American Resistance To Empire

The Curse of Zionism and the Endless Abuse of the Palestinian People


[SEE: Israel protests Former Jordanian Foreign Minister For quoting Hitler]

The big Zionist lie and the task ahead

jordan times

by Kamel S. Abu Jaber

Influential American writer of the late 19th century H.L. Mencken once wrote of mass psychology: “The men… people admire the most extravagantly are the most daring liars; the men they detest most violently are those who try to tell them the truth…”

In his book “Mein Kampf”, Adolf Hitler states that in “… the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility; because the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature…”.

The Zionist big lie about Palestine — “a land without a people” — that the entire Western world adopted, and the biblical, Talmudic myth of the “chosen people” have been the most important factors behind all the tragedies and atrocities that Palestine and the Palestinians have been subjected to since the First Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland, in l897.

Our Arab-Muslim civilisation has never had a moment of rest, or peace of mind, since Zionism was able to penetrate Western civilisation to the point where tens of millions of Westerners, the neoconservatives, adopted that esoteric Talmudic myth, placing Zionist interests before and above their own national interests.

We Arabs, Jordanians and Palestinians especially, are victims of a torrent of lies by a few international media magnates that every day enter every room of every household, propagating not only sex and violence but also, above all, the Zionist ideas of the extreme right.

American Secretary of State John Kerry has been travelling to the region for some time now in an effort to bring about peace between Palestinians and Israelis.

So far, his efforts have been shattered against the rock of Israeli resistance.

What will get Israel to agree to a settlement is not going to be good sentiments or feelings, wishes or intentions.

What is needed is a counterforce, be it military, political, economic or the oil weapon.

Unfortunately, such force is not available now, nor does it appear to be likely in the near future.

And while we are arguing and fighting among ourselves about Jordanian-Palestinian identity, right of return, Sunni-Shiite issues, etc, the land continues to be swallowed up by the insatiable appetite of a settler-, citadel-minded Zionist state supported by the full force of the West.

Joschka Fisher, former foreign minister of Germany, recently wrote regarding peace in our region: “No such hope currently exists for the Middle East…” (The Jordan Times, January 31-February 1, 2014)

An Arabic proverb says: “The rope of lies is short.”

Hopefully that will prove to be true in the case of Zionism, too, though for that to happen, we need to intensify our efforts in that direction.

I believe that Jordanians and Palestinians alone are a match for Israel, and that while we will welcome any support from other Arabs, Muslims or others, we can face Israel alone.

We have a great storehouse of sympathy and support throughout the world, even in the West: people whose sense of fairness, justice and humanity has made them stand with us and against the lies.

And these are the people with whom we should remain in close and constant contact.

It is perhaps time for the appointment of a high-ranking roving ambassador for Jerusalem affairs, personally deputised by His Majesty King Abdullah and the Jordanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, whose mission would be to attend every meeting, conference, symposium that discusses Jerusalem, Palestine and all other related issues, with the authority to call for meetings, even with heads of state, should the need arise.

By the terms of the l994 peace treaty with Israel, Jordan was entrusted with the care and protection of the holy places in Jerusalem.

The agreement signed by King Abdullah and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas last year is only a reminder of that sacred duty.

As the first qiblah of Islam and holding the most sacred shrines of Christianity, Jerusalem needs to be kept in the hearts and minds of just people everywhere, and His Majesty’s ambassador should be the symbol of that trust.

The writer is director of the Royal Institute for Interfaith Studies and former foreign minister of Jordan. He contributed this article to The Jordan Times.

Langley Orders Reverse Rhetoric In Ukraine…Calling Putin Obama

Ukraine PM: Russia Wants to Start World War III 


Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk chairs a meeting in Kyiv, Apr. 25, 2014.

VOA News
Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk is accusing Russia of wanting to occupy Ukraine “militarily and politically,” as both Kyiv and Moscow mass troops close to their mutual border.

Yatsenyuk warned Friday that Russia’s actions could lead to a wider military conflict in Europe. He told an interim Cabinet meeting that Moscow “wants to start World War III.”

