“Hagia Sophia” by Sheikh Imran Hosein

May 08, 2021

Revolutionary Changes Awaiting the Middle East?

17.11.2020 

Author: Vladimir Odintsov

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Although some of Donald Trump’s advisers still believe in his possible victory and support his attempts to fight, their number is gradually decreasing. Trump himself also is gradually realising the fact that the election results will not be canceled, and he has lost these elections…

The increasing reality of the failure of Trump’s four-year political activity is forcing politicians in many countries who have orientated towards him to look for a way to resolve their current situation, making adjustments to their rhetoric and actions. A certain group, imitating Trump himself, who has repeatedly abandoned former allies in the name of “his own political game”, are rapidly seeking to reorient themselves to the expected new master of the White House, sending flattering congratulations on “victory” instead of the previous criticism for the recent opponent of Trump in the elections.

As the Swiss newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung emphasised, “Europe collectively breathed a sigh of relief. The warm reaction of Brussels and representatives of the EU member states has once again confirmed: more than the election of Joe Biden, Europe is happy about the impending departure of President Donald Trump.”

And this is not only a typical reaction for Europe!

Almost all commentary states the obvious fact: the time after Trump will not be the same as the time before Trump. And therefore, the shifting of the “weather vane of political change” is very clearly traced not only in the list of those who have already congratulated Joe Biden “on victory” – even before the official announcement of the highly scandalous and controversial recent presidential elections in the United States – but also in the choice of the words themselves to express servility and plebeian devotion.

Thus, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu congratulated Joe Biden, calling him “a great friend of Israel.” However most recently, Channel 7 of Israeli television published the results of a national poll, according to which 68% of Israelis expressed their devotion to Trump. Moreover, on November 2, according to Reuters, Israel even held a prayer service for the re-election of Donald Trump. And this is not surprising, since Trump suits Tel Aviv much more. Indeed, it was Trump who on December 6, 2017 recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and moved the US embassy there. In May 2018, Trump pulled Washington out of the “nuclear pact” with Tehran. On March 25, 2019, Trump officially recognized Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights. On October 15, 2020, Trump held a ceremony to normalize relations between Israel, Bahrain and the UAE in front of the White House in Washington. It was Trump who signed the Justice for Unpaid Survivors Act, which provides for the return of property lost during the Holocaust and other events of the 20th century. He signed a decree on the fight against anti-Semitism on American campuses.

But, in addition to Netanyahu, the leaders of Hamas and the extremist group “Muslim Brotherhood Politics” (banned in Russia – ed.) Sent their congratulations to Biden, calling on the new White House administration to abandon the old Trump policies in the Middle East and “Look towards Palestine.”

According to comments published in recent days by various media outlets, with the arrival of Biden in the White House, one can really expect a significant adjustment to the previous US Middle Eastern policy. In particular, it is believed that Joe Biden will return to the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) Agreement on Iran’s nuclear program, while changing some of the terms of the treaty.

In addition to countering Iran, the next US president will certainly face the need to resolve a number of other crises in the Middle East. As The Jerusalem Post believes, this is first of all, the growing extremism of Turkey, the settlement of the Palestinian problem, the issues in Libya and the Eastern Mediterranean, as well as the great catastrophe in the Sahel and the potential destabilization of Iraq.

According to former US Ambassador to Israel Daniel B. Shapiro, Biden’s undisputed foreign policy initiative related to the Middle East will be the question of creating a Palestinian state. Also, the new head of the White House may cancel the “deal of the century” – the Trump administrations deal to settle the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, which was indignantly rejected by the Palestinian authorities and a number of Muslim countries.

A possible adjustment of Trump’s Middle East policy by Biden is already, belligerently expected in Tel Aviv. On November 5, 2020, Israeli Settlement Minister Tsakhi has already voiced threats that the Israeli elite is ready to start a war with the Islamic Republic in response to Washington’s return to the “nuclear pact.”

In Riyadh, Biden’s arrival at the White House is expected with heightened vigilance.

As we are reminded from the November 8, edition of “Al-Arabia”, Biden promised to reconsider relations with Saudi Arabia in connection with the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Hence, even a number of Saudi experts do not exclude that Biden “poses a threat to the crown prince, since he will order the CIA to reveal all the details of the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and also force the prince to lift the blockade from Qatar, stop arming Riyadh with weapons and ammunition for the war in Yemen and compel him to release the detained activists and members of the royal family.” There is even a belief regarding the possible removal of bin Salman from his posts, in connection with which there are unequivocal hints that in this situation the crown prince has only one “weapon to withstand these dangers – rapprochement with Israel.”

Developing on this idea,   the head of the ‘Mossad’, Yossi Cohen, bluntly stated that “normalization of relations with Israel will be a gift from Riyadh to the new US president – regardless of whether Donald Trump or Joe Biden wins,” and that this decision could soften ‘Biden the Democrat’s’ stance on the KSA (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia).

Be that as it may (and obviously not without taking into account these points) on the evening of November 8, King Salman of Saudi Arabia and his heir Prince Muhammad finally congratulated Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on their election victory.

It will also be difficult time for Turkey starting when the real possibility of a new president of USA comes to power, as they reacted very sharply to the statements of Joe Biden, who, in an interview with The New York Times, spoke negatively about Recep Erdogan, calling him an “autocrat”, criticised his policy towards the Kurds and supported the Turkish opposition.  Although Joe Biden did this interview back in December 2019, the video of him appeared only on August 15. Now Ankara is preparing for the imposition of a number of sanctions against it on several issues at once, in particular, for Operation Peace Spring against the Syrian Kurds, since Biden may recognise them as their main ally in Syria. Ankara also takes into account Biden’s recent calls to increase pressure on the Turkish authorities in order to push them to reduce tensions in relations with Athens: “it is necessary to put pressure on Turkey so that it abandons provocative actions in the region against Greece, as well as threats to use force.”

They also recall how recently Joe Biden demanded that Donald Trump put pressure on Turkey to abandon the decision on the Hagia Sophia issue, saying that Ankara “should open this temple to all confessions.”

Hence how the recent resignation of both the head of the Central Bank   Murat Uysal, and the Minister of Finance and Treasury of Turkey Berat Albayrak (who was Erdogan’s son-in-law) gave rise to active discussions of the processes that have begun in the highest echelons of power against the background of the expected change of the US presidential administration.  After all, the previous head of the Central Bank worked at Halkbank, the investigation around which may enter an active phase under the new administration, and Albayrak may be connected with the “Halkbank case”. Recall that in January 2018, a court in New York found Halkbank Deputy Chairman Hakan Atilla guilty of the fact that he and the bank itself provided intermediary services in the transfer of funds received by the Iranian leadership from the sale of oil and gas.

The Middle East has always been an issue for US presidents, many administrations come to power wanting to “do something” about the region, but the problems and conflicts are not diminishing. Therefore, today many are asking the question: will Biden become the president who is really ready to make this region better and not just another inhabitant of the Oval Office?

Vladimir Odintsov, political observer, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook“.

Constantinople & the world – the real story

Constantinople & the world – the real story

October 16, 2020

by Giorgi Nektarios Selimos for the Saker Blog

Please read my words & think about what has happened.
Normal people are not to blame here it is the sin of Greed & Lust for money & power that is responsible. If you truly believe in Christ nothing is lost. But after you read this you must decide what to do as you will know the Truth & God will not hold you blameless.

The Throne of the Pope is an interesting case as there is no evidence in the Bible or any Historical religious texts there was ever 1 single Bishop that should or did preside over all other churches in Christianity.
The Word Pope in the context as the Universal leader is never mentioned by any of the Apostles in the Bible or any Bishops from the 5 churches of the Apostles during the Time of Christ on the Earth.

The 1st Bishop of the church in Rome was Pius 1 (142-155) & he never mentioned the Word Pope or ever referred to being the Universal leader of Christians during his service to the Lord & the people of Rome.

For the 1st 1000 years after Christ the Church was essentially one body that had 5 Historical Patriarchal Centres in Strategic locations as advised to by Christ himself & the Mutual agreement of all of the 12 apostles.
As seen in the Bible the Apostles worked as a team with their churches & consulted each other on troubling issues from time to time & were always in full communion with each other.

This is not to say that there was no differences as is clearly exhibited in the Bible when Apostle Paul argues with Peter for not wanting to except ALL people into the Church as Christians. Paul argued with Peter that Jewish laws & customs should NOT be applied to non Jews in order for them to be accepted in the Church. Peter thought that EVERYONE HAD to follow Jewish Laws & customs to be accepted by Christ.

In the end the Apostles agreed with Paul & Peter accepted the decision & so Christianity was able to be spread to the whole world. This documented event in the Bible clearly shows that NO ONE Apostle was the Supreme leader, and that all Apostles worked together in their faith to spread the Words of Christ.

From the Original Christian churches in Jerusalem, Antioch(Syria), Rome(Italy), Alexandria(Egypt), & Constantinople(Greece) the Apostles Spread the word of God. But were persecuted & tortured & murdered by Romans & non Believers .

In 306 Constantine the Roman Emperor had fought his way to power in Rome & had managed to become Emperor for all the Roman Empire. Early on his reign Constantine was a beneficiary of a miracle of Christ
( Battle of the Milvian Bridge) & became a firm believer in Christ & Christ’s teachings & ended the persecution of all Christians.

In Honour of his new found faith in Christ, Constantine decided to built a new Capital for the Roman Empire in the Eastern predominately Christian Greek area of the Roman Empire. He would name this new spectacular city Constantinople & build the Worlds Grandest Church there ” The Church of the Apostles” or “Ayia Sophia’ it was laden with Gold, Marble, jewels, & the finest materials in all mankind it was spectacular in appearance & magnificent in stature. The Russian Royal Delegation would later describe it to Prince Vladimir of Russia as: “When we entered this place of worship we did not know if we were in Heaven or on Earth”

Emperor Constantine would seek to Unite his empire in Christian faith under this Orthodox Church.
In fact Constantine was incredibly successful & Christianity flourished under his rule.
In 325 Constantine established the Council of Nicea , where all Religious matters of the 5 original Apostolic Churches were to be worked out together . Emperor Constantine set up a system where all the Bishops of each church would work together under the Orthodox Church & have full communion with each other.

It was a good democratic system where no one Bishop or Politician could rule alone & where the Emperor would still retain authority of the whole Roman Empire.

Constantine wisely understood that in order for the Roman Empire to remain Strong he needed to keep the Church strong unlike politics this was the one way he could unite the citizens of the Empire in a good manner. To be certain, differences did occur in some religious matters from time to time but ultimately were resolved or not allowed to interfere with the continuation of the Church. Such was a dispute with the Nicene creed, the Roman church Bishop had disagreed with the Orthodox church Bishops of the East on this. The Roman Bishop refused to agree with any of the other Bishops on this issue. So they just defered the matter & nothing was officially changed until the Great Schism of the Roman church.

During his reign, Emperor Constantine built St Peters Basilica in Rome directly over the Apostle Peter’s Tomb. This was done so as to greatly honour the Apostle Peter who had spent much of his time Preaching in Rome .
It took 30 years to build starting in 326. It was a grand Church but not close in stature to the Headquarters Church Constantine had built in the Eastern part of the empire in his new capital of Constantinople.

After Emperor Constantine’s death his successor’s would succumb to political pressure from the Rich & Old Guard Romans who wanted to shift government power back to Rome.
The Political Elite had seen how Constantine had managed to gain peace, great power & riches through the Unification of the empire under one church & most certainly were thinking of a way that they too could emulate his success. But they did not want to operate from this new Roman Empire Capital of Constantinople.

They were desperate to find a way to make Rome the power centre once again. The Great Orthodox Church that Constantine had built & united his empire in Christianity with, was caught in the middle of this political struggle with Western Roman elites & a lot of power & money was at stake. Not to mention many Roman politicians still found it difficult not worshipping the Old Roman Idols from previous Emperors & retaining the mentality of worshiping any Idol they believed would make them rich & powerful.
They were not too concerned about true salvation, much like many of today’s politicians who clearly pretend to be whatever they need to be in order to get elected. They were more interested in Power & money & sex. At the same time the Church in Rome also got caught up in this political power struggle.

Between religious disagreement with the four original eastern orthodox churches & the political pressure to undo Constantinople as the Roman capital, The Roman Church & Bishops were greatly effected & started to break away from the other 4 remaining Patriarchs of the Original church.

During this time the Roman Church bishops suddenly & mysteriously produced
“The Donation of Constantine Decree” a brilliantly forged Imperial Decree in which the now dead Emperor Constantine transfers authority over Rome & all the Western part of the Empire to the Pope .

In this fake decree Constantine purportedly agreed his throne would only retain Imperial Authority in the Eastern part of the Roman empire & rule only from his new imperial capital of Constantinople & was also agreed the Pope of the Roman Church could have control of the rest of the Empire.
The Forged Imperial Decree claimed it was a gift to Pope Sylvester 1 for teaching Emperor Constantine about Christianity , baptizing him, & curing him of Leprosy.
This Forged Decree continued to be of great use to the Roman Church & was used by successive Popes to solidify power acquire more territory & gain more converts.
This document was also used in the Roman Empire as a Propaganda tool for the Roman Church to claim Universal Supremacy over the remaining 4 unified apostolic orthodox churches.

