Beyond the Cusp

June 20, 2016

Our Feckless World

 

The escalation of the Islamic world’s war is against those who are insufficiently pure in their Islam practices and are not as obedient as desired or worse, not a worshipper of Allah and Muhammad and the true chain of the roots of Allah’s path from Abraham through Hagar, Sarah’s maidservant which she gave Abraham so he could produce an heir, a son. This son was Ishmael, who eventually fathered the progeny from Abraham and Hagar, presumably producing Muhammad, thus spawning Islam many centuries later. This new religion of Islam was supposed to be a furtherance of the Judeo-Christian lines and bring peace and one final message for humankind by which to live in peace and harmony, or at least that was how it presumably started. After being rebuffed, scorned and thrown out of Mecca, Muhammad went to Medina where the prophesy continued and changed its flavor and methods as Muhammad gained power rising to rule in Medina as a great warlord with a crushing force at his disposal. This force assisted his vengeance on Mecca for its treatment of Muhammad and the rest is history. The Quran took on a different tone which some have cast as “conquer the world for Allah.” A somewhat deeper explanation can be read starting with Which Quran, Mecca or Medina? and followed up after that brief summary from a wealth of information added by numerous readers in the comments with links to other sites which range from commentaries on the Quran to different orderings of the Quran from traditional to chronological and more. Many of the worldly difficulties with the followers of the Medina Quranic verses which presumably, when differing from the Mecca verses, the later ones take precedence, has led to the Islamic State and groups like Hamas, Boko Haram and other terror enclaves in Afghanistan, the Philippines and beyond. What is often forgotten when discussing Islam is there are also a number of groups who live perfectly good Quranic lives giving what these other groups claim are abrogated sections of the Quran by the more aggressive, but these places remain open societies proving that there are peaceful ways and means which can be followed from the Quran and that it is all in how you implement the Quran and what you seek to gain from your experiences in Islam.

 

The Orlando nightclub slaughter, which is being portrayed in some circles as purely a hate-crime against the LGBT community, is being cast ignoring the Islamic roots of the shooter or actually intimating that he was a member of the Christian right and a fanatic and gun nut even more for gun rights than the NRA and Donald Trump type of supporter. This approach eventually ties in the violence which has broken out at any number of Trump’s campaign rallies. The small fact that this violence was almost always instigated by leftist protesters, many of whom had leftist backings, has been left out from the picture so as to tarnish Trump as the one causing the violence. That is simply political expediency and the horrors of the nightclub shooting is not about the United States race for the White House and rather about the race to club America into obedience of the Quran and adopting Islam as America’s sole religion. The same can be said for June 13; the Philippines government confirmed that Robert Hall, a Canadian citizen, was beheaded by the ISIS-affiliated Abu Sayyaf terrorist group who held him hostage since September 2015. Canada’s prime minister’s Justin Trudeau’s reaction was posted on his Facebook page. “Canada holds the terrorist group who took him hostage fully responsible for this cold-blooded and senseless murder,” he said. Trudeau avoided mentioning the radical Islamic ideology espoused by Abu- Sayyaf, its affiliation with the Islamic State (a.k.a. IS, ISIS, ISIL, Daesh, Caliphate) and previously with al Qaeda. The same problem has continued half a world away with the brutality of Boko Haram which also strikes at those not of Islam across a wide area in central northern Africa centered on Nigeria. These groups have increased their ability to recruit others locally as well as from a distance after their swearing allegiance to the Islamic State and their leader, the self-proclaimed Caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

 

Caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi The World as the Islamic States Believes It to Be with These Islamic Provinces Loyal to Caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and The World

Caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi
The World as the Islamic States Believes
It to Be with These Islamic Provinces Loyal
to Caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and The World

 