U.S. President Barack Obama also criticized what he called Russia’s “further meddling” in eastern Ukraine, where armed, pro-Russian separatists have occupied government buildings.

Speaking in Seoul, Obama said he would talk to “key European leaders” later Friday about implementing wider sanctions in the event Russia further escalates the situation.

He said Russian President Vladimir Putin must decide whether he wants to see his country’s already fragile economy weakened further because he failed to act diplomatically in Ukraine.

His comments echoed that of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who said Thursday that Moscow is making “an expensive mistake” by failing to restrain the separatists.

Underscoring the threat to Moscow’s economy, credit agency Standard and Poor’s cut Russia’s credit rating to BBB- . The agency said it is concerned about increased capital outflows from Russia, and said the rating could be cut further if sanctions are tightened.

Both Obama and Kerry have accused Russia of failing to uphold the four-party deal it signed last week calling for all parties in Ukraine to lay down their weapons and vacate public buildings. Kerry said Moscow has not taken “a single step” to de-escalate tensions since the deal was signed in Geneva.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Friday blamed the West for raising tensions, saying the Pro-Russian militants would only lay down their weapons if the Ukrainian government first clears out its own protesters in the capital.

Lavrov also denounced Kyiv’s security operation to clear the pro-Russian militants, calling it a “bloody crime.” Ukrainian officials on Thursday said the crackdown killed up to five people.

Ukraine’s Interior Minister Arsen Avakov is vowing the operation will continue. On his Facebook page, Avakov said “terrorists should be on guard 24 hours a day,” but that civilians have nothing to fear.

The flurry of diplomatic exchanges come amid rising tensions along the Ukraine-Russian border, where a huge Russian military force is gathered. A Ukrainian diplomat at the United Nations told VOA that Moscow has doubled its military presence on the border to about 80,000 troops.

Pakistan Moves Heaven and Earth To Silence Pak Media Criticism of ISI

Pemra chief ‘sacked’  4-17

Geo News senior anchor Hamid Mir was shot six times  4-20

Third party exploited senior journalist’s criticism of ISI

Pakistan’s Geo TV in trouble for accusing ISI over attack on journalist Hamid Mir


Edited by Zoya Anna Thomas

Pakistan's Geo TV in trouble for accusing ISI over attack on journalist Hamid Mir

File picture of journalist Hamid Mir.

Karachi:  Pakistan’s Defence Ministry today moved to cancel private news channel Geo TV’s license, saying that it has accused the ISI of attacking journalist Hamid Mir, without evidence.

The attack on leading Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir last week in Karachi had led to unprecedented criticism and discussion on television channels about the ISI’s dubious role.

The President of Geo TV, Imran Aslam, has openly accused the ISI of targeting journalists, calling for a probe.

Mr Mir was shot and wounded on Saturday in an attack that his family also alleged was orchestrated by the Inter Services Intelligence or ISI.

According to a statement released in Karachi, the Defence Ministry has provided the authority with evidence that suggests the media group is involved in smearing the image of ISI.

“The news channel has breached the code of conduct by accusing Director General of ISI Lt Gen Zaheerul Islam of masterminding the attempt on senior journalist Hamid Mir,” the statement said. “All those who are involved in the mala fide broadcast, riddled with baseless allegations, will be taken to task.”

Hamid Mir, who hosts a prime-time current affairs talk show on the Geo News channel, was attacked on Saturday while travelling by car to his office from the airport in Karachi.

The government has announced a special commission to investigate the attack and offered a $100,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of those responsible.

A spokesman for Karachi’s Aga Khan University Hospital said Mr Mir was “conscious and stable”.

The shooting came less than a month after gunmen tried to murder another prominent liberal journalist, Raza Rumi, known for criticising the Taliban.

ISIS accuses al-Qaeda of betrayal

[SEE: Al-Qaida In Iraq Leader Ignores Zawahiri, Absorbs Saudi al-Nusra Group]

ISIS accuses al-Qaeda of betrayal


A powerful rival organization has accused al-Qaeda leaders of betraying the jihadist cause, in the latest widening of divisions rooted in Syria’s civil war.

“Al-Qaeda today is no longer a base of jihad,” Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) spokesman Abu Mohammed al-Adnani said in a statement posted on jihadist forums.

“Its leadership has become a hammer to break the project of the Islamic State,” Adnani said, adding that “the leaders of al-Qaeda have deviated from the correct path.”

“They have divided the ranks of the mujahideen (holy warriors) in every place,” he said.

Powerful rebel groups in Syria, including al-Qaeda’s designated affiliate al-Nusra Front, have been locked in fierce fighting with ISIS since January that has killed thousands of fighters.

ISIS was initially welcomed by other rebels, who have been fighting to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad since 2011, but allegations of brutal abuses against rival opposition fighters in a bid to capture territory sparked a backlash.

Both al-Nusra and ISIS have roots in al-Qaeda’s onetime Iraqi affiliate, the Islamic State of Iraq.

But the two have never merged, with al-Nusra’s leader rejecting a union proposed by ISIS, and al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri urging ISIS to return to Iraq after its fighters moved into Syria.


Saudi, Wahhabi and Muslim Brotherhood Miscalculations

Saudi, Wahhabi and MB Miscalculations

Sharnoff's Global


The public schism between the Saudi, Wahhabi and the Muslim Brotherhood ideologues is neither new nor surprising.

Saudi MB

It’s another chapter in a centuries-old conflict between the regressive, impoverished desert dwelling founders, users and propagators of the rigid Hambali-based Wahhabi doctrine and the founders of and adherents to the philosophy of the Muslim Brotherhood which sprang from one of the world’s oldest civilizations.

The struggle between the adherents of these two opposing philosophical approaches to the practice of Islam is based on religious and geopolitical enmity dating back to the 19th century and represents a protracted contest for leadership of the Muslim World. The Saudi and Muslim Brotherhood ideologues differ only in degree as to how strictly the precepts of Islam should be observed and to what ends.

The Saudi/Wahhabi doctrine is based on the 18th century teachings of  the founder of the Wahhabi movement, Mohammed Ibn Abdul Wahhab, who was a disciple of Ibn Taymiyah, a follower of Ahmed Ibn Hambal, the founder of the Hambali brand of Islam which is considered the most rigid, rejectionist form, allowing “no scope for reason or independent thinking.” The Saudi/Wahhabi clans espoused a literal interpretation of fundamentalist Islam, insisting that all Muslim advances between the 7th century and the beginning of their movement in mid-18th century constituted deviations from true Islam. The Wahhabis still consider modern technology as dangerous to their beliefs and values.

The Saudi/Wahhabi clans’ debauched adherence to their interpretation and application of their repressive brand of Islam can be attributed to their social, political and geographical environments. Born and raised in the inhospitable land-locked impoverished desert of central Arabia (known as Nejd), the adherents to the Wahhabi doctrine were isolated from other civilizations, tolerant cultures and the infusion of evolutionary ideas that might have broadened their rigid perspectives. Given their unforgiving isolated environment and unbending, survivalist mentality, it’s not surprising that the Saudi/Wahhabi allies embraced the constricted interpretation of Islam as an end in itself, the only means which they believed would guarantee their survival, potential for conquest and absolute political and social control.

Because Islam was founded in their desert land and in order to ensure their survival and control, the Saudi/Wahhab rulers (the Houses of Al-Saud and Al-Alshaikh) claimed ownership of the faith and designated the Quran as their constitution and the arbitrary Shariah (Islamic law) as the law of the land when they established their kingdom in 1932. Additionally, they designated themselves as the guardians (Custodians) of Mecca and Madina, the holy shrines of the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims so that they can exert religious influence over Muslims worldwide.