The 1st Pope who had the audacity to use this Forged document in an official act against all the other churches was Pope Leo IX who in an officially recorded letter to the Patriarch of Constantinople in 1054 declared to the remaining 4 Churches of the Apostles that Indeed it was the Roman Church who clearly had Universal Supremacy over all Christians as was the proof under the seal of the Emperor Constantine as well as under a loosely translated reference (Matthew:16:18 ) made in the Bible. The Roman Church then demanded that everyone bow down to them & except this for fact.

When the Orthodox Patriarchs refused, the Roman Pope split away & officially created the Roman Catholic Church independent of the Orthodox churches, thus creating new religious decrees such as celibacy for clergy, no divorce, & the new revelation that the Pope was the infallible Vicar of Christ as well as numerous other new rules that were never part of the original church.

This was the year 1054 & the Roman Church had now officially split with the remaining 4 Original Apostolic Orthodox churches.
It was to be known as the great Schism.
The Roman Church was now officially alone & the 1st church in History of Christianity to split from the remaining Apostolic Orthodox churches.

It was now the 4 Original Orthodox Patriarchal Churches remaining as one, just as they still remain almost 1,000 years later today. The 4 remaining church’s managed to come to an agreement together & agreed not to bow down to the self proclaimed Universal Supremacy of the Roman Pope & all his new rules. It was only due to Christ’s miraculous enlightenment that the Orthodox Bishops did not believe the lies of the Pope & his forged decree.
The Original Apostolic Churches were not lost.

Eventually Pope Pius in 1453 admitted that the decree was a forgery & just as it had suddenly appeared, it was suddenly never seen again & nor ever mentioned or used again by the Roman Church & Pope.
By this time though the Muslim Armies of the East had gained horrific strength & were ravaging the Eastern Parts of the Roman Empire. This area was precisely where the majority of Christians still lived & was the heart of the remaining Apostolic Orthodox Churches.

In 1421 the Officials in Constantinople sent word to the Rome that they needed more help from the Roman Soldiers stationed in the West as the Muslims were barbarically slaughtering people & forcing them to refute Christianity & convert to Islam under the sharp blades of Muslim swords.
Constantinople was clearly still part of the Roman Empire but over the years had developed strained relations with the Roman Government & the Roman Church. The Orthodox Church in Constantinople had become a sore spot for many Roman political & Church leaders. The request for military assistance reached Rome but It was decided by the Roman Government & Pope not to send help to the East & let the current army reserves there try & fend for themselves.

The Emperor & the Pope sensing political opportunity to be finally rid of Constantinople & have Rome return to its rightful position of glory decided to fortify the Western empire & protect it at all costs , the Muslims were never able to get through to Rome & the Popes Roman Church was unscathed.

In Constantinople & the Eastern part of the Empire this resulted in the Unholy Slaughter & Barbaric killings of Bishops, Priests & Christian men of all ages, Women were raped & brutally murdered, children taken into slavery & Christian Churches destroyed or turned into Muslim Mosques including the Grand Church Constantine had built “the Ayia Sophia” which now has once again has been converted from museum to a mosque in 2020 .

The previous Pope John Paul was the 1st & only Pope to acknowledge this great sin against humanity & ask forgiveness from the Orthodox believers in Christ for what the Roman Church did to their ancestors.

This Mass slaughter of the Eastern Roman Empire had now resulted in the Roman Church being the only functioning church left in the Empire. With the Muslims effectively killing all Orthodox Bishops & priests & not allowing any remaining survivors freedom of religion the Roman Catholic church was poised to become the #1 Church in the world.

From this point on the Roman Catholic church did not look back & eventually embarked on the infamous Catholic Crusades & Witch Burnings. The Pope was finally free to spread the Roman brand of religion to the world unopposed.
Catholicism became the #1 Church & religion in the World & The Pope’s Dream of undisputed power in all matters was now realized, all thanks to the mass slaughter of the Orthodox Christians by the Muslims.

It was the Russians & Ukrainians during this bleak time for the Orthodox church that were able to keep the 4 Original Apostolic Churches memory & Traditions alive & in fact rebuild many exact replicas of these great churches in their countries including the Ayia Sophia which was rebuilt in Kiev, Ukraine & still stands to this day as an Orthodox church.

The Muslims were never successful in Conquering Russia & the Orthodox Church flourished in Russia. Attaining still to this day the highest number of churches per capita in the world. Even during the times of communism this fact did not change.
That is how strong the Orthodox faith was & is today. The Orthodox Church of Constantinople where Constantine had ended Christian persecutions & started the flourishing of the Christianity movement was gone…..

But the faith remained.

The Roman Church had now decided it was time to make St Peters Basilica the New centre of Christianity. Pope Julius II embarked on a grand reconstruction plan. Pope Julius II began by destroying Constantine’s original Church of St Peter & rebuilding one on top of the original Vatican grave yard .
Pope Julius also had All the original Orthodox Crosses from St Peter’s Church removed & replaced with new Latin crosses. The Pope then gloriously installed the famous Heliopolis Obelisk courtesy of the evil & debaucherous Roman Emperor Caligula.

This became a Grand church and was thereafter widely publicized as the Greatest Church on earth & the new centre of Christianity.
Later on in the mid 1930’s the Dictator & Ally of Adolf Hitler, Mussolini would add a Grand Monumental Avenue leading to the Piazza. Only the Pope is allowed to celebrate Catholic Mass on this Alter & no one else.

I want to make it absolutely clear that the Roman Catholic believers are not at fault for this lust for power & money in the history of the Roman Catholic Church. Most Catholic believers don’t know any of this.

The Roman Catholic worshipers clearly believe in Christ, but unfortunately have been deceived by there church leaders & Roman politicians over the centuries. All in a lustful quest for power & money.
I believe that it is possible some Popes wanted to stop, but the deceit had gone too far & rather than expose it & risk dangerous consequences they probably asked Christ for forgiveness & just carried on the lies.

Other Popes mysteriously died or were removed .
I truly do admire the previous Pope John Paul for his courage to acknowledge the great Schism & ask for forgiveness. I think he was a good man & the only Pope who came close to reconciling with the Original Church. But Tragically by the time he had gotten to this point he died.

I am worried that many Catholics are starting to lose their faith in Christ because of all the repeated sexual scandals & of their clergy & the court ordered payouts forcing many churches into bankruptcy as well as many of the negative movies being made about their church.
The Catholic believers must understand that this has nothing to do with Christ & it is all the doings of their Leaders.
I want them to know that they were once part of the Orthodox Church & they should consider coming back rather than giving up.

Syrian city lays foundation for replica of Hagia Sophia cathedral

By News Desk -2020-09-06

BEIRUT, LEBANON (1:45 P.M.) – The city of Al-Sqaylabiyeh in western Hama witnessed the foundation of the stone laying ceremony for the symbolic Hagia Sophia Church, which will be a replica of the mother cathedral of Hagia Sophia in Turkey.

The ceremony was held the presence of Syrian and Russian officials, in addition to religious figures from the people of the region.

It was written on the foundation stone of the symbolic church:

During the reign of President Bashar Hafez Al-Assad, President of the Syrian Arab Republic, the blessing of the Bishop of Hama and its subordinates Nikolaos Ba’albaki and the blessing of the Russian Federation represented by the commander of the Russian forces operating in the Syrian Arab Republic, General Alexander Yuryevich Chaiko, laying the foundation stone of the Hagia Sophia Church, introduction From Nabel Shafiq Al-Abdullah, on the authority of the martyrs of Sqaylabiyeh, Syria, and its allies, and a tribute to the Great Hagia Sophia.

This step was supported and blessed by the Orthodox Christian religious leaders in both Syria and Russia, and they considered it a step of solidarity with the mother Church of Hagia Sophia, and an assurance that the Turkish President will not be able to obliterate the features of this global impact on the list of UNESCO, which played a central role in Christian history over the course of 1500 years old.

Last July, in a move that sparked international religious and political criticism, the Supreme Administrative Court in Turkey annulled the government decree issued by the modern Turkish state in 1934 to convert Hagia Sophia from a mosque to a museum, based on what was described by historical documents confirming the purchase by Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror of the Hagia Sophia building before it was converted into a mosque.

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Turkey to convert another historical church into mosque

By News Desk -2020-08-22

Chora church Istanbul 1, August 12, 2019 Image donated to Wikimedia UK by Mark Lowen, former BBC correspondent in Turkey.

BEIRUT, LEBANON (8:45 A.M.) – On Friday, the Turkish Religious Affairs Administration confirmed that the Chora Monastery in Istanbul will be converted into a mosque for prayer.

A representative of the administration told Russia’s Sputnik, “this building, which was stationed in it until 2019, a museum and its affiliated institutions, will be handed over, according to a presidential decree, to the Department of Religious Affairs of our circuit.”

It is noteworthy to mention that the Chora Monastery is a Byzantine church in Istanbul, which was converted 74 years ago into a museum, and it is one of the oldest surviving Byzantine monuments that have witnessed several eras. It is located in the western part of Fatih municipality.

The church was converted into a mosque for a period of 434 years before it was converted (the mosque) in 1945 into a museum. In 2019, the Supreme Administrative Court – the State Council, in Turkey, decided to convert the museum into a mosque.

The presidential decree came in July of this year to support this trend. The museum (mosque) contains many paintings and mosaics, and its building is divided into three main sections: the entrance hall or nave, the main body of the church, and a side chapel, and the building has six domes.

In a related context, the Supreme Administrative Court in Turkey had annulled, on July 10, the decision of the Council of Ministers issued on November 24, 1934 to convert the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul from a mosque to a museum.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that he had signed a decree to convert the Hagia Sophia museum into a mosque.

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Paying it forward – Erdogan style

Paying it forward – Erdogan style

July 20, 2020

by Ghassan and Intibah Kadi for the Saker Blog

With all eyes globally poised at COVID-19 and the impending economic meltdown, Black-Lives-Matter activism, and the protests in the USA and some Western countries, little attention is given to the rise of a potentially more formidable religious fundamentalism base for ISIS-style and orientation than ISIS itself; and indications are pointing to this happening right now, in today’s Turkey.

Al-Qaeda and ISIS are/were rogue organizations with relatively little resources, little prowess, and no international standing to offer them a safe haven under which to hide and protect themselves from the wrath of the world, so to speak.

But this was not the case for the Saudis over the last few decades. Saudi Arabia is an internationally recognized political entity, a member of the United Nations, a G-20 member with enormous wealth and a commodity that the world needs; oil. Saudi Arabia used its dollar power to spread the fundamentalist Wahhabi version of Islam based on the interpretations and teachings of Ibn Taymiyyah.

The Saudis spent billions of dollars, tens and even perhaps hundreds of billions building religious schools and mosques throughout the entire globe. They sponsored, fostered and abetted preachers, including highly controversial violent radical preachers in order to promote their version of Islam. They financed and equipped most fundamentalist terror groups, all the way initially from the Afghani Mujahideen, the Somali Al-Shabab, to the Nigerian Boku Haram; just to name a few. Their program commenced in the late 1960’s, during the reign of Saudi King Faisal who initially wanted to eradicate the growing doctrine of Marxism in the Muslim World.

And when the Saudis believed they had it made, when they felt the road was paved and all obstacles removed, they launched the multi-billion dollar attack on Syria.

By then, fundamentalist Sunni Muslim youth across the globe were banking on Saudi leadership and had put all of their faith and hope in them to lead the Muslim World towards a new era in which Wahhabi Islam was expected to make a series of gains on the global arena; with a covert intention to gain world control.

As the Saudis were beginning to fail in fulfilling their promise, ISIS made its mark in the minds of Muslim youth when world media aired videos of ISIS tanks in the streets and main squares of Mosul; Iraq’s second largest city. Just before and after the fall of Mosul, the advance of ISIS looked unstoppable; reminiscent of the bygone days of Muslim conquest and glory, as perceived by many sympathetic Muslim youth.

It was not a surprise therefore, that when ISIS leader/Caliph Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi called for a Jihad in 2013, he not only rounded up the fundamentalist Sunni sector already radicalized, but he also managed to charm other previously moderate Sunnis who were amazed at his achievements.

It must be remembered here that in as far as Muslim religious battles and conquests are concerned, perhaps the last such great conquest of them all in the Western hemisphere, was the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople in 1453. But this conquest of Ottoman Sultan Mehmet II was the result of a huge effort, strategic planning, determination, patience, perseverance and the ability to employ the best in the world in terms of weapon development and specifically cannon manufacturing.

With the Saudi failure in Syria and its utter inability to score any victory in Yemen against all odds that favoured its highly privileged position, Saudi Arabia began to lose its stature as the leading nation of Muslim fundamentalism.

Enter Erdogan.

As I have written many times before, Erdogan is a combination of a religious fundamentalist zealot and a Turkish nationalist. He also has his own egocentric agendas, aspiring to be a mega Muslim leader and an empire builder.

In his quest for leadership, he has taken the role of an opportunist, a blackmailer and a scavenger, among other things.

As an opportunist, he rode on the anti-Syria bandwagon and walked the Qatari-Saudi talk. They flooded him with money and promises. He opened his borders with Syria to the terrorists they funded.

Later on, he used the Syrian refugees in Turkey to blackmail the EU with, opening the floodgate of refugees at will and demanding financial bribes, mainly from Germany, to close the gates after receiving his ransom price, courtesy of the lack of wisdom and short-sightedness of Angela Merkel.

