Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Changes within Complex Crises; Iraq’s Emerging Mediator Role. Translated by Ghassan & Intibah Kadi

A very interesting analysis by Tarek Tarshishi which was published today (11/11/2014) on Al-Joumhouria (a Lebanese daily). It centres on a possible new pivotal role that the Iraqi diplomacy might be able to play in the very near future.
The post-Saddam Iraq is closer to its neighbours than most of them are to each other. It has good relations with Iran, Syria, Jordan, Turkey, and working on thawing the recent freeze with Saudi Arabia. Last but not least, it is also close to the United States. This puts it in a unique regional position, one that it can use as a broker and a mediator. The author examines those scenarios.
The article ends up on a very positive note that is based on the recent Lebanese Army takeover of the city of Tripoli and the ousting of ISIS sympathisers from Lebanon's second largest city and the entire Northern Lebanon.
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Changes within Complex Crises; Iraq’s Emerging Mediator Role.
Al Joumhouriya.
By Tarek Tarshishi  11/11/2014
Translated By Ghassan Kadi and Intibah Wakeup
Observers are watching with interest the new direction the Iraq government is taking towards two states that it was only recently still accusing of backing terrorist organisations within Mesopotamia.


Those observers are wondering what the real reasons are behind the recent visit of the Iraqi Foreign Minister, Dr Ibrahim Jaafari, to Turkey and the huge reception he received. They wonder if this reception was based on economics in which Turkey seeks an open trade channel for its goods and products to Arabia and the Gulf and where it can remain open with Iraq providing the logistics for this route, thereby bolstering the Turkish economy at a time when its future seems uncertain.

Or, was this visit and reception the result of political interests reflecting the Turkish wish to stifle the project of an independent Kurdistan based in Northern Iraq, expanding westwards towards Turkey and Syria, given that both countries have common concerns regarding this project?

Or, was this visit related to oil supplies to Turkey and the construction of gas pipes from Iraq and the Gulf leading to the Turkish ports on the Mediterranean? And, last but not least, was it about reviewing the strategies that have been imposed upon Turkey in view of the recent developments in Syria and the recent attack of the international alliance on ISIS and Al Nusra and the Turkish embarrassment that followed?

The observers are also asking; will Iraq, with its close ties with Iran and Turkey, enable Turkish President Erdogan to review his position towards the Syrian crisis and offer him a bridge? Or does Iraq simply want Turkey to stop supporting the armed as well as unarmed opposition to its new government?

Obviously, what is going to make Turkey’s need for Iraq exceed Iraq’s need for Turkey is the current visit of the Iraqi President, Fouad Maasoum, to Riyadh at a time when competition between Saudi Arabia and Turkey for the Sunni leadership in the region is at its highest. This competition is seen most clearly in the insistence of the Turkish and Qatari funded Jabhat al Nusra to liquidate all Islamist organisations that are sponsored by Riyadh in the Idlib and Aleppo regions.


The expected Saudi reception to the Iraqi President draws a lot of interest least of which, due to the recent declaration of the Iraqi President, that the way to confront ISIS starts with overcoming the differences and political divisions in Iraq; issues in which Saudi Arabia can play a big role in overcoming.


The Sunni and Kurdish Iraqi President, Maasoum, is going to Riyadh to establish a new relationship between Baghdad and the land of the holy Islamic shrines. This relationship will have positive repercussions on the Sunni-Shia relationships on the one hand and, on the other hand, of the relationship between Saudi Arabia with Iran and Syria.


The easing of the Saudi – Iraqi relationship, as seen by the observers, will take the relationships between Riyadh and Damascus half way, and, it will also open some pathways between Saudi Arabia and the Islamic Republic of Iran. This development in the Saudi – Iraqi relationship cannot be looked at in isolation from the trilateral talks between American Foreign Secretary, Kerry, and his Iranian and EU counterparts, Jawad Zarif and Catherine Ashton in Oman. According to expectations, these talks are going to pave way for significant steps to resolve the Western-Iranian nuclear impasse despite the doubts of the non-enthusiastic hawks.


From this perspective, many read in Obama’s letter to the Spiritual leader of Iran, Ayatollah Khamenei, a tacit assurance to hawkish Iranians that a deal with Washington will not be at the expense of Iran and that, in fact, it could lead to several economic and political easing that will give Iran a bigger role regionally and internationally.


This letter also forms the foundation to clarify that America’s revision of the Syrian crisis clearly indicates that its priorities now are fighting ISIS and similar organisations and not toppling Bashar al Assad.


These developments coincide with Western and Arabic reports that speak of the bilateral Russo-Egyptian role in facilitating a diplomatic solution in Syria which starts with a cease-fire in the hot regions in the north and the south of the country alike, all the way through the Homs region which was recently visited by the UN envoy, Staffan de Mistura , during which he met with the Homs Province governor Talal al Barazi as well as representatives of the opposition in an attempt to find a resolution for the fighters in Hai Alwar, in line with what has happened to other fighters in the old city of Homs earlier on.


The observers see that the flurry of diplomatic activities between the regional capitals and the rest of the world will result in the easing of many complex crises including the Syrian crisis. This includes moving towards a resolution that retains the presidency of Assad and allows keeping the doors open for an opposition that has not been involved in bloodshed in order that they participate in a national conciliation government.


To this effect, the information points to Moscow and Cairo working in conjunction to foster and promote a Syrian opposition entity headed by the previous president of the Syrian National Council, Ahmad Mouaz al Khatib. Al Khatib is accepted by Washington as a representative of the moderate opposition and one with whom the government is prepared to debate with in order to finalise the conciliation process which has thus far included 43 geographical areas.


Is it possible now to say that Iraq’s political move towards Ankara and Riyadh is changing its status from a playground to a player in the regions’ conflict? Has the international, regional and Arabic community conceded that Assad will stay as a President, changing the priorities instead to fighting terrorism? This was the priority that the official Syrian delegation took to Geneva II whilst the opposition, on the other hand at that time, was prioritizing forming an interim government, one that Lebanese leader Walid Jumblatt predicted President Assad would remain the leader of.


As for ISIS, it seems to be another story altogether. All indications from reports emerging from Syrian Ain al Arab (Kobani) all the way to the Iraqi town of Biji, indicate that the Caliph Abu Bakr al Baghdadi has been injured in a recent air strike. Before that, the recent developments in Tripoli and the rest of Northern Lebanon all indicate that ISIS has entered the countdown phase (that will mark its end).

http://www.aljoumhouria.com/news/index/184930

Sunday, November 9, 2014

THE ELUSIVE MODERATE SYRIAN REBELS: By Ghassan Kadi 9 Nov 2014

THE ELUSIVE MODERATE SYRIAN REBELS:
By Ghassan Kadi
9 November 2014


American foreign policy makers have the history of creating a boogie man and a saviour in every corner of the world where they intervene. Up until Obama declared that there will be no more American boots on the ground, the saviour has been the American GI, who paid for their lives by the tens of thousands fighting needlessly in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan and other places. With Obama’s declaration, the saviour has to be a local; that it unless the new GOP-dominated Congress decrees otherwise and pushes for a resurrection of the boots-on-the-ground resolution.


But assuming that America sticks to its Obama policy and continues its pursuit to arm “moderate Syrian rebels”, many questions have been asked about who are indeed those rebels?


Analysts who want to push the band-wagon of an on-going unbreakable ISIS-American coalition call it a bluff. They argue that America is planning to arm ISIS instead of fighting it. Facts on the ground and in the conflict dynamics indicate otherwise. The rift between ISIS on one hand, and the Americans and their Saudi allies on the other hand is too obvious to be ignored. The rush of ISIS to self-fund was the most significant development that enabled ISIS to break away and chase up its own agenda and interests after the failure of plan-Bandar.