The world view of Baghdadi appeals to these frustrated youths who are frustrated with their lives and see the world as imperfect and in need of cleansing. These so-called ‘Lone Wolves’ like the Orlando terrorist and the San Bernardino killer couple and the others throughout the Western World as well as within the Islamic World all believe they are following a true vision. The same vision goes for many of the terror groups which have spawned as a result or have joined with the Islamic State. All of these otherwise disparate groups desire to reach a standing in what they believe is the future of the world as the Western World is unworthy of continuing as the main power in the world. If it was not the Islamic State it would be whatever group is strongest and claims leadership over all Islam and the tip of the spear which will pierce the world for Allah. Meanwhile the Western World remains asleep and leaderless in this fight. President Obama has been approached through the United Nations to call for a concerted effort from the Security Council thus coordinating the fight against the Islamic State. Defeating the Islamic State will require a unified world effort as smashing it into a million pieces will simply produce a million emissaries to spread the hatreds of the Islamic State making it even more dangerous. What needs to be done is to destroy the Islamic State in one well-coordinated assault on its main bodies in Syria and Iraq not allowing for their forces to escape out into the world spreading this incarnation of evil even further.

 

The problem with getting such a unified effort blessed by the United Nations has long been President Obama’s insistence on the only way the United States could fully join the fight. President Obama has demanded that the United States work through the Security Council as well as the General Assembly before committing ground troops. This precondition has been repeatedly stated and the lack of a United Nations Security Council resolution requiring force be used and taken against the Islamic State is the one request which would allow for a coalition to be formed to fight the Islamic State directly. The strangest piece to this puzzle has been President Obama himself as the United States has blocked any cooperation in drawing such a resolution. This obstruction apparently centers around the fact that the resolution was drafted by Russia and does not give President Obama the lead position in the coalition. Actually it appears that President Obama is blocking any action being coordinated from the Security Council as the combined forces of the world would then be turned loose to obliterate the Islamic State in place not allowing it to disperse. A crushing defeat would take off the gleam currently perceived to be emanating from the Islamic State and Caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi personally making him a figure that the other groups can utilize.

 

No one other than President Obama can claim to know what is going on in his head that he blocks the exact measures he claims he requires in order to fight the Islamic State and eradicate it in quick order. Perhaps it is because he would not be perceived as the sole leader who freed the world from this monster and the acts of depravity committed in his name. Perhaps he sees the Islamic State as a system through which the majority of the Islamic world can be rallied and actually start the next Islamic war on the rest of the world. Perhaps President Obama wants to leave all options on the table so if he is not instated as the next head of the United Nations he can aspire then to lead the Islamic State and become Caliph of the World. It is just odd that President Obama become the obstruction preventing the Security Council from passing the necessary resolutions to bring a singular united World to bear and that he claimed were necessary for the United States to step forth into the breach, so to speak.

 

Meanwhile the main forces actually striking at the Islamic State are halfhearted bombing by the United States and slightly more vigorous bombings by the Russians. Neither side appears to have their heart in fighting the Islamic State. Probably the one thing preventing President Obama from allowing the Security Council to step forward and take charge in demanding actions be taken against the Islamic State is he knows it would take far more effort and a huge American commitment in manpower and treasure to wage such a war. President Obama probably does not wish to entangle the rest of his administrative efforts into defeating the Islamic State as it would be messy and soldiers would unfortunately be killed and fighting the Islamic State which can hide in plain sight as they do not exactly wear uniforms and would be far more able to hide within a compliant civilian surroundings without raising suspicions. Entangling the United States into such a war would result it as being his legacy and President Obama is not going to go down as the President which got us into a deadly and seemingly futile Middle East War. President Obama would rather place the emphasis on forcing or destroying Israel and replacing it with a failed Arab Palestinian State. It would not surprise us if President Obama doesn’t place some degree of faith in the claim that the Islamic State is an Israeli Mossad action done so as to empower Israel into controlling the actions of a large sector of the Islamic world. Nobody other than the President knows for sure what he believes and what is driving his current reticence towards empowering the United Nations to act.

