Islam and Politics
Eyad Abu Shakra
Yes, the presence of political and theological incubators has contributed to a large extent to the emergence of jihadist and Takfirist groups that have spiraled out of control, producing several offshoots of their own. However, mere personal empathy on the part of individuals or governments is not enough to enable these groups to do what they are doing in Syria, Iraq, Yemen or North Africa. The operations of these groups that are overrunning Arab cities and villages surely require huge logistic infrastructures that cannot be sustained solely by donations…..
When asked about accusations by opposition parties that the Turkish government has given military support to Sunni Islamist militants in Iraq and Syria, who now hold Turks hostage in Iraq’s occupied city of Mosul, Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç gave a very interesting answer on June 13. Arınç first rephrased the question and then answered it like this: “Was there any help knowingly from Turkey in the form of people, arms or money? No. We can absolutely say ‘No’ to that.” The key thing here is that Arınç added the word “knowingly.”…..
Indonesia and Pakistan, the two largest Muslim-majority countries in the world, have been struggling to define the role of religion, or more specifically Islam, since they became independent states in the late 1940s. The battle is in determining the extent to which the government has the power to interfere in matters of the faith of its citizens, or more specifically, the extent to which religion is considered a public as against a private matter…..
Turkey is calling NATO solely for consultations, it does not say, “There is an attack against me, come and help.” Actually, it cannot say so. NATO equals the U.S. And the U.S. is avoiding military operations. While it has withdrawn from Iraq, while it is withdrawing from Afghanistan, why should it enter Iraq once again? There can only be one reason: If oil is at risk. .....
Rami G. Khouri
Iraq today has reached a momentous moment of reckoning for the weaknesses of modern Arab statehood and governance. External factors certainly played their roles, such as the Anglo-American war on Iraq in 2003, decades of Israeli meddling in Arab conditions, and Iran’s growing influence in the region….
So after the grotesquerie of the Taliban and Osama bin Laden and 15 of the 19 suicide killers of 9/11, meet Saudi Arabia’s latest monstrous contribution to world history: the Islamist Sunni caliphate of Iraq and the Levant, conquerors of Mosul and Tikrit – and Raqqa in Syria – and possibly Baghdad, and the ultimate humiliators of Bush and Obama. From Aleppo in northern Syria almost to the Iraqi-Iranian border, the jihadists of Isis and sundry other groupuscules paid by the Saudi Wahhabis – and by Kuwaiti oligarchs – now rule thousands of square miles......
Contrary to popular indoctrination, the biggest threat to Islam in Malaysia does not come from the Christians, the DAP, the Singaporeans, the foreigners, the Hindus, the Buddhists, non-Muslims, Israel or the CIA. The biggest threat to Islam comes from the Muslims. Sadly, we see many Muslims bent on disturbing the peace to create chaos. We do not see much Islam being practiced….
The assessment in the title line does not belong to this columnist, but has been cherished in this column since a Turkey specialist realistically put it in a Reuter’s analysis a couple of years earlier. The barking goes on as loudly as before, but the jihadists in Iraq (and Syria), once Turkey’s comrades in arms, just like the common enemy, Bashar al-Assad of Syria, seem to have ignored the doggy threat…..
Three years of turmoil in the region, on the back of unpopular American-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, have benefited extreme Islamists, none more so than the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), a group that outdoes even al-Qaeda in brutality and fanaticism…..
This is not a dysfunctional government. If it were just that we would be lucky. Being dysfunctional implies room for improvement – the stalled engine being made to work. What we have is something beyond that: a government fast losing the ability of even going through the motions of functioning. For all the leadership that there is, Pakistan is on auto-pilot, at the mercy of the elements. There’s no hand on the wheel. If we aren’t getting this, we have a problem on our hands. ....
The repression in Egypt, the war in Syria and the political suffocation in Algeria make conditions for an election impossible, with even nominal campaigning by challengers inconceivable Within a month, Algeria, Egypt and Syria held presidential elections. In all three cases, despite nominal challenges, the elections had only one candidate on the ballot….
Politically, it will be very important because it will set new manoeuvres which may present stability in the region – the role of Iran, Saudi Arabia and the political strategy of Israel will continue to enhance diplomatic interests in these three regions. When we retrospect, the coups in Egypt were started in Abdul Nasser’s reign. Gaddafi in Libya overthrew King Idris. Ali Abdullah Saleh petrified the tribes of Yemen which actually resulted in a political conundrum…..
