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Interrogating the Qatar rift

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The abrupt announcement that Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, UAE, Yemen, the Maldive Islands, and the eastern government in divided Libya have broken all economic and political ties with Qatar has given rise to a tsunami of conjecture, wild speculation, and most of all, to wishful thinking and doomsday worries. There is also a veil of confusion arising from mystifying reports that hackers with alleged Russian connections placed a fake news story that implicated Qatar in the promotion of extremist groups in the region. Given Russian alignments, it makes no sense to create conditions that increase the credibility of anti-Iran forces. And finally the timing and nature of the terrorist suicide attacks of June 7th on the Iranian Parliament and on the tomb of Ayatollah Khomeini adds a particularly mystifying twist to the rapidly unfolding Qatar drama, especially if the ISIS claim of responsibility is substantiated.

Four preliminary cautionary observations seem apt:

(1) the public explanation given for this rupture is almost certainly disconnected from its true meaning. That is, the break with Qatar is not about strengthening the anti-ISIS, anti-extremist coalition of Arab forces. Such an explanation may play well in the Trump White House, but it is far removed from understanding why this potentially menacing anti-Qatar regional earthquake erupted at this time, and what it is truly about. (2) Any claim to provide a clear account of why? And why now? should be viewed with great skepticism, if not suspicion. There are in the regional context too many actors, crosscurrents, uncertainties, conflicts, mixed and hidden motives and contradictions at play as to make any effort at this stage to give a reliable and coherent account of this Qatar crisis bound to be misleading.

(2) Any claim to provide a clear account of why? And why now? should be viewed with great skepticism, if not suspicion. There are in the regional context too many actors, crosscurrents, uncertainties, conflicts, mixed and hidden motives and contradictions at play as to make any effort at this stage to give a reliable and coherent account of this Qatar crisis bound to be misleading.

(3) Yet despite these caveats, there are several mainly unspoken dimensions of the crisis that can be brought to the surface, and sophisticate our understanding beyond the various self-serving polemical interpretations that are being put forward, including the centrality of Israeli-American backing for a tough line on Iran and the realization that Gulf grievances against Qatar have been brewing for recent years for reasons unrelated to ISIS, and led to an earlier milder confrontation in 2014 that was then quickly overcome with the help of American diplomacy.

And (4) The anti-Iran fervor only makes sense from the perspective of the Gulf monarchies (other than Qatar) and Israel, but seems radically inconsistent with American regional interests and counter-ISIS priorities—Iran is not associated with any of the terrorist incidents occurring in Europe and the United States, and ISIS and Iran are pitted against each other on sectarian grounds. Intriguingly, neither Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), nor Israel, that is, the principal antagonists of Qatar, have been ever targeted by ISIS.

The Arabian Peninsula (Map: University of Texas Libraries)

The main contention of the anti-Qatar Arab governments, led by Saudi Arabia, is that this coordinated diplomatic pushback is motivated by anti-terrorist priorities. On its face this seems to be a ridiculous claim to come from the Saudis, and can only make some sense as part of a calculated effort to throw pursuing dogs in the hunt for ISIS off a course that if followed would inevitably implicate the Riyadh government. It has long been known by intelligence services and academic experts that it is Saudi Arabia, including members of its royal family, that have been funding Jihadi extremism in the Middle East and has for many years been spending billions to spread Salifist extremism throughout the Islamic world.

By comparison, although far from innocent or consistent of terrorist linkages, as well as being internally oppressive, especially toward its migrant foreign workers, Qatar is a minor player in this high-stakes political imbroglio. For the Saudis to take the lead in this crusade against Qatar may play well in Washington, Tel Aviv, and London, but fools few in the region. Trump has with characteristic ill-informed bravado has taken ill-advised credit for this turn against Qatar, claiming it to be an immediate payoff of his recent visit to the Kingdom, ramping up still further the provocative buildup of pressure on Iran. To claim a political victory given the circumstances rather than admit a geopolitical faux pas might seem strange for any leader other than Trump. It is almost perverse considering that the al-Udeid Air Base is in Qatar, which is the largest American military facility in the Middle East, operated as a regional command center actively used in bombing raids against Iraq and Afghanistan, and serviced by upwards of 10,000 American military personnel.

Netanyahu warmongers will certainly be cheered by this course of events and Israel has not hidden its support for the anti-Qatar moves of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). It achieves two Israeli goals: its longtime undertaken to encourage splits and disorder in the Arab world and its campaign to maximize pressures on Iran.

