FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Syria: a Serious Situation for Us All

by

London.

Daily the depth and breadth of conflict increases, people are killed and displaced, refugee camps expand as does an expressly archaic and yet perversely modern construct of Islam that the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) could surely have never foreseen.  ISIS (known in the region as Da’ ish) sweeps its bloody cloak across the Syrian and Iraqi landscapes with swords and hammers obliterating people and artefacts that fall short of their exacting demands.

ISIS is yet another child of Wahhabi based teachings, from an ultra-conservative Sunni school of Islam, nurtured in Saudi Arabia in the late 1800s, with children and cousins emerging all over the modern world, their ideas flying on wings of the world-wide-web, engaging and radicalising disenfranchised souls from all classes and creeds. East, West, North and South extremists proliferate, born out of corrupted unjust political structures that stumble from one lie to the next.
 
Looking at Syria today, international military invasions have occurred for less.  So called weapons of mass destruction led to an illegal 2003 Allied war tearing at the fabric of regional unity in what was a multicultural religiously tolerant Iraq – notwithstanding the forceful suppression of oppositional politics (imperfect, but surely better than what there is now).

Not far away in Yemen – truly the forgotten land, bounteous mountains reaching abundant seas, an ancient place where Arabs, Iranians, Indians and Africans met from early on. Lesser known is the Shia inspired Imamate that has existed since the eighth Century in Yemen. Western and Ottoman strategic interests in the region carved up this ancient land, divided for decades even in unity no peace to find, resonating in battles we hear little about today, creating yet more unstable places people want/need to escape.

Religion and politics have created a toxic cloud darkening the region’s skies. At the 69th session of the UN General Assembly Netanyahu declared Iran to be a ‘global threat bigger than ISIS’ (Turner, 2015). A sentiment reiterated more recently in conversation with the Louisiana Republican Senator (CBS NEWS 29 may 2015) part of his continued attempts to muster world condemnation for Iran’s Nuclear energy. Iran’s supposed threat being the same argument used to hawk masses of military hardware to Saudi Arabia, Qatar and some Arab states around the Persian Gulf (Law, 2012; Shanker, 2013) who are themselves busy funding ISIS and other terror groups, not to mention Israel’s not inconsiderable military might and nuclear arsenal.

In May whilst Netanyahu was beating his war drums,  Lamb’s essay on Palmyra’s endangered state in the hands of ISIS points to an “unverified report” of Rabbi Nir Ben Artzi “preaching that ‘God has sent Da’ish to fight against nations that want to destroy Israel. You are our brothers!” (Lamb, 2015) The Rabbi cited verses such as “The day on which Tadmor (Palmyra) is destroyed will be made a holiday (Yeb. 16b-17a)” (ibid).

You begin to think that everyone has definitively lost the plot, but then Dan Glazebrook’s article in CounterPunch informs us that US government documents which were subject of a two year legal case (May 15, 2014, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) revealed that “far from being an unpredictable ‘bolt from the blue’, as the mainstream media tends to imply, the rise of ISIS was in fact both predicted and desired by the US and its allies from as far back as 2012” (Dan Glazebrook, 2015). His article further points to Hersh’s 2007 article in the New Yorker, where we learn of “the strategy…….. [in which] Bush administration officials were working with the Saudis to channel billions of dollars to sectarian death squads whose role would be to ‘throw bombs… at Hezbollah, Motada al-Sadr, Iran and at the Syrians” (Dan Glazebrook 2015).

As we look around today the Wahhabi (more recently also using  the term Salafist)  ideals are redefining Middle Eastern lands with fear and force, slaughtering Yazidis, Druze, Christians and anyone not conforming to their version of Islam including Shia, Ismaili and other Muslims groups, slayed without shame or remorse. Sort of terrifying when the U.S. Department of Internal Affairs’ annual report (referred to in Glazebrook’s article) exposes Western strategies such as “establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist principality in Eastern Syria, and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime which is considered the strategic depth of the Shia expansion (Iraq and Iran)” (Dan Glazebrook, May, 2015).