Muslim Brotherhood origins

In contrast to the founders of the Wahhabi doctrine, the Muslim Brotherhood was founded by Hassan Al-Bana, an educated Egyptian socialist/nationalist who declared that the Quran should form the basis for the legal system in Egypt because he alleged that social justice and moral purity cannot be achieved and maintained under any other system. Ostensibly, he was revolting against social injustices and immoral practices which he blamed on the infusion of Western values in the evolving Egyptian society of the 1920s and 30s. Based on his education and background, including exposure to different philosophies of Islam such as Sufism (Islamic mysticism), Al-Banna developed a less rigid Sunni interpretation of Islam as a means to achieve social objectives.

While the Saudi/Wahhabi rulers and the Muslim Brotherhood (aka Brotherhood) share a type of religious totalitarianism (the rule of Islamic law rather than secular law), the Brotherhood is more tolerant of some modern values such as educational equality for women, semi-secular constitutions and acceptance of non-Muslim faiths and houses of worship in Egypt. For example, under the Saudi/Wahhabi system “women are excluded from studying engineering, journalism, pharmacy, and architecture,” an exclusion that does not apply to the Brotherhood’s philosophy or practice. Furthermore, the Saudi/Wahhabi rulers reject all forms of non-Islamic laws and not only prohibit public practice of non-Muslim faiths in their kingdom, but advocate destruction of Christian churches in the Arabian Peninsula.

Despite their different outlooks (as discussed above), experiences, cultural dissimilarities and mutual abhorrence, the two groups have one thing in common: use of their respective ideologies as a tool to vie for leadership among Arabs and Muslims. The Saudis and the Brotherhood have always competed with each other for power and influence even when they seemed to be cooperating.

Saudi manipulation

The Saudis have shrewdly manipulated their friends and foes to promote their interests and divert potential threats to their survival. For example, they publicly embraced Hassan Al-Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, and put him on their payroll in 1948. Presumably, they wanted to cultivate his goodwill and by doing so infiltrate and control or weaken his organization which they saw as a challenge to their ideological influence.

The Saudis further manipulated the Brotherhood to combat the rise of secular Arab nationalism in the 1950s, 60s and 70s under the leadership of President Nasser of Egypt who considered Arab religious movements and monarchies reactionary and obstacles to Arab unity. The Saudi rulers supported the Brotherhood’s efforts to undermine Nasser’s secularization of Egyptian society which the Saudis, like the Brotherhood, felt would weaken the appeal of both groups’ ideologies.

When Nasser turned against the Brotherhood and hanged their spiritual thinker, Syed Qutb in 1966, Saudi King Faisal, a staunch enemy of Nasser, welcomed a large number of the Brotherhood to stay and conduct their anti-Nasser activities from Saudi Arabia. However, during their stay in Saudi Arabia, the Muslim Brothers converted many Saudis to their way of thinking. With the ascendance of friendly Egyptian leaders such as Sadat and Mubarak after Nasser’s death, the Saudis’ need for the Brotherhood diminished. The assassination of pro-Saudi President Sadat in 1981 by soldiers associated with the Muslim Brotherhood further fueled Saudi rulers’ distrust of that organization.


Saudi acrimony toward the Brotherhood mushroomed publicly into open accusations and blame after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the US by mostly Saudi nationals, led by an Egyptian affiliated with the Brotherhood.

In a burst of emotion and anger, former Saudi Interior Minister Prince Naif blamed the Brotherhood for destroying Arabs and Islam. In a passionate interview with a Kuwaiti newspaper, Prince Naif was quoted as saying, “The Brotherhood has done great damage to Saudi Arabia.” He went on to say, “All our problems come from the Muslim Brotherhood. We have given too much support to this group… The Muslim Brotherhood has destroyed the Arab world.”

