Beyond the Cusp

February 4, 2015

Battle for Middle East and Beyond Are Now Choosing Sides

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The forces are cementing their positions readying for a battle for the heart of the Middle East. ISIS has firm control of areas spanning Syria and central Iraq where they are facing the Kurds holding their own to the north supported by Iranian and United States efforts. Iran has given the Kurdish fighters some needed light weapons and the United States has provided crucial air support especially in Kobane. To the south ISIS faces Iranian and Iraqi forces supported by Iranian and United States air power yet still appears to be complacent cementing their positions and slowing their assault as their forces are approaching their limit until they are able to amass additional recruits to augment their ranks. ISIS should not be underestimated as they possess some potent arms and are mostly lacking in air power, barring a solution it is this lack of airpower which may sink ISIS in the end. It is very difficult to mass forces for attacks on positions when you do not control the skies over your heads leaving massed forces vulnerable to airstrikes.


Iran is utilizing a number of outside forces to extend their control. They have Hezballah fighting to assist their tenuous hold onto Syria by Bashir al-Assad and Lebanon. The IRGC (Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps) are assisting in Syria as well as fighting ISIS within Iraq where they enjoy air support provided largely by the Iranians as well as coalition bombings headed by the United States. In Yemen Iran has been supporting the efforts of the Houthis who recently forced the government to resign as they took complete control over the nation’s capital and captured the former President of Yemen. This development will deliver a strike on United States plans of using mostly drones to target mostly al-Qaeda leaders in southeastern Yemen. These forces are currently facing a direct challenge from the Houthis armed and directed by Iran who aim to take control over all of Yemen placing Iranian control over the mouth of the Red Sea and controlling the southern access and departures from the Suez Canal through the mouth of the Red Sea. Such control would also blockade the southern Israeli port at Eilat. This would augment the Iranian threat over the Straits of Hormuz through which much of the world’s oil flows.


Two of the richest targets lie within Saudi Arabia and will be well defended. These two main assets are of wildly different influences. The obvious are the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, the birthplaces of Islam. The others are the equally obvious oil fields clustered largely in the north eastern provinces of Saudi Arabia. It is through their control of these supplies and their high potential for output that the Saudis also control the going price of a barrel of petroleum. Saudi Arabia’s Royal Family recently suffered from the loss of their monarch, King Abdullah, who was replaced by King Salman who was often referred to as the Warrior Prince. This may prove to be an auspicious timing of placing a more militant leader on the Saudi throne just as they are facing threats from the northern and southern borders.


Then there have been rumors emanating from Ankara, Turkey where President Erdogan has been making innuendos to his taking a more permanent role perhaps in the nature of a monarch or sultan where he would rule absolutely through his power equal to that of the legislature and other offices in Turkey. The designs of President Erdogan to assume higher and permanent power in Turkey have been well known as have his delusions that from such a position he would be empowered to reform the grandeur and control of the former Ottoman Empire. Additionally, President Erdogan has been playing a duel game when it comes to ISIS. On the one hand, Turkey belongs to NATO and as such must support the efforts to contain and ultimately degrade and destroy ISIS which the Turkish government has done so very reluctantly. On the other hand Turkey has permitted ISIS to utilize Turkish crossings into Syria through which to resupply ISIS forces as well as run their recruitment within Turkey and thus provide them with access to a border crossing which permits the flow of manpower in and out of ISIS occupied Syria.


The other force is probably the most interesting force in all of the lands of Islam. We are referring to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi who recently addressed Al-Azhar University in Cairo signaling his desire to have a reformation of Islam to facilitate making the religion more accepting of modern standards and allowing for separation between state powers and religious powers. His address to Al-Azhar University, probably the central and most well accredited of all universities which teach and define Islam to the rest of the Muslim world. His speech along with a video excerpt can be found in our article titled “The Islamic Reformer in Egypt.” Should President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi succeed in his call for a reformation of Islam being undertaken it could prove to be one of the greatest reformational redefinitions of religion since the Protestant Reformation of Christianity, a change which made way for the flourishing of science and an eventual coexistence being formulated whereby each took responsibility for their own ideas and ideals while permitting the other the freedom to do so. The ensuing blossoming of scientific research and discoveries would be known as the Renaissance. What a similar reformation to Islam might bring is almost beyond imagination. If such a change in Islam and the practice of such beliefs as were in effect during the Golden Age of Islam such could change the face of the world.