As a scavenger, he is capitalizing on what the Saudis have invested in, to his own benefit.

Erdogan promised his supporters back in 2011 to pray in the Omayyad Mosque in Damascus after defeating Syrian President Assad, but he failed. He promised Turkish people to have ‘zero problems’ internally and externally. He failed. He expected to force Russia into accepting his terms prior to the 15th of March 2020 meeting, and he also failed. He was hoping to score a swift victory in Libya, and he is clearly failing.

What he fails to recognize is that he already is biting off more than he can chew, yet he is preparing to bunker down in Azerbajian.

The man is desperate for a win. There is no better score he can mark on the board than the equivalent of Sultan Mehmet II’s conquest of Constantinople; albeit take two.

The big difference here is that prior to the fall of Constantinople, it was the capital of the Byzantine Empire and its fall was the result of a military defeat at the hands of the Ottomans. Oddly enough however, the Erdogan propaganda machine is portraying the change of status of Hagia Sophia from a museum to a mosque as a great achievement. His supporters are chanting slogans claiming that turning Hagia Sophia into a mosque is tantamount to a conquest that was predicted in the Hadith.

Something must be amiss here. It is either that those supporters do not know that Constantinople/Istanbul had already been under Muslim/Turkish rule for more than five centuries, it is either that they don’t understand what conquest means, or that they are simply trying to festoon Erdogan with someone else’s achievements.

The real reason is more sinister. Erdogan has not been able to score any decisive military victory in all of his gambles, hence he decided to capitalize on the work of his ancestors. Ottoman Sultan Mehmet II took Constantinople after a long journey of strategic planning, but Erdogan thinks he can exhume the remains of vestiges of bygone glory and cloak himself with remnants of slogans of historic milestones and call them his own, thereby reclaiming an icon already under his control, and then audaciously call himself an all-time victor. Instead of having to go to battle to prove his worth, he chose the convenience of the stroke of a pen, and voila, he transformed himself to an instant great Muslim Fatih/conqueror. This is historic plagiarism at its worst.

In essence, in claiming such a great victory over Hagia Sophia, Erdogan has ‘photoshopped’ a triumph based on a fabricated virtual reality that is aimed to win him more support from the fundamentalist Sunni Muslim street; one that is least driven by rationality.

In all of this, Erdogan has not only benefited from the ground work of the Wahhabi Saudis he is fundamentally opposed to as being a Muslim Brotherhood man, but with his understanding of how to manipulate the vulnerable minds of Muslim youth, all the monies the Saudis have spent have inadvertently turned into a pay-it-forward scheme that he hopes will elevate him to the top of the Muslim World hierarchy.

Thus far, manipulating those vulnerable minds both domestically and within the broader Muslim World has been the only area in which Erdogan has been successful.

That said, the difference in international clout between Al-Qaeda/ISIS and the Erdogan leadership is much larger than that of such organizations and the untouchable Saudi Arabia. Turkey is not only a state, a member of the UN, a member of the G-20, but it is also a NATO member with a huge army.

But unlike the Saudis who do not have any history of strategic planning, technological prowess and entrepreneurial achievements other than paying foreigners to build them palaces, Turkey can play a more pernicious role, after all, it is a nation that has had a long history of empire building; and if and when Turkey decides to rise in a fundamentalist way, the world must take notice.

Under the protection of the above, and knowing that the West will not deal with any part of Turkey like it did with Tora Bora, Erdogan feels at liberty to incrementally convert the public school system into a fundamentalist one, but according to an Erdogan propaganda video, with its Arabic captions designed to recruit support from the Arab Sunni world, he indicates he is building the army of the future for the ‘Ummah’ by radicalizing the youth via the re-vamped schools. The Youtube has been removed, but here’s a screenshot of it.

In an article published nearly two years ago in the NYT, Erdogan’s plan of changing over the education system into a religious one is well presented. Public schools are systemically replaced by the religious Imam Hatip schools, of which Erdogan himself is a graduate. Whilst those schools teach regular subjects, around 50% of which are religious, and a student must pass those subjects before he/she can graduate. With this approach in fact, Erdogan could be leading Turkey into not only becoming a theological state, but also a nation that does not have enough technocrats and STEM graduates at a time when he is trying to build an empire and an advanced army. What is also of note is that affluent secular Turkish parents will send their children to private, non-religious schools, and the new generation of doctors, engineers and teachers will be mainly comprised of them.

In a propaganda video, a noisy and loud Erdogan supporter makes a statement saying that whoever stood up for the victory of Hagia Sophia will do the same for the mosques of Jerusalem, Cordoba (in Spain), Yemen, Mecca and Medina.

The main danger of Erdogan, globally speaking, is that he understands both of the fundamentalist Muslim as well as the liberal Western minds, but the West does not have this full understanding; no doubt to its own peril. Until he is either stopped, or falls on his own sword, he will continue to see the world as open slather for his fundamentalist and expansive adventures, because his mind is set in stone in the age of conquests and religious glory.

Links: Erdogan’s Plan to Raise a ‘Pious Generation’ Divides Parents in Turkey

The Pendulum Swings Again: the Desecration of Hagia Sophia

Source

The Pendulum Swings Again: the Desecration of Hagia Sophia ...

Stephen Karganovic

July 18, 2020

The Turkish President should have consulted the prophecies of St. Paisius of the Holy Mountain rather than whatever kitaps he was reading before embarking on his risky provocation. In plain Greek, several decades ago St. Paisius was educating Turkish leaders about the sequence of events that the reconversion of Hagia Sophia would set in motion: “When the cathedral of Hagia Sophia is turned into a mosque, Turkey will disintegrate”. He also added reassuringly, for the benefit of his audience, that “I will not see that happen, but you will.” The saint left us for better pastures in 1994. As a footnote to his vision, he also noted that in the ensuing turmoil Constantinople would remain under Russian control for some time before again being returned to Greece. When and if that happens, it does not exactly sound from the tenor of his prophesy that it will revert to just being a museum.

If Mr Erdogan was so keen on tinkering with the status of this major Orthodox holy place, instead of pursuing short-sighted electoral advantage in a state presumably without a future, he should have done better had he chosen – as Americans are fond of saying –to be on the right side of history. He could have done that simply by returning the temple to the religious community which erected it and to which it rightfully belongs.

But, of course, it would be fatuous to expect from a mere politician with declining ratings a gesture of such dazzling magnanimity.

Hagia Sophia was built and consecrated as an Orthodox place of worship in the 6th century by the Eastern Roman Emperor Justinian I. It is a structure of great architectural beauty and even greater symbolic value for world Orthodoxy, as its prime cathedral. Upon the conquest of Constantinople and demise of the Byzantine empire in 1453, it was turned into a mosque by the commander of the conquering army, sultan Mehmed II, and functioned in that capacity until 1934, when the reformist President of the Turkish Republic, Kemal Ataturk, made it a museum. The magnificent structure is under the protection of UNESCO (for whatever that is worth) and is the most visited historical site in Turkey.

What is the significance of the second forced reconversion of the Orthodox cathedral of Hagia Sophia into a mosque? It has to do entirely with internal Turkish politics. It is part of a larger design of the current rulers to reconfigure Turkey back from a secular republic to a resurgent neo-Ottoman state, reinforced with a strong religious identity. Given that the local economy is in poor shape and that the government’s foreign policy initiatives have been generally unsuccessful across the board, descending to religious demagoguery is a more or less natural and predictable recourse. For Orthodox Christians and, hopefully, civilized people of all backgrounds this crude reassertion of the right of conquest, targeting not material goods suitable for pillage, but the spiritual patrimony of one of the great world religious traditions, is nothing short of an act which constitutes the fusion of vandalism and blasphemy.

Of course, it could also be said with some justice, this issue is larger than Erdogan and will outlive him. It is clothed in the garb of a regular court order invalidating Ataturk’s earlier decree, and it was confirmed by a cabinet decision after a meeting lasting all of 17 minutes. As far as provocations go, it could also be argued that in terms of bellicosity it is far less dangerous than shooting down a Russian fighter jet in Syria. Also, as worldly logic might have it, the Hagia Sophia ceased to function as a consecrated church and has not served as consecrated Orthodox Cathedral for more than 550 years. Even before the Ottomans arrived it was ransacked and desecrated during the Western Fourth Crusade, and was then turned into a Roman Catholic cathedral during the Latin occupation of the city. Its history has been long and harsh. A friend of mine has argued that “frankly at least as a mosque it will serve as place of worship and fulfil a spiritual and religious function and not be a tourist attraction, which is a greater desecration, literally speaking.”

“Buildings are buildings,” he has asserted, “they are monuments to faith but no substitute for living faith or a living church which is the Body of Christ. [In the large sense, he does have a point there.] This will only happen when Hagia Sophia is reconsecrated, Orthodox Liturgy is held, the sacred mysteries enacted, and of course when the Eucharist is served once again.”

All these, arguably, are good points. But they miss the emotions this symbolically charged act (going to its core, beyond short-term and short-sighted electoral consideration) evokes among the Balkan Orthodox who still have vivid collective memories of Ottomanism (never mind its neo- variety that is being reinvented today). Nor do they fully take into account the emotions of the Russian Orthodox believers whose faith goes back, in a direct historical line, to that very spot in Constantinople where Vladimir’s bedazzled emissaries, while observing the religious services and magnificent decorations, wondered whether they were on earth or in heaven.

So besides the purely practical and realpolitik aspects to this, there is also a much deeper dimension that challenges Orthodoxy to its core. Its chief representative in Constantinople, the “Ecumenical Patriarch” with a plethora of impressive titles but hardly any flock, a man who few would be so naïve as to regard as a designated vessel of the Holy Spirit, but who certainly is an agent and close collaborator of Western intelligence services to whom he owes his precarious position in an increasingly hostile environment, has been resoundingly silent. Shockingly, Patriarch Bartholomew has been hiding in his Fanar rabbit hole while controversy over what should be his main cathedral has been raging all around him. He is more concerned, one imagines, about avoiding a potential indictment for involvement in the Turkish coup attempt several years ago than in reclaiming the jewel of his ecclesiastical heritage or at least protesting for the record its renewed desecration. The setting up of a false and heretical “church” in the Ukraine under his patronage was apparently a matter he thought more pressing and deserving of his public attention that an outrage to his communion being perpetrated literally in his back yard.

رسائل «الفتح الثاني»: آيا صوفيا بوابة إردوغان إلى «العالميّة»

رسائل «الفتح الثاني»: آيا صوفيا بوابة إردوغان إلى «العالميّة»
ما يحاوله إردوغان هو الانتقاص من هالة مصطفى كمال أتاتورك شخصيّاً (أ ف ب )

الأخبار

محمد نور الدين 

الإثنين 13 تموز 2020

لا تشبه «لحظة آيا صوفيا» أي حادثة أخرى في تاريخ سلطة حزب «العدالة والتنمية». كانت لحظة تحمل ذهنية قومية – دينية بامتياز، اختزلها إردوغان، بخطبته العثمانية، مساء السبت. وإذا كانت عمليات «صغيرة»، مثل «درع الفرات» أو عفرين أو «نبع السلام» أو إدلب، أو حتى ليبيا، بابَ إردوغان إلى العرب، فإن آيا صوفيا كانت بوابته إلى العالمبالتأكيد، كان الرئيس التركي رجب طيب إردوغان يعرف مسبقاً بقرار مجلس الشورى. فكل الأعضاء يدورون في فلك حزب «العدالة والتنمية»، لذا جاء القرار بالإجماع. وبناءً على ذلك، أصدر إردوغان فوراً مرسوم تحويل متحف آيا صوفيا إلى جامع. وبعد ساعات قليلة، كان يوجّه «خطبة الفتح الثانية للقسطنطينية» للأتراك والعالمين المسيحي والمسلم. خطبة ما كانت لتُستولد كما جاءت عليه لولا أيام وأسابيع من الغوص في التاريخ جهد خلالها كاتبوها لإقناع الجمهور بـ«الشرعية» التاريخية والفقهية لقرار اعتبار آيا صوفيا مسجداً.

بخطوة إلغاء وضع آيا صوفيا متحفاً وتحويله إلى جامع، يتحدى إردوغان الجميع.

على الصعيد الداخلي:

1-

هي خطوة ضمن مسار بدأ مع إردوغان من أجل تعزيز الطابع الديني للدولة والمجتمع، والذي كان التعليم أحد مجالاته الأساسية. وهو مسار متدرج لن يتأخر كثيراً في الإعلان عن بلوغه خط النهاية في وقت ليس ببعيد. وقد طفق الكتّاب المتدينون يقومون بحملة واسعة دفاعاً عن الخطوة، معتبرين القرار كسراً للأغلال التي كبّلوا بها تركيا منذ مئة عام، فيما أوعزت رئاسة الشؤون الدينية إلى كل الجوامع في تركيا لإقامة صلاة الشكر على استعادة جامع آيا صوفيا. كذلك تجرى الاستعدادات لتغيير معالم آيا صوفيا من الداخل وطمس الأيقونات والرسوم وغير ذلك من رموز دينية مسيحية (عبر تكنولوجيا ضوئية) ليكون المكان ذا مظهر ديني إسلامي صرف.