He blamed the Brotherhood for a list of wars and terrorist activities including the attack on the US on 9/11, the takeover of Islam’s holiest shrine, Mecca’s Grand Mosque in 1979 by Saudi zealots/nationalists and Saddam Hussein’s invasion and occupation of Kuwait in 1990-91. Even though Naif’s attack on the Brotherhood was meritorious, he was also hypocritical. The Saudi government and other wealthy Gulf rulers engage in subversive activities throughout the world. Naif’s accusations against the Brotherhood were presumably designed to deflect some of the global media’s unprecedented criticism of Saudi support for terrorists and extremists as well as to counteract the Brotherhood’s rising influence.

The Brotherhood’s recent geopolitical gains in Egypt and in other Arab countries due to the “Arab Spring,” combined with other events looming over Saudi Arabia had left its rulers more vulnerable, isolated and uncertain of their future than ever. Saudi failure to recruit support for their Syrian policy; their dwindling regional and global significance due to less dependence on Saudi oil and strategic location; the US and European Union’s flirting with Iran; likely ties between Israel and Iran and budding alliances between the Brotherhood and major Muslim states (e.g. Turkey, Iran and Qatar) have all coalesced to weaken the Saudis’ influence and threaten their sense of security.

Saudi/Brotherhood miscalculations

The Saudi/Brotherhood relations suffered a major blow immediately after the election of President Morsi due to his strategic outreach to Iran. Furthermore, the current Administration of the US, the Saudis’ most staunch ally, had voiced support for the Brotherhood as the legitimate government of Egypt.

These worrisome developments left the Saudis with no options but to counter the Brotherhood’s growing power not only in Egypt, but in Saudi Arabia, the other Gulf States and the Greater Middle East. Consequently, the Saudis joined with unlikely allies, secular and liberal Egyptians. Taking advantage of the anti-Brotherhood surge in Egypt, the Saudi rulers supported and financed the Egyptian military to depose the Brotherhood’s first elected government. This move halted the immediate spread of Brotherhood-instigated revolutionary movements in the Gulf States, as well as thwarting nascent alliances between the Brotherhood and major Sunni Arab and Muslim states.

While the Saudis have removed these immediate threats by using the Egyptian military to trample the Brotherhood, they may have only won a temporary victory. Like the Muslim Brotherhood’s colossal mistakes in governing Egypt, the Saudis may have made a perilous miscalculation by driving the group underground. Given their numerical strength in Egypt and throughout the world, their widely appealing social  philosophy among many Muslims and their delivery of significant social services, the Brotherhood will be in a stronger position to mobilize their imbedded cells, especially in the Gulf region, and do more damage to the autocratic Saudi and other Gulf monarchies than they would have, for pragmatic reasons, had they remained in power in Egypt.

Given their long history of enmity, as long as the Saudi and Muslim Brotherhood ideologues remain active, they will likely continue to struggle for leadership of the Muslim world.

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Dr. Ali Alyami is the founder and executive director of the Center for Democracy and Human Rights in Saudi Arabia, CDHR, in Washington, DC. CDHR focuses on promoting peaceful and incremental democratic reforms in Saudi Arabia, including empowerment of women, religious freedom, free flow of information, free movement, free press, privatization of government industries, free elections, non-sectarian constitution, and codified rule of law, transparency and accountabilityRead other articles by Ali.

A Nation and An Economy Guided By the Principle of Creative Destruction

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Pakistan and the War Within Islam

Pakistan and the Sunni Gulf

the diplomat

Pakistan and the Sunni Gulf

Image Credit: REUTERS/Mian Khursheed

Recent months have brought Islamabad a flurry of visits from leaders of Sunni gulf nations, prompting many observers to question just what Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif might be getting the already embattled country into.

Pakistan’s 190 million inhabitants include around 26 million Shiites, giving it the largest population of the minority Muslim sect’s adherents after Iran. While Pakistan has officially tried to remain on the sidelines of the regular Shiite-Sunni flare-ups in the Middle East over the last few decades, backroom deals with Sunni monarchies like those being signed recently have not gone unnoticed domestically.

Pakistan is already witnessing unprecedented levels of sectarian violence, with more than 1,700 killed since 2008. The armed groups responsible for the bloodshed were born out of the global sectarian tensions that followed the Iranian Revolution of 1979, which produced the first modern Shiite theocracy.

