|By Reem al-Harmi/Washington
Those who speak both Arabic and English, follow more than one news media and understand the nuances of Arab and American culture, may draw the correlation and connection with my article’s title.
Let me explain. We all know that when politicians start to use religion, things often get ugly. The outcome usually isn’t good; it is especially so if the audience is diverse and don’t share the politicians’ religious views.
Both the Salafists and the Republican party in the United States tend to diminish women’s role in the political arena. That was the case when Todd Akin, a representative from Missouri, started a heated wave of controversy when he spoke about rape. His remarks were seen as a “war on women”. This is in line with the views of the Salafists in the Middle East. Their stances have sparked a lot of controversy in the Middle East.
Another aspect where Republicans are viewed as Neo-Salafists is when it comes to their approach on other minorities, religious in particular and ethnicity in general. We are aware the Republican party does not miss a chance in saying wrong and racist things about Arabs and Muslims.
Last week the GOP candidate Gabriela Mercer, Arizona’s representative, asked “why” Middle Easterners are in America. Before that there were many instances of racist comments: Romney once called the Palestinians “invented people”. Minority groups in parts of the Middle East are also harassed and attacked, creating a state of fear on many levels. In the US, politicians from the Republican party don’t commit violent acts. However, their venomous speeches and attacks on Arabs and Muslims contribute to hate crimes, mosque and church vandalism and other discriminatory practices.
Even Latinos and sometimes African-Americans, aren’t safe either from the controversial remarks of the GOP. In fact during the GOP convention, nuts were thrown at a CNN camerawoman who was an African-American and told by a Republican attendee: “This is how we feed animals.”
Both Republicans and Salafists use their extreme form of religion or rather abuse it for their political ends. But people aren’t going to fall for any false claims based on religion, and attacking a component of a society, even if you don’t agree with that component, whether, it’s a Muslim, Christian, or a homosexual, an African-American, will finally backfire.
The vast majority of people wouldn’t want a party with a racist and discriminatory attitude to rule them or make their laws and legislation, because parties like these care more about their own political views and interests rather than about their country and people in general who might not share the same belief, politically or religiously. A diverse society is always a great thing. And smart politicians and governments learn make the best out of it.
Al-Qaeda is often trotted out as a bogey to justify US aggression against others. Al-Qaeda is an American creation and a handy tool. The noxus alliance has become fully exposed in Syria.
As in other aspects of life, disagreements among socio-political or economic entities cannot always be described as competition or hostility. The European Union (EU) disagrees with some of the US methodologies in the Muslim East but it would be inaccurate to deduce from this that the EU is not a strategic partner of US imperialism in the region. In matters of strategic alliances, it is important to see on what matters the members agree and how crucial the points of their agreement or disagreement are in regard to reaching certain strategic goals. In the US, Democrats and Republicans disagree on many issues, but on strategic matters their vision is rooted within the same imperialist/capitalist paradigm.
It is very rare to observe two states, organizations or institutions agree on certain crucial policies without a thought-through and coordinated process. During the Cold War even though the USSR and the US disagreed on many issues, they both carefully calibrated their efforts in regard to containing the Islamic Revolution in Iran, at times directly and at other times indirectly. The USSR and the Western bloc were both supplying Saddam Hussein with weapons against Islamic Iran. While the US support for Saddam is well known, most people do not know that between 1980 and 1988 the USSR provided Saddam with more weapons than any other country in the world. Even though often during the Cold War, the US and USSR were on opposite sides, their animosity toward Islamic civilizational alternative was a much more important issue to both than their own rivalry.
Today, at a superficial level the US is engaged in a war against al-Qaeda and other like-minded groups. However, deeper research and analysis reveals that al-Qaeda leadership and the US are in fact strategic partners. In order to prove this, let us conduct a brief factual analysis of where the interests of the US and its modern-day Khawarij (Wahhabi/al-Qaeda) creation converge.
Reviewing the literature, the intellectual framework and the operational mindset of al-Qaeda leadership that sometimes functions under the designation, Salafis, it becomes evident that their ideological center is the US-backed Saudi regime. In the last 60 years, every US government has declared the Saudi monarchy as its strategic partner. Saudi cooperation with the US on every single strategic issue is well known and needs no elaboration. This, therefore, leads to the pertinent question: why would the Saudi regime allow the so-called anti-US and anti-Israeli “scholars” to operate freely in the kingdom and propagate the thoughts of al-Qaeda that is supposedly the archenemy of Saudi regime’s strategic partner? Muslims and non-Muslims should research the answer to this question thoroughly. When answering this question it must be taken into account that al-Qaeda and its likes have high regard for official Saudi pseudo-scholars like ‘Abd al-‘Aziz ibn Baz who provided his fatwa services for the US forces to occupy the Arabian Peninsula in the early 1990s. Al-Qaeda reveres Shaykh Uthaymeen, whose close ties to the Saudi regime are well known. Uthaymeen’s fatwas are regularly used by al-Qaeda minded groups worldwide to legitimize their attacks against civilians. Al-Qaeda leadership is also silent about the Muslim World League, the Saudi-funded organization that transported 350 of its scholars in September of 1990 from Jeddah to Makkah and Madinah in order for them to confirm that the US forces were not present in the holy sites. After this “observation” they immediately passed a fatwa in favor of US military presence in the Arabian Peninsula.