2-

هي ضربة أخرى لمسار العلمنة الذي أرساه مصطفى كمال أتاتورك. وكل خطوة تضيف إلى خطة التديين هي خطوة تنقص تلقائياً من العلمانية. وما يحاوله إردوغان خصوصاً هو الانتقاص من هالة مصطفى كمال أتاتورك شخصياً و«شيطنته» في مختلف المجالات باعتباره رمزاً للعلمنة في تركيا كما في العالم الإسلامي. وقد انتقد عدد كبير من المؤرخين والحقوقيين قرار مجلس الشورى. ورأى المؤرخ حقي أويار أن القرار هو ضربة لـ«القيم المؤسّسة للجمهورية»، ولا يحل مشكلة بل يفاقم مما هو قائم ولا يخدم سوى التلاعب بمصير البلاد.

هي خطوة ضمن مسار من أجل تعزيز الطابع الديني للدولة والمجتمع


3-

لا تبعد خطوة إعادة آيا صوفيا جامعاً عن حسابات داخلية يتقن إردوغان حبك خيوطها. فإردوغان، وقد أصبح ذلك معروفاً، يعزف على الأوتار القومية والدينية والمذهبية عشية كل استحقاق انتخابي. ومع أن الانتخابات الرئاسية المقبلة ستكون بعد 3 أعوام، إلا أن احتمال إجرائها في وقت أبكر ليس مستبعداً. وكما أضاف إردوغان إلى جعبته «إنجاز ليبيا» (حتى الآن على الأقل) معززاً قاعدته القومية، ها هو يضيف «إنجاز آيا صوفيا» معززاً قاعدته الدينية وممسكاً بورقتين مهمتين.

4-

تقع الخطوة في إطار حرف الأنظار عن المشكلات الاقتصادية التي تواجهها تركيا، ولا سيما بعد أزمة «كورونا». وتقول الكاتبة في صحيفة «جمهورييت» ألتشين بويراز، إن إردوغان تجاهل الأوضاع الصعبة وتراجع النمو وكبت الحريات وازدياد البطالة والجريمة وهرب إلى خطوة مثيرة لإلهاء الناس عن مشكلات البلاد الحقيقية.

بالطبع، هاتان الورقتان وحدهما غير كافيتين لفوز إردوغان بالرئاسة من جديد، فهناك الورقة الاقتصادية الأهم، لكنهما تشكلان إضافة قد تكون مؤثرة على نتائج الانتخابات الرئاسية.


أمّا على الصعيد الخارجي:

1-

منذ تحويل قضية آيا صوفيا إلى جامع، إلى مجلس الشورى، توالت ردود الفعل الخارجية، المسيحية تحديداً. وجاءت المناشدات مجمعة على ضرورة عدم اتخاذ مثل هذه الخطوة التي تزيد من تأجيج الحساسيات الدينية بين تركيا والغرب وبين المسلمين والمسيحيين. وجاءت المناشدات والتحذيرات من الأرثوذكس كما من الكاثوليك. مع ذلك، لم يعر إردوغان أذناً صاغية لكل النداءات. وقد انتقد زعيم حزب «الديموقراطية والتقدم» الخطوة قائلاً إن آيا صوفيا ميراث ثقافي مشترك لكل العالم، معتبراً أن تركيا تمر اليوم في «نفق مظلم».

خرج إردوغان في لحظة انتشائه باللحظة الليبية، الموجهة ليس فقط إلى مصر والخليج بل إلى اليونان وقبرص اليونانية وفرنسا وروسيا، ليضع نفسه لاعباً إقليمياً ودولياً مؤثراً. لكنه، بخطوة تمسّ رمزاً دينياً وحضارياً عالمياً مثل آيا صوفيا، تطلّع إردوغان ليضع نفسه في موقع الزعيم العالمي.

2-

ليست مصادفة أن يحدد إردوغان يوم الجمعة في 24 تموز/ يوليو موعداً لافتتاح الصلاة في «الجامع الجديد». فهو كان سيحدد هذا التاريخ لهذا الموعد سواء كان نهار جمعة أو أحد. ففي هذا التاريخ في عام 1923 وُقّعت معاهدة لوزان بين تركيا والقوى الكبرى، والتي رسمت الحدود الجغرافية والحضارية والاجتماعية لتركيا الجديدة. وقد أراد إردوغان من إعادة آيا صوفيا جامعاً رسالة، إلى القوى الكبرى، بأنّ العد العكسي لإلغاء المعاهدة، التي اعتبرها إردوغان في صيف 2016 هزيمة، بدأ.

Mosques, Museums and Politics: The Fate of Hagia Sophia

When the caustic Evelyn Waugh visited the majestic sixth century creation of Emperor Justinian, one subsequently enlarged, enriched and encrusted by various rulers, he felt underwhelmed. “‘Agia’ will always win the day for one,” he wrote of Istanbul’s holiest of holies, Hagia Sophia, in 1930. “A more recondite snobbism is to say ‘Aya Sofia’, but except in a very sophisticated circle, who will probably not need guidance in the matter at all, this is liable to suspicion as a mere mispronunciation.”

In a somewhat cool reaction, Waugh struggled to reconcile the pop mythology, at that point elevated by celebratory brochure and tourist packages, with the sight of it. “We saw Agia Sophia, a majestic shell full of vile Turkish fripperies, whose whole architectural rectitude has been fatally disturbed by the reorientation of the mihrab.”

Such snobbery could not impeach the historical pedigree of Hagia Sophia. Seat of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, religious edifice of the Byzantine Empire, it became a mosque once Constantinople was successfully captured by the Ottoman forces of Mehmet II in 1453, officially terminating the vestigial remains of the Eastern Roman Empire. This was a function the structure served till 1934, when the secularist ruler Mustafa Kemal Atatürk ordered its conversion to a museum. Doing so served to secularize and neutralise a site of religious jostling.

That said, the 1934 decision could hardly be seen as a mark of pure benevolence. It was a year when Turkification policies were being applied with gusto, best characterised by Settlement Law of 1934 (Law No. 2510). It was an instrument designed to resettle (or not, in some cases) populations within the state into three zones with a focus on concentrating Turkish populations in some areas, while relocating and resettling populations “whose assimilation into Turkish culture is desired.”

That same year, pogroms against Jews in Eastern Thrace also took place to resolve, in the evocatively sinister words of İbrahim Tali, inspector general of Thrace, the “Jewish problem”. The Jews, he argued, had not Turkified themselves with sufficient rigour. They were also economically advantaged while disadvantaging Muslims in lending them money at high rates of interest.

The museum status of the edifice has had its fierce detractors. The poet Necip Fazil Kisakürek described it in 1965 as “a sarcophagus in which Islam is buried.” Under the rule of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Hagia Sophia has been sporadically threatened with a change of status. In 2004, the Turkish Union of Permanent Vakifs of Historical Monuments and Environment issued a plea to the government to change the standing of the building. It was politely ignored. In 2005, the Union petitioned the country’s highest administrative court, the Council of State, to return Hagia Sophia back to its standing as a mosque. Ever persistent, that same body sought relief in the Constitutional Court, an application that was rejected in 2018.

In November 2013, deputy prime minister Bülent Arinç expressed the view that the approach of treating former mosques as museums was due for revision. He did so like a mystic, claiming that the structure was speaking to the Turkish state in mournful longing. “We look at this forlorn Hagia Sophia and pray to Allah that the days when it smiles on us are near.” Despite stirring up a fuss with the secularists and irate voices in Greece at the time, he had reason to be confident, given the abolition of the museum status of the Hagia Sophia in both İznik and Trabzon. In both cases, the General Directorate of Pious Foundations, overseen by Arinç, were active and eventually successful.

The effort to de-museum Hagia Sophia have tended to receive billowing encouragement with undesired remarks in foreign quarters about Turkish policies, past and present. Demagoguery is ever on the permanent hunt for excuses. In 2015, Pope Francis chose April to use a word illegal in Turkish law to describe the treatment by Ottoman forces of Armenians a century prior. The deportations, massacres and rapes constituted, in an address by the Pope at a Mass in the Armenian Catholic rite at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, “the first genocide of the 20th century”. To conceal or deny “evil is like allowing a wound to keep bleeding without bandaging it.”

The remarks had their shaking effect in Ankara. Turkey’s foreign minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu dismissed the statement, “which is far from the legal and historical reality”. It was not for religious authorities “to incite resentment and hatred with baseless allegations.” Domestically, eyes turned to the status of Hagia Sophia. The mufti of Ankara, Mefail Hızlı, saw a change as imminent. “Frankly, I believe that the pope’s remarks will only accelerate the process for Hagia Sophia to be reopened for [Muslim] worship.” That same month, the first recitation of the Quran for 85 years was made by Ali Tel, imam of the Ahmet Hamdi Akseki Mosque in Ankara.

The wheels were in motion and reached a terminus with the conclusion by the Council of State that “the settlement deed allocated it as a mosque and its use outside this character is not possible legally.” The 1934 decision ending the building’s “use as a mosque and defined it as museum did not comply with laws.” A delighted Erdoğan rushed off the decree to the state’s religious affairs directorate enabling the reopening of the structure as a mosque. The decree was celebrated by AK members in parliament.

As with many sites of religious contestation, conquest comes with grievance and hot tears of indignation. The Russian Orthodox Church, through spokesman Vladimir Legoida, expressed the view that “millions of Christians had not been heard.” The “need for extreme delicacy in this matter were ignored.” UNESCO’s World Health Committee is planning to review the status of Hagia Sophia, claiming it “regrettable that the Turkish decision was not the subject of dialog or notification beforehand”.

Erdoğan’s concerns lie elsewhere. He has had little truck with ecumenical politics and practises, battering down the secular divides within his country. His agenda is that of an up-ended Attatürk. As Soner Cagaptay of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy remarks, “Just as Attatürk ‘un-mosqued’ Hagia Sophia 86 years ago, and gave it museum status to underline his secularist revolution, Erdoğan is remaking it a mosque to underline his religious revolution.” The ancient monument of emperors and sultans promises to be a stage of much self-promotion, with the court decision coming in time for prayers to take place on July 15, the date marking the failed coup attempt.

To keep matters interesting, the Turkish president is remaining oblique on what will happen to the tourist trade. (Last year, 3.7 million ventured to the edifice.) Spokesman İbrahim Kalın has told the Turkish news agency Anadolu that, “Opening up Hagia Sophia to worship won’t keep local or foreign tourists from visiting the site.” Capitalism and finance are often near neighbours of holiness and spirituality.


By Binoy Kampmark
Source: Oriental Review

Clash of civilizations, revisited

Clash of civilizations, revisited

July 17, 2020

By Pepe Escobar – republished from Asia Times by permission of author

Late afternoon in May 29, 1453, Sultan Mehmet, the third son of Murad, born of a slave-girl – probably Christian – in the harem, fluent in Turkish, Arabic, Greek, Latin, Persian and Hebrew, followed by his top ministers, his imams and his bodyguard of Janissaries, rides slowly towards the Great Church of St Sophia in Constantinople.

It’s unlikely that Sultan Mehmet would be sparing a thought for Emperor Justinian, the last of quite a breed: a true Roman Emperor in the throne of Byzantium, a speaker of “barbarous” Greek (he was born in Macedonia) but with a Latin mind.

Much like Sultan Mehmet, Justinian was quite the geopolitician. Byzantium trade was geared towards Cathay and the Indies: silk, spices, precious stones. Yet Persia controlled all the caravan routes on the Ancient Silk Road. The sea route was also a problem; all cargo had to depart from the Persian Gulf.

So Justinian had to bypass Persia.

He came up with a two-pronged strategy: a new northern route via Crimea and the Caucasus, and a new southern route via the Red Sea, bypassing the Persian Gulf.

The first was a relative success; the second a mess. But Justinian finally got his break when a bunch of Orthodox monks offered him to bring back from Asia some precious few silkworm eggs. Soon there were factories not only in Constantinople but in Antioch, Tyre and Beirut. The imperial silk industry – a state monopoly, of course – was up and running.

A fantastic mosaic in Ravenna from the year 546 depicts a Justinian much younger than 64, his age at the time. He was a prodigy of energy – and embellished Constantinople non-stop. The apex was the Church of St. Sophia – the largest building in the world for centuries.

So here we have Sultan Mehmet silently proceeding with his slow ride all the way to the central bronze doors of St Sophia.

He dismounts and picks up a handful of dust and in a gesture of humility, sprinkles it over his turban.

Then he enters the Great Church. He walks towards the altar.

A barely perceptible command leads his top imam to escalate the pulpit and proclaim in the name of Allah, the All Merciful and Compassionate, there is no God but God and Muhammad is his Prophet.

The Sultan then touches the ground with his turbaned head – in a silent prayer. St Sophia was now a mosque.

Sultan Mehmet leaves the mosque and crosses the square to the old Palace of the Emperors, in ruins, founded by Constantine The Great 11 and ½ centuries before. He slowly wanders the ancient halls, his fine velvet slippers brushing the dust from the fabulous pebbled floor mosaics.

Then he murmurs two verses of a Persian poet:

“As the spider weaves the curtain over the palace of the Roman Caesars

The owl sings the time of the house of Afrasiab”

The Byzantine empire, founded by Constantine The Great on Monday, May 11, 330, was over on a Tuesday, May 29, 1453.