Now, as the three-year-old civil war in Syria is encouraging Muslim nations to form Shiite and Sunni blocs, there is concern that if Pakistan were to join the fray globally, things could go from bad to worse domestically.

Bahrain’s king, Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, smiles down on traffic in Pakistan’s capitol Islamabad from hundreds of banners lining the streets, a reminder of the ruler’s visit last month, the first by a Bahraini ruler in 40 years.

The words “Pakistan welcomes you!” are emblazoned across the top, although that is more an aspiration than reality.

The details of Khalifa’s visit were kept deliberately vague, with the Pakistani Foreign Office describing discussions between the “brotherly countries” centering around “bilateral, regional and international matters of mutual interest.” What little information that did emerge was worrying to some Pakistanis, like the pledge to increase the “export of Pakistani manpower to Bahrain.” That’s something that has ended badly in the past.

In 2011, when largely Shiite protesters began demanding that Bahrain move towards a constitutional monarchy, thousands of ex-soldiers and police officers were recruited from Pakistan with the promise of Bahraini citizenship. The Pakistani security personnel shouted orders at Bahrainis in English and Urdu, becoming the face of a brutal crackdown by the state that engulfed Shiite villages in perpetual clouds of tear gas.

But Bahrain’s domestic troubles pale in comparison to the explosive war in Syria, which has drawn thousands of Sunni jihadists, including Al-Qaeda’s leadership, into a conflict Islamist extremists see as an apocalyptic confrontation with Shiite Islam, in this case the forces of Bashar al-Assad and neighboring Iran.

With prospects for a negotiated settlement fading, the rebels are in need of weapons and expertise to get them out of a stalemate. Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Qatar have set up camps to coordinate the training of Syrian rebels, but are in need of instructors and equipment.

That likely prompted a rare February visit to Pakistan by Saudi Arabia’s crown prince Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, who doubles as the defense minister. Over three days in Islamabad, al-Saud met the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, the President Mamnoon Hussain, and the country’s top military leadership.

His prize: a 180-degree shift in Pakistan’s policy towards the war in Syria, which had previously been one of neutrality. A joint statement called for “the formation of a transnational governing body with full executive powers enabling it to take charge of the affairs of the country.” In other words, Pakistan now stands with Saudi Arabia in demanding the departure of Bashar al-Assad.

A few weeks later, $1.5 billion was transferred to Pakistan’s state bank by an unnamed “brotherly country,” giving the rupee is largest boost in years. When word leaked the funds had come from Saudi Arabia, many in Pakistan began to connect the dots with other rumors about Pakistan’s shift in policy.

A long-delayed pipeline meant to carry natural gas from Iran to energy-starved Pakistan has effectively been killed by Nawaz Sharif’s government. Pakistan has not built any of the 781 km pipeline on its side that it’s contractually obligated to complete by December 2014, and stands to incur a daily fine of $3 million next year.

Meanwhile, there are rumors Pakistan is planning to provide Saudi Arabia with expert trainers and equipment for the Syrian rebels.

Officials have been coy on the details, but responding to inquiries in February, a Foreign Ministry spokesperson admitted it was looking to sell the Gulf kingdom the JF-17 Thunder, a fighter jet developed jointly with China, and other unspecified equipment.

That equipment is thought to include the Anza, a heat-seeking, shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missile designed with China and manufactured locally. It’s the equivalent of the American Stinger missile, which was used to equip jihadist fighters during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan three decades ago. The U.S., which is also supplying the Syrian rebels with light arms and communication equipment, is reportedly reluctant to hand over its own shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles for fear of where they might end up.

Thousands of Pakistani troops, who now have more than a decade of experience fighting insurgents in the country’s war against the Taliban, may also make their way to Saudi Arabia to train the rebels.

All of that prompted criticism by Pakistani lawmakers, who grilled the foreign minister last month about what their military could play in the Syrian war. “We are afraid this amount has a link with the Syrian situation,” Syed Khursheed Shah, who leads the opposition in the National Assembly, told reporters. The prime minister himself weighed in, categorically denying that any troops would be sent to Saudi Arabia or Bahrain.