Observers from 30 countries monitored the election and issued a statement indicating that the elections were free, fair and transparent. However, those who say that the elections were a mockery of democracy has every reason to characterize them so, because democracy requires much more than what took place last week in Syria. The US, the EU and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) declared the election illegitimate…..
Respect for state institutions holds state and society together. It also helps avoid that adversarial relationship which one finds in Pakistan between the people and government. Surprisingly, in spite of having a secular constitution, all Turkish governments have continued one vital Ottoman tradition — mosque imams are paid by the government. This has served to choke a major source of mischief and discord.....
Egypt’s prosperity will reflect on a region that is swamped with chaos. We don’t only blame the Brotherhood for the dire situation. Egypt was calm and stable during Mubarak’s very long time in power. It was a dormant state. Controlling the region and saving revolutions require integrated forces that have political and geographic expansion capable of providing stability. Unlike those who finance chaos in Egypt because they think this will help them prove that Sisi’s governance is a failure, Saudi Arabia and the UAE need to help Egypt succeed, not out of spite for the Brotherhood but because this serves the interest of all Arabs……
From the outset of the war against Libya, the United States and its NATO allies utilized a variety of terror groups and other intelligence assets to topple the Gaddafi government. While some had been directly linked to the CIA, others were pulled from the stable of terror organizations utilized at various times by the US as Mujahideen in Afghanistan, Kosovo, and elsewhere. Essentially then, the US developed a loose network of proxies, some of which were ideologically opposed to the US and to one another, that it unleashed on Libya to do Washington’s dirty work…..
In recent weeks, the word “unity” has been used in many ways, some erroneous and others quite disingenuous. Hamas and Fatah party officials — all operating with expired mandates — have repeatedly infused a more sentimental meaning of “unity,” with few exceptions including that of Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal. The latter, although optimistic about the future potential of the agreement, understands that the transitional government is merely a first step in a long program aimed at the unification of the Palestinian body politic…..
Believed to be composed of around 10,000 jihadists with some of them even coming from western countries to fight against the Iraqi army and seize control in the country’s mostly Sunni regions, the ISIL denies its affiliation with the al-Qaeda and claims to be moving independently. The ISIL has recently launched operations in different provinces of the country and yesterday seized control of Mosul, a city of Arabs, Turkmens and Kurds…..
There is also general consensus here that the US and the West are in no mood to start another conflict with what has been unfolding in Ukraine and the ongoing bloody strife in Syria. Indeed, Mr Netanyahu appears to have given up on Mr Obama, especially after Washington ignored Israeli calls to boycott the new Palestinian government with Hamas joining Fatah…..
The creation of a sort of proto-Caliphate by extreme jihadis in northern Syria and Iraq is provoking fears in surrounding countries such as Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Turkey that they will become targets of battle-hardened Sunni fighters……
Are the Taliban capable of such a feat? Have their cultural attitudes evolved over the years of resistance? What of the fabled ‘moderate Taliban’ on whom so many hopes have been placed over the years? In their rustic simplicity, are they still as honest as they were reputed to be? Were they ever?.....
Karaman’s distaste for democracy is even more ungrounded. He wrote that democracy presumes that “man is independent from God,” which is news to me. One can at least check American democracy, to see that it is in fact based on the belief that, “All men are created equal, [and] they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.” What democracy really presumes is not that men are independent from God, but that they are independent from theocrats who claim to rule in the name of God. …..
American involvement in the Middle East has put Islam, once a subject of far-off religious study, onto the public stage. The press of the last decade was abuzz with one jihad tragedy after another, beginning with September 11 and continuing with intermittent suicide bombings in Israel and elsewhere. Though we recognize that our enemies in the Middle East are adherents of some form of Islam, our democratic sense of tolerance restrains us from demonizing the entire faith….
Iranian support to the Palestinians is always channelled to groups opposed to the government in Ramallah. Iran supports Hamas, Islamic Jihad and “Hezbollah” within a framework of activities aimed at, for example, preventing negotiations with Israel, without offering an alternative military or political solution for the Palestinian people and to the Israeli occupation. This support is so little that it does not even provoke Israel into seeking revenge against Iran but it is enough to sabotage any political process and leave the region on fire…..
Rami G. Khouri
The recent string of “elections” across the Arab world raises profound questions about the Arab world’s apparent difficulty in adopting institutions and practices of liberal pluralistic democracies. But is the problem really about the ability of Arab social values to accommodate democracy, or is there a deeper problem related to the clumsy nature of statehood that has emerged in this region during the past century?....