 

Meanwhile, the rest of the world is not exactly beating a bombing run or even a surveillance pass against the Islamic State. With the recent assault on Paris, the lone wolf attacks traceable to the Islamic State, one would expect to see a concerted effort by the Europeans to have used the European Union to formulate their response, but nothing. A warning should be sounding throughout Europe as an ominous date approaches, the celebrations of the ancient Battle of Badhr which is remembered and commemorated in Islam on the 17th of Ramadan. This year it falls on Thursday, June 23rd, beginning Wednesday evening at sundown of this week. The one thing that Islam does even better than commit horrific acts is remembering anniversaries of its greatest victories or its worst humiliations which it tries to erase with glorious victories. The 1973 Arab-Israeli War (the Yom Kippur War) began on the 17th day of Ramadan. The Egyptians code-named their surprise attack on Israel as “Operation Badhr” occurring on the holiest day in Judaism, Yom Kippur. That war had an optimistic beginning and would have been an even greater challenge and likely disaster had the battle lines been the same as they were before the Six Day War and many an Arab commander from that war blamed the fact that the world had not already forced Israel back into its box. That is part of the drive to force Israel back to the 1949 Armistice lines, the pre-67 Lines, as then they feel Israel can be defeated more readily.

 

But other than it is fighting the Infidel and making War for Allah, there is a complete disconnect between Israel and their troubles with its existence and the Islamic struggle to conquer the world, which currently means ultimately the United States. Where you will see Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hezballah all make attacks on the rest of the world; they mostly channel their efforts against Israel. Granted that Hezballah is currently being embroiled in protecting Bashir al-Assad, as he has no real troops to call his own, almost every Nasrallah speech is about the coming demise of Israel and his quarter of a million rockets all aimed at Israel from top to bottom in Eilat. He regularly insists on mentioning their ability to hit Eilat despite it not being a likely target but simply to make the claim he can now hit anywhere in Israel. On the other hand there have been no real efforts by al-Qaeda or Islamic State though both claim to have operatives embedded in Gaza or with the Palestinian Authority in Judea and Samaria (West Bank). The only activity ever taken up by Islamic forces outside those directly fighting Israel is the occasional attempt to break the Gaza sea blockade with some heavily advertised flotilla which despite getting huge buildups online results in nothing in reality.

 

The Islamic world has far more pressing problems than Israel at the moment and does not appear capable of repairing the breaches in its states. Lebanon and Iraq are functional basket cases with Syria so completely devastated that it is no longer a nation and more of a roiling pot of troubles masquerading as a civil war which is simply filling up an otherwise empty space with no semblance of functioning governance. Libya is no different and is largely Syria but toned down because even less care is extended in that direction and Islamic State in Libya has yet to take on the evil dimensions as its spawning parent in Syria and Iraq. Talking about Iraq, the main functioning governance there is Iran. For all intents and purposes the world may as well recognize a nation of Kurdistan and draw its borders extending across northern Iraq and including northeastern Syria. By declaring the Kurds as having their own nation it would be a good first step towards repairing the damages perpetrated on the Arab world at the end of World War I. Sykes Picot Agreement divided up the Middle East to represent European oil interests and nothing more.

 

Yes a couple of promises were kept but far more were ignored or intentionally broken, and a Kurdish State must top that list as it can be easily rectified and would allow for more places for a base against the Islamic State. A declared Kurdistan would also be such a slap in the face to al-Baghdadi that much of the Islamic State efforts would be shifted to solely taking out this Kurdish State and making the Kurds into a nation would give them an even greater ideal around which to dedicate their Thusfar heroic efforts. Granted Turkey would initially disagree and be completely against such as Erdogan sees himself as the next ruler of Syria incorporating it into a greater Turkey and the initial step to reestablishing the Ottoman Empire. Should the borders of Kurdistan be drawn liberally along its southern regions to include Mosul and additional lands in Syria it would not be a bad idea as this would provide room for the Kurds residing in Turkey, who would rather live under Kurdish rule, to emigrate. That would also signal to the Arab and Muslim world that the Western World realized the injustice it imposed on them at the conclusion of world War I with the cutting of tribes into two or more pieces and shoved warring factions together in a single nation with the direct desire to cause the kind of chaos now occurring though at a lower level but preventing any string forces to develop in the oil rich regions and surrounding nations. The time to repair that would be now after the terror wars are brought to a close and then the West needs to work with the interests of the region and not against them. First though is the destruction of the Islamic State as that is an abomination to any possibility of a peaceable Middle East, even a peace amongst the Arabs with one another.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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September 15, 2015

Who were the colonizers of MENA Pre-World War I?