This is where the struggle for the heart and soul of Islam is being fought and much of the world is simply sitting on the sidelines ignoring the potentials before them. It is not often that the world is offered up such potentially defining a moment as sits before us today. Islam very well could take a huge stride towards modernity if only the correct forces could take control in the near future. We are guaranteed that should ISIS or Iran become the preeminent force in Islam and define the path for Muslims for the next thousand years we will see nothing change and Jihad will continue to mean first and foremost the conquest of the world for Islam, bringing wars and terrorism to every nation bordering Islam or having a significant Muslim community making up over twenty percent of the population. Should the Saudis become the leading force in Islam the pace of reformation would be painfully slow, but there would be potential for eventual changes necessary for Islam and the modern world of science to flourish and be in harmony. But there is greater hope if only the world will heed and echo the cry from Cairo.


The one ray of true hope comes out of Egypt and currently consists of one man’s cry from within the darkness demanding that the lights be allowed to once again shine over Islam. That cry comes from Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi who is challenging the leading Imams to answer his plaintiff cry for the modernization of Islam. What is fascinating is that the ideas President el-Sisi is demanding are also a call for Islam to return to reclaim its place as a home leading the world for scientific research, medical breakthroughs, poetic and prose literature, mathematical formulas and other academic pursuits as were the norm during the Golden Age of Islam. President el-Sisi desires for Islam to reclaim their place as the leaders in cultural development and scientific discoveries. The change that President el-Sisi champions can only be made possible by a change of heart from most of the Islamic leadership, the Islamic teachers and Imams throughout the Muslim world. President el-Sisi made his first speech at the preeminent Al-Azhar University which is the leading institute of learning in all of Islam. If there is any reality to the mantra we hear constantly after every Islamic terrorist assault that “Islam is the religion of peace,” then the call by President el-Sisi is the answer and call behind which this reputed majority could stand and bring about that transformation to an honest religion of peace the world has been waiting. Missing this opportunity and the struggle for the heart of Islam will be won by Isis, the Mullahs of Iran or whoever proves to be the most violent force. Islamic leadership, and this includes the Mullahs of Iran and the hate filled preachers who hold the current heart of Islam. Every major change throughout history began with that one singular, plaintive cry from out of the darkness for change and the turning on of the light which would only forever grow brighter eventually reaching even the most remote corners of the recesses from amongst the kingdoms.


Beyond the Cusp


December 27, 2014

Is Erdogan Talking as for Turkey or More for Self?


Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan talked to the media reacting to European expressed concerns about the future of a free press in Turkey siting the raid on media outlets close to Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, who resides in the United States, earlier this month. Erdogan accused Fethullah Gulen of forming a ‘shadow government which he kept in order to undermine the rule of President Erdogan while also orchestrating the graft scandal which has been targeting the inner circle of the Erdogan run government. President Erdogan and many of his closest advisors as well as potentially one son have been embroiled in an investigation of bribery, graft and other malfeasances over the past couple of years and this is just the latest version by Erdogan to place blame off of his front door and inside his inner circle to any outside group in order to catch a break. Back in June of 2013, Erdogan threatened to shut off Turkey from Facebook and Twitter as he blamed social media for his and his closest advisor’s social media difficulties stating, “There is now a menace which is called Twitter. The best examples of lies can be found there. To me, social media is the worst menace to society.” Expressing his anger at the European moralizing and accusatory comments Erdogan scolded, “We are not Europe’s scapegoat. We are definitely not a country that Europe can point its finger at and scold. Instead of criticizing us, Europe should find a solution to increasing racism and Islamophobia.” Having President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan go off on a defamatory rant at something, anything, and preferably making that thing an entity which is incapable of defending itself or answering back with an official statement, such as blaming social media, has been somewhat predictable event as it is often timed to coincide with some investigatory pronouncement of findings, court dates for the very closest of Erdogan’s advisors or some pressing and notable media article giving backing from high places into the rumored misdeeds of people close to the Turkish President. This time it was the European Union but previously it has been the United States and sometimes he has blamed Israel or the Jewish backed institutions, these last two having been used often in speeches to large crowds of required cheering supporters as Israel and the evil Jewish institutions, which are rumored to be powerful and legendary though Erdogan has been loathed to name one such institution, because they both draw the loudest and most desired approvals cheering Erdogan for bravely weathering the storm from the Israel-Jewish-Zionist masters who are suspect of all crimes against leaders in the Middle East, including Turkey despite their efforts to align militarily with Europe through the European Union and the west through NATO of which Turkey is still included and accepted as an ally despite actions proving to counter such claims.


No matter how deep the graft and embezzlement is discovered to have permeated the Erdogan administration and no matter how much can be linked directly to Erdogan or his son or other family members, these criminal acts are inconsequential when compared to the damage Erdogan has intentionally wreaked upon the nation and peoples of Turkey. One visiting Ankara or Constantinople (sorry, I just am unable to refer to it as Istanbul) would mostly miss the changes brought about by Erdogan since he first took office as Prime Minister in 2002 and now as the President, a new political office which is no longer merely a ceremonial office but one vested with almost every power which previously were vested in the Prime Minister, but some extraordinary and unopposable powers vested in the Presidency by Erdogan over the past eighteen months becoming official coinciding with this election to the office of President. What a coincidence. How can one man be so fortunate as to be in one office, Prime Minister, when it was the virtually all-powerful political office in the Turkish government and just as the powers are stripped away and vested into a formerly ceremonial office with even more exclusive powers making the holder of said office even more invulnerable to outside influences or challenges of authorities just as Erdogan won election to be President. It boggles the mind to even try and conceive of such happening simply by happenstance, there must have been a guiding hand that arranged everything so perfectly for Erdogan to continue as the sole arbiter of power and molder of the future of Turkey. President Erdogan has been using his powers and the support of his Justice and Development Party (AKP) to fairly rapidly undo the changes which Mustafa Kemal Ataturk instituted after the breakup of the Ottoman Empire when he left his military post and plucked up a sleeping nation and put Turkey on the road to industrialization, modernization, and most important, secularization moving Turkey closer to Europe and away from the binding restriction and innate refusal to Western values shown from the nations around the Middle East and North Africa, the area which had been the remnants of the Ottoman Empire before World War I and also been stuck, lodged in the fifteenth century, the first beginnings of the rise of the Ottoman Turks to the status of Empire and the last Caliphate making it into modern times before falling in World War I. Mustafa Kemal Ataturk viewed the two sides in World War I and saw the advancement held by the Western powers which were far ahead of anything the average Muslim army could muster to field to a modern battlefield. Seeing the choice before him, Ataturk made the fateful choice and threw off the binding dictates which had become attached to Islam and separated Mosque and state allowing for a competitive Turkey in the years after World War I. Recep Tayyip Erdogan has almost completely erased those changes and returned much of Turkey outside the main cities back to their tribal origins, though forcing the religious restriction on the women in the major cities who have tasted the respect and freedoms the secular state removed from the influences of Islam has allowed them.


Yes, some Turkish women welcomed the return to Sharia but mostly the urbanites have retained much of their modern lives even if only in the privacy of their home and in the workplace if such is acceptable. These reforms by Erdogan will eventually have Turkey simply sinking to the same level as the rest of the Arab world but with a modern equipped military. The difficulties could not be any greater for those wishing to impose Quranic compliance in major metropolises which have already reached and lived in late twentieth century settings and force them to accept the stringent definition of Sharia, especially the restrictions against social interactions, such will not be popular with much of the young adults. Still, Erdogan has had a severely retrograde effect as he has stripped Turkey of all the safeguards put in place by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk with his directly challenging the military early in his time as Prime Minister and with the assistance of then United States President George W. Bush and the leadership of the European Union demanding that the Turkish military stand down as democratic governments must not be overturned by militaries as that leads to dictatorial leadership by the military. This mistaken pressure was gleefully accepted by Erdogan as it removed any worry of the military preventing the plans to return Turkey to being ruled under Sharia and strict Islamic codes. After using misguided pressures from the United states and Europe, Erdogan proceeded with purging the military of any opposition either through forced early retirement or through charges and incarceration after a show trial where the rules of jurisprudence were not strictly observed and these military tribunals were simply window dressing for the purging of the military removing any threat or possible opposition to Erdogan ruling Turkey and transforming the nation from western advanced industrial society to Islamic compliant Sharia rule with Erdogan as the ruling modern day sultan using the more acceptable title of President, we will need to watch to see if Erdogan will become President for life. Meanwhile, Turkey will continue her inexorable slide from the late twentieth century to the fifteenth century while the world whistles simply ignoring the evidence before them. We can expect emigration from Turkey will only increase as the nation becomes more and more unfriendly to modernity as Sharia cuts Turkey off from the rest of the urbanized and secular worlds, the inevitable result of this trend. Alas my friends, peering at the smoldering remains of a once technically advanced civilization now unable to repair its own electrical infrastructure and other devices, Turkey, I knew them once when, but we dare not speak of such times in her presence, she can no longer couch such ideas as to do so is heretical. It can be so sad.


Beyond the Cusp


April 23, 2013

Which Faction in Syria Fielding Terrorist Soldiers?

We hear claims about the existence of terrorist fighters fighting alongside of others in the multiple-front battles going on in the Syrian civil war. Spokespeople for President Obama, the European Union and other Western sources of aid to the Syrian rebels are making statements that their aid is intended and funneled solely to the secular rebel forces and are not going to any terrorist interests. Then there is Syrian President Bashir al-Assad who has claimed from the outset that he is fighting against terrorists who are attempting to conquer Syria and impose Islamist governance. Before we can determine which sides might be fielding terrorist forces and which might be truly supporting what could be classified as free and democratic governance we must recognize all the disparate forces fighting to take control of Syria. There is the Syrian army which has remained largely loyal to President Bashir al-Assad who has some so-called volunteer forces also fighting alongside the regulars of the Syrian armed forces. These would be forces best described as loyal to the Syrian Ba’ath Party government and the Alawite tribal preeminence. Among the groups who are collectively described as the rebel forces there are the Syrian National Coalition; the groups allied with the Al-Nusra Front which include for argument’s sake the Ghuraba al-Sham and the Syrian Islamic Front; and the Kurdish Democratic Union Party. So, let’s take them one at a time and inspect who exactly make up these groups.

The Syrian Military which has remained loyal to President Bashir al-Assad is made up largely, especially the officers corps, of Alawite Tribal members and some Bedouin tribal members from within Syria. Fighting alongside the Syrian Military are Iranian Military units from the IRGC (Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps) who are an arm of the Iranian government which are a secondary military force which is largely responsible for training terrorists forces and carrying out enforcement and other missions beyond the Iranian border. A number of countries have classified at least parts of the IRGC to be a terrorist group or tied to terror operations. Additionally fighting to keep President al-Assad in power are fighters from Lebanon who belong to Hezballah, an almost universally recognized terrorist entity. At best one would have to conclude that a goodly portion of the forces defending the al-Assad regime are composed of actual terrorists and some terror related groups such as the IRGC and likely the al-Quds forces which are an elite corps from within the IRGC assigned almost exclusively to carry out terror operations often in collaboration of Hezballah and similar terrorist groups.

The Al-Nusra Front is a declared al-Qaeda affiliated terrorist group by their own admission and by declaration of al-Qaeda sources. They are allied with two other terrorist groups, Ghuraba al-Sham and the Syrian Islamic Front. These terrorist groups have imported Mujahedeen fighters and other related terrorist entities. There is no disagreement that this sector of the rebel forces are strongly terror related. They have also been the beneficiaries of arms shipments from fellow terrorist groups in Libya who have a large cache of arms consisting of those inherited from the overthrown Gadhafi dictatorship as well as arms provided the rebels by NATO in the Western support of their revolt. There have been reports of other Muslim countries providing these terror forces with arms as well with most of them flowing into Syria from Turkey.

The Syrian National Coalition is supported by the Western powers who claim thus far to only supplying non-arms related support including food, medical supplies and other such provisions. If one desires to simply take the government’s word at face value, then the Syrian National Coalition is a terrorist free organization. The troubling part in simply believing the government position is it is based on the definition of the Muslim Brotherhood, which the government admits is the organizing and financial force behind the Syrian National Coalition, as a purely secular organization which has eschewed violence and represents a democratic movement within the Muslim world. This definition does run into some troubling complications once one considers any of the groups which have been spawned from and supported by the Muslim Brotherhood. The likely most well-known of these groups would be Hamas which is a recognized terrorist entity which currently rules the Palestinians of Gaza and regularly has launched rockets and mortars into Israel aimed at civilian targets.

If you take a relatively uncomplicated and simple approach to the Syrian civil war one could easily claim that all the three factions mentioned above are all in some form or another terrorist groups or supported by terrorist groups. So, if you wish not to risk supporting any form of terror groups, who can one support. There is the Kurdish Democratic Union Party which for the most part is taking a purely defensive approach to the entire conflict and merely attempting to protect the Kurdish community within Syria or in the refugee camps where millions of Syrians have sought safety. There are similar groups doing much the same with the Christians who remain in Syria or have fled over the borders. Both of these groups, the Kurds and the Christians, realize that they are not going to be winners no matter which groups prevails in this three way civil war. For those who will claim the struggle in Syria is not a three way affair, all I ask is wait and should al-Assad be dethroned see if the war does not continue with the groups supporting the al-Nusra Front continue the fight against the Syrian National Coalition for control over Syria. Simply put, this conflict must have but one result, terrorists of some degree will control Syria and as is the way with terrorist groups, there can be only one reigning supreme in the end.

Beyond the Cusp

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