Interestingly, Jeremy Corbyn at the start of the week when the momentous British elections are scheduled to take place, called on Teresa May to release a report (prepared while David Cameron was prime minister), supposedly an explosive exposure of Saudi funding and support for Islamic extremism in the Middle East. All in all, a first approximation of the Qatar crisis is to view it as a desperate move by Riyadh to get off the hot seat with respect to its own major responsibility for the origins and buildup of political extremism in the Middle East, which has indirectly produced the inflaming incidents in principal European cities during the last several years. Such a move to isolate and punish Qatar was emboldened by the blundering encouragement of Donald Trump, whether acting on impulse or at the beckoning of Israel’s and Saudi leaders, confusing genuine counter-terrorist priorities with a dysfunctional effort to push Iran against the wall. Trump seems to forget, if he ever knew, that Iran is fighting against ISIS in Syria, has strongly reaffirmed moderate leadership in its recent presidential elections, and if Iran were brought in from the cold could be a major calming influence in the region. True, Iran has given support to Hezbollah and Hamas, but except in Syria not with much effect, and on a scale far smaller than what other actors in the region have been doing to maintain their control and push their agendas. In effect, if Washington pursued national interests in the spirit of political realism, it would regard Iran as a potential ally, and put a large question mark next to its two distorting ‘special relationships,’ with Saudi Arabia and Israel. In effect, reverse its regional alignments in a way that could replace turmoil with stability, but this is not about to happen. The American media, and thoughtful citizens, should at least be wondering ‘why?’ rather than staring into darkness of a starless nighttime sky.

But this is not all. The Saudis, along with the UAE and Egypt, have long resented and maybe feared the early willingness of Qatar to give some sanctuary and aid and comfort to various elements of the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas. It is hardly farfetched to assume that Israel is outraged by the Emir of Qatar’s friendship and earlier support for the Hamas exiled leader, Khaled Mashaal. Saudi Arabia strives to obscure its incoherent approach to political Islam. It loudly proclaims Sunni identity when intervening in Syria, waging war in Yemen, and calling for confrontation with Iran, while totally repudiating its sectarian identity when dealing with societally or democratically oriented Islamic movements in neighboring countries. Such an anti-democratiing orientation was dramatically present when Riyadh and Abu Dhabi scolded Washington for abandoning Mubarak’s harsh authoritarian secular rule in Egypt back in 2011 and then welcoming the anti-Morsi coup led by General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi two years later, even welcoming its bloody suppression of Sunni adherents of the Muslim Brotherhood. As has been long obvious to close and honest observers of the Kingdom, the Saudi monarchy has become so fearful of an internal uprising challenging its oppressive rule that it will oppose any liberalizing or democratizing challenge anywhere in its neighborhood. The Kingdom is particularly wary of its Shia minority that happens to be concentrated in locations near where the main Saudi oil fields are located. Similar concerns also help explain why Bahrain behaves as it does as it also fearful of a domestic Shia-led majority opposition, which has made it a strategically dependent, yet ardent, adherent of the anti-Qatar coalition.

Also far more relevant than acknowledged is the presence of Al Jazeera in Doha, which at various times has voiced support for the Arab Uprisings of 2011, criticism of the Israeli practices and policies toward the Palestinians, and provided an Arabic media source of relatively independent news coverage throughout the region. Qatar is guilty of other irritants of the dominant Gulf political sensibility. It has arranged academic positions for such prominent Palestinian dissidents as Azmi Bashara and more than its neighbors has given welcome to intellectual refugees from Arab countries, especially Egypt. Given the way the Gulf rulers close off all political space within their borders it is to be expected that they find the relative openness of Qatar a threat as well as consider it to be a negative judgment passed on their style of governance.

Qatar is very vulnerable to pressure, but also has certain strengths. Its population of 2.5 million (only 200,000 of whom are citizens), imports at least 40% of its food across the Saudi border, now closed to the 600-800 daily truck traffic. Not surprisingly, this sudden closure has sparked panic among Qataris, who are reportedly stockpiling food and cash. The Doha stock market dropped over 7% on the first day after the Gulf break was announced. Qatar is the world’s largest exporter of liquefied natural gas, and is a major source of Turkish investment capital. Western Europe is wary of this American project to establish an ‘Arab NATO,’ and sees it as one more manifestation of Trump’s dysfunctional and mindless impact on world order.

What this portends for the future remains is highly uncertain. Some look upon these moves against Qatar as a tempest in a teapot that will disappear almost as quickly as it emerged. The U.S. Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, and the Secretary of Defense, Jim Mattis, have urged mediation and offered reassuring comments about anti-ISIS unity remaining unimpaired. It is true that the existence of the Udeid Air Base in Qatar may in time dilute deference to the Saudi-led desire to squeeze the government in Doha, possibly to the point of its collapse. A more fearsome scenario is that the Trump encouraged confrontation sets the stage for a coup in Qatar that will be quickly supported by Washington as soon as Riyadh gives the green light, and will be promoted as part of the regional buildup against Iran. The notorious ceremony in which King Salmon, Trump, and Sisi were pictured standing above that glowing orb with their arms outstretched can only be reasonably interpreted as a pledge of solidarity among dark forces of intervention. Many of us supposed that George W. Bush’s policy of ‘democracy promotion’ that provided part of the rationale for the disastrous 2003 attack on Iraq was the low point in American foreign policy in the Middle East, but Trump is already proving us wrong.