Sultan Mehmet is now the Lord of Constantinople and the Lord of the Ottoman Empire. He’s only 21 years old.

Back to the Magic Mountain

Last week, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan re-christened Hagia Sophia from a museum back into a mosque. He may have done it because his popularity is waning; his proxy wars are a disaster; his AKP party is shattered; and the economy is bleeding badly.

But what’s striking is that right at the beginning of his official televised speech, Erdogan quoted exactly the same verses by the Persian poet murmured by Sultan Mehmet in that fateful afternoon in 1453.

Erdogan’s latest move – which is part of his perennial master plan to claim leadership of global Islam over the decrepit House of Saud – was widely interpreted in myriad latitudes as yet another instance of clash of civilizations: not only Orthodox Christianity vs. Islam but once again East vs. West.

That reminded me of another East vs. West recent derivation: a revival of the Settembrini vs. Naphta debate in Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain, promoted by a Dutch think tank, the Nexus Institute, which aims to “keep the spirit of European humanism alive”. The debate pitted Aleksander Dugin against Bernard-Henri Levy (widely known in France as BHL). The full transcript of the debate is here.

Dugin is a leading Eurasianist and the conceptualizer of the – largely banned in the West – Fourth Political Theory . As a philosopher and political theorist, Dugin is cartoonishly demonized across the West as “Putin’s brain”, a closet fascist and “the most dangerous philosopher in the world”.

BHL, hailed as “one of the West’s leading intellectuals”, is a vain poseur who emerged as a “nouveau philosophe” in the mid-1970s and ritually regurgitates the usual Atlanticist mantras enveloped in flowery quotes. He managed, among other feats, to write a book about Pakistan without knowing anything whatsoever about Pakistan, as I thrashed it on Asia Times back in 2002.

Here are a few interesting talking points throughout the debate.

Dugin stresses the end of Western hegemony and global liberalism. He asks BHL, directly, how, “interestingly, in your book, you define the American empire or the global liberal system as a system of nihilism, based on nothing.” Dugin does define himself as a nihilist “in the sense that I refuse the universality of modern Western values (…) I just challenge that the only way to interpret democracy is as the rule of minorities against the majority, that the only way to interpret freedom is as individual freedom, and that the only way to interpret human rights is by projecting a modern, Western, individualistic version of what it means to be human on other cultures.”

BHL, which seems not to have read his own, dreary, book – this is something Dugin told me in person last year in Beirut, after the debate – prefers to resort to proverbial, infantile Putin bashing, picked up over and over again, stressing “there is a bad, dark wind of nihilism in its proper sense, which is a Nazi and a fascist sense, which is blowing in the great Russia.”

Later on in the debate, BHL adds, “I really believe that there is a link between, on the one side, your and Huntington’s way of thinking; and, on the other side, the occupation of Crimea, the 30,000 deaths in Ukraine and the war in Syria with its bloodbath, tragic and horrible.”

On racism, Dugin is adamant: he does not defend it. For him, “Racism is an Anglo-Saxon liberal construction based on a hierarchy between peoples. I think this is criminal.” Then he defines “a new Manichean division, a new racism. Those who are in favor of Western values, they are good. Everybody who challenges that, in the Islamic tradition, in the Russian tradition, in the Chinese tradition, in the Indian tradition, everywhere, they are populists, and they are classified as fascism. I think that is a new kind of racism.”

BHL prefers to concentrate on “the civilization of human rights, freedom, individual dignity, and so on. This deserves to be universalized. This should be conceived, except if you are a racist, as profitable for the entire humanity.” And then it’s Anti-Semitism all over again: “All the men who you quoted and from whom you draw your inspiration – Spengler, Heidegger, who is also a great philosopher of course, and others – are contaminated, corrupted, infected by this plague which is antisemitism. And alas – you too.”

In Paris circles, the joke is that the only thing BHL cares about is the promotion of BHL. And everyone who does not agree with one of the “leading Western intellectuals” is Anti-Semitic.

BHL insists he’s interested in building bridges. But it’s Dugin who frames the real heart of the matter: “When we try to build bridges too early, without knowing the structure of the Other – the problem is the Other. The West doesn’t understand the Other as something positive. It is all the same, and we immediately try to find bridges – they are illusions, and not bridges, because we are projecting ourselves. The Other is the same, the ideology of the same. We first need to understand otherness.”

BHL totally ignores Levi-Strauss. It’s Dugin who refers to Levi-Strauss when talking about The Other, describing him as one of his teachers:

“This anthropological pluralism, I agree, is precisely the American and French tradition. But it is not reflected in politics, or it is reflected in a very perverted way. So I think there is a big contradiction between this anthropological thought in American universities and French universities, and a kind of very aggressive colonial neo-imperialist form to promote American interests on the world scale with weapons.”

BHL is left with – what else – Putin demonization: “The real imperialism, the real one who is interfering and sowing disorder and interfering in the affairs of others, alas, is Putin. And I need not speak of America, where it is now proved that there has been a huge, crude, and evident Russian intervention in the electoral process of the last election.” BHL, who does not even qualify as a neophyte in geopolitics, is oblivious to the absolute debunking of Russiagate.

BHL is adamant “there is today a real clash of civilizations. But not the one you mention in your books, between the north and the east and the west and the south and all of that; there is a clash of civilizations all over the planet between those who believe in human rights, in liberty, in the right for a body not to be tortured and martyred, and those who are happy with illiberalism and the revival of authoritarianism and slavery.”

Dugin’s challenge for years has been to try to conceptualize what may come next, after the failure of Marxism, fascism and liberal democracy. As much as he thinks Eurasian, he’s inclusive – incorporating “Euro” with “Asia”. BHL for his part simplistically reduces every “evil” to “illiberalism”, where Russia, China, Iran and Turkey – no nuances – are thrown in the same dustbin alongside the vacuous and actually murderous House of Saud.

Mao returns

Now let’s attempt a light-hearted ending to our mini-triptych on the clash of civilizations. Inevitably, that has to do with the ongoing US-China Hybrid War.

Around two years ago, the following dialogue was a smash hit on Chinese Weibo. The Great Helmsman Mao Zedong – or his ghost – was back in town, and he wanted to know about everything that was goin’ on. Call it a – revisionist? – realpolitik version of the clash of civilizations.

Mao: “Can the people eat their fill?”

Answer: “There’s so much to eat they’re dieting.”

Mao: “Are there still any capitalists?”

Answer: “They’re all doing business overseas now!”

Mao: “Do we produce more steel than England?”

Answer: “Tangshan alone produces more than America.”

Mao: “Did we beat social imperialism (as in the former USSR)?”

Answer: “They dissolved it themselves!”

Mao: “Did we smash imperialism?”

Answer: “We’re the imperialists now!”

Mao: “And what about my Cultural Revolution?”

Answer: “It’s in America now!”

الأميركيون يتخلّون عن الإقليم للأتراك

الأميركيون يتخلّون عن الإقليم للأتراك

الثلاثاء ١٤ تموز ٢٠٢٠   

عباس ضاهر – 

خاص النشرة

عندما سجن الأتراك القس الإنجيلي الأميركي أندرو برونسون هبّت ​واشنطن​، ومارست ​عقوبات​ فورية على أنقره سبّبت لها خسائر إقتصادية كبيرة، إلى أن سارع الرئيس التركي ​رجب طيب اردوغان​ بإتخاذ قرار الإفراج عنه. وعندما أعلن الأتراك إعتماد كاتدرائية ​آيا صوفيا​ ​المسيحية​ مسجداً إسلامياً، إكتفى الأميركيون بإعلان أسفهم بشأن الخطوة الأردوغانية من دون إتخاذ أي إجراء بحق الدولة التركية، لا سياسياً ولا إقتصادياً. بينما كانت ​روسيا​ تعتبر ما جرى بحق آيا صوفيا بأنه شأن تركي داخلي.بالطبع، ليست المسألة تركيّة داخلية، ولا الكاتدرائية المسيحية العريقة هي شأن عابر لا يستحق أكثر من جملة إنشائية مبنية على أسف، بل إن طبيعة ردود الفعل الدولية تدل على نوعية التعاطي الدولي، غرباً وشرقاً، مع أنقره التي تتمدد بكل إتجاه إقليمي، وتفرض نفوذا لها يستعيد مجدها في أيام ​الدولة العثمانية​. فهل هناك قبول عالمي بالدور التركي في الإقليم؟.

يبدو أن واشنطن تكرر تجربتها في ​تركيا​ كما فعلت مع ال​إسرائيل​يين. كان الأميركيون في خمسينيات وبداية ستينيات القرن الماضي لا يتعاملون مع ​تل أبيب​ كقوة كما تعاملوا معها لاحقاً. لكن نتائج ​حرب 1967​ التي خاضها الإسرائيليون ضد العرب جعلت ​الولايات المتحدة الأميركية​ تضع إسرائيل في مرتبة الحليفة القوية التي يمكن الإعتماد عليها في ​الشرق الأوسط​. بعدها إزدادت عوامل الدعم والتبني الأميركي لتل أبيب، إلى حد بات فيه الإسرائيليون يعتبرون أنفسهم أنهم يعيشون اتحاداً عضوياً مع الأميركيين.

ما هو حاصل فعلياً أن الأميركيين لا يعولون الآن على أي دور عربي، وهم اغرقوا ​دول الخليج​ بحروب مفتوحة، كما الحال في ​اليمن​ و​ليبيا​. وحدها تركيا حاربت بأدوات عربية وإسلامية طيلة السنوات الماضية، وأقامت تحالفات متينة، وباتت القوة الإقليمية الأكثر قدرة، فتمددت من ​سوريا​ الى ليبيا، وفرضت مصالح في ​العراق​، وتسعى لفرض نفوذ في ​لبنان​، وأسست بنية صلبة في غزة، ونسجت علاقات مع ​باكستان​ و​أفغانستان​، وكل دول ستان، وتصرفت على أساس أنها وقطر في شراكة مستدامة، سلماً وحرباً، وتعاملت مع ​إيران​ كقوة وازنة تحنّ إلى تقاسم الأدوار الإقليمية مع الجبابرة الدوليين.

أمام هذا الواقع، سلّمت الولايات المتحدة الأميركية بأهمية وفاعلية الدور التركي الريادي، وهي تستعد لتُخلي له المنطقة بإنسحاب ​عسكري​ من سوريا والعراق، قد يحصل قبل موعد الإنتخابات الأميركية. فلماذا تثق الولايات المتّحدة بتركيا؟

تستند واشنطن على أن أنقره عضو في ​حلف شمال الأطلسي​، وتدير دولة ذات قدرات بشرية وعسكرية وصناعية هائلة، وهي عناصر تفتقدها ​الدول العربية​ مجتمعة. مما يعني أن تركيا تمنع تفرّد روسيا أو إيران في الإقليم، لا بل تستطيع أن تحدّ من نفوذ الإيرانيين في أي دولة إسلامية رغم التقارب التركي-الإيراني القائم في علاقات مميزة بين أنقره و​طهران​.

الأهم، أن تركيا تملأ فراغاً كان يمكن ان يملأه العرب في سوريا ولبنان وليبيا ومناطق أخرى. فلو أرسلت مصر في السنوات الماضية كتيبة عسكرية إلى سوريا للمشاركة الى جانب دمشق في الحرب ضد ​الإرهاب​، لكانت اكتسبت ​القاهرة​ شرعية عربية واسعة انطلاقا من سوريا. لكن المصريين تركوا الساحة السورية، بينما كانت دول الخليج تدعم المجموعات المسلحة التي صارت الآن في خدمة تركيا في شمال وشرق سوريا.

المسألة تتكرر في لبنان الآن، بعد إنسحاب دول الخليج من أي دور سياسي أو مالي في لبنان، مما رمى مجموعات سنّية في أحضان أنقره، وتحديداً في ​شمال لبنان​. الأمر يتكرر في بعض مناطق العراق ايضاً، فيما إستطاعت تركيا أن تسحب مقاتلين سوريين للقتال في ليبيا قُدّر عددهم ١٧ الف مسلّح يساندون “​الإخوان المسلمين​” في ليبيا في معركة ​حكومة​ ​طرابلس الغرب​ ضد جيش المشير حفتر.

على هذا الأساس، توحي المتغيرات الجيوسياسية أن تركيا تتمدد على حساب العرب لتزعّم المسلمين السنّة في مساحات واسعة. عندها سيكون الإقليم محكوماً بين ثلاثة عناصر: تركيا، إيران، وإسرائيل، في ظل نفوذ روسي واسع، وصيني وأميركي غير مباشر. بينما يتفرج العرب على خلافاتهم ويلتحقون بقوة إقليمية هنا، وقوى دولية هناك: مصر مشغولة ب​سد النهضة​ مع ​اثيوبيا​، و بحدودها مع ليبيا، وبمناطق في ​سيناء​ تحوي ناراً إرهابية تحت الرماد، وبحدودها مع غزة التي يحكمها “الإخوان المسلمون”-حلفاء تركيا.

السعودية​ و​الإمارات​ انهكتا بحرب اليمن من دون جدوى، بينما تزكزك تركيا بهما في كل ساحات الإقليم.

باقي دول العرب حصروا اهتماماتهم بساحاتهم في ظل أزمات أمنية ومالية واقتصادية ودينية وعرقية تهدد مجتمعاتهم بشكل دائم.