So who are the “moderate Syrian rebels” America is talking about? They cannot be the FSA. The FSA is a spent force and its recruitment drive is virtually non-existent. Not even high salaries can lure in enough fighters in a manner that can counter balance the huge recruitment drive that is fueled by the ISIS theology.


Private contractors such as Blackwater are very expensive and do not offer long-term solutions.
This leaves two feasible options. It is either that American politicians are regurgitating sheer nonsense simply for media consumption in an attempt to prove that their fingers are on the pulse, or that they are planning to use the Kurds.


The term moderate fits the Kurds as the majority of them are not Islamic fundamentalists. The term Syrian can fit them if borders are stretched slightly. All they need is some attraction to turn them into rebels who can serve America’s interests. And rebels they already are. Most of them are already well trained militarily and battle-hardened.


If truth were to be discussed, words should not be minced. Kurdish people are proud Levantines who have played significant role in the history of the Levant. They are part-and-parcel of the wonderful mosaic that makes the Levant what it is. They can attract a lot of sympathy, and they have indeed been the subject of many injustices in Iraq, Syria, Turkey and Iran. Few conveniently fail to mention that their recent plight did not begin with Saddam. As a matter of fact, they have been massacred and bombed by the British in the 1930’s. But because they are highly divided, they neither have their collective power any more than they have loyal regional friends. In brutal honesty, they have more adversaries than allies.


After Saddam’s demise, they have managed to attain autonomy in Northern Iraq and the oil wealth was the icing on the cake. But many of their “compatriots” in Southern Turkey and Eastern Syria continue to live under squalid conditions and abject poverty.


If they get united, the Kurds can turn into a force to reckon with. Their actual number is not exactly known, but to say 30 million would perhaps be an underestimate if anything. The homeland they call Kurdistan is huge. They haven’t thus far been able to unite under a collective leadership, but an American promise of a bigger state than the current one in Iraq, a territory that eats away into Syria and Turkey may just fit the bill and do the job.


What stands in the way of such an American-Kurdish deal is Turkey. Presently, Turkey is the only regional ally of America who is refusing to lend a hand in the fight against ISIS. The reason being Turkey’s fear of Kurdish power expansion inside Turkey and at its borders. Turkey would much prefer to see the Kurds get crushed by ISIS than otherwise. It has no problem with ISIS, and if it appeases ISIS, it can to some extent guarantee that home-grown Jihadists are not going to put Turkey on the terror hit list.


It is also likely that Turkey wishes to see ISIS expand as far as Mecca. An ISIS takeover of Arabia will first and foremost remove Al-Saud from the scene; Turkey’s natural religious rivals, and secondly, an ISIS-controlled Mecca will demand a Sunni army to liberate. And who else but Turkey fits the bill? Pakistan technically does, but Pakistan would not be interested and the logistics would be very difficult.


It is highly likely that Erdogan wants to reverse Turkey’s fortune and dismay of the events of last century when nearly a hundred years ago, Muslim Arabs with their British allies pushed Turkey out of Mecca. Would it not be Erdogan’s sweetest revenge to see the West and Arabs together begging him to liberate Mecca?


But events may not go this far if Turkey accepts America’s plan of arming and training Kurdish fighters to fight ISIS instead. In reality however, Erdogan will never accept a Kurdish state that prunes away a big chunk of Turkey.


Such an impasse can be resolved by one of two ways; either by having an undercover deal in which Turkey and America both agree that the promise of a bigger Kurdish state is going to be deceptive, or by Erdogan accepting the deal as an interim measure so as to appease America, and then pounce at the Kurds when the timing become suitable. That said, Erdogan may not need to lift a finger, because rival Kurdish leaders can be swayed to fight over the bounty they get. The divisions can be brought to the surface resulting in more infighting and bloodshed. This has happened to them a few times in history.


Either way, the Kurds are tipped to lose. The Kurds have been the subject of many deceptions, massacres and atrocities in the past and if they fall into this American trap, it won’t only be for their detriment, but also for the detriment of the entire region. So far, Syrian Kurds have played an honourable and significant role supporting the Syrian government and army, but given the volatility in policy making, this can change.