But the rumors have persisted, including one story that Pakistan might deploy nuclear weapons to Saudi Arabia if Iran goes nuclear itself. While Pakistan has vehemently denied that story – which does indeed seem far-fetched – the fact is, Pakistan owes Saudi Arabia a favor.

Pakistan’s decades-long nuclear weapons program finally yielded a weapon in 1998, prompting severe sanctions by the United States, which were only lifted when the country’s cooperation was needed following the September 11, 2001 attacks. Beginning in 1998, Saudi Arabia began supplying Pakistan with 50,000 barrels a day of free crude oil, worth nearly $2 billion.

In fact, Pakistan’s military-to-military cooperation with Saudi Arabia goes back five decades. Between the 1960s and 1980s, tens of thousands of Pakistani troops were stationed in Saudi Arabia, working under Saudi command. Pakistani fighter pilots trained their first Saudi counterparts, and in 1969 flew jets that successfully repulsed incursions by Yemeni forces. Pakistani engineers built Saudi fortifications along its border with Yemen, meant to keep out Shiite Houthi fighters to the south.

During the first Gulf War, Pakistan toned down the presence of 15,000 troops in Saudi Arabia, ordering them away from the frontlines, fearing a backlash from Saddam Hussein, and sectarian groups at home.

It was during those decades that the sectarian groups now plaguing Pakistan first emerged.

In 1980, military ruler Zia ul Haq instituted the Zakaat Ordinance, which forced Shiites and Sunnis alike to turn over 2.5 percent of their income, as was required under Islamic law, to the state to be spent on charity. Pakistan was engulfed in protests by Shiites, who objected to the state’s interference in their religious practices. Ayatollah Khomeini, Iran’s leader, convinced Zia ul Haq to exempt Shiites from the law.

That movement spawned the Tehrik-e-Jafria, a Shiite group sworn to protect the minority’s rights. Sunnis saw the group as a front for the Iranian regime, and by 1985, hardliners had formed their own group, called Sipah-e-Sahaba. In 1990, one of that group’s founders, Haq Nawaz Jhangvi, was killed, and in return, Sunni militants killed the Iranian Consul General.

In 1997, a bomb killed the head of the Sunni Sipah-e-Sahaba group; in return, Sunni militants killed an Iranian diplomat in the city of Multan. Later that year, the Iranian cultural center in Lahore was also bombed, and five Iranian soldiers training in Pakistan were killed.

Today, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a splinter group of the Sunni Sipah-e-Sahaba, has claimed responsibility for the deaths of hundreds of Shiites in the city of Quetta, killed in bombings and brazen attacks on buses carrying pilgrims to Iran, Iraq and Syria. Dozens of Shiite and Sunni clerics have been gunned down in Pakistan this year alone, in tit-for-tat assassinations each blames on “foreign interference.”

“There is no doubt the differences are being instigated,” said Muhammad Amin Shaheedi, the head of Pakistan’s largest Shia political party. “It’s terrorism being fanned by others, outsiders who are taking advantage of the situation.”

Ahmed Ludhianvi, head of a Sunni group that formed after Sipah-e-Sahaba was banned in 2002, has exactly the same view. “Some foreign powers are trying to bring Pakistan to the brink of civil war,” he says. “This bloodshed began after 1979.”

To be sure, Pakistan’s sectarian militants are now operating on auto-pilot, and the idea that Iran and the Sunni Gulf monarchies are to blame seems farfetched. But if Pakistan’s pivot away from Iran continues and it finds itself mired in a sectarian war in Syria, those domestic militants could become proxy warriors in a conflict that has already killed hundreds of thousands in the Middle East.

Umar Farooq is based in Pakistan, where he works as a correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor and the Wall Street Journal. He has also written for The Atlantic, Foreign Policy, The Globe and Mail, and The Nation.

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