There Is a Dark and Dangerous Forest Behind These Burning Trees…

Source

 • JULY 14, 2020


Roughly half-way through the year 2020 it is becoming pretty obvious that there are a number of major developments which almost got our total attention, and for good reason, as these are tectonic shifts which truly qualify as “catastrophe” (under the definition “a violent and sudden change in a feature of the earth“). These are:
  • The initiation of the global collapse of the AngloZionist Empire.
  • The immense economic bubble whose ever-growing size is the best predictor of the magnitude of the huge burst it will inevitably result in.
  • The implosion of the US society due to a combination of several and profound systemic crises (economic collapse, racial tensions, mass poverty, alienation of the masses, absence of social protections, etc.).
  • The COVID-19 (aka “it’s just like the seasonal flu!!“) pandemic which only exacerbates all the other major factors listed above.
  • Last, but not least, it is hard to imagine what the next US Presidential election will look like, but one thing is certain: by November we will already have a perfect storm – the election will only act like a battery which will feed even more energy into this already perfect storm.
To be sure, these are truly momentous, historical, developments whose importance cannot be over-stated. They are, however, not the only very serious developments. There are, in fact, several areas of serious political tensions which could also result in a major explosion, albeit a regional one “only”!
I will list just a few, beginning with the most visible one:

Turkey

Erdogan is up to no good. Again. What a big surprise, right? Every time I hear somebody writing something about Erdogan the dreaming of becoming the sultan of a new Ottoman Empire, I tend to roll my eyes as this is a cliche. Yet, there is no denial that this cliche is true – the neo-Ottoman ideology is definitely alive and well in Turkey and Erdogan clearly wants to “ride that horse”. So let’s list some of the things which the Turks have been up to:
  1. Syria: The Turks have clearly been dragging their feet in northern Syria where, at least according to the deal Erdogan made with Putin, the “bad terrorists” should have left a long time ago and the key highway should have been under the joint protection of the Russian and Turkish forces. Well, Turkey did some of this, but not all, and the “bad terrorists” are still very much present in northern Syria. In fact, they recently tried to attack the Russian Aerospace Forces base in Khmeimim (they failed, but that is still something which the Turks have to answer for since the attack came from a zone they control). Protecting terrorists in exchange for promises of immunity from their attacks has been tried many times in the past and it has never worked – sooner or later the terrorist groups always slip out of the control of their masters and even turn against them. This is now happening to Turkey.
  2. Libya: The Turks are also deeply involved in the Libyan civil war. In fact, “deeply involved” does not give enough credit to the Turkish military which used Turkish-made drones with devastating effectiveness against the forces of Field Marshal Khalifa Belqasim Haftar, the commander of the Tobruk-based Libyan National Army (which is backed by both Russia and Egypt). Only the prompt (and rather mysterious) deployment of Russian air defenses and a number of unidentified MiG-29s succeeded in eventually bringing down enough Turkish drones to force them to take a pause. The Egyptians have made it clear that they will never allow the so-called “Government of National Accord” to take Sirte or any land East of Sirte. The Libyan Parliament (of East Libya) has now given Egypt the official authorization to directly intervene in Libya. This makes some kind of Egyptian intervention an almost certain thing.
  3. Hagia Sophia: And just to make sure there are enough sources of tension, the Turks have now declared that the Saint Sophia Cathedral in Istanbul will no longer be a museum open to all, but a mosque. Now the CIA-puppet modestly known as “His Most Divine All-Holiness the Archbishop of Constantinople, New Rome, and Ecumenical Patriarch” Bartholomew should be the most vocal opponent to this move, but all he can do is mumble some irrelevancies (he wanted to go down as the Patriarch who patronized the Ukrainian schism and, instead, he will go down in history as the Patriarch who did nothing to prevent the Ottomans from seizing one of the holiest sites of the Orthodox world. Truth be told, he probably could not have prevented that (Erdogan’s move is entirely due to upcoming elections in Turkey) – but he sure could have tried a little better. Ditto for the head of the Moscow Patriarchate (and, for that matter, the Russian government) who expressed stuff like concern, or dismay, of some form of condemnation, but who really did nothing to make Erdogan pay for his move.
What the Turks just did is a disgrace, not only for Turkey itself which, yet again, proves that the Ottoman version of Islam is a particularly toxic and dangerous one. It is also a disgrace for the entire Muslim world which, with a few notable exceptions such as Sheikh Imran Hosein, has done nothing to prevent this and, if anything, has approved of this move. Finally, this is a disgrace for the entire Orthodox world as it proves that the entire worldwide Orthodox community has less relevance and importance in the eyes of the Turkish leader than the outcome of local elections. Russia, especially, would have the kind of political muscle needed to inflict all sorts of painful forms of retaliation against Turkey and yet Russia does nothing. This is a sad witness to the extreme weakness of the Orthodox faith in the modern world.
Add to this all the “traditional” sources of instability around Turkey, including the still unsolved (and unsolvable!) Kurdish issue, the tensions between Turkey and Iraq and Iran, Turkish low-key support for anti-Russian factions in the various former Soviet Republics and the constant confrontation with Greece).
Turkey remains one of the most dangerous states on the planet, even if most people remain unaware of this. True, in the recent years Turkey lost a lot of its power, but it still has plenty of formidable assets (including a very strong domestic weapon systems manufacturing capability) which it can use for a vast spectrum of nefarious political and military interventions.

Egypt

Egypt is another country which regularly makes some headlines and then disappears from the public’s radar. Yet, right now, Egypt is faced not with one, but with twopossible wars!
  1. Libya: as I mentioned above, should it come to an open clash between Turkey and Egypt in Libya, there could be a rapid horizontal escalation in which initial military clashes in Libya could turn into clashes over the Eastern Mediterranean and even possible strikes on key military objectives in Turkey and Egypt. The only good news here is that there are a lot of major actors who do not need a shooting war in the Eastern Mediterranean and/or the Middle-East. After all, if it came to a true military confrontation between Turkey and Egypt, then you can be pretty sure that NATO, CENTCOM, Greece, Israel and Russia would all have major concerns. Besides, it is hard to imagine what kind of military “victory” either Turkey or Egypt could hope for. Right now the situation is very tense, but we can hope that all the parties will realize that a negotiated solution, even a temporary one, is preferable to a full-scale war.
  2. Ethiopia: Egypt has a potentially much bigger problem than Libya to deal with: the construction by Ethiopia of the “The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam(GERD)” on the Blue Nile river. While nobody really knows what the eventual impact of this dam will be on Sudan and Egypt, is is pretty clear that a civilization built along the Nile river will face a major threat to its way of life if the way the Nile river flows is disturbed in a major way (which this dam will definitely do).
Of the two possible conflicts I mentioned above, it is the second one which has me most worried. At the end of the day, neither Turkey nor Egypt will get to decide what happens in Libya which is mostly a kind of multi-player “chessboard” where “big guys” (US, France, Russia) will eventually decide the outcome. In the case of the dam in Ethiopia, the local actors will probably have a decisive say, especially since both sides consider that this is an existentially important issue for them.
If you look at a map of the region, you will see that the distance between the Egyptian border and the location of the dam on the border between Ethiopia and Sudan is a long one (about 1’200km or 745 miles). Should it come to a military confrontation between the two countries, this distance will pretty much decide the shape of the warfare we shall see: mainly air and missile strikes. The main problem here (for both sides) is that neither side has the kind of air force or missiles which would allow it to effectively strike the other country. This, however, could change very rapidly, especially if Russia does sell 24 of its advanced Su-35 multi-role air superiority fighters to Egypt, and even more so if Russia throws in a few capable air-to-ground strike missiles into the package (the delivery of the first Sukhois appears to be imminent). Then there is this “minor detail” of Sudan being stuck between the two combatants: Khartoum simply cannot look away and pretend like all is well if two of its major neighbors decide to fight each other over Sudanese airspace.
In theory Egypt could also try to mount some attack from the Red Sea, but right now the Egyptian Navy does not pack the kind of punch which would allow it to effectively strike Ethiopia (especially with Eritrea in between the Red Sea and Ethiopia). But that could also change, especially since Egypt agreed to purchase the two Gamal Abdel Nasser (ex-Mistral) class amphibious assault ships and helicopter carriers which, while not ideal, would definitely boost the Egyptian’s command and control capabilities, especially if the Egyptians succeed in deploying AWACS and strike aircraft (rotary or even light fixed wing V/STOL) on these ships. In practice, however, I think that the Egyptians could engage these ships much more effectively in Libya than they would in the Red Sea (especially since these ships are poorly defended against missile strikes).
Finally, not only is the GERD defended by decent air defense systems (along with a few decent, if aging, air force aircraft), a dam is a pretty hard target to disable: it is big, strong, and has a large volume which, by itself, also contributes to the “hardness” against attacks.
So there are reasons to hope that a conflict can be avoided, but it will be very hard to get the two sides to agree to compromises on issues which both sides see as vital to their national security.

The Ukraine

Yes, the Ukraine. Again. This insanity which began with the Euromaidan has not stopped, far from it. In fact, ever since the election of Zelenskii the Ukraine has become something of a madhouse which would be outright hilariously comical if it wasn’t also so tragic and even horrible for millions of Ukrainians. I will spare you all the details, but we can sum up the main development of the past months as “Zelenskii has completely lost control of the country”. But that would not even begin to cover the reality of this situation.
For one thing, the war of words between Trump and Biden over the Ukraine-gate has now “infected” the Ukrainian political scene and each side is now busy with what is known locally as “black PR”: trying to dig up as much dirt against your opponent as possible. Zelenskii is so weak that, amazingly, the previously almost totally discredited Poroshenko has now made a strong comeback and thereby acquired the support of a lot of influential nationalists. The latest incredible (but true!) “informational bomb” was set off by a member of the Ukrainian Rada, Andrei Derkach, who released a recording of Joe Biden and Poroshenko discussing the pros and cons of organizing a terrorist attack in Crimea (see here for details about this amazing story). This makes both Biden and Poroshenko “sponsors of terrorism” (hardly a surprise, but still). Other “juicy” news stories about the Nazi-occupied Banderastan include Zelenskii possibly fathering a kid with an aide and the brutal attacks on the members of a small (but growing) “Sharii” opposition party which the authorities not only ignored, but most likely ordered in the first place. It is not my purpose here to discuss all the toxic intricacies of internal Ukronazi politics, so I will only look at one of the major dangers resulting from this dynamic: there is talk of war with Russia again.
Okay, we have all heard the very same rumors for years now, and yet no real and sustained Ukrainian attack on the LDNR or, even less so, Crimea ever took place (there were constant artillery strikes and diversionary attacks, but those remain below the threshold of open warfare). But what we hear today is a little bit different: an increasing number of Ukrainian and even Polish observers have declared that Russia would attack this summer or in September, possibly using military maneuvers to move forces to the Ukrainian border and attack. Depending on whom you ask, such an attack could come from Belarus and/or from central Russia – some even worry about a Russian amphibious operation against the Ukrainian coastline and cities like Mariupol, Nikolaev, Kherson or Odessa.
The Ukronazis are truly amazing. First they cut off all the electricity and even water from Crimea, and then they declare that Russia will have to invade to retake control of the water supply. The notion that Russia will solve Crimea’s water problem by peaceful and technological means is, apparently, quite unthinkable for the Ukronazi leaders. In the real world, however, Russia has a comprehensive program to comprehensively solve Crimea’s water problems. This program has begun by laying down water pipes, improving of the irrigation system of Crimea, the use of special aircraft to trigger rain and might even include the creation of a desalination plant. The simple truth is that Russia can easily make Crimea completely independent from anything Ukrainian.
And just to make things worse, the head of the Ukrainian Navy (which exists on paper mostly) has now declared that a new Ukrainian missile, the Neptune, could reach as far as Sevastopol. The problem is not the missile itself (it is a modernized version of an old Soviet design, and it is slow and therefore easy to shoot down), but the kind of “mental background noise” that this kind of talk of war creates.
From a purely military point of view, Russia does not even have to move any troops to defeat the Ukrainian armed forces: all Russia needs to do is to use its powerful long-range stand-off weapons and reconnaissance-strike complexes to first decapitate, then disorganize and finally destroy the Ukrainian military. Russia’s superiority in the air, on the water and on land is such that the Ukrainians don’t have a chance in hell to survive such an attack, nevermind defeating Russia. The Ukrainians all know that since, after all, their entire military could not even deal with the (comparatively) minuscule and infinitely weaker LDNR forces (at least when compared to regular Russian forces).
Still, the Ukrainians have one advantage over Russia: while this would be extremely dangerous to try, they must realize that, unlike in the case of their attacks on the Donbass, should they dare to attack Crimea, President Putin would not have any other option than to order a retaliatory strike of some sort. Any Ukrainian attack or strike on Crimea would probably fail with all the missiles intercepted long before they could reach their targets, but even in this case the pressure on Putin to put an end to this would be huge. Which means that it would not be incorrect to say that whoever is in power in Kiev can force Russia to openly intervene. This means that in this specific case the weaker side can have at least some degree of escalation dominance.
Now the Ukraine definitely cannot achieve strategic surprise and is even most unlikely to achieve tactical surprise, but, again, the actual success of any Ukrainian strike on Crimea does not require the designated targets of the strike to be destroyed: all that would be needed, in some plans at least, is the ability to do two things:
  • Force Russia to openly intervene and
  • Choose the time, place and mode of attack most problematic for the Russian side
Finally, I would suggest that we look at this issue from the point of view of the AngloZionist Empire: in many, if not most, ways, the Banderastan the West created in the Ukraine has outlived its utility: the USN won’t get a base in Crimea which is now lost forever (it is now one of the best defended places on the planet), Russia has not openly intervened in the civil war, the Ukronazi forces were comprehensively trounced by the Novorussians and in economic terms, and the Ukraine is nothing but one big black hole with an ever growing event horizon. Which might suggest to some in the US ruling elites that to trigger a losing war against Russia might be the best (and, possibly, only) thing their ugly creation could do for them. Why?
Well, for one thing, such a war will be bloody, even if it is short. Second, since the Russians are exceedingly unlikely to want to occupy any part of what is today the Nazi-occupied Ukraine, this means that even a total military defeat would not necessarily result in a complete disappearance of the current Banderastan. Yes, more regions in the East and the South might try to use this opportunity to rise up and liberate themselves, and should that happen Russia might offer the kind of help she offered the Novorussians, but I don’t think that anybody seriously believes that Russian tanks will be seen on Kiev or, even less so, Lvov (nevermind Warsaw or Riga). So a military loss against Russia would not be a total loss for Banderastan and it might even yield some beneficial dynamics to whatever consolidated Ukronazi-power might come out from such a conflict. Actually, should that happen I fully expect the Ukronazis to declare a kind of jihad to liberate the Moskal’ -occupied Ukraine. This means that the initial bloodbath would be followed by a festering low to medium level military conflict between Russia and the Ukraine which could last a very long time and also be most undesirable for Russia.
During my studies I had the honor and privilege to study with a wonderful Colonel of the Pakistani Army who became a good friend. One day (that was around 1991) I asked my friend what the Pakistani strategy would be during a possible war against India. He replied to me: “look, we all know that India is much stronger and bigger than Pakistan, but what we all also know is that if they attack us we can give them a very bloody nose”. This is exactly what the Ukrainian strategy might be: to give Russia a “bloody nose”. Militarily, this is impossible, of course, but in political terms any open war against the Ukraine would be a disaster for Russia. It would also be a disaster for the Ukraine, but the puppet-masters of the Ukronazis in Kiev don’t care about the people of the Ukraine anymore than they care about the people of Russia: all they want is to give the Russians a big bloody nose.
In summary, here is one possible scenario which might result in a regional catastrophe: whoever is in power in the Ukraine would begin by realizing that the project of an Ukronazi Banderastan has already failed and that neither the EU nor, even less so, the US is willing to continue to toss money into the Ukie black hole. Furthermore, clever Ukie politicians will realize that neither Poroshenko nor Zelensii have “delivered” the expected “goods” to the Empire. Then the East-European US vassal-states (lead by Poland and the Baltic statelets) also realize that EU money is running out and that far from having achieved any real economic progress (nevermind any “miracle”), they are also becoming increasingly irrelevant to their masters in the EU and US. And, believe me, the political leaders of these US vassal-states have realized a long time ago that a war between Russia and the Ukraine would be a fantastic opportunity for them to regain some value in the eyes of their imperial overlords in the EU and US. To people who think like these people do, even an attempted Neptune strike against Sevastopol would be a quick and quite reasonable way to force Putin’s hand.
Lastly, we can now look at the situation in Russia