If and when the Kurds become THE declared “moderate Syrian rebels”, much attention will be needed to see whether or not they will unite under the lures and misgivings of the USA. The wisdom of Kurdish leaders will then be put to the biggest test it had thus far confronted.

Monday, November 3, 2014

THE SYRIAN MICROCOSM: By Ghassan Kadi 2 November 2014

THE SYRIAN MICROCOSM:
By Ghassan Kadi
2 November 2014

When the “War On Syria” started in 2011, Syrian patriots and their savvy international friends and supporters realized from the early beginnings that there was a huge global conspiracy against Syria.
The so-called revolution seeking reform was soon to change into a war waged by Islamist fundamentalists against all of those who oppose them, including Syrian Sunnis.


The fear back then was escalation, and escalation is not only necessarily a horizontal action in which the battle field expands to include other parties and countries. The fear was about the escalation in the theological warfare and the reach of theological recruitments.

And even though the war was being waged only in Syria, global pockets of radicalism were gazing with watchful eyes. The focus had to remain on Syria, and the untold story about Syria had to be made known and public, but in reality, Syria is simply a microcosm of the globe and its passions.


The dilemma in the Middle East is primarily a result of utter failure of institutionalised religions.


On one hand, we find the Zionists claiming to be the chosen people who have a God-given mandate to pillage, kill and steal land. Their God-promised capital is Jerusalem. They will and can argue their case in accordance with their interpretations of their holy scriptures.


On the other hand, we find Islamists who believe that the whole world should convert to Islam by the power of the sword. They too claim ownership of Al-Kuds (Jerusalem) and also manage to find words in their holy book that they interpret in a manner that supports their claims and beliefs.


And then within Islam, away from militarized fundamentalists, Sunni and Shiite theologies bicker, each claiming to be the correct one; not any different though from The Catholics and the Protestants and other Christian denominations.


And when it comes to Christianity, the West no longer calls itself the Christian World, because that would be politically incorrect. But when a Muslim community tries to build a mosque somewhere in the West, the true colours of the “natives” shine like red flags. But again, where and when permissions were granted, many such mosques have been turned into bases for teaching radicalism and even training sleeper cells.


What the world is witnessing now is the result of century upon century of institutionalized religions fighting each other and demanding that their followers see followers of other religions as enemies.


The “War On Syria” is no longer one that can be contained by Syrian efforts alone. It cannot be won by fighting the original Anti-Syrian Cocktail. Beating up the chest and the drums blaming the United States of America for “creating” ISIS is not going to take the threat of ISIS away, for the foundation of ISIS is within the core corrupt interpretations of Islam.

Even if the west stops supporting ISIS completely and permanently, and even if the organization called ISIS is completely dismantled and crushed, the corrupt and violent Islamic fundamentalism will always find new sponsors.

Syria is now the hot spot, the volcano of the world perhaps, but the whole world is heating up and simmering and getting more fragmented and radicalised like never before. And just like the globe was getting divided on nationalistic and racial divides a century ago, it is now getting divided on religious and sectarian divides, and hence the dangers cannot be under-estimated.

The fundamentalist genie is now out of the bottle, and each party is digging in its heels fully convinced that he is right and all others are wrong, and that his religion can prove it.


Fundamentalist sleeper cells are all over the world, brewing, training, and all getting poised at each other. They are not small organizations. Many of them are backed by big and rich nations. Many of them ARE big and rich nations.

The Islamic takfiris are a huge threat. Down the pipeline, they are eyeing one billion Muslim youths to recruit. Is the world ready to even contemplate the potential of an army of one billion takfiris? Such a figure cannot be reached, but if it is a potential, it cannot be overlooked either.

But to be honest and realistic, once again, the sad and sorrowful state of the globe is the results of a collective human failure that has been festering for centuries in every “religion” in every corner of the globe.

It is coming to a head very soon near you.

Some may argue that it is not religion. It is economy, oil, resources, etc… In reality however, economic conflicts that divide the world and cause wars are in essence another form of dark religion and the money-god that some people follow. For as long as some believe in the “us and them” concept, for as long as they believe that their interests are above all other interests, even if this means enslaving other nations and stealing their resources, then we would only be speaking of a slightly different face of darkness. Karl Marx was wrong. Historical Materialism does not rule the world, it only rules the ignorant greedy side of humanity in the similar manner that corrupt religion does. And if religion is the opium of people, then money is the lure for lust.


On Syrian and international levels, it will become essential to topple the Saudi regime which is based on the Wahhabi principles that are entirely founded on corrupt Islam. This will perhaps be the only guarantee to stop further official Saudi financing to the ISIS ideology. But even if/when the West realizes that it should never ever again use Islamic fundamentalism for short-term military gain, and even if the house of Al-Saud is destroyed and burned, the roots of Islamic fundamentalism will not go away because they are deeply embedded in and within false, and thus far unchallenged, core interpretations of the Quran,


If Muslim clerics truly wish to clean up the image of Islam and reveal its compassion and wisdom, they cannot continue to ignore addressing the core beliefs that underpin Islamic fundamentalism. They will have to address them.


But at the end of the day, laws, decrees and Fatwas do not make humans human. The only hope for humanity is in each and every individual fighting his/her own demons, rising above the hatred and divisions he/she have been taught, and restoring one’s humanity that is full of wonderful virtues and love.

WHICH FUNDAMENTALIST RELIGION? By Ghassan Kadi

WHICH FUNDAMENTALIST RELIGION?
By Ghassan Kadi
1 November 2014

Whilst there are many good reasons for the world to be concerned about the so-called Islamic terrorism, in the eyes of many, Islam is now seen as a religion of violence.


The truth of the matter is that corrupt Islam is violent but true Islam is not. For fairness to Islam, we ought to have a more honest look at other “religions” and examine their corruption and violent taint.


Judaism, in its true and pure essence, is best seen in David’s Psalms. Anyone with just an ounce of faith in his/her heart on reading the Psalms feels their awe and wonder. This is Judaism, a far cry from Zionism.

And the true Israelites are pious enlightened people who abide by their Lord and His Law. Being an Israelite is a spiritual station, not a birthright. God does not favour a race of people against another regardless of how heretic, corrupt and murderous they can be. But the Judaism upon which Zionism has been based is a dogma that has turned God into an unfair and discriminating villain.

The so-called Arab-Israeli conflict is a direct outcome of misinterpretations of the Torah. The Torah cannot be blamed for the ignorance of some Jews any more than the Quran can be blamed for the ignorance of some Muslims.

And what about Christianity, or what is left of it.

It is so ironic that the virtually thousands of different Churches and denominations never ask the question of what was Christianity in between 33 AD and 325 AD. What is even more ironic is that with all the Christian inter-faith disputes, divisions, wars and massacres, no established Church questions the decrees of the First Council of Nicaea of 325 AD.

The basic founding theology of all different Churches were set in stone on that day. It was when Roman Emperor Constantine decided to adopt Christianity and make it the religion of Rome. He summoned 318 Cardinals in what was to become known as the First Council of Nicaea. It was on that day, nearly 300 years after the “death” of Jesus that Christianity took its present form.

The form Christianity was made to take was NOT decided upon by the words of Jesus and His actions, but by what suited the personal opinions of the Cardinals at that time.

If Christians stop and think that the Christian stories which followed the “death” of Jesus were actually based on the words of ordinary men, with possible political and personal afflictions, they may start asking their Churches some serious questions.

Christians who did not unquestionably obey the outcome of this Council were persecuted in the harshest manner possible. The bloodshed in the name of Jesus went unashamedly on and on. Even now, the secular West brags about its alleged Christian values.

Neither is Israel Jewish any more than the West is Christian, so bear Islam some sympathy because Islamists are not Muslims.