The so-called anti-US Salafi “scholars” freely operate in a country where anyone daring to propagate any views opposed to the Saudi royal family’s policies, is immediately arrested tortured and/or killed. So how is it that the “great scholars” admired by al-Qaeda reside in, get salaries from the Saudi regime and openly preach “jihad” against Saudi regime’s imperialist protector? How can the so-called Islamic universities based and financed by the Saudi regime teach true Islam if a despotic regime finances them, which itself is sustained in power by the US? Claiming that the Saudi financed institutions back Islamic propagation would mean that the Pharaoh would finance and support the message of Prophet Musa (a) and let him openly preach monotheism in pharaonic Egypt.
Strategic points of agreement
To understand the alliance of al-Qaeda’s leadership with the US it would help to briefly consider the strategic global issues where they both take identical positions.
Islamic Awakening: When the mass protests began in the Arab world against the US-backed dictatorships, the regime in Washington kept on clinging to its puppets until it became evident they would be toppled. The Saudi pseudo-scholars took the same approach. Saudi Arabia’s Council of Senior Clerics led by Mufti Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Aziz Al Shaykh stated that demonstrations are forbidden in Islam. Other takfiri groups ranging from al-Qaeda to the armed groups in Chechnya adopted the same position on this issue. Later, as it became evident that the people’s uprisings cannot be stopped, Saudi officialdom began selectively backing the uprisings in those places where the US did the same. From the very beginning the Saudi pseudo-scholar establishment and the US supported the uprisings in Libya and Syria and much later and to a very limited degree in Egypt, but not in Bahrain, Tunisia or Yemen.
Hamas: Since Hamas’ victory in January 2006 parliamentary elections in Palestine it turned into the main target of attacks by the Saudi-minded clerical establishment ranging from Ayman al-Zawahiri to the Kuwaiti Hamed al-Ali. Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, a Jordanian based pseudo-scholar, in his public letter to Shaykh Yunis al-Astal, a senior Hamas religious figure, launched a tirade against Hamas for participating in elections almost declaring Hamas members as apostates. Interestingly, al-Maqdisi has not issued any direct warnings against elections or the monarchies in Jordan or Saudi Arabia. The Jordanian regime skillfully makes sure that Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi retains his pseudo-aura of independence and credibility by jailing him for a few months every now and then. Abu Nur al-Maqdisi, a follower of the Jordanian al-Maqdisi went so far as to launch an armed insurrection against the Islamic administration of Hamas in Gaza claiming to restore “true Islam” in Gaza and somehow “forgetting” that the main beneficiary of such action is Israel. It seems that the “fiqh” of Abu Nur al-Maqdisi and his mentors prioritizes attacks on fellow Muslims living under Zionist occupation facing daily barrage of Israeli bombs instead of resisting occupation. What can be expected from those who learn their “fiqh” from Saudi books financed by petro-dollars and approved by the US?
Islamic Iran, Hizbullah & the Mahdi Army: On matters that have to do with creating divisions among Muslims, Ayman-al-Zawahiri along with the Saudi monarchy are at the forefront in nurturing sectarianism by labeling Shi‘i Muslims as kafir and, therefore, legitimate targets for killing. Instead of building an alliance with the Mahdi Army in resisting US occupation in Iraq (Mahdi Army members trying to enter Fallujah in 2004 to help their compatriots fight US aggression were either killed or turned away by al-Qaeda), al-Qaeda and its affiliates made the murder of Shi‘i Muslims a priority. Studying al-Qaeda’s actions in Iraq it becomes evident that resisting occupation was not one of their primary goals.
In 2006, when Hizbullah was fighting Israel, Saudi appointed Jumu‘ah prayer leaders, graduates of the kingdom’s so called Islamic universities were labeling Hizbullah as the party of Satan. While in rhetoric al-Qaeda minded “scholars” constantly speak of the Muslim Ummah, removing illegitimate governments and fighting to restore khilafah along with the need to remove borders within Muslim countries and bash the modern state system as bid‘ah and against Islam, when Western and Zionist interests are threatened they turn into the staunchest supporters of the Westphalia principles. Protests organized in June 2012 by Ahmed Assir in Lebanon demanding that Hizbullah hand over its weapons to the government is one such example. Regarding Islamic Iran, al-Qaeda is on the same page with the US, treating the Islamic government in Tehran as a major threat.
The above listed general issues are just a few of the many matters on which al-Qaeda’s position concurs with Washington. The issues outlined above are not minor, as any basic rational and academic research would immediately prove that these are extremely important for the survival of US imperialism or, at the very least its hegemony in the Muslim world.