Russia

One would think that following the massive victory the Kremlin has achieved with the vote on the changes to the Russian Constitution, the political situation in Russia would be idyllic, at least compared to the sinking Titanic of the “collective West”. Alas, this is far from being the case. Here are some of the factors which contribute to a potentially dangerous situation inside Russia.
  1. As I have mentioned in the past, besides the “official” (pretend) opposition in the Duma, there are now two very distinct “non-system” oppositions to Putin: the bad old “liberals” (which I sometimes call the 5th column) and the (relatively new) “pink-nationalist” Putin-haters which I christened, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, I admit – as a 6th column (Ruslan Ostashko calls them “emo-Marxists“, and that is a very accurate description too). What is so striking is that while Russian 5th and 6th columnists hate each other, they clearly hate Putin even more. Many of them also hate the Russian people because they don’t “get it” (at least in their opinion) and because time and again the people vote with and for Putin. Needless to say, these “5th and 6th columnists” (let’s call them “5&6c” from now on) declare that the election was stolen, that millions of votes were not counted at all, while others were counted many times. According to these 5&6c types, it is literally unthinkable that Putin would get such a high support therefore the only explanation is that the elections were rigged. While the sum total of these 5&6c types is probably not enough to truly threaten Putin or the Russian society, the Kremlin has to be very careful in how it handles these groups, especially since the condition of the Russian society is clearly deteriorating:
  2. Russia has objective, real, problems which cannot simply be dismissed. Most Russians clearly would prefer a much more social and economically active state. The reality is that the current political system in Russia cares little for the “little man”. The way the Kremlin and the Russian “big business” are enmeshed is distressing to a lot of Russians, and I agree with them. Furthermore, while the western sanctions did a great job preparing Russia for the current crisis, it still remains true that Russia does not operate in such a favorable environment, revenues are down in many sectors, and the COVID19 pandemic has also had a devastating effect on Russian small businesses. And while the issue of the COVID19 virus has not been so hopelessly politicized in Russia has it has in the West, a lot of my contacts report to me that many people feel that the Kremlin and the Moscow authorities have mismanaged the crisis. So while the non-systemic opposition of the 5&6c cannot truly threaten Russia, there are enough of what I would call “toxic and potentially dangerous trends” inside the Russian society which could turn into a much bigger threat should a crisis suddenly erupt (including a crisis triggered by an always possible Ukrainian provocation).
  3. More and more Russians, including Putin-supporters, are getting frustrated with what they perceive as being a lame and frankly flaccid Russian foreign policy. This does not necessarily mean that they disagree with the way Putin deals with the big issues (say Crimea, or Syria or the West’s sabre-rattling), but they get especially frustrated by what they perceive as lame Russian responses against petty provocations. For example, the US Congress and the Trump Administration have continued to produce sanctions and stupid accusations against Russia on a quasi-daily basis, yet Russia is really doing nothing much about that, in spite of the fact that there are many options in her political “toolkit” to really make the US pay for that attitude. Another thing which irritates the Russians is that arrogant, condescending and outright rude manner in which western politicians (and their paid for journalists in Russia) constantly intervene in internal Russian matters without ever being seriously called out for this. Sure, some particularly nasty characters (and organization) have been kicked out of Russia, but not nearly enough to really send a clear message Russia’s enemies.
  4. And, just to make things worse, there are some serious problems between Russia and her supposed allies, specifically Belarus and Kazakhstan. Nothing truly critical has happened yet, but the political situation in Belarus is growing worse by the day (courtesy of, on one hand, the inept policies of Lukashenko and, on the other, a resurgence of Kazakh nationalism, apparently with the approval of the central government). Not only is the destabilization of two major Russian allies a bad thing in itself, it also begs the question of how Putin can deal with, say, Turkey or Poland, when Russia can’t even stabilize the situation in Belarus and Kazakhstan.
To a large degree, I share many of these frustrations too and I agree that it is time for Putin and Russia to show a much more proactive posture towards the (eternally hostile) West.
My problem with the 5th column is that it is composed of rabid russophobes who hate their own nation and who are nothing but willing prostitutes to the AngloZionist Empire. They want Russia to become a kind of “another Poland only further East” or something equally insipid and uninspiring.
My problem with the 6th column is that it hates Putin much more than it loves Russia, which is regularly shows by predicting either a coup, or a revolution, or a popular uprising or any other bloody event which Russia simply cannot afford for two main reasons:
  1. Russia almost destroyed herself twice in just the past century: in 1917 and 1991. Each time, the price paid by the Russian people was absolutely horrendous and the Russian nation simply cannot afford another major internal conflict.
  2. Russia is at war against the Empire, and while this war remains roughly an 80% informational/ideological one, about 15% an economic one and only about 5% a kinetic war, it remains that this is a total, existential, war for survival: either the Empire disappears or Russia will. This is therefore a situation where any action which weakens your state, your country and its leader always comes dangerously close to treason.
Right now the biggest blessing for Russia is that neither the 5th nor the 6th column has managed to produce even a halfway credible political figure who at least appears as marginally capable of offering realistic solutions. A number of 5th columnists have decided to emigrate and leave what they see as “Putin’s Mordor”. Alas, I don’t see any stream of 6th columnists leaving Russia, which objectively makes them a much more useful tool for outfits like the CIA who will not hesitate to infiltrate even a putatively anti-US political movement if this can weaken Russia in general, or Putin personally.
Right now the Russian security services are doing a superb job countering all these threats (including the still very real Wahabi terrorist threat) all at the same time. However, considering the rather unstable and even dangerous international political situation, this could change if all the forces who hate Putin and what they call “Putinism” either join forces or simply strike at the same time.

Conclusion

There are, of course, many other potential flashpoints on the planet, including India, Pakistan and China, the South China Sea, the Persian Gulf, the Korean Peninsula and many others. Thus the above is only a sampling of a much larger list.
The huge changes taking place before our eyes are real, and they are huge. But we should not follow the lead of the corporate media and focus on only one or two “hot” topics, especially not when there are plenty of very real dangers out there. This being said, there is no doubt that what will happen in the next couple of months inside the United States is by far the biggest and most important development out there, one which will shape the future of our planet no matter what actually happens. And I am not referring to the totally symbolic non-choice between Biden and Trump.
I am referring to how the US society will deal with a virulently anti-US coalition of minorities which hate this country and everything, good and bad that it stood for in the past. Right now the US elites are committing national suicide by not only failing to oppose, but also by actively supporting the BLM thugs and everything they stand for: BLM & Co. remind me of Ukronazis whose main expression of national identity is to hate everything Russian – the BLM thugs do the same thing: their entire worldview is pure hatred of the hetero White male and the western civilization; and just as the Ukies regale each other with stories about the “ancient Ukrs” the BLM folks imagine that they will somehow turn the US into a type Wakanda before expelling (or worse) all those who are not willing to hand over their country to roaming gangs of illiterate thugs.
While Russia has to face the potential of internal violence, the United States is already facing a dangerous and violent insurrection which is likely to become much worse as the economic crisis triggered by the pandemic fully explodes. So far, the effects of this crisis have been somewhat tempered by a combination of 1) political denials about the nature of the threat (“oh, nonsense, it is just like the seasonal flu!“) 2) the mass distribution of money (which has only helped temporarily) 3) the existence of a huge financial bubble which will only make matters worse, but which temporarily can create the illusion that things are not nearly as bad as they really are.
It is said that nature abhors a vacuum. This is true. It is also true that the collapse of the Empire has now created several vacuums which will be filled by new actors, but there is no guarantee at all that this transition will be peaceful. So while we are watching some very big trees burning, we should not forget that behind these trees there is a big forest which can also burn, possibly creating a much bigger forest fire than the trees we see burning today.

PATRIARCH OF CONSTANTINOPLE MADE BET AND LOST. OVERTURES TO WEST UNDERMINED PATRIARCHY POSITIONS IN EAST

Source

Patriarch Of Constantinople Made Bet And Lost. Overtures To West Undermined Patriarchy Positions In East
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I leads the service during the Epiphany Day ceremony in Istanbul, Turkey, 06 January 2020. Greek Orthodox swimmers take part in an annual race to retrieve a wooden crucifix thrown into the Bosphorus waters at the Golden Horn. EPA-EFE/ERDEM SAHIN

On July 24, the Hagia Sophia will be open for prayer following the decree of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan turning this world heritage site and a symbolic christian site into a msoque. For a long time, the Erdogan government has been working to convert Turkey into a leading state in the Islamic world and soldify its influence in the territory of the collapsed Ottoman Empire. Therefore, the turning of Hagia Sophia into a mosque was a logical step from the Turkish leadership. In the event of the success of Turkish foreign policy adventures, the mosque will become a symbol of Erdogan’s Turkey.

Despite the international criticism, the move of the Erdogan government will not face any real resistance or punishing from other influential palyers. Regardless positions of the sides, this decision in fact did not really impact or threaten interests of any other regional or global power. In this case, the main affected side is the Ecumenical Patriarchy of Constantinople. Hagia Sophia was the patriarchal cathedral until 1453. Currently, the patriarchal cathedral is St. George’s Cathedral, but until recently the patriarchy was able to pretend that it has a kind of influence on the situatino with Hagia Sophia as an important symbol of the Christian World. These claims were broken by the reality.

Furthermore, more and more voices adress concerns that political gaimes of Bartholomew I of Constantinople undermined the unity of the Orthodox community and led not only to destructive developments in eastern Europe, but also set conditions in which local Orthodox Churches were split and had no voice in the Hagia Sophia question. In previous years, Bartholomew I became a useful servant of the United States and provider of its policy in countries with strong Orthodox communities. Actions of the Ecumenical Patriarchy of Constantinople allowed the global elites to undermine the values of conservative societies of eastern Europe and set up pseudo-church organizations supporting the neo-liberal, globalist world order. These actions were especially clear in such countries as Montenegro and Ukraine and created a deep rift between the patriarchy and local churches that opposed such actions, including the Russian Orthodox Church.