While this kind of ‘great game’ is being played at Qatar’s expense in the Gulf, it is highly unlikely that other major players, especially Iran, Russia, and Turkey will remain passive observers, especially if the crisis lingers or deepens. Iran’s foreign minister, Javad Mohammed Zarif, has non-aggressively tweeted to the effect that “neighbors are permanent; geography can’t be changed,” stating his view that the occasion calls for dialogue, not coercion. If the isolation of Qatar is not quickly ended, it is likely that Iran will start making food available and shipping other supplies to this beleaguered tiny peninsular country whose sovereignty is being so deeply threatened.

Russia, has been long collaborating with Iran in Syria, will likely move toward greater solidarity with Tehran, creating a highly unstable balance of power in the Middle East with frightening risks of escalation and miscalculation. Russia will also take advantage of the diplomatic opportunity to tell the world that the U.S. is seeking to raise war fevers and cause havoc by championing aggressive moves that further the ambitions of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Israel. Such Russian diplomacy is likely to play well in Europe where Trump’s recent demeaning words in Brussels to NATO members made the leading governments rethink their security policies, and to view the United States as an increasingly destabilizing force on the global stage, such feeling being reinforced by the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Climate Change Agreement.

Turkey seems to believe that its immediate effort should be similar to that of the Tillerson and Mattis approach, having tentatively offered to mediate, and advocates finding a way back to a posture of at least peaceful co-existence between Qatar, the Gulf, and the rest of the Arab world. Turkey has had a positive relationship with Qatar, which includes a small Turkish military facility and large Qatari investments in the Turkish economy.

To cool things down, the Foreign Minister of Qatar, Sheik Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, while denying the allegations, has also joined in the call for mediation and even reconciliation. Bowing to Gulf pressures, Qatar has prior to the current crisis withdrawn its welcome from Hamas and Muslim Brotherhood exiles, and seems poised to yield further to the pressures of the moment, given its small size, political vulnerability, and intimations of possible societal panic.

While the civilian population of Yemen is faced with imminent famine as an intended consequence of the Saudi intervention, the Saudis seems to be again using food as a weapon, this time to compel Qatar to submit to its regional priorities and become a GCC team player with respect to Iran—joining in the preparation of a sectarian war against Iran while maintaining a repressive hold over political activity at home. One preliminary takeaway is that ISIS dimension is serving as a smokescreen to draw attention away from a far more controversial agenda. The Saudis are deeply implicated in political extremism throughout the region, having likely paid heavily for being treated, temporarily at least, as off limits for Jihadi extremism. Qatar, too is tainted, but mainly by being a minor operative in Syrian violence and in 2015 paying ISIS an amount rumored to be as high as $1 billion to obtain the release of 26 Qataris, including members of the royal family, taken hostage while on a falcon hunting party, of all things, in Iraq. We can gain some glimmers of understanding of what is motivating these Arab governments to act against Qatar, but little sympathy. In comparison, the new U.S. foreign policy in the region defies any understanding beyond its adoption of a cynical and unworkable geopolitical stance, which certainly does not engender any sympathy from the victimized peoples of the region, but rather fear and loathing.

This post originally appeared on Richard Falk’s website Global Justice in the 21st Century.

Richard Falk

Richard Falk is a professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University. He is the author or co-author of 20 books and the editor or co-editor of another 20 volumes. In 2008, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) appointed Falk to a six-year term as a United Nations Special Rapporteur on "the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967."

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13 Responses

  1. Atlantaiconoclast on June 8, 2017, 10:11 am

    Trump revealed during the campaign that he knew that Iran was fighting ISIS, but now as president, he blatantly conflates Iran with global terror. It is quite disgusting. But look who he picked to advise him! His son in law is just one important example. Israel wants continued disunity between its neighbors and Kushner and others are all too eager to do whatever it takes to continue this enmity between Sunni and Shia.

    Sadly, most Americans think Iran when the media mentions ISIS. I try to explain to people in my life that Iran is NOT a big state sponsor of terror, but many of these people are convinced that Hezbollah and Hamas are as bad as ISIS. Our pro Israel, neo liberal neo con media makes sure of that.

    Although I don’t agree with the ideology of either Hamas or Hezbollah, for the life of me, I can’t understand how anyone who knows better can call them terror groups, rather than resistance militias.