 

We hear much talk by the mainstream media and especially the leftist editorialists about how the deprived victims the Arab populations of MENA (Middle East and North Africa) who were subjugated beneath the imperial European (and presumably American) colonizers. Exactly who were these colonizers and for how long had they exploited the citizens of MENA’s lands? Well, according to the liberal and mainstream media story line as they infer, though never quite say outright, were England, France, Italy and Spain. Further, there will be implications of over a century to potentially many centuries these colonial powers ruled over most of the MENA nations with many remaining under colonial control after World War I and even after World War II with the old dynasties lasting through 1970 or even 1979, and the most brash might even claim that there is a colonial power still ruling in the Middle East to this very day, though this last claim is as big a lie as they come. Perhaps a closer look is in order to get an honest picture.

 

Let’s begin with when the nations in MENA first came under imperial control and were placed under the presumed onus of foreign rule. Colonial rule came to the MENA nations in an early period which many of us first heard referenced when we studied the Bible. Perhaps some of the earliest colonial powers are not exactly what many of us would ever consider to be colonial powers yet as these were rulers who conquered other nations and subjugated them, these were the original colonialists. Terms can be applied to situations which most of us never would have considered applicable but when you are weaving a lie it is easy to go overboard in your definitions and apply modern terms to ancient events. The Egyptians would have been the first of the colonial powers many of us knew about despite there were others close to the same age such as the Hittites, Minoans, Mesopotamian, Persian and even Israel under Kings David and Solomon. All of these predated the better known Greek and Roman Empires and dates back to the ancient beginnings of China and Mayan cultures. A handy little timeline can be seen below. For the purpose of choosing a start date, why not begin around the year five-hundred which is after the fall of Rome and the Western Roman Empire while the Eastern Roman Empire or Byzantine Empire was limping into the future feebly.

 

 

Timeline of World Civilizations 3700 BCE through 1700 CE

Timeline of World Civilizations 3700 BCE through 1700 CE

 

 

All the most ancient empires have fallen and for the most part there was peace with each city moving forward loosely attached to Constantinople across the entirety of MENA though the farther west one went across northern Africa, which had less the ties to the Byzantine rule. This left this area ripe for the pickings and a harvester was about to enter the scene. Shortly before the year seven-hundred a new force emerged under the banner of Islam and began its spread heading initially into the heart of the former lands of Babylon, Persia and into Egypt. There was little resistance as the Byzantine Empire was crumbling and unable to field a credible defense. Jerusalem fell in April 637 to the forces of the Rashidun Caliphate. The conditions for the surrender were understood to be the conquering Islamic rulers would give guarantees of civil and religious freedoms for the Christians under the rule from Jerusalem in exchange for Jizya, a tax on non-Muslims given in exchange for their protections which also included the Christians acceptance of Dhimmitude, a form of subservient lower class citizenship which was to be protected and tolerated and condoned. The spread of Islam took place largely in three stages, the first during the life of Mohammad, Next under the first four Caliphs, and finally under Umayyad Rule which was the basis for the Caliphate (see map below).

 

 

Expansion of Islam Across MENA and threaten Europe before Ottoman Rule

Expansion of Islam Across MENA and threaten Europe before Ottoman Rule

 

 

After the spread of the Caliphate which continued what was technically an empire which implied colonization over territories beyond the initial founding under Mohammad which was centered around Medina, the beginnings of Mohammad’s power, and included the Mecca region which Mohammad took partially as it was the closes power base, the Meccan rulers denied Mohammad’s claim to rightful ruler and had chased the early Mohammad from their territories as they rejected his preaching and teachings and determined he was a corrupting influence. The Caliphate had followed particular lines of succession which had split early after Mohammad’s death which formed the duality which still splits Islam into competing camps of Sunnis and Shiites. For the largest part the Sunni Muslims outnumbered and were the stronger camp though never quite capable, or more likely never made an effort to unify belief as beliefs can be near impossible to be completely defeated thus any effort would eventually prove fruitless and not worth the efforts expended. Instead the Sunni simply kept expanding their empire and largely tolerated the Shiites unless attacked and given no choice. When the two sects did engage each other the Sunni proved superior defeating and often killing the Shiites and their rulers in battle. The Caliphate continued to rule their lands after and expanding conquering Spain and headed into Frankish territory, early France, where the Caliphate reached is furthest advance. After taking Granada they advanced to the next major city, Tours, where a decisive battle turned the tides in the year 732 CE finally having a definitive defeat of the Caliphate forces. The battle victory is credited to Charles Martellus (the Hammer) Martel, who lost a mere thousand to fifteen-hundred of his forces, would later in history be granted the title of savior of Christianity. The vanquished was Abd Ar-Rahman Al Ghafiqi who was slain during the battle along with an estimated twelve-thousand of his warriors.

