New Age Islam Edit Bureau
10 December 2015
• We must understand why some Muslims turn radical
By Iyad Ameen Madani
• Plan to exclude Turkey from Mideast power struggle
By Abdulrahman al-Rashed
Plan to exclude Turkey from Mideast power struggle
By Abdulrahman al-Rashed
10 December 2015
Anyone who thinks the Iraqi government’s outburst, the first of its kind since the toppling of Saddam Hussein’s regime, is entirely against the presence of Turkish forces on Iraqi soil is wrong. The total number of Turkish troops is 150 military personnel, and they are present in the vicinity of Mosul, which ISIS has been occupying for a year and a half now.
And anyone who thinks the escalating Russian threats against Turkish troops on the borders with north Syria are only against the Turks is also wrong, as this border area is a zone where armies and militias from across the world are competing.
Iran, Iraq and Russia’s mounting aggravation against Turkey implies this is a plan to curb Turkey and cancel its regional role, so that Tehran can become the decision-maker in Iraq and Syria, thus achieving its project without anyone confronting it in the region. This has been happening in a five-year crisis that has seen the U.S. retreat, and do nothing except issue statements of solidarity.
The Turkish battalion present outside Mosul arrived there at the invitation of the former governor of Mosul for the purpose of training the city’s young men who volunteered to defend their city after Iraqi government forces fled, and terrorists entered the governorate’s countryside. Mosul was left to ISIS, and the Popular Mobilization Forces did not choose to liberate it since the latter consists of sectarian Shiite militias and was actually formed by Iran as an alternative to the Iraqi army. It is therefore Iran who actually trains, equips and directs them.
Truth be told, Iran and Russia cannot be blamed for their clear progress in the plan of regionally excluding Turkey and downgrading its role, as we are amid a huge regional confrontation and the Turkish government itself has done nothing significant to defend its interests during the past years of disturbances.
Turkey was not of aware of the threat, although it has certainly seen it as it is being gradually besieged by these two countries. The region’s characteristics are also changing against Turkey’s interests; therefore, Turkey will be the next target because Iran and Russia cannot be assured of their capabilities to dominate Iraq and Syria without getting Turkey internally preoccupied.
Muslim Brotherhood preoccupation
Turkey’s policy is lost in causes that have no value in the balance of regional struggle. Turkey occupied itself with marginal and media disputes like those related to its battle with Egypt or its support of opposition groups like the Muslim Brotherhood – affairs that are insignificant to Turkish national security. The value of the Muslim Brotherhood is equal to zero in the region’s formula and Egypt’s threat against Turkey is also zero. There’s nothing that justifies Ankara’s insistence to resume adopting this policy!
The characteristics of Iran’s plan to dominate the region have become clear. Iran has decided to neutralize the U.S. and NATO by granting them their major request of abandoning the military purposes of its nuclear program, and it has in fact succeeded at that. Then Iran began dominating Iraq and although its number one man, Nouri al-Maliki, was removed from power, it still managed to tighten its grip on political powers and it is currently the decision-maker there amid the incapability of Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi.
At the same time, the first military power consisting of Iranian, Iraqi, Lebanese and Afghani militias, formed of around 100,000 fighters, was established in Syria. Iran increased its influence by activating its alliance with Russia which sent more aerial and naval troops to Syria than the Soviet Union sent to the region during the Cold War.
Since Turkey is the regional power parallel to Iran, it’s become targeted via paralyzing its power in Syria and cancelling its presence in Iraq. The Turks cannot be alone held responsible for confronting the Iranian-Russian alliance which is driving forward in the Arab Middle East; however, Turkey is the most important. If Turkey does not reread the map of struggle and reposition itself, it will find itself in bigger trouble tomorrow.
Turkey is the one that primarily needs to revive a regional axis to confront the Iranian expansion. However, it cannot do that when among its priorities are causes like that of the Muslim Brotherhood, which for 30 years was an ally of the Iranian regime, which previously tried and failed to help them reach power in Egypt during the eras of former presidents Anwar al-Sadat and Hosni Mubarak.
This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on Dec. 9, 2015.
Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the former General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today.
We must understand why some Muslims turn radical
By Iyad Ameen Madani
Dec 10, 2015
The horrendous attacks on Paris, Beirut and Mali, and a range of events taking hold of Iraq, Syria and the African Sahel, make confronting and freeing ourselves from the scourge of terrorism an international priority. But to do so, we must first understand it. The OIC (Organization of Islamic Cooperation), a 40-year-old political organization with 57 member states, has consistently been at the forefront of the fight against terrorism. The OIC was one of the first to recognize the phenomena and formulate a policy against it. It issued a convention and a code of conduct on combatting international terrorism in 1999 and has not relented in its effort since.
The OIC has sought to combat terrorism by first understanding its root causes, including political context, socio-economic environment, cultural surrounding and its ideological discourse. We also believe religion and sect are not causes of the phenomena, but tools used by its actors. This understanding is not unique to the OIC. It is shared by other organizations, governments and is emphasized in many a communique. Yet, current efforts to defeat groups like Daesh (the more pejorative Arabic acronym for ‘ISIL’) revolve predominantly around military action with the exception of limited humanitarian support.
The commitment to exploring political, economic and cultural solutions on the other hand, has barely gone beyond lip-service. Such understanding is key if the effort to defeat extreme violence and terrorism is to succeed.
Take the root political causes of sectarian extremism in Iraq for example. The country’s state institutions, bureaucracy, security apparatus, army and the Baath Party were all dismantled by those governing Iraq since its 2003 invasion. This, coupled with a discourse reflecting sectarian and ethnic divisiveness was aggressively promoted. Iraqis were no longer identified as Iraqis, but as Shia’s, Sunnis, Kurds and Arabs. A planned approach of marginalization and exclusion followed and has intensified up until today.
In Deraa, Syria, a peaceful demand for a less oppressive system was met with a brutal response from President Assad’s security apparatus. There was no Daesh or Jabhat-Al-Nousra at the time. But the inaction of the international community which left Syria to the brutality of the Syrian armed forces created an extreme reactionary discourse.
So what are we doing to address these political realities that have precipitated the new wave of violent extremism that threatens us all? How well are we building institutions in Iraq? Can the notion of a Syrian led political process succeed without a political institutional roadmap? If we wish to learn from our failures in Iraq, can a political process in Syria really be complete without including all of Syria’s various social and political reality?
Take another case of how the prevalence of violent extremism is tied to socio-political and economic factors. If one tours the streets of Madigori in Borno, Northern Nigeria, one would notice hordes of young men aimlessly roaming the half-broken streets, with little hope, purpose or future. They make ready recruits for extremists who can promise income, a sense of purpose and belonging. This region of Nigeria, the Sahel region, Northern Mali, Somalia are all areas infested with extreme organizations. They require economic uplifting, labor intensive projects that create skills, provide income and replace the narrative of hopelessness. Has our collective fight against violent extremism really spent the time and resources to deal with such underlying conditions?
Combatting violent extremism also calls for dismantling the ideology of the movements that falsely claim to represent Islam. That means promoting Islam’s message of equality, justice, individual responsibility and freedom. Islam’s ethos could not be otherwise with Muslims accounting for one-fourth of humanity and with a civilization that was one of history’s most inclusive. It requires us to believe those countries and powers that have interest in the crisis areas can free themselves from their own political conventions. It also requires Muslims intellectuals to shake off their lethargy and seek their own Islamic modernity.
None of this will work however, if we ignore the oppression that can lead to radicalization. If, for instance, the international community keeps closing its eyes to the plight of the Palestinians, if it continues to lack the political will to confront an Israeli government that breaches international law, Palestine will always be used to convince impressionable young recruits to change an unjust world through violence. Whilst we must focus on military solutions, we must also ask the harder questions and address the deeper root causes of terrorism. Doing so could one day mean a world without Daesh.
Finally, we should not forget that those movements which falsely use Islam to legitimize their atrocities are as representatives of Islam, as different cultural manifestations of terror is representative of other cultures and religions.
Iyad Ameen Madani is Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.