    • JosephA on June 8, 2017, 9:35 pm

      Divide and conquer.

      I agree with you, and I must say having been to Iran that it is an incredibly beautiful, wonderful, special country. I kept thinking to myself, “this is likely how Iraq used to be before we destroyed that country”.

      • gamal on June 8, 2017, 11:08 pm

        “Iran that it is an incredibly beautiful, wonderful, special country”

        also they don’t seem as hopelessly hysterical as Europeans or Americans

        no crack down, no state of emergency, people just carried on under fire, no lockdown even, really you should all be ashamed, the Congo option in the mid east is a very dangerous gamble, as your new east India company style ventures require the liquidation of the states, a la Congo, good luck with that, its going to be bloody, hope your nerves can take it.

        “Iran’s response to ISIL attack: Haha, that was nothing

        “So ISIL claims to have made their first attack in Iran. The response in Iran appears to be: So what?

        Despite an attack occurring near Tehran’s international airport there was no disruption in air travel. Citizens were asked to stay off the metro, but nothing went on lockdown. There was no martial law. Not even a state of emergency has been declared. No civil liberties have been restricted. No Patriot Act being prepared. There has been no executive branch power grab.

        Despite an attack occurring near Parliament, lawmakers continued to go about their business, even as gun battles took place in surrounding office buildings. The live radio broadcast of the Parliamentary session did not even stop.

        Pretty brave politicians, eh? I assume that their voters are thinking they made a good choice.

        (People think it’s so brave to go to war armed with a gun: it’s much harder to be that guy who carried just a banner – all they have is belief and self-sacrifice.)

        Foreign commentators are talking about how Iran has finally been successfully targeted by ISIL, as if we are supposed to be scared now.

        Not likely.

        The reason is simple: Most Iranians today either fought, survived or grew up during the deadliest conventional war ever fought between regular armies of developing countries – the Iran-Iraq War from 1980-1988.

        Maybe I’ll be proven wrong, as I’m writing this just a couple hours after the attack was neutralized, but I doubt it. I know Iran and have faith that the terrorists won’t win by scaring us into submissive lives.

        Give them time and I predict that Western commentators will eventually admit their befuddlement that the Iranian government isn’t using this terrorist act as a way to increase their own power and control the populace – after all, they’ve been so amazingly effective!

        This attack helps the West: to show how disproportionate their responses are

        But such a response of “business as usual” is unthinkable in the West. Sure, the UK talks about “Keep calm and carry on,” but we all know that’s just an empty slogan aimed at consumers.”

  2. AddictionMyth on June 8, 2017, 10:22 am

    The GCC fears the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is an existential threat to their own regimes. (Even though it is Islamist and wants to impose Shariah, it is nevertheless more democratic than their own monarchies.) Qatar supports liberalism via Al Jazeerah, which is why they hate it so much. I wouldn’t worry too much about the blockade – they are a peninsula and can easily import food. Overall these are very positive developments. In the short term Qatar will accede to Saudi demands, but in the long term, the writing is on the wall: freedom and human rights are coming, like it or not.

    • gamal on June 8, 2017, 11:37 am

      “wants to impose Shariah” which means what?

      anyway an American professor by the name of Kamali wrote, and i quote at length, because the crass ignorance of Euro/Americans is getting tedious, see if you notice anything.