These concealed misguided negative policies are by no means new. There was nothing hidden about the Dual Containment policy, announced in 2003, aimed at containing Iran and Iraq, or indeed the US government allocating US$85 million ‘to produce anti-Iran propaganda and support dissidents’ (Unger, 2007).

Decades on, enemies of enemies have become friends and allies with dubious human rights records are brought into the fold. Whilst the Iranian government is not the most exemplary in the world, its Iran’s military personnel who are assisting in Yemen and putting their feet on the ground with Iraqi and Syrian soldiers, as are the Kurds (they with their own nation seeking agenda, spawned when granted semi autonomy post Bush Senior Iraq war). Iran, Iraq and Syria all have sizeable Shia populations and various strands of Shia can be found across Middle East and North Africa, threatened together with others not suiting the Salafist frame of mind.

The divide is appearing everywhere and manifests itself in many a way, with ancient co-existing communities being driven apart through extremist preaching and acts. The Shia minority in Persian Gulf Arab states are repressed as witnessed in Bahrain where their demands for equality were brutally crushed; in Pakistan the ancient use of khoda hafez (khoda a Persian word for God) is being replaced with Allah Hafez and a bus full of Ismaili innocents, young and old were blown up in a bus; in Libya Shia sites desecrated until locals stepped in; and after a decade of bombing Shia mosques in Iraq, the newly formed Saudi branch of ISIS blew up two Shia mosques in Saudi Arabia over the last weeks. The Shia are not alone, the last decades has seen a steady, now accelerating, obliteration of the region’s multi-ethnic tapestry, the fissure deepens and widens hourly. On the eleventh hour America is making noises about helping to get rid of ISIS, akin to their efforts to fight the Taliban whom they originally sent in Bin Laden to train…. Sound familiar?

 

The saddest part of all is realising some people not only knew, but were writing future sagas with bloodied ink. As a solitary human amongst billions, in a little corner of the world, I really wonder are human lives, cultures and histories of so little value that they can be violated, dismantled and erased intentionally in so many places around the globe without it reverberating?

Then I see in the west the tragedy of a young off duty soldier massacred on the streets witnessed by people passing by that could be you and I. We mourned the blasts that decimated blameless lives nearby; whilst all around us counter terror police are searching for terror cells and turning off ticking bombs.  Meanwhile, coasts and borders strain under the fleeing feet of innocents caught at the cutting edge, escaping the hellish chaos some politicians and religious leaders leave around.

It then becomes clear that indeed Syria and what’s going on in neighbouring regions is a serious situation for us all, wherever we are. And perhaps we should be more engaged and helping turn the tide…. just don’t quite know how?

Suggestions welcome.

Roya Arab is a UK-based Iranian musician and archaeologist. He is an Honorary Research Assistant, Institute of Archaeology, University College London.

References.

Glazebrook, Dan, ‘The Fall and Rise of the West’s Death Squad Strategy: Murder, Inc. Returns to the Middle East’. Counterpunch, 27 MAY 2015

Hersh, Seymour. ‘The Redirection. Is the Administration’s New Policy Benefitting Our Enemies in the War on Terrorism?’ The New Yorker, 5 March 2007 .

Judicial Watch report, 18 may 2015.

Lamb, Franklin. ‘Is Islamic State Open To Deal On Palmyra? – OpEd’ Eurasia Review, 30 May 2015

Turner, Louise, 2015.  ‘Win battle, lose the war: Netanyahu puts Iran over ISIS, slams Hamas’ . (Addressing the UN General Assembly September 2014)

Netanyahu, Benjamin. ‘Nuclear Iran 1,000 Times More Dangerous than ISIS ‘–. RT NEWS. Published: 27 May 2015.