In turn, Bartholomew I apparently believed that the United States will contribute efforts to keep him in power and allow the Ecumenical Patriarchy of Constantinople to expand its influence creating a kind of ‘Orthodox Papism’. This did not happen. On top of this, the position of the United States in the Middle East was recently weakened by both years of the back-and-forth diplomacy of previous administrations and the unwillingness of the current administration led by President Donald Trump to participate in conflicts and invest in regions where he sees no clear revenue for his country. Thus, the Ecumenical Patriarchy of Constantinople found itself without support from its main backer. As to the US Democratic Party and its presidential candidate Joe Biden, their public commitment to neo-liberal values is strong as it has never been. So, if Bartholomew I wants to rely on this very faction in the US elites, he will need to demonstrate his own commitment to this anti-coonservative, pro-minotiries, pro-LGBTQ stance. Thus, he will undermine the position of Constantinople among the more traditionalist part of the Orthodox World and further. This will likely lead to the situation when conservative Orthodox societies will have no other option but strengthen their ties with the Russian Orthodox Church, which is in the open conflict with Constantinople.

Bartholomew I made bet and lost, but his actions made a real damage to the Orthodox World. It may take years before negative consequences of his actionswill be fully removed.

مِن محمّد الثّاني إِلى أردوغان: أُصوليّةٌ مُتجدّدةٌ

الثلاثاء ١٤ تموز ٢٠٢٠   

رزق الله الحلو 

خاص النشرة

مِن محمّد الثّاني إِلى أردوغان: أُصوليّةٌ مُتجدّدةٌ

لم يُظهر الرّئيس التّركيّ رجب طيّب أَردوغان، في ملفّ تحويل متحف “​آيا صوفيا​” التّرائيّ العالميّ إلى مسجدٍ، تبدأ الصّلوات فيه بتاريخ 23 تمّوز الجاري، “نموذجًا مثاليًّا للحاكم المُسلم”! في وقتٍ نجد أَنّ ما تنعم به ​تركيا​ اليوم، من تقدّمٍ نسبيٍّ وازدهارٍ، إِنّما الفضل فيه يعود إِلى مصطفى كمال أَتاتورك، أَي إِلى النّظام العلمانيّ فكرًا وفلسفةً وسياسةً.وأَردوغان المُنتمي إِلى “حزب العدالة والتّنمية”، يميل بوجدانه ويتطلَّع إِلى إِعادة الحُكم الدّينيّ سواءً عن طريق العودة إِلى نظام الأَجداد (الخلافة العُثمانيّة) أَو عن طريق إِحياء النّزعة الدّينيّة في المجتمع التّركيّ، لتكون بعد ذلك عاملاً مُساعدًا له في ترويض الشّعب وتشريع ديكتاتوريّته، ليُصبح أَكثر جُرأة ويحقِّق أَهدافه وأطماعه التّوسّعيّة شيئًا فشيئًا…

كما وأَنّ حسابات أَردوغان الدّاخليّة، ورهانه في هذا المجال على شعبٍ سيَسْكر بجُنوح رئيسه نحو الأُصوليّة ليس في محلّه، إِذ إِنّ الشّعب التّركيّ قد رضع وتشرّب مفاهيم الحريّة والعلمانيّة كما وأَنّ ثقافة ​الإنسان​ التّركيّ، وأُسلوب حياته وسيكولوجيّته وبُعده السّوسيولوجيّ… أَقرب إِلى الشّعوب الأُوروبيّة منه إِلى الشّعوب العربيّة…

حتّى أَنّ تاريخ العرب والمسلمين عابقٌ بقيم التّسامح والتّعايش مع غير المسلمين، كما وأَنّ ​المسيح​يّين حصلوا على وظائف عُليا في الدّولتين الأُمويّة والعبّاسيّة!. وأَكثر ما يُخشى، أَن يكون حنين أَردوغان إِلى حقبةٍ إِجراميّةٍ لا خير فيها للعرب ولا للمُسلمين، بل إِنّها كانت سببًا في عُزلة العرب، وتخلُّفهم على مدى قرونٍ من الزّمن… في ظلّ حقبةٍ كانت سببًا في تشويه الصّورة الحقيقيّة للإِسلام، من خلال رسم الدّين في صورةٍ دمويّةٍ وعُنصريّةٍ دينيّةٍ وعرقيّةٍ، لم توفّر العرب ولا المسيحيّين، إذ نفّذ العثمانيّون جرائم في حقّ العرب، لا لشيءٍ سوى أَنّهم عرب، كما وأَنّ ما ارتكبوه من إِبادة جماعيّةٍ في حقّ الأَرمن لا لشيءٍ سوى أَنّهم مسيحيُّون!.

والخُطوة الأَردوغانيّة المُتطرِّفة الأَخيرة الّتي تم فيها تحويل متحف آيا صوفيا إِلى مسجدٍ؛ أَثبتت بما لا يدع مجالاً للشّكّ أَنّ النّظام التُّركيّ بدأَ يقترب مِن أُسلوب الميليشيات التّكفيريّة، ويكاد يتلاشى الفرق بينه وبين الجماعات الإرهابيّة كـ “داعش” و”​القاعدة​”.

وهذهِ الخطوة تُهين كُلّ مَن يحترم حُريّة الأَديان ومشاعر أَتباع كُلّ دينٍ، وإذا ما سُمح ل​أردوغان​ بالمضيّ في خطته الممنهجة، فلن نُشاهد في تركيا أَيّ ​كنيسة​ٍ، إذ إنّه وَفقًا للـ “عُثمانيّة ​الجديدة​”، لا مكان لأَي دينٍ آخر في تركيا سوى الإِسلام. فما هو مُتحف “آيا صوفيا”، الّذي هو في الأَساس كنيسةً؟.


كنيسة آيا صوفيا


كنيسة “آيا صوفيا” التّاريخيّة الّتي ينوي أَردوغان تحويلها مُجدّدًا إِلى مسجدٍ مكثت تحت الاحتلال التّركيّ 677 عامًا، بعدما كانت بُنيت في العام 537 على يد إِمبراطور بيزنطيا جوستنيان الأَوّل، وقد اختير موقع بنائها على تلّةٍ في وسط العاصمة الإِمبراطوريّة المُطلّة على ​مضيق البوسفور​، آخر بقعة أَوروبيّة مقابل المشرق المسيحيّ آنذاك، المُمتد من مصر حتّى ​سوريا​ و​لبنان​ وجبال الأَناضول وكيبدوكيا وأَرمينيا. وبعد إِنجازها، اعتُبرت تحفةً ومُعجزةً معماريّةً في القرن الخامس لا مثيل لها لا شرقًا ولا غربًا سوى الإِهرامات المصريّة، وأَبهرت الجميع ببنائها الضّخم وصحن قبتها وقاعة هيكلها الشّاسع المُتّسع لآلاف المُصلّين وهندستها الفريدة… وقد استمرّت تلك الكنيسة في خدمة المؤمنين من المسيحيّين لأَكثر من أَلف عامٍ، شهد فيها جرن العماد على بركة آلاف الأَطفال وجدرانها سمعت طلبات الفُقراء والمرضى والمحتاجين.

وفي يومٍ أَسود من العام 1453، وصلت طلائع جُنود السُّلطان التُّركيّ محمّد الثّاني إِلى المدينة، وقد عقد النّيّة على احتلالها، بعد ما فشل أَجداده في تلك المهمّة لمئات الأَعوام، كما فشل قبله الخليفة الأُمويّ معاوية في القرن السّابع، حين بقيت الكنيسة عصيّةً على المُحتلّين.

ووعد السّلطان جنوده بأَن تكون المدينة –إِذا دخلوها– مُلكًا لهم لثلاثة أَيّام، وأَنّ نساءها بكُلّ أَعمارهم في الدّاخل هديّة لهم كجواري لتشجيعهم على القتال. وهكذا، حاصر الأَتراك المدينة المُنهكة لفترة 52 يومًا، إِلى أَن دخلوها في ٢٩ أَيّار بعد اختراق جُدرانها، وبدأت مذبحة كبرى وعمليّة اغتصابٍ هي الأَكبر في التّاريخ. وقُطعت رؤوس عشرات آلاف الرّجال البالغين أَمام نسائهم، لحظاتٍ بعد ما شهدوا اغتصاب بناتهم. واستمرّ سماع صراخ تلك الفتيات طوال اللّيل المليء ب​الحرائق​ ورائحة الموت والدّماء، حيث تناوب الجنود على انتزاع الفتيات الصّغيرات من أَيدي رفاقهم واغتصابهنّ مع أُمهاتهنّ.

وأَمّا الكنيسة الّتي اختبأ فيها وفي ساحاتها وأَقبيتها أَكثر من خمسة آلاف مُصلّ خوفًا، اقتحمها جنود السّلطان وكتيبته الخاصّة، وتوجّهوا فورًا إِلى المذبح، وأُخد البطريرك جانبًا مع كبار الأَساقفة والكهنة، وقُطعت رؤُوسهم في الدّاخل. وأَما الرّجال فسيقوا إِلى الخارج وقُتلوا واحدًا تلو الآخر أَمام عائلاتهم، وجُمع الأَطفال الذذكور وجرى تكبيل أَرجلهم بالسّلاسل تمهيدا لبيعهم كعبيد، لتبدأ لاحقًا حفلة اغتصابٍ جديدةٍ للنّساء والفتيات انتهت بتكبيلهنّ تمهيدًا لإِهدائهنّ إِلى القصور والبيع في الأَسواق البعيدة.

وقيل يومها إِنّ أَصوات العويل خرقت قناة البوسفور إِلى الجهة الأُخرى: أَطفالٌ فُصلوا عن والداتهم وسيقوا بعيدًا والحديد في أَعناقهم… كما وكُسّرت أَبواب الكنيسة البرونزيّة وأُخرجت ذخائر القدّيسين وأُحرقت خارجًا مع الأَيقونات النّادرة، ونُهب ذهب “الايكونستاس الكبير”. ولم تنتهِ المذبحة إِلاّ بوصول السُّلطان إِلى السّاحة حيث عاين المبنى الّذي راقبه مع أَبيه مِن بعيدٍ لسنواتٍ طامعًا فيه!. وقد أَعلن فورًا نيّته بتحويله إِلى مسجدٍ عاقدًا العزم على الصّلاة فيه بعد أَسابيع…


التّاريخ يُعيد نفسه


لقد أَزمع أَردوغان على الالتزام بكتاب محمّد الثّاني على حساب الكُتُب السّماويّة، وإِذا كان الثّاني غسل الدّماء عن الرُّخام الأَبيض لأَرضيّة الكنيسة وبدأ بطمس الفُسيفساء على جُدران الكنيسة، حيث أُخفيت ​العذراء​ من فوق المذبح وأَيقونة المسيح الذّهبيّة من أَعلى مدخل الكنيسة، وطُلست الجدران بالكلس لإِخفاء المعالم المسيحيّة… فإِنّ أَردوغان تعهّد بعد 567 عامًا، باستكمال طمس الحضارة الإِنسانيّة، مستهدفًا بذلك أوّل ما استهدف، وثيقة الأخوّة الإنسانيّة الّتي وقّعها في أَبوظبي السّنة الماضية، قداسة ​البابا فرنسيس​ وشيخ الأَزهر أَحمد الطيّب. وإِذا كان كِلْس محمّد الثّاني يذوب مع الوقت، لتظهر مُجدّدًا المعالم المسيحيّة على الفُسيفساء، فإِنّ لأَردوغان أُسلوبه الخاصّ في عصر التّكنولوجيا المُتطوِّرة، والسّياسات الدّوليّة الإِنزوائيّة–الإنعزاليّة لا بل التّحريضيّة التّكفيريّة، ليمحو الحضارة الإِنسانيّة على طريقته!. وللحديث صلة…

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Turkey’s Hagia Sophia to Be Reopened as Mosque after Court Decision

Turkey’s Hagia Sophia to Be Reopened as Mosque after Court Decision

By Staff, Agencies

A top Turkish court on Friday revoked the Byzantine-era Hagia Sophia’s status as a museum, clearing the way for it to be turned back into a mosque, the official Anadolu news agency reported.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan hailed the court’s decision and announced that the site would be handed over to Turkey’s religious affairs directorate and reopened for Muslim worshipping.

Erdogan’s announcement comes shortly after a top Turkish court revoked the sixth-century Hagia Sophia’s status as a museum, clearing the way for it to be turned back into a mosque.

The Council of State, which was debating a case brought by a Turkish NGO, canceled a 1934 cabinet decision and ruled the site would be reopened to Muslim worshipping.

Earlier on Friday, UNESCO warned Turkey against converting the Hagia Sophia museum, a World Heritage site, in Istanbul into a mosque, urging dialogue before any decision is taken.

Hagia Sophia was first constructed as a cathedral in the Christian Byzantine Empire in 537 AD but was converted into a mosque after the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople in 1453.

Turning it into a museum was a key reform of the post-Ottoman authorities under the modern republic’s founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

Calls for it to serve again as a mosque has sparked anger among Christians and tensions between the historic foes and uneasy NATO allies Turkey and Greece. Russia, which has become an increasingly important partner of Turkey in recent years, has also urged against altering its status.

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