behave as they had behaved previously. They wanted to go back to their old tribal structure where they could glory and boast about their tribe. Thus, it can be argued that the Khawarij were more motivated by their own selfish reasons to rebel, rather than of ideological reasons.

The fact that he was Muhammad’s nephew only confirmed them in their militancy of their perceived egalitarianism; that the true aristocracy was one of piety and not blood. This view fundamentally goes against the Shia view of the leadership being bound to the bloodline of the Prophet.

In time, the Khawarij began to develop twisted views. Early reports would speak of Khawarijs going out with their swords into markets and randomly stab people while shouting” no judgement except God’s”. In 659 Ali’s forces finally moved against the Khawarij and they finally met in the Battle of Nahrawan. Although Ali won the battle, the constant conflict had begun to affect his standing.

Ali won a pyrrhic victory but could not crush this group. Two years later, on the 19th of Ramadan 661 Ali was assassinated by the Khawarij while praying in the Great Mosque of Kufa. Legend has it that Khawarij Abd-Al-Rahmad ibn Muljam attacked him with a poison coated sword that struck Ali’s head. When Ali was killed, Muawiyah was the one who had the largest army in the Muslim Empire, thus he could easily ascend to the throne and so began the rise of the Ummayad Caliphate.

The Ummayad caliphate, although strong, could never assume the same authority over its vast territory as the first Caliphate could. In Iran, the caliphate was several times challenged, which lead to forced mass-conversion of Zoroastrians in Iran. As the empire grew, the number of qualified Arab workers was too small to keep up with the rapid expansion of the empire. Therefore, Muawiya allowed many of the local government workers in conquered provinces to keep their jobs under the new Umayyad government. Thus, much of the local government’s work was recorded in Greek, Coptic and Persian. This rapid expansion has also been argued to be one of the main reason for the decline of the Ummayad Caliphate.

Plagued by continued Khawarij uprisings both in Iran and Iraq, the Khawarij outlived the declining Ummayad Caliphate as continued uprisings during the Abbasid Caliphate were still a problem.

Perhaps the greatest challenge to the authority of the caliphate occurred between 866 and 896 when the Khawarij rebelled in the districts of Mosul in the Al-Jazira province (Mesopotamia). This rebellion lasted for thirty years despite several attempts to quell it. It was not until the Caliph Al-Muatadid launched major campaigns to restore the Caliphate’s authority that the rebellion finally was defeated.

In the next part of this article series, we will examine the second wave of Takfirism, originating in the deserts of the Arabian Peninsula during the 18th century.

SAYYED HASSAN NASRALLAH ON QUDS DAY 2016: CANCEROUS CELL CALLED ‘ISRAEL’ MUST BE ELIMINATED

Nasrallah Quds Day 2016

by Jonathan Azaziah

Know why Al-Quds and all of Palestine will be freed? Because Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah says so. And when Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah says something, ANYTHING, it’s only because he means it, believes it and will struggle until his last day to fight for its implementation. The Quds Day 2016 speech of the Lebanese Islamic Resistance’s Godwary and gallant leader was another blistering oratory that smashed the lies of the enemy, took the traitors to the woodshed, reinforced Sunni-Shi’a and Islamic-Christian unity in the face of the Takfiri scourge and once again highlighted that the most important task for ALL peoples in our region, whether it is achieved by our generation or the generations to come, is to eliminate the “cancerous cell” known as ‘Israel’. With his usual booming charisma, the Sayyed delivered a punch to the collective gut of every sectarian and every naysayer who dares accuse Hizbullah of “turning its weapons away from the Zionist enemy”, as if, number one, the Takfiris aren’t the stooges of the criminal, artificial ‘Israeli’ regime above all other geopolitical actors, and, number two, as if anybody else but Hizbullah is protecting Lebanon from this mental, murderous Wahhabism.

But it was this section here that was the crown jewel of the speech,

“If the financial, military, political and human efforts used against Syria and Yemen were used for the sake of Palestine instead, Al-Quds and the entirety of the occupied territories would have been liberated ten times over. So let all the agents and servants of America and ‘Israel’ in our region keep in mind that while the false ‘kings’ of certain ‘Arab’ regimes may have abandoned Al-Quds and Palestine, we will never abandon Al-Quds and the Palestinian people! Never! Neither wars of aggression nor weapons, mass media deception nor destabilization schemes and vicious sectarian incitement could ever force our Axis of Resistance to abandon Palestine and Al-Quds nor make us sit idly by as ‘Israel’ spreads its corruption.”

And this is the essence of it all, isn’t it? While the GCC tyrants, Jordan, Morocco, Egypt, the Neo-Ottomans in Turkey and basically every other “Arab” and “Muslim” country have betrayed the Palestinian cause, the Axis of Resistance has dug in and fought with blood, sweat, tears and more to continue the fight to liberate Palestine and preserve the sovereignty, independence, culture and history of each respective nation and movement which it is comprised of. And again, as it is only veracity which departs from Nasrallah’s lips, this was not “bravado” as it has been described by some idiotic March 14 officials and commentators, but a promise, a TRUTHFUL PROMISE, that Hizbullah and its partners will resist, thwart, frustrate and fight back until victory is theirs.

Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah isn’t known as Wa3d al-Sadiq (Promised Truth/Truthful Promise/Promise of Truth) for nothing.

He promised that Lebanon would be liberated from ‘Israeli’ occupation and it happened.

He promised that Hizbullah would prevail during the July War and it happened.

He promised that the Lebanese Islamic Resistance would free its prisoners from the Zionists’ jails and it happened.

He promised victory in Syria and despite the continuing Western-‘Israeli’-GCC-Turkish-sponsored flow of arms, money and terrorists to the Takfiri scourge, victories and advancement unfold daily.

So when the Sayyed says ‘Israel’ has no choice but death, I know it is not a mere observation but a fact. And if we don’t see it in our lifetime, then I know, in my heart of all hearts, that our seeds will. Why? Because Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said so. And he isn’t known as Wa3d al-Sadiq for nothing.

‪#‎LabaykahYaNasrallah‬ ‪

#‎LongLiveHizbullah‬ ‪

#‎QudsDay2016‬

‪#‎DeathToIsrael‬ ‪

#‎Ta7yaFalasteen‬

‪#‎PalestineWillBeFree‬

‪#‎FromTheRiverToTheSea‬

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