Today the US is conducting an aggressive campaign against the Islamic model of governance and uses distorted versions of the Islamic model to discredit Islam. During the Cold War, the US promoted the most obnoxious and extreme groups within the leftist movements worldwide in order to discredit the entire left camp. The US alliance with the genocidal Khmer Rouge in the 1970s in Cambodia is one such example of this policy. The main instrument of US policy today is the Saudi regime that applies pre-Islamic tribalism under the mask of Islam and enjoys strong US backing. The scheme of marketing the Saudi monarchy as “custodians” of Islam provides the US with ammunition to constantly point at despotic practices of al-Qaeda and their ideologues embedded within the Saudi monarchy to discredit the Islamic model of governance.
One final point about the US-al-Qaeda linkage would be useful. The Council on Foreign Relations, an American rightwing think-tank had this to say about al-Qaeda and the Syrian rebels fighting against the government of Bashar al-Asad, “The Syrian rebels would be immeasurably weaker today without al-Qaeda in their ranks. By and large, Free Syrian Army (FSA) battalions are tired, divided, chaotic, and ineffective. Feeling abandoned by the West, rebel forces are increasingly demoralized as they square off with the Asad regime’s superior weaponry and professional army. Al-Qaeda fighters, however, may help improve morale. The influx of jihadis brings discipline, religious fervor, battle experience from Iraq, funding from Sunni sympathizers in the Gulf, and most importantly, deadly results. In short, the FSA needs al-Qaeda now.” Need one say more about the close links between the US an al-Qaeda?
PKK fighters stand near the Qandil mountains near the Iraq-Turkish border. The PKK is listed as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the United States and the European Union. — File Photo by Reuters
DIYARBAKIR: Kurdish rebels armed with machine-guns and rocket launchers attacked a security complex in southeastern Turkey overnight, triggering fierce fighting that left about 30 people dead, local sources said Monday.
Ten soldiers were killed and seven wounded in the attack in the province of Sirnak, the local government said, while other local sources said about 20 members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) were also killed.
Provincial governor Vahdettin Ozkan said the militants had attacked the security complex at Beytussebap late Sunday, killing nine members of the security forces and wounding eight. His office later said that one of those wounded had died.
Police and soldiers returned fire, triggering fierce clashes.
The PKK has stepped up its assaults against Turkish security forces in recent months, with Turkish officials and the local media linking the surge to the conflict raging in neighbouring Syria.
Last month, 10 people were killed in a car bomb attack blamed on the separatist Kurds in the southeastern city of Gaziantep.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan had threatened military intervention if the Kurdish rebels set up bases in Syria.
Some government officials believe that Damascus — once backed by Ankara — is helping the PKK in retaliation for Turkey’s support for rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad.
The PKK, considered a terrorist group by Turkey and much of the international community, took up arms in Kurdish-majority southeastern Turkey in 1984, sparking a conflict that has claimed about 45,000 lives.
The image shows the site of the attack. — Photo by Zahir Shah Sherazi
PESHAWAR: At least two people were killed and 19 others injured, including two Americans working for the US Consulate, in a suicide bombing on Peshawar’sAbdara road on Monday, DawnNews reported.
A vehicle of the US Consulate was the target of the attack, sources said, adding that technical and administrative staff of the Consulate were occupants in the targeted vehicle.
The blast took place close to the residential quarters used by the US consulate in the northwestern city and near the office of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) when a vehicle laden with explosives rammed into the consulate’s car.
The consulate vehicle was destroyed in the blast, whereas several other vehicles and five to six nearby buildings were also damaged. The explosion left a four-feet-wide and eight-feet-deep crater on the road and uprooted electricity poles in the vicinity.
CCPO Peshawar Imtiaz Altaf confirmed that 110 kilograms of explosives were used in the attack.
Earlier, Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain had told reporters at least four people, including two Americans, were killed in the attack. However, the US embassy denied any US citizens were killed, instead confirming that two Americans working for the consulate were injured and were were shifted to the US Club in another consulate vehicle immediately after the attack.
The blast also wounded two Pakistani employees of the consulate, the US Embassy in Islamabad said in a statement.
“We can confirm that a vehicle belonging to the US Consulate in Peshawar was hit in an apparent terrorist attack. Two US personnel and two Pakistani staff of the Consulate were injured and are receiving medical treatment. No US Consulate personnel were killed, but we are seeking further information about other victims of this heinous act. We stand ready to work with Pakistani authorities on a full investigation so that the perpetrators can be brought to justice,” Department of State Spokesperson Ambassador Victoria Nuland said in the statement released by the embassy.
Sources at the Khyber Teaching Hospital confirmed two dead bodies had been received and 19 injured people had been brought in for treatment after the blast.
The passport of a US national was also found from the site of the explosion.
Speaking to media representatives at the site of the explosion, Federal Minister for Communications Arbab Alamgir Khan confirmed that two foreign nationals had been injured in the attack.
Sources told DawnNews that threats had been received two days ago about an attack on the US consulate after which security had been put on high alert.
No one has claimed responsibility for the attack yet.