      “It is perhaps true to say that Islamic jurisprudence exhibits greater stability and continuity of values,
      thought and institutions when compared to Western jurisprudence. This could perhaps be partially
      explained by reference to the respective sources of law in the two legal systems. Whereas rationality,
      custom, judicial precedent, morality and religion constitute the basic sources of Western law, the last
      two acquire greater prominence in Islamic Law. The values that must be upheld and defended by law
      and society in Islam are not always validated on rationalist grounds alone. Notwithstanding the fact that
      human reason always played an important role in the development of Shari’ah through the medium of
      ijtihad, the Shari’ah itself is primarily founded in divine revelation.
      A certain measure of fluidity and overlap with other disciplines such as philosophy and sociology is
      perhaps true of both Islamic and Western jurisprudence. But it is the latter which exhibits the greater
      measure of uncertainty over its scope and content. Thus according to one observer, books that bear the
      title ‘jurisprudence’ vary widely in subject matter and treatment, because the nature of the subject is
      such that no distinction of its scope and content can be clearly determined, [Dias, Jurisprudence, p. I.] and in
      Julius Stone’s somewhat dramatic phrase, jurisprudence is described as ‘a chaos of approaches to a
      chaos of topics, chaotically delimited’. [See this and other statements by Bentham, Dicey and Arnold in Curzon, Jurisprudence, p. 13.]
      Usul al-fiqh, on the other hand, has a fairly well defined structure, and the ulema had little difficulty in
      treating it as a separate discipline of Islamic learning. Textbooks on usul al-fiqh almost invariably deal
      with a range of familiar topics and their contents are on the whole fairly predictable. This is perhaps
      reflective of the relative stability that the Shari’ah in general and the usul al-fiqh in particular has
      exhibited through its history of development, almost independently of government and its legislative
      organs. This factor has, however, also meant that usul al-fiqh has for the most part been developed by
      individual jurists who exerted themselves in their private capacity away from the government
      machinery and involvement in the development of juristic thought. Consequently, usul al-fiqh has to
      some extent remained a theoretical discipline and has not been internalised by the legislative machinery
      of government. The history of Islamic jurisprudence is marred by a polarisation of interests and values
      Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence ~ Kamali 7
      between the government and the ulema. The ulema’s disaffection with the government did not
      encourage the latter’s participation and involvement in the development of juristic thought and
      institutions, and this has to some extent discouraged flexibility and pragmatism in Islamic
      jurisprudence. Note, for example, the doctrinal requirements of ijma’, especially the universal consensus
      of the entire body of the mujtahidun of the Muslim community that is required for its conclusion, a
      condition which does not concede to considerations of feasibility and convenience. There is also no
      recognition whatsoever of any role for the government in the doctrine of ijma’ as a whole. The
      government for its part also did not encourage the ulema’s involvement and participation in its
      hierarchy, and isolated itself from the currents of juristic thought and the scholastic expositions of the
      ulema. The schools of jurisprudence continued to grow, and succeeded in generating a body of doctrine,
      which, however valuable, was by itself not enough to harness the widening gap between the theory and
      practice of law in government. One might, for example, know about qiyas and maslahah, etc., and the
      conditions which must be fulfilled for their valid operation. But the benefit of having such knowledge
      would be severely limited if neither the jurist nor the judge had a recognised role or power to apply it.
      One might add here also the point that no quick solutions are expected to the problem over the
      application of the Shari’ah in modern jurisdictions. The issue is a long- standing one and is likely to
      continue over a period of time. It would appear that a combination of factors would need to be
      simultaneously at work to facilitate the necessary solutions to the problem under discussion. One such
      factor is the realisation of a degree of consensus and cooperation between the various sectors of society,
      including the ulema and the government, and the willingness of the latter, to take the necessary steps to
      bring internal harmony to its laws. To merge and to unify the Shari’ah and modern law into an organic
      unity would hopefully mean that the duality and the internal tension between the two divergent systems
      of law could gradually be minimised and removed.
      Bearing in mind the myriad and rapidly increasing influences to which modern society is exposed, the
      possibility of consensus over values becomes ever more difficult to obtain. To come to grips with the
      fluctuation of attitude and outlook on basic values that the law must seek to uphold has perhaps become
      the most challenging task of the science of jurisprudence in general. To provide a set of criteria with
      which to determine the propriety or otherwise of law and of effective government under the rule of law,
      is the primary concern of jurisprudence.
      The Muslim jurist is being criticised for having lost contact with the changing conditions of
      contemporary life in that he has been unable to relate the resources of Shari’ah to modern government
      processes in the fields of legislation and judicial practice. A part of the same criticism is also leveled
      against the government in Islamic countries in that it has failed to internalise the usul al-fiqh in its
      legislative practices. The alleged closure of the door of ijtihad is one of the factors which is held
      accountable for the gap that has developed between the law and its sources on the one hand and the
      changing conditions of society on the other. The introduction of statutory legislation which has already
      become a common practice in Islamic countries has also affected the role and function of ijtihad.
      Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence ~ Kamali 8
      Apart from circumventing the traditional role of the jurist/mujtahid, the self-contained statutory code and the
      formal procedures that are laid down for its ratification have eroded the incentive to his effective
      participation in legislative construction. Furthermore, the wholesale importation of foreign legal
      concepts and institutions to Islamic countries and the uneasy combinations that this has brought about
      in legal education and judicial practice are among the sources of general discontent. These and many
      other factors are in turn accountable for the Islamic revivalism/resurgence which many Muslim
      societies are currently experiencing.
      In view of the diverse influences and the rapid pace of social change visible in modern society it is
      perhaps inevitable to encounter a measure of uncertainty in identifying the correct balance of values.
      But the quest to minimise this uncertainty must remain the central concern of the science of
      jurisprudence. The quest for better solutions and more refined alternatives lies at the very heart ofijtihad, which must, according to the classical formulations of usul al-fiqh, never be allowed to
      discontinue. For ijtihad is wajib kafa’i, a collective obligation of the Muslim community and its
      scholars to exert themselves in order to find solutions to new problems and to provide the necessary
      guidance in matters of law and religion. But even so, to make an error in ijtihad is not only tolerated but
      is worthy of reward given the sincerity and earnestness of the mujtahid who attempts it. And it is often
      through such errors that the best solution can ultimately be reached. One can have different solutions to
      a particular problem, and sometimes the best solution may be known and yet unattainable given the
      feasibility and practical considerations that might limit one’s range of choice. In such situations one
      must surely do that which is possible under the circumstances. But it is imperative not to abandon
      ijtihad completely. It is a common and grave error to say that ijtihad is unattainable and that the
      conditions for its exercise are too exacting to fulfill. To regulate ijtihad is indeed the primary objective
      of usul al-fiqh and of whatever it has to teach regarding the sources of law and the methods of
      interpretation and deduction. A grasp of the concepts and doctrines of usul al-fiqh is not only helpful
      but necessary to ijtihad so as to enable the Muslim jurist and legislator to contribute to the on-going
      search for better solutions to social issues, and hopefully also toward the development of the outlook
      that the Shari’ah, despite its restraints, also possesses considerable flexibility and resources to
      accommodate social change”

      and this not to even mention Kanun or ‘urf or anything even vaguely diverting, or even to get into ” the phases of disintegrating kinship society and transition to agrarian capitalism” Hobsbawm

      for general reading “Muslims, Scholars, Soldiers: The Origins and Elaboration of Ibadi Immamte Traditions” Adam R Geiser, fuck sake lets have some fun this po-faced White exceptionalism is just the pits.

      study then condemn with confidence, we are ready for our close up.

      • AddictionMyth on June 8, 2017, 4:19 pm

        Sorry – did you just say ‘tedious’??

  3. HarryLaw on June 8, 2017, 7:41 pm

    These are the 10 demands the Qataris must comply with..

    1) Cutting ties with Iran immediately.

    2) Officially apologizing for all GCC governments for the insults, fake news they’ve tolerated from broadcast network Aljazeera.

    3) Expelling all Hamas and Muslim Brotherhood leaders and members from Qatar.

    4) Stop interfering in Egypt’s affairs immediately.

    5) Stop sponsoring or funding any terror groups in any way, shape or form.

    6) Freezing Hamas leaders bank accounts and prohibiting any financial transactions with/by them in that regard.

    7) Vowing not to have any future policies or political roles that contradict the GCC unified polices.

    8) Shutting down Aljazeera TV network immediately and abiding by the pact agreed upon by Doha in 2012 during late King Abdullah rule.

    9) Expelling all the personalities, figures who have known aggressive stances against GCC countries from Qatar.

    10) In case Qatar fully agreed to all above, an urgent meeting of GCC leaders to be held in Jeddah, KSA tomorrow to ink the irrevocable deal.

    This is amusing, the biggest funder of terrorism in the world and in particular in Syria is Saudi Arabia, Joe Biden in a talk at a US University last year and H Clinton in the wikileaks
    e mails confirmed it. Qatar is a terrorist funding source particularly of Muslim brotherhood groups who Turkey also support, hence their agreement to send Turkish troops to Qatar.
    We now know Qatar will not change its foreign policy to suit Saudi Arabia.
    On the other hand Qatar must realize their Syrian war gambit has failed and their proxy forces are being decimated. Could they not see the writing on the wall and team up with Iran to develop the huge South pars field they share with them and pipe the gas through Iran, Iraq and Syria/Turkey to the Med and onto Europe. In my opinion the US/Saudi and UAE have blundered and could have split the GCC permanently. To be honest, I would like to see all these satraps in the GCC swept away.

    • Maghlawatan on June 9, 2017, 1:38 am

      3 of the demands are nonsense. Iran, hezb and Egypt. I think Sisi will lose control of Egypt. The old deal of repression in return for taking care of you is broken.

  4. Seymourington on June 9, 2017, 3:46 pm

    I find comments similar to this all over the web and I find it odd that nobody seems to fact-check it:

    “Intriguingly, neither Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), nor Israel, that is, the principal antagonists of Qatar, have been ever targeted by ISIS.”

    For the latter two, it is accurate as far as I know. However, ISIS’s affiliate, Wilayat Najd or Wilayat Hejaz, depending on what odd fantasy name they are calling themselves lately, has indeed launched several attacks in Saudi Arabia.

    This one is a bombing in the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah in Ramadan:

    Two bombings against Shi’a, one bombing against Saudi security forces, a drive-by shooting against the army, a bombing of the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah… how on earth does this add up to ‘…have never been targeted by ISIS?’ I request that this be amended immediately for accuracy’s sake.

  5. JLewisDickerson on June 12, 2017, 6:59 pm

    RE: “True, Iran has given support to Hezbollah and Hamas, but except in Syria not with much effect, and on a scale far smaller than what other actors in the region have been doing to maintain their control and push their agendas. . . The Saudis, along with the UAE and Egypt, have long resented and maybe feared the early willingness of Qatar to give some sanctuary and aid and comfort to various elements of the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas. It is hardly farfetched to assume that Israel is outraged by the Emir of Qatar’s friendship and earlier support for the Hamas exiled leader, Khaled Mashaal.” ~ Falk

    MY COMMENT: The Arab states of the Persian Gulf – Qatar + Egypt + Israel doth protest far too much, methinks!

    SEE: “How Israel Helped to Spawn Hamas”, By Andrew Higgins, The Wall Street Journal, 01/24/09

    [EXCERPTS] Surveying the wreckage of a neighbor’s bungalow hit by a Palestinian rocket, retired Israeli official Avner Cohen traces the missile’s trajectory back to an “enormous, stupid mistake” made 30 years ago.

    “Hamas, to my great regret, is Israel’s creation,” says Mr. Cohen, a Tunisian-born Jew who worked in Gaza for more than two decades. Responsible for religious affairs in the region until 1994, Mr. Cohen watched the Islamist movement take shape, muscle aside secular Palestinian rivals and then morph into what is today Hamas, a militant group that is sworn to Israel’s destruction.

    Instead of trying to curb Gaza’s Islamists from the outset, says Mr. Cohen, Israel for years tolerated and, in some cases, encouraged them as a counterweight to the secular nationalists of the Palestine Liberation Organization and its dominant faction, Yasser Arafat’s Fatah. . .

    . . . When Israel first encountered Islamists in Gaza in the 1970s and ’80s, they seemed focused on studying the Quran, not on confrontation with Israel. The Israeli government officially recognized a precursor to Hamas called Mujama Al-Islamiya, registering the group as a charity. It allowed Mujama members to set up an Islamic university and build mosques, clubs and schools. Crucially, Israel often stood aside when the Islamists and their secular left-wing Palestinian rivals battled, sometimes violently, for influence in both Gaza and the West Bank.

    “When I look back at the chain of events I think we made a mistake,” says David Hacham, who worked in Gaza in the late 1980s and early ’90s as an Arab-affairs expert in the Israeli military. “But at the time nobody thought about the possible results.” . . .


    • JLewisDickerson on June 12, 2017, 7:14 pm

      Devil’s Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam (American Empire Project)
      Hardcover – October 13, 2005
      by Robert Dreyfuss (Author)

      The first complete account of America’s most dangerous foreign policy miscalculation: sixty years of support for Islamic fundamentalism.

      Devil’s Game is the gripping story of America’s misguided efforts, stretching across decades, to dominate the strategically vital Middle East by courting and cultivating Islamic fundamentalism. Among all the books about Islam, this is the first comprehensive inquiry into the touchiest issue: How and why did the United States encourage and finance the spread of radical political Islam?

      Backed by extensive archival research and interviews with dozens of policy makers and CIA, Pentagon, and foreign service officials, Robert Dreyfuss argues that this largely hidden relationship is greatly to blame for the global explosion of terrorism. He follows the trail of American collusion from support for the Muslim Brotherhood in 1950s Egypt to links with Khomeini and Afghani jihadists to cooperation with Hamas and Saudi Wahhabism. Dreyfuss also uncovers long-standing ties between radical Islamists and the leading banks of the West. The result is as tragic as it is paradoxical: originally deployed as pawns to foil nationalism and communism, extremist mullahs and ayatollahs now dominate the region, thundering against freedom of thought, science, women’s rights, secularism–and their former patron.

      Wide-ranging and deeply informed, Devil’s Game reveals a history of double-dealing, cynical exploitation, and humiliating embarrassment. What emerges is a pattern that, far from furthering democracy or security, ensures a future of blunders and blowback.

      LINK –

    • JLewisDickerson on June 12, 2017, 7:25 pm

      “Secret Affairs: Britain’s Collusion with Radical Islam”, By Mark Curtis, Reviewed by Kim Sengupta, The Independent, 7/30/10

      [EXCERPTS] For years, violent Islamist groups were allowed to settle in Britain, using the country as a base to carry out attacks abroad. This was tolerated in the belief that they would not bomb the country where they lived and that, as long as they are here, the security service would be able to infiltrate them. At the same time mosque after mosque was taken over through intimidation by the fundamentalists. Police and others in authority refused pleas from moderate Muslims with the excuse that they did not want to interfere.

      There was even a name for this amoral accommodation: the “covenant of security”. We now know that jihadists will indeed blow up their home country and that the security agencies signally failed to infiltrate the terrorist cells while they had the chance.

      The part played by officials in the growth of terrorism in Britain is a relatively small-scale affair compared to what went on abroad. Successive UK governments had nurtured and promoted extremists for reasons of realpolitik often at a terrible cost to the population of those countries. Mark Curtis, in his book on “Britain’s collusion with radical Islam”, charts this liaison. He points out how reactionary and violent Muslim groups were used against secular nationalists at the time of empire and continued afterwards to back UK and Western interests.

      The price for this is now being paid at home and abroad. I am writing this review in Helmand, where a few days ago I went on an operation with British and Afghan troops against insurgents whose paymasters, across the border in Pakistan, have been the beneficiaries of US and British largesse.

      Curtis points out that two of the most active Islamist commanders carrying out attacks in Afghanistan, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and Jalalludin Haqqani, had particularly close contacts with the UK in the past. Hekmatyar met Margaret Thatcher in Downing Street when he was a favourite of MI6 and the CIA in the war against the Russians. Haqqani, while not the “Taliban’s overall military commander fighting the British” as Curtis says (he runs his own network parallel to the Taliban), was viewed as a highly useful tool in that conflict.

      The Western use of the Mujaheddin as proxy fighters is well documented. It resulted in the spawning of al-Qa’ida, the spread of international terrorism, and the empowering of ISI, the Pakistani secret police, who became their sponsors. Curtis examines the lesser known by-products of this jihad: the dispatch of Afghan Islamist veterans, with the connivance of Britain and the US, to the wars in the Balkans and the former Soviet republics in central Asia, and ethnic Muslim areas of China. Vast sums of money from the West’s great ally, Saudi Arabia, helped fund the Reagan administration’s clandestine war in support of repressive military juntas in Latin America while, at the same time, buttressing the aggressive Wahabi faith embraced by many terrorist groups.

      The use of hardline Islam by the West was particularly prevalent at the time of the Cold War. In many instances, however, the targets for destabilisation were not Communist regimes but leaders who had adopted left-wing policies deemed to pose a threat to Western influence and interests.

      The UK attempted to combat “virus of Arab nationalism”, after Gamal Abdel Nasser came to power in Egypt and nationalised the Suez Canal, by forging links with the Muslim Brotherhood, an organisation involved in terrorism. The nationalisation of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company by the democratically elected Iranian government of Mohammed Mossadeq led to a British-American organised coup which was facilitated by Ayatollah Seyyed Kashani, one of whose followers was the young Ruhollah Khomeini. In Indonesia, the removal of Ahmed Sukarno in another military coup by the UK-US was carried out with the help of Darul Islam. Its followers went on to massacre socialists and trade unionists.

      In each of these cases the clandestine backing of Britain and the US strengthened Islamist groups at the expense of secular bodies and moderate Muslims. These groups then went to form terrorist groups whom the West would later have to confront in the “War on Terror”. . .


      “Secret Affairs: Britain’s Collusion with Radical Islam” by Mark Curtis @ –

      by MARK CURTIS (Author) –

    • JLewisDickerson on June 12, 2017, 7:38 pm

      “The CIA and The Muslim Brotherhood: How the CIA Set The Stage for September 11” (Martin A. Lee – Razor Magazine 2004)

      [EXCERPTS] . . . The CIA often works in mysterious ways – and so it was with this little-known cloak-and-dagger caper that set the stage for extensive collaboration between US intelligence and Islamic extremists. The genesis of this ill-starred alliance dates back to Egypt in the mid-1950s, when the CIA made discrete overtures to the Muslim Brotherhood, the influential Sunni fundamentalist movement that fostered Islamic militancy throughout the Middle East. What started as a quiet American flirtation with political Islam became a Cold War love affair on the sly – an affair that would turn out disastrously for the U.S. Nearly all of today’s radical Islamic groups, including al-Qaeda, trace their lineage to the Brotherhood.

      “The Muslim Brothers are at the root of a lot of our troubles,” says Col. W. Patrick Lang, one of several US intelligence veterans interviewed for this article . Formerly a high-ranking Middle East expert at the Defense Intelligence Agency Lang considers al-Qaeda to be “a descendent of the Brotherhood.

      For many years, the American espionage establishment had operated on the assumption that Islam was inherently anti-communist and therefore could be harnessed to facilitate US objectives. American officials viewed the Muslim Brotherhood as “a secret weapon” in the shadow war against the Soviet Union and it’s Arab allies, according to Robert Baer, a retired CIA case officer who was right in the thick of things in the Middle East and Central Asia during his 21 year career as a spy. In “Sleeping with the Devil”, a book he wrote after quitting the CIA Baer explains how the United States “made common cause with the Brothers” and used them “to do our dirty work in Yemen, Afghanistan and plenty of other places”.

      This covert relationship; unraveled when the Cold War ended, whereupon an Islamic Frankenstein named Osama bin Laden lurched into existence. . .

      SOURCE –

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