Law, Bill. 2012, ‘Analysis: Selling Arms to the Gulf’. BBC News 9 January 2012

Shanker, Thom. 2013. ‘U.S. Arms Deal With Israel and 2 Arab Nations Is Near’. New York Times, 18 April 2013. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/19/world/middleeast/us-selling-arms-to-israel-saudi-arabia-and-emirates.html?_r=0

Unger, Craig. ‘From the Wonderful Folks who Brought you Iraq’. Vanity Fair, March 2007.

More articles by:
November 21, 2017
Gregory Elich
What is Behind the Military Coup in Zimbabwe?
Louisa Willcox
Rising Grizzly Bear Deaths Raise Red Flag About Delisting
David Macaray
My Encounter With Charles Manson
Patrick Cockburn
The Greatest Threats to the Middle East are Jared Kushner and Mohammed bin Salman
Stephen Corry
OECD Fails to Recognize WWF Conservation Abuses
James Rothenberg
We All Know the Rich Don’t Need Tax Cuts
Elizabeth Keyes
Let There be a Benign Reason For Someone to be Crawling Through My Window at 3AM!
L. Ali Khan
The Merchant of Weapons
Thomas Knapp
How to Stop a Rogue President From Ordering a Nuclear First Strike
Lee Ballinger
Trump v. Marshawn Lynch
Michael Eisenscher
Donald Trump, Congress, and War with North Korea
Tom H. Hastings
Reckless
Franklin Lamb
Will Lebanon’s Economy Be Crippled?
Linn Washington Jr.
Forced Anthem Adherence Antithetical to Justice
Nicolas J S Davies
Why Do Civilians Become Combatants In Wars Against America?
November 20, 2017
T.J. Coles
Doomsday Scenarios: the UK’s Hair-Raising Admissions About the Prospect of Nuclear War and Accident
Peter Linebaugh
On the 800th Anniversary of the Charter of the Forest
Patrick Bond
Zimbabwe Witnessing an Elite Transition as Economic Meltdown Looms
Sheldon Richman
Assertions, Facts and CNN
Ben Debney
Plebiscites: Why Stop at One?
LV Filson
Yemen’s Collective Starvation: Where Money Can’t Buy Food, Water or Medicine
Thomas Knapp
Impeachment Theater, 2017 Edition
Binoy Kampmark
Trump in Asia
Curtis FJ Doebbler
COP23: Truth Without Consequences?
Louisa Willcox
Obesity in Bears: Vital and Beautiful
Deborah James
E-Commerce and the WTO
Ann Garrison
Burundi Defies the Imperial Criminal Court: an Interview with John Philpot
Robert Koehler
Trapped in ‘a Man’s World’
Stephen Cooper
Wiping the Stain of Capital Punishment Clean
Weekend Edition
November 17, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Thank an Anti-War Veteran
Andrew Levine
What’s Wrong With Bible Thumpers Nowadays?
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
The CIA’s House of Horrors: the Abominable Dr. Gottlieb
Wendy Wolfson – Ken Levy
Why We Need to Take Animal Cruelty Much More Seriously
Mike Whitney
Brennan and Clapper: Elder Statesmen or Serial Fabricators?
David Rosen
Of Sex Abusers and Sex Offenders
Ryan LaMothe
A Christian Nation?
Dave Lindorff
Trump’s Finger on the Button: Why No President Should Have the Authority to Launch Nuclear Weapons
W. T. Whitney
A Bizarre US Pretext for Military Intrusion in South America
Deepak Tripathi
Sex, Lies and Incompetence: Britain’s Ruling Establishment in Crisis 
Howard Lisnoff
Who You’re Likely to Meet (and Not Meet) on a College Campus Today
Roy Morrison
Trump’s Excellent Asian Adventure
John W. Whitehead
Financial Tyranny
Ted Rall
How Society Makes Victimhood a No-Win Proposition
Jim Goodman
Stop Pretending the Estate Tax has Anything to do With Family Farmers
Thomas Klikauer
The Populism of Germany’s New Nazis
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail