Beyond the Cusp

June 29, 2016

Treating Terrorism in a Modern Democratic Governance

 

Terrorism and a Democratic free society pose problems which are not present in any of the totalitarian style governances such as Communism, Monarchies, Fascism or Religious totalitarianism. In these governances the security forces can literally close down almost all activity relegating their populations to carefully orchestrated movements. Work transportation can be set by government, shopping for groceries can be set to limited times and all other such commerce limited extremely or closed for the time period of the emergency. By turning the society into regulated movements with careful choreography then anything not conforming to the plan is immediately obvious and a concentration of forces will quickly return things to the ordered schedule. In such a society the comfort of the people is secondary to security. If a society is prepared to give up all freedoms for the appearance and possibly improved security, then security will be increased, but at what price. In a Democratic form of governance the people’s freedoms come before anything the government desires to do and the people presumably set the level they desire on freedoms and government works around those freedoms.

 

Let’s look at a simply example that any man will understand and women will be amused though they would never admit so. It is Sunday morning and there is a one day sale at the mall and her favorite department store is adding additional savings above those the mall offers on purchases. Of course the Big Game comes on at 2:30 PM in the afternoon and it is approaching 11:00 in the morning and she demands that the two of you go have brunch at the mall and do a “little” shopping. Hopes of seeing the Big Game getting dimmer and dimmer, you do what any husband knows is the less painful thing and ready for the mall as quickly as possible so maybe, just maybe you will catch the last period of the game where you will have to provide your own level of excitement that the rest of the game presumably had generated. In a democracy such a decision would be voted upon and hopefully in the entire community men would all watch the game and the women, or most women, would converge on the mall and all would be happy. The real world is never that smooth and the bumps are always unexpected and raise the ire with government as somebody has to be blamed and they are as good a target as anybody, especially when you are changing the burst tire after hitting a pothole at fifty miles an hour on your way to work. You know the boss will be less than understanding, so the government is all to blame for not repairing the road; and if they are repairing the road, then why during rush hour making you late for work. Face it, government is always wrong, period.

 

So, terrorism, where is it that life sits on this. First thing is we all know that the routine of insanity we go through at the airport with the TSA (Transportation Safety Administration) experts makes life miserable and searchs every octogenarian while ignoring any profiling which might prove effective. This is the very TSA which misses detection of 90% of items in tests run by the agency itself. This government employment boondoggle offers somewhere between none and a miniscule amount of professionalism or competence and adds nothing to the safety of flying. We all know that if each airline was responsible for their own security, then we would see automated detection systems installed around the concourses and they would work together to provide such airtight security systems which have proven well over 90% effective in detecting suspicious persons. One of the, if not the, safest airports in the world, Ben Gurion outside Tel Aviv, has some innovative security as described in this article. But then Israel had little choice but to be on the top of security and anti-terror systems, and there lies one of the greatest terror fighting tools Israel had to develop and was likely the most difficult, but establish this system they have.

 

Israel is the one place you see just as many people running towards the explosion or gunfire of a terror attack as are fleeing. The ones heading towards the attack are IDF personnel with weapons (yes, the IDF soldiers trained in use of their weapon in the public sphere carry their weapons with them 24/7 and consider themselves always on duty), police, security personnel, first responders, health care professionals, emergency care personnel, motorcycle first responders (they treat survivors and perform triage and necessary emergency life-saving treatment such as stopping bleeding and immobilizing injured areas etc.), and armed citizens licensed to carry weapons (in Israel to own a weapon you must pass a course or have proven training in public use of weapons as all owners are encouraged during heightened security times to carry their weapon and these were many of the responders who saved lives during the stabbing intifada recently faced in Israel). People you pass every day on the streets and in the halls in Israel may very well be the person who saves your life in the instance of a terror attack and this does not cover others with military and security expertise who are retired or in new professions who also are likely to run towards the attack instead of away. A trained public is the first and best line of defense but takes decades to get trained and functioning as intended.

 

But Israelis have developed systems which work with minimal input or even independently monitoring entire crowds of people looking for particular actions some of which are subconscious but found by researchers to appear on people who should be suspected and potentially watched more closely. Another system asks each individual four simple questions which are as innocuous as anyone could be asked and upon the facial expressions it picks out things which would be mostly unnoticeable to even a professional but are cues to subliminal indicators and uses these to warn of potential criminal or terrorist activity potentials. These systems have been tested in trials and have proven their effectiveness. Within a couple of years such systems will be placed in airports, malls, movie theaters, at public events, sports stadiums and across the length and breadth of many major metropolitan areas monitoring everything people do throughout the monitored areas. These systems may become so sophisticated as to be capable of using even marginally decent camera images or cities might offer purchase subsidies in exchange to hooking their systems up to the city surveillance systems expanding their web even more intrusively. But currently we need to rely on more basic human fallible systems with people watching and taking off our shoes and who knows what else just to fly off to visit the grandkids or whatever. The United States has established a frequent flier and wealthy folks go around for airport security where one goes through a precheck and is given a biometric card such that a finger print or other measure scanned and matching the card electronic record they pass right through shoes still tied and belts in place without the aggravation and indignity of the TSA rigmarole.

 

Currently most terrorist prevention must be carried out in secret and without the public being aware of their successes. We will most definitely hear about every fail as that will be the headlines for days, possibly weeks. When they fail then their following investigations are often very public which puts the government in a tough spot as the public demands to know what they have discovered and what is being done to assure such an attack never again strikes their fair city and government needs to keep much of what they learn and what they plan to do and change in their techniques known only to them if these changes and new lines of information are to remain effective. New procedures and lines of gathering information and other intelligence gathering systems must remain unknown to the terrorists in order for them to remain viable. That is why much of what we are told after a terror attack seems so lame, lame the terrorists already know or can know and it will not make their operations more efficient and capable of being undetected, everything else must remain hidden for the people to be best protected. Such secrecy is technically undemocratic and more autocratic making those involved in such security aspects of life more informed than the average person on the street. For reasons which are less than logical many people get all forms of upset when they know the government is not being fully open with them, especially on a subject as vitally important as terrorists and the dangers they pose. On another side, would the public expect that every physicist working on the latest nuclear warheads as government workers reveal everything about their work in the New York Times? Of course not, that would be foolish and dangerous. Defending against terrorism is exactly the same, it needs to be kept unknown generally if it is to serve to the advantage of the nation and make everybody that much more safe.

 

That understood, there is still much we can know which will not compromise or stop terrorism. We can know that the Islamic State is not the JV and where the average terror fighter in the Islamic State is not Kobe Bryant, their top planners and bomb makers are Kobe Bryant as far as their line of specialties are concerned. That is important for us to realize as is the fact that they want the entire non-Muslim world to either convert to Islam, pay a special tax to them for the privilege of not becoming a Muslim or dead, and by dead we mean as painfully, embarrassingly, and video-shockingly as humanly possible. Anybody who has watched their videos they chose to showcase to the world realized that they are as imaginative as they are sick and mentally disturbed. What else we need to realize is that these people are considered great minds who are making Muhammad’s and Allah’s dreams for the world be realized. Think Inquisition and you begin to realize that the Western World already survived and moved past the concept of a single world religion. Some religious groups in the West moved beyond that earlier than others, but no need to go into that.

 

The other thing one need realize is there is no such thing as religious terrorism. All terrorism is political. Your religion can drive your politics but terrorism is all about who rules over who and that is political. Catholicism, also known as The Church, was as much a political body as it was religious. Think Cardinal Richelieu against King Louis XIII and Queen Anne (of Austria) and the Three Musketeers? The Church in France had their own armies and the King had two armies, one of the Realm with which he would defend France herself and a royal guard, the Musketeers, who protected the crown mostly from British intrigues and the forces of Cardinal Richelieu. There was another French Monarch who was very well appreciated by the Church; his name eventually became Holy Roman Emperor Charlemagne, King of the Franks and protector of the Church. Those were earlier times when a small kingdom could come close to conquering half the known world; think Ottoman Empire where a small tribe from northeastern Turkey conquered much of the Caliphate and held the lands of Middle East and Northern Africa slowly losing ground before being felled during World War I. One could say that the world changed breaking between before and after World War I. Before World War I where the world had empires and royalty ruled absolutely and post-World War I where the Ottoman Empire and Austrian-Hungarian Empire were split into individual countries and the rule of Kings and Queens in Europe gave way to representative governments and the Middle East and North Africa were ruled as colonies presumably to prepare for eventual representative governments which proved expensive and was untenable leading to simply deserting these nations soon after World War II and soon after dictators rose to rule in the vast majority of these countries and their arbitrary borders were much to blame and are now collapsing.

 

What will rise to replace the dictatorial monarchial governances in the Middle East and North Africa will also have much to do with the potential of terrorism growing worse or lessoning into the future. Democratic governance with a separation of Church, Synagogue, Mosque and State will result in a decrease in terrorism as each elected government will face the threat as well as the West and will thus find their bases being destroyed by the governments of the countries they use as their bases currently. On the other side there is a possibility that something of the ilk of the Islamic State could become resurgent and reinstate the Caliphate on the lands which originally constituted the Ottoman Empire and striving to reestablish the entirety of the original Caliphate which at its largest stretched from Spain and southern France ending at Tours, see Charles the Hammer Martel, all the way through then Persia stopping in northern India, see Taj Mahal. The likelihood of an empire rising across the Middle East and Northern Africa are very low as long as there is an elected and largely secular government in Egypt. I would be more concerned with a Muslim Brotherhood ruled Egypt than the Islamic State as Egypt has a very modern and powerful military as far as equipment of arms. They have modern fighter-bombers, tanks, rifles, artillery along with support, control and communications systems. Most of their current systems are from the United States with some older USSR equipment and are contracting for modern, state of the art Russian equipment. The Saudi Royal Family also stand in command of a modern military as does Iran who have the advantage that much of their equipment is manufactured in Iran. Then there is Israel, the cork in the bottle as many a military expert has referred to her. The instability in the Middle East and parts of Northern Africa is rife with terrorist entities, some intertwined fighting one another such as Islamic State, al-Nusra Front (al-Qaeda), Hezballah (Iran/Syria) and numerous smaller terror entities all embroiled in the remains of Syria and into Iraq and then the tribal groups some aligned with Islamic State, some with al-Qaeda and still others Muslim Brotherhood and some just for themselves in the imbroglio formerly known as Libya, aka the mess that Hillary made.

 

Cardinal Richelieu against King Louis XIII and Queen Anne of Austria

Cardinal Richelieu against King Louis XIII and Queen Anne of Austria

 

The solution to bring much of terrorism to an end is not that simple. One of the people at the forefront of this and with the correct idea is the current, as of this writing, President of Egypt Abdel Fattah al-Sisi who has called for a religious reformation of Islam and demanding that a path forward must include the ability for Islam to exist amongst the other religions and under secular governance and end its supremacy complex where it demands it be the sole religion and rule over everything which can be within its domain. Islam currently has no limitations on the extent of its domain and demands at a minimum it rule over the entire earth and that every person be a Muslim, eventually the exact same sect and potentially even learning from the same Imam. Wars in Islamic history have been fought over which leader was the legitimate leader of all Islam and that remains a point of contention to this day. There is the split between Sunni and Shiite which is the largest divide plus there are the Salafists, the Muslim Brotherhood, Islamic State, al-Qaeda and who knows how many other lesser sects or teachings all of which claim to hold the only true and pure form of Islam. As we have said here is the remarkable similarity to Highlander as in the end, there can be only one. Some of this is a direct result of the creed of an old Arab Bedouin saying: “I, against my brothers, I and my brothers against my cousins, I and my brothers and my cousins against the world (the stranger).” This mentality refuses anything or anyone different and is incapable of incorporating anything new or different into their lives or their ethics and politics. This is what has led to centuries of warfare as it was once the belief of humankind the world over. The initial expression of treating the stranger as a welcome guest was formalized in the Old Testament as was exemplified by Abraham and the way he would greet strangers by doing everything to be a gracious host. But such has not become the accepted norm around the globe with many cases as far from the norm as possible. Some areas on the globe have even moved further from such an open and accepting model. Much of the world still sees the other as a threat and as something or someone to be conquered or worse, destroyed completely. Until the world reaches a community of inclusiveness, terrorism will exist as a method to intimidate and destroy the other, the more technologically and often sociologically advanced and accepting ethos from what classically would be called the barbarians at the gates, or within the gates, depending on the realities. Many in the West are not seeing the barbarians at their gates and are opening their gates wide to allow them in in the mistaken belief that their great loving and accepting nature will win them over. History teaches us otherwise. We once before lost the technologically most advanced culture to the barbarians even if Rome had devolved spiritually and socially. The question is will we repeat that history again. The last time it brought on a darker age for much of the globe and allowed another culture to spread across much of the known world stopped only at some of the least expected of areas. Will we watch the world take a huge step backwards? More than likely as there is an entire liberal elite who thinking they know all better than anybody else are rushing headlong to disaster just to prove they were right, what if they are wrong?

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

June 5, 2016

Final Weeds in the MENA Garden, Syria, Yemen, Iraq and Iran

 

In a nutshell Syria has a fair measure of the powers in play in the Middle East and into North Africa. In addition we will also need to mention areas centered on Nigeria where Boko Haram is centrally located making war on Nigeria and all her neighboring states. Then there is Yemen and two straits, Bab el-Mandeb and finally the Strait of Hormuz which are all parts of the Iranian designs which start with the Shiite Crescent from the Indian Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea and control of the two most important waterway choke points in the Middle East affecting everything from the eastern tip of Asia to the Western tip of Europe including the British Isles. But it all starts with Syria and the last block to the Shiite Crescent.

 

Iran sits conveniently at the eastern edge just beyond the Arab Muslim Empire and as such is mostly a different peoples east of the Zagros Mountains which have served as a defensive barrier thousands of years. This was the secret of the Persians and why despite falling to Islam they remained separate and distinct. Still, if Iran was ever to claim the right as the head of a Caliphate they were going to need to establish two things, a connection unobstructed to the Mediterranean Sea and thus full access to North Africa and South Europe and a mass alteration of Islam making Shia Islam dominant over Sunni Islam. The first is a major step towards the second. The hope was once Iran had access to the Mediterranean cutting across the Middle East gaining direct or implied control over much of Iraq, Syria and Lebanon they would appear, as Islam claims to be the superior, the strong horse and thus could influence many that Sunni Islam was weak and Shia Islam was dominant and thus start the conversion of Sunni Muslims to Shia Islam and thus become the dominant force reestablishing both the historic Persian Empire and taking over the new Caliphate and the lead position over nearly two-billion Muslims.

 

Iran had taken control of Lebanon when they took sponsorship of Hezballah which initially was a universally recognized terror group which was fighting the Christian militias and had also fought against the IDF using terrorist strikes in an attempt to wear Israel down and force their capitulation and return to south of the recognized international border known as the Blue Line. Eventually a left leaning government bent to the protests and declared an end to what they called a tragic period in Israeli history completely forgetting the reasons, the valid reason that brought Israel into southern Lebanon. Israel replied to the hue and cry of the Christians of southern Lebanon as Syrian troops invaded Lebanon aiding Hezballah who were facing being slaughtered and Israel responded to an intense threat of a human disaster in the making as had already been committed to the initial Christian communities near the Syrian border. Israel, Ariel Sharon in particular, was blamed for a revenge strike on Sabra and Shatila massacring the Muslims which were carried out by the Christian militias and not the IDF. Still the world could not blame the Christian militias as they were irregular fighters and as such were not sufficiently organized with a command structure and as such their silence made finding those responsible became impossible so the work picked the next best thing, Israel. Europe had what seems like a default setting that if it happens in the Middle East, then when in doubt, blame Israel.

 

Once Israel retreated from southern Lebanon the Lebanese military was supposed to move in with United Nations oversight. Neither occurred and in many instances the United Nations aided Hezballah in their efforts to set up a series of tunnels as well as arms caches and command and control bunkers. This eventually led to another Israeli incursion into Lebanon after Hezballah kidnapped, and subsequently murdered three Israeli soldiers and killed five other soldiers at the point of the ambush inside Israel when they caught a patrol vehicle off guard and unsuspecting any incursion across the border from Lebanon. Iran uses Hezballah as their threat against Israel and has armed them to a point which is truly frightening as Iran has stocked Hezballah with at least one-hundred plus long range missiles and uncountable limited range rockets which have as much as a fifty kilometer range. Amongst the longer range missiles are stores of Zilzal-2 and Fateh-110 provided by Iran bringing them into Damascus and shipping them over land often on their own mobile vehicles. This is the threat Iran would threaten to unleash on Israel had Israel actually struck at Iranian nuclear sites and likely will be the first strike against Israel whenever Iran decides that they will attack the Jewish homeland. The total is well over two-hundred-thousand rockets and missiles from ten to twenty kilometer Grads, Fajr series, Shahab series and Ghadr missiles. Then there are the mid-range Scud series of ballistic rockets and then the more advanced guided missiles which the most advanced has two stages and Iran can strike Israel from Iran with these longer range Missiles so Lebanon can not only strike Israel but also northern Saudi Arabia and Egypt as well as all of Turkey and anywhere within Syria or Jordan and much of Iraq. With these longest range missiles stationed in Iran and Lebanon the range brings them to command coverage over the entire Middle East and beyond, a definite threat to the heart of Sunni Islam, exactly what Iran envisioned as their way to claim command over all of Israel. Their problem, Syria collapsed and nobody can claim complete control over Syria as well as over Iraq, the two breaking Iran’s Shiite Crescent in two.

 

Iran is not the only outside power with an interest in Syria. The most straight forward national interest belongs to the Russians who have one main port at Latakia and potential other locations along the Mediterranean shoreline which provides them a warm water port with easy access to the Atlantic Ocean. The Russian plan is likely to reposition a fair share of their Black Sea naval forces to the Syrian ports thus placing them beyond the Bosphorus which could easily be closed any time that Turkey might decide they are upset with the Russians. The teetering of the relationship between Turkey and Russia became very evident a few months ago when Turkey shot down a Russian fighter jet claiming it had flown into Turkish air space, something very likely as Russia has been bombing locations in support of Bashir al-Assad who has lost control over much of the nation he once ruled unchallenged. Now there are a number of militias and terror groups each commanding their own parts with Assad, the Kurds and Islamic State have the largest locations under their control. Other areas are controlled by the al-Nusra Front, an al-Qaeda offshoot, Free Syrian Army, Jaish al-Izzah, Levant Front, Alotfecat Brigades, and offshoots divided into Syrian Opposition-al-Qaeda network, Federation of Northern Syria, Muslim Brotherhood and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant or Islamic State. Each of these groups have so many offshoots that it becomes cumbersome to even begin to list them but for those who desire a detailed list one can be found here With al-Assad opposing these groups are the remains of the Syrian Army, Russian Naval and air support, Hezballah and some Druze militias are fighting in support of Bashir al-Assad whose control is limited to the westernmost areas of Syria including Damascus and the port cities which the Russians are defending with occasional air attacks flown against the terror forces but usually avoiding the Kurds and Islamic State and striking the weaker forces which al-Assad might be better poised to defeat.

 

Military Situation in the Syrian Civil War Areas of Control  by Major Force Divisions as of June 3, 2016.

Military Situation in the Syrian Civil War Areas of Control
by Major Force Divisions as of June 3, 2016.

 

The Kurdish Militias are holding the northernmost areas largely against the Islamic State. Turkey has provided bombing targets used for the United States air strikes as President Obama micromanaging their actions by putting their orders for strikes to Turkish intelligence. This has resulted in many of these strikes instead of targeting the Islamic State side of the conflict line are instead striking the Kurdish side making the situation more favorable for the Islamic State. The saving grace was that the Russians protested the NATO air strikes as interfering with Russian air strikes and set where the United States and Turkish fighter jets are restricted to a corridor which has actually favored the Kurdish forces. This became serious after Turkey shot down the Russian Fighter Jet. What is not discussed publically is the agreement between Russia and another air force in the area allowing for Israel to conduct tactical strikes in response to any attacks against Israeli forces on the Golan Heights. This was negotiated between President Putin and Prime Minister Netanyahu in Moscow early in the Russian intervention. This has proven necessary a number of times as the different forces have intentionally fired on IDF troops damaging vehicles and causing some injuries which required at times a more serious response than a couple of artillery or tank shells as a position required removal. These strikes barely make comment even within Israel but there have been some reports in a few of the smaller nationalist and Zionist sources online and in print.

 

Likely the most notable forces have been those of the Islamic State due to their early success largely in Iraq. They took control of the Sunni northern and central areas bordering southern Syria as the mostly Shiite Iraqi army forces simply fled or attempted to melt into the public. Their difficulty was that many of the Sunni civilians who these troops had tormented got their revenge turning over those Shiite soldiers who were guilty of such inter faction fighting. The Islamic State after their fast conquest of largely open areas and a few key cities in Iraq have now settled into defensive posture as they were close to overextension which had allowed for some key cities and towns being reclaimed. The Islamic State holds large open areas in Syria which are mostly desert and open scrublands which were sparsely populated. Their supposed massive victories were somewhat overblown in the hyperventilating Western media as they were hungry for a big story so every gain of the Islamic State, even those which were made in areas where they were unopposed were claimed to be grand expansion of their military control. The main story they should have never strayed from was the Islamic State’s brutality. This alone is the reason that the Islamic State deserves being liquidated by whatever means are necessary and this fight should be carried out largely by indigenous troops. Any support by Western forces should be limited to providing air support and precision strikes on such targets as command and control facilities and fixed positions as well as taking out the Western armor and other Western equipment. Other than such air support and potential cruise missile or drone strikes the Western ground forces should not be placed in harm’s way as such assistance is more often not appreciated and often used as reasons for protests and resentment. They should not risk being dragged into what may prove to be a prolonged number of operations in order to clear out pockets of resistance. As far as Syria, that too should not require any Western ground forces and be left to indigenous forces with support from Turkey, Jordan, Iraq, Iran and potential financing from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States.

 

Yemen Battle Map

Yemen Battle Map

 

The other front that needs addressing also has an Iranian contingent in Yemen. Iran is also attempting to gain the ability to completely disrupt all maritime trade by holding military threat over two of the most sensitive straights in all of the Middle East, Bab el-Mandeb and finally the Strait of Hormuz. The Bab el-Mandeb cuts off Israeli maritime access from the Red Sea on the way to the Indian Ocean and on to the rest of Asia and the Pacific as well as blocking any use of the Suez Canal by cutting off its southern access. The Strait of Hormuz has a large portion of the world’s crude oil shipping. Iran already holds threat over the Strait of Hormuz as one side of the entire Persian Gulf borders Iran (a huge ‘no duh’). This threat Iran has had and used since the Islamic takeover in 1979 requiring the United States to intervene as well as to bring in minesweepers to clear mines which Iran had strewn as part of their cutting off of the Strait of Hormuz. The Bab el-Mandeb sits off the southwestern most border of Yemen which borders the southernmost Red Sea. This is the other choke point other than the Suez Canal itself. The Suez Canal is safely within the borders of Egypt between the Sinai Peninsula and main body of Egypt which has only faced a force other than Egyptian when Israel held the Sinai briefly in 1956 and for a number of years after the Six Day War in 1967 until Egypt and Israel made peace in 1979. Israel never threatened to close the Suez Canal though it may have been risky using the Suez Canal during the 1973 Yom Kippur War as initially Egyptian troops were pouring across into the Sinai and within a few days after Israel mobilized and struck back were crossing the Suez Canal and for a while held both shores but withdrew back across the Canal into the Sinai after the world demanded Israel cease winning the war and immediately stop advancing on Alexandria and Cairo. Funny, there was no call for Egypt to stop their advance across the Sinai intending to strike into Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. I guess Egypt advancing and defeating Israeli defenders is completely different than Israel advancing and defeating Egyptian forces. Should Iranian Houthi rebels take control over sufficient areas of Yemen and a peace leave the areas in the southeastern end of Yemen then Iran would have access to blocking the Bab el-Mandeb and blocking the Suez Canal which would end all oil and maritime trade with Europe forcing those hardy enough to try having to circle the south end of the African Continent. That used to be a difficult and dangerous route before the canal and the main reason the Suez Canal was built. Iran desires to hold a stranglehold over maritime trade and oil trade thus being able to threaten the world and especially threaten Europe. That is why Egypt is assisting in Yemen and the West had best have an interest in what happens in Yemen, even if not as much in Syria.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

June 4, 2016

Weeds in the MENA Garden Conclusions

 

Here is a link. We covered the political upheavals, terror threats, alignments, backing of destabilizing forces and general conditions for all the countries from Western Sahara and Morocco to Iraq and Iran. This article will try to look at the reasons and future mostly dealing with the Middle East after a brief summary on North Africa. For reference here is a map of the area we will cover which adds Turkey to our considerations as they had a few mentions previously.

 

(MENA) Middle East and North Africa Including Turkey and Iran With North Central Africa

(MENA)
Middle East and North Africa
Including Turkey and Iran
With North Central Africa

 

The first step to understanding the area is to determine which nations are playing the controlling interests and what the status of the remaining nations have especially their ties to the controlling players (We can think of this as a game of RISK where only the MENA nations get to play). The players who are vying for the position of leader of the Arab and Muslim world do include one non-nation player which we should cover initially including naming some of their aliases. That force is the Muslim Brotherhood which never actually uses their real name when interacting. In Egypt their political influence is through the Freedom and Justice Party (Arabic: حزب الحرية والعدالة‎). Egypt’s former President Mohamed Morsi was a Freedom and Justice Party member and they still hold a plurality though not an outright majority of the Egyptian Parliament. Currently the Freedom and Justice Party holds 47.2 per cent of all seats in the country’s lower house of Parliament, while allied Islamist parties al Nour Party holds 24.7 and al Wasat Party holds 2.0 per cent, respectively. This gives the Islamists in the lower house of parliament a total of just under 74 percent, a solid majority and a limit on President Sisi’s ability to govern and accomplish all he would prefer to implement. In Turkey the closest alignment with the Muslim Brotherhood, though unofficial, is the ruling Justice and Development Party headed by Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The relationship has its moments and President Erdoğan did support United States President Obama’s demand that President Morsi be released and returned to the Presidency of Egypt as its duly elected leader after the military coup. This demand continued even after the new elections were held and died a slow and thankfully quiet death and the rise of Sisi from commander of the military to the newly elected President of Egypt (more on this further when we talk about Egypt’s role in the MENA Garden). In Syria, before everything hit the fan and a civil war with more sides than can be easily defined, the Muslim Brotherhood was most closely aligned with the Islamic Socialist Front (more in depth discussion of Syrian Civil War will follow). There is even a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood closely aligned with the situation in Israel which is Hamas. In Iraq the Islamic Party is the largest Sunni political party and would have to be considered the closest link with the Muslim Brotherhood though they are not in a position of any real power as we will see. In Iran the relations with the Muslim Brotherhood are another case of strange bedfellows but in Saudi Arabia, which would pretty much include the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) nations though they can be less trident that are the Saudis who support the Wahabbist strain of Islam, the Muslim Brotherhood is considered as a terrorist group. Through the rest of North Africa the Muslim Brotherhood supports Sunni groups but has little interaction since al-Qaeda aligned Boko Haram swore allegiance with the Islamic State. Some have seen the rise of Islamic State as a challenge to the Muslim Brotherhood within the Islamist communities. The main influences which we will cover in greater detail are the Islamic State, Turkey, Iran, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the Syrian War and Russian concerns in Syria.

 

The oldest force in the area would be Egypt if one were to count the Pharos but that civilization was a completely separate civilization, but we need an excuse to start somewhere. Egypt has the advantage of population as the most populous of the MENA nations. Egypt is also the home of the most respected school for Islamic thought, Al-Azhar University, located with Al-Azhar Mosque in Islamic Cairo and is the oldest degree-granting university. As far as Sunni Islamic thought and interpretation, Al-Azhar is the most prestigious university. It is the central thought center for all Sunni thought and interpretation. Al-Azhar sets the dogma and interpretations used in Quranic thought in all of Sunni Islam which includes near eighty percent of all who follow the prophet Mohammad. This is important as it was during a speech President Sisi gave at Al-Azhar University to a gathering of the entire faculty where he made a request, which has some weight as Sisi is the President of Egypt, the former General of the Armies and very popular with the population which elected him in what could be referred to as a landslide. He has made some moves as best as his position has allowed and without smashing too many toes and defeated every challenge from the Muslim Brotherhood, no small feat. The demand, or request if one is to be polite, was for the Al-Azhar University faculty and Imams throughout all Islam to work within the Quran and adjust the supremacist view of Islam and instead alter the chosen Sura from the Quran and use more of the Sura from the original Mecca writings and allow for them to supercede their contrary Medina version of the Quran. (For an introduction to the two separate versions of the Quran and many quality links throughout the comments may we suggest our article and the comments of Which Quran, Mecca or Medina? The difference between the two writings are so stark that there have been rumors that they were dictated by different people rather than the idea that Mohammad had a different set of circumstances when writing the two versions.) President Sisi did this not just once but in two separate speeches to the Imams of Al-Azhar University. Reforming Islam such that it is made such that it can coexist with other faiths and separates from politics completely and become simply a religion of approaching two billion adherents. President Sisi is also using his position to advance the idea of a unified Islam such that the Sunni and Shiite as well as the lesser sects coexist in a similar manner as the many different Christian groups exist in the world today without open warfare or denouncing of one another.

 

President al-Sisi initially Took his Jihad to al-Azhar University, Cairo, Egypt, Where on December 28, 2014 al-Sisi Delivered his Speech Insisting that Islam Was in Need of a Climactic Reformation if not a Transformation Redefining Jihad from External Violence To the Ongoing Internal Purification In the Eternal Search for Perfection

President al-Sisi initially Took his Jihad to al-Azhar University, Cairo,
Egypt, Where on December 28, 2014 al-Sisi Delivered his Speech
Insisting that Islam Was in Need of a Climactic Reformation if not a
Transformation Redefining Jihad from External Violence To the
Ongoing Internal Purification In the Eternal Search for Perfection

 

The next most influential Sunni nation would have to be Saudi Arabia with its oil wealth. In many ways Saudi Arabia and Egypt work together to defend Sunni Islam with their main threat currently being Iran. The third nation in the Sunni hierarchy is Turkey which is at odds with Egypt as Turkey largely supports the Muslim Brotherhood and called for the return of Morsi to the Presidency after Sisi and the military had removed him presumably at the behest of the people. Turkish President Erdoğan joined President Obama and the two were close for a period as they both stood in support of the Muslim Brotherhood. General Sisi rejected their demands and called for resumption of elected governance and arranged for general election to fill the now vacant office of President and for a new Parliament. Sisi had resigned his post leading the military before running which would have resulted in his being unemployed. The Egyptian Freedom and Justice Party, which is the Muslim Brotherhood representative in Egyptian politics, was included in the elections but Sisi had won the admiration of the Egyptian people and has delivered on his promise to be a reformer. This was proven with his speeches calling for rejection of the supremacy and spread of Islam by the sword rejecting the Muslim Brotherhood calling such calls for world conquest dangerous and injurious to Islam and predicted that such actions would only bring destruction down on the Islamic world. This position is not shared by the Wahabbists in Saudi Arabia or by Erdoğan and definitely rejected by the Muslim Brotherhood. The Muslim Brotherhood was founded by a core group who believed that Islam needed to return to its golden age by imposing the strictest possible and most extreme interpretations of the Quran and Islam which they claimed was during the supremacist periods of conquest and that only by returning to the spread of Islam by any means necessary would Islam return to greatness. President Sisi sees only destruction of Islam if such a policy were to be implemented in today’s world. As for which position is correct we would vote let’s not test both and see which proves superior as the destruction and potential end of human civilization should a full blown all-out war between the Muslim world and the rest of the world be fought neither side would win and only utter destruction would be the end result. Such a war would eventually result in the use of the most extreme weapons at human disposal which would bring on a catastrophic conflagration destroying both sides. As the WOPR computer stated at the end of the movie “War Games” after testing every scenario of thermonuclear war, “A strange game. The only winning move is not to play. How about a nice game of chess?”

 

War Games WOPR Computer

War Games WOPR Computer

 

 

 

 

What remains is Iran which can best be examined by explaining the war in Syria which includes the war in Iraq and the war in Yemen, all of which have an Iranian component as does the governance in Lebanon and the terror war against Israel. This will be quite a long explanation and will be best covered in our next article tomorrow, stay tuned.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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