 

Beginning at the beginning of the fourteenth century the Ottoman Empire began to make its presence felt which would eventually lead to their conquering the entirety of the Caliphate at their most powerful. Until this point the Caliphate ruled over the near entirety of MENA and had spread into Spain and southeastern Europe. The map below shows the advances and periods of the Ottoman Empire conquering the Caliphate, bringing an end to the successions of Caliphs and temporarily ending the violence between Shiite and Sunni camps. The Ottoman succession follows the lineage of Ottoman Beylik who initiated the spread and domain of his family tribe in the year 1300 as his aim was likely like everybody before them, to conquer the known world. The expansions continued from his death in 1359 through 1451 when the next ruler of the Ottomans who expanded the borders notably during his rule through 1481 was Medmed II. He was followed by Selim I (1512-1520) and Suleiman the Magnificent (1520-1566). There was expansion beyond this period where the Ottoman Empire reached its apex before its fortunes began to wane.

 

 

Ottoman Empire Ascending from 1300 through 1683 includes Golden Age of Islam

Ottoman Empire Ascending from 1300 through 1683 includes Golden Age of Islam

 

 

The Ottoman Empire caught the Caliphate as it was in retreat after having lost Spain (Andalusia) during the Christian Reconquista which was part of the campaign to rid Spain of its Moorish Muslims as well as the Jews and any other group which was not Catholic and sworn fealty to the crown. This period of the Christian Reconquista was a logical following from the victory at Tours by Charles (the Hammer) Martel and spanned an area of time stretching from its earliest uprisings in the north and northwest in the Battle of Covadonga in the summer of 722, a full decade before the battle of Tours, but this revolt was the very beginning of the end of Islamic rule in Spain (Andalusia). The battles continued until finally the signing of the Treaty of Granada on November 25, 1491. This was the end of the fighting with the turning over of the city of the final southern coastal towns of Granada. It was during the final push that King Ferdinand II of Aragon and Queen Isabella I of Castile that the infamous Spanish Inquisition was initiated. The Spanish Inquisition lasted from November 1, 1478 through to July 15, 1834. The Inquisition was the attempt, a rather thorough and successful attempt, to convert, drive out or otherwise deal with any residual Moorish or Islamic followers remaining in Spain along with ridding Spain of its Jews who either fled with the Muslims or were chased eventually across all of Europe ending up in Russia and Poland for a while until the Czar’s pogroms drove them into Poland and Germany which set the stage for the Shoah, the Holocaust.

 

There were other adventures which came from Europe somewhat as a response to Islamic Caliphate advances leading up to the fall of Constantinople in 1453. These were known as the Crusades which were an attempt to retake the Holy Land after the initial fall of Jerusalem in April 637. There were four separate crusades which took separate routes reaching the Holy Lands and gathered the troops from various countries, kingdoms and City-States they passed through and could find willing, or sometimes less than willing, forces to join in their ‘holy’ missions. The Crusader routes and periods of duration (shown below on map) began in 1095 with the First Crusade which continued until 1099. The Second Crusade began in 1147 and lasted until 1149. The Third Crusade was initiated in 1189 going into 1192. The Fourth Crusade began in 1202 and terminated in 1204. They had limited success and resulted in making some groups and individuals very wealthy, so much so that they remained in the Middle East despite having to live under Islamic rule. As far as having a definitive effect on the course of history, it is doubtful and at best might be credited with a residual effect of engaging forces which otherwise could have assisted with the attacks on Constantinople but not on events thereafter.

 

 

Crusader Routes I through IV spanning 1095 through 1289

Crusader Routes I through IV spanning 1095 through 1289

 

 

The Ottoman Empire final began to weaken while the European powers were feeling the results of the Renaissance, the Enlightenment and soon the industrial revolution. While these events were transforming Europe the Ottoman Empire mostly rested on their laurels and stagnated which would cost them as they began to be surpassed by Western technology and discoveries and inventions which led to superior weapons of war. There were three stages of decline for the Ottoman Empire as indicated on the map below. Parts of the Ottoman Empire were held by them for just over a half century, and were under Islamic Caliphate before that for another seven-hundred to almost a thousand years. The final areas of the Ottoman Empire finally fell during World War I and became the Mandate lands from which Iraq, Lebanon, Transjordan (currently Jordan), Syria and Israel were formed. The European colonialists held lands which were formerly under either Ottoman or Caliphate colonial rule for well over a century while the Europeans held these lands for periods of merely a decade or less to the longest being at most a century and those are the exceptions.

 

 

Ottoman Empire in Decline 1800 through 1914 and Start of World War I

Ottoman Empire in Decline 1800 through 1914 and Start of World War I

 

 

The next map depicts the lands as they were held by European nations after World War I had established their claims in the Treaty of Versailles in 1919. The area outlined in red depicts the mandate lands decided by the San Remo Conference in 1922. These demarcations were proposed initially by the Allied Powers of Great Britain, France, Italy, Japan and Russia. The United States observed the negotiations but was not a direct signatory as the United States desires no holdings, colonial states, mandate responsibilities and was hopeful that they could have assisted in ending this horrific war and had already made their feelings known concerning the restructuring of Europe and the redrawing of boundaries, founding independent states out of the Austria-Hungarian Empire. Eventually the United States was coerced into adding their approval of the Mandate System which many viewed as the most tenuous of the treaties despite the signature of King Faisal signing as the representative for the Arab League.

 

 

Colonial Structure Post World War I defined by Treaties from initial surrender in 1919 through the San Remo Conference setting up the Mandate System in 1922 plus Sykes-Picot redrawing of much of the Middle East

Colonial Structure Post World War I defined by Treaties from initial surrender in 1919 through the San Remo Conference setting up the Mandate System in 1922 plus Sykes-Picot redrawing of much of the Middle East

 

 

The final map below depicts the independent states and their dates when their current governments or their freedom from European colonial rule came about. These dates are meaningful as it puts to a lie the claims you will likely hear about how these nations were under colonial rule and only recently gained their independence. There will be other lies which will be half-truths or misinformation by giving one impressions knowing the reality is totally different.

 

 

Dates that the MENA nations received their independence after colonial rule many since the times of the Persians or even earlier

Dates that the MENA nations received their independence after colonial rule many since the times of the Persians or even earlier

 

 

The actual history which needs to be remembered is that many of these nations have been ruled by outside forces since the very early ages of civilizations while others were once inhabited by a nation which either was destroyed in history or faced a natural disaster which placed their population, that which survived, within another culture where they assimilated and disappeared from history though they often brought skills with them which benefited their host nation which likely made them more welcome. One example of the last occurrence was the Minoan civilization which resided on the Isle of Santorini in the Mediterranean Sea. Everything was going along really great as they had their religion and held their sacrifices, one of which is of interest if you know your Hebrew Bible. The Minoans had a spring ritual which was intended to bring fertility to their crops, their herds, their people and to benefit all parts of their society. In this sacrifice they had to prepare a feast using newly born calf boiled and then roasted and brushed with a preparation made from the calf’s mother’s milk. Anyway, the Minoans were happily fishing and enjoying the wonderful Mediterranean weather until the ground rumbled and the caldera erupted all but destroying the entire Island which has slowly resurfaced in the ensuing years. Santorini is located between the Greek mainland and Cyprus in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea (see picture with map insert below). Santorini is still a dangerous place and potentially threatened with another eruption. Like most volcanoes, it is not a matter of if but of when the next devastating eruption pours forth and erases all traces of human development or existence as the Island may be blown completely apart only to rise from the Mediterranean depths with a whole new look and geography just as it has done throughout all of history. The homes and island is beautiful and a jewel glittering in the Mediterranean Sea and we can only hope it continues to glitter from the lights on the porches of the homes and not from lava belching forth from out of the sea.

 

 

Volcano Thera Caldera Santorini Island Ancient Home of the Minoan Civilization until Eruption just ruined their day

Volcano Thera Caldera Santorini Island Ancient Home of the Minoan Civilization until Eruption just ruined their day

 

 

When we look at the history of MENA nations one need remember that much of the area was also the cradle of civilization and as such had a distressing habit of spawning great civilizations which came, expanded as far as they could reach, overreached or had a number of bad years or the next great civilization either defeated and overran their empire or the two had a merger of sorts as exampled by the Greeks being subsumed by the Roman Empire which did not exactly destroy the four Greek sub-Empires as much as they incorporated as the Greeks saw an advantage of being the center of education and philosophy while the Romans knew of the Greek intellect and their ability to fashion weapons. That is not to say there were not conflicts, but somehow both civilizations influenced each other for the better. But even before Rome, before the Greeks, before the Persians there were the Babylonians, the Israelite Kingdom, the Hittite, the Egyptian and the Mesopotamian Empires. Each ruled and the areas of MENA can be said to have survived as best the individual tribes, city-states, empires, nations and peoples could be expected. There were the Ancient Empires which lasted from prehistory through the Greeks of Alexander. Alexander the Great was the last of the ancient empire builders and his would be the first of the new age empires, the actual colonialists of history. From here many empires claimed to be setting out to conquer the world but they also knew that dream could not be realized in one’s lifetime. Even here the states of MENA faced the Greeks followed by the Romans then the Byzantines as Rome broke into two Empires, the Eastern Roman Empire or Byzantine; and the western Roman or what became the Holy Roman Empire. Even European nations became colonized as there were the intra-European empires such as the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, Charlemagne, Napoleon and eventually the Nazis. After the Byzantine Empire collapsed there was the Caliphate followed by the Ottoman Empire, the two main Islamic Empires. During their time in power there were still the Mongols who came to conquer the world and instead converted to Islam by in large. China and India had their effect on the nations of the Middle East and also set up that area for who could take control of the trade routes. It was because of lack of access to these very trade routes which launched the European age of colonization which is the final or modern stage. Where the age of European conquest began in the late fifteenth century with Columbus and the other explorers heading to lay claim to the new lands in the Americas, then started an age of conquest as the natives were not as advanced when it came to warfare. The one advantage of living in the most contested lands in the world is you build up some formidable weaponry and tactics which the native tribes of the Americas were of no match.

 

The lands which form MENA were already colonized by the Ottomans who had a number of other cultures which also fought with their colonizers as all had a common bond which was Islam. This made these lands too much of a threat plus the Europeans had learned to have a healthy respect for the Ottomans and the followers of Islam through the Crusades and the wars which were barely able to constrain the Ottomans from sweeping across Europe. Much of that was due to the King of Poland and Lithuania John III Sobieski who came and relieved the city of Vienna from the Ottoman siege and brought that offensive to a conclusive end. Still, there was little attempt until into the nineteenth century before any assaults were waged on a by then weakened and almost backward sclerotic empire. Taking fair stock on the years of actual colonialization we see that the MENA nations, of which Syria is no exception except like Israel there was an Assyrian Empire which did not extend to anywhere near as vast an area as the more well-known colonizing empires, otherwise Syria has been a colony of somebody for a very long time. The ancient Empires spanned a good three-thousand years or more depending on sources. The middle empires which include the Roman, Byzantine, the Caliphate and the Ottoman Empires lasted almost two-thousand years. The final age was the European age of colonization of the MENA area which lasted less than two hundred years and when we speak of the Middle East itself it is even shorter barely making a century with Syria being far less and Iran almost untouched by the European colonizers. So, when the news reports tell of how these poor nations have been colonies for near an inestimable time and have not tasted freedom until only the most recent of times and even then most were brutal dictatorships, there is some truth. The problem is for the vast majority we were talking of Biblical era and pre Biblical times all the way through the Greeks and to the Roman Empire after the fall of the Eastern Roman Empire these lands were ruled by Muslims for the majority of the modern ages.

 

 

Mandate of San Remo for French and British including actual treaty demarcations for each nation

Mandate of San Remo for French and British including actual treaty demarcations for each nation

 

 

The Europeans only poured in at the end of the Ottoman Empire as it fell with the final areas which included Syria not falling until World War I thus not becoming a colony of the Europeans until around 1920 and with the areas of Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Israel they were not colonies as much as protectorates being held secure from invasions by the British and the French starting in 1922 with the enactment of the San Remo Conference. The above map shows the League of Nations proposed British and French Mandates with the demarcations for Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Transjordan and Israel. This mandate was carved from the remains of the Ottoman Empire where the nation of Turkey was what would remain as the originator of the entire Ottoman Empire while these areas above plus Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Yemen and Oman were brought into being and Saudi Arabia gained complete and uncontested control over Mecca and Medina. These maps and dates should arm those wishing to have the truth behind their arguments readily available to speak to what exactly Europe owes the refugees and victims of colonial rule when in reality it is the Arabian Peninsula, the originator of the Caliphate, and Turkey as the original source for the Ottoman Turks who founded the Ottoman Empire. The Europeans as far as Syria is concerned were a brief caretaker that lasted barely twenty-six years, exactly the same as it did for Israel and Israel has only had to take in over one million Jewish refugees from across the lands that make up MENA as many of them drove their Jews from their lands during the late 1940s and through the 1950s with some from Ethiopia and Russia coming even later and still taking in the Bnei Menashe from India and Israel will continue to take in Jewish refugees from the world over and has also taken in other refugees including but not limited to the Vietnamese boat people and Christians seeking refuge from persecutions. It makes one wonder how many refugees have been taken in by Saudi Arabia, Kuwait (who after the Gulf War which freed them from Saddam Hussein thanked the Palestinian workers for the support which Yasser Arafat lauded on Saddam Hussein and flew every last one back to the Palestinian Occupied areas of Judea and Samaria), Qatar (whose Al-Jazeera news service so gallantly praised and supported the uprisings in the hopes of placing the Muslim Brotherhood in charge of as many nations as possible and almost won Egypt and really urged on the war in Syria until it turned so very ugly) or Bahrain. One might expect these wealthy nations to assist their Arab brothers and sisters but nary a word from them except to demand that Europe do their part because the Europeans had colonies in the area for an average of fifty years compared to the one thousand year rule of Islam as the Caliphate and the Ottoman Empires. Europe should offer to take in refugees one for every twenty that the nations of the Arabian Peninsula give refuge to, that would be fair and proportional but don’t hold your breath.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

June 28, 2015

Iran, Iraq, Syria, and the Messy Middle East

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We may as well write one summary of the different threats to war and actual wars in an all-in-one article. Apparently the Iran negotiations appear to have the most dire predictions of which business as usual is probably the biggest threat of them all. Thus far no final agreement appears to be on the horizon and would have been out of the question and all the sanctions and potentially more would be the current business as usual. It is abundantly obvious that United States President Obama and his Secretary of State Kerry are willing to roll over and accept whatever crumbs the Iranians will permit them and still pronounce the ‘it’s not a treaty it’s a Presidential arms agreement’ treaty, the peace in our time agreement which has Secretary Kerry’s and Iran Foreign Minister Zarif’s signatures on it promising that there will be no unnecessary or over hostile acts by the Iranian government and their work (not that there was any) towards the production of nuclear weapons for ten years, as a momentous diplomatic agreement which will place Iran on the road to international acceptance and into the world of nations. The signs that there will be an agreement, not treaty, completed by the deadline, or a few days, months, years later after more serious negotiations, of the end of June with a potential aligning ceremony in the Oval Office on the Fourth of July which will just be further evidence of the importance of the reaching an accord. Then there are the assurances and uncertainties all depending on your source as to whether or not the deal in progress is an advantageous or detrimental agreement with the numbers of sceptics steadily appearing to increase the closer we all get to an agreement. The only assurances we have is that this agreement will be beneficial to all and that the people telling us this belong to one of two groups, those reporting about the particulars that even the negotiators admit is uncertain if the agreement will encompass said assurance or are part of the providers of information who are attempting to make any agreement a positive no matter how many half-truths and outright-lies they have to shovel to a swarm of ever hungry media swarm all in an effort to further President Obama’s second greatest achievement in office after Obamacare. Such a comparison alone should worry even the greatest supporters of the President and this deal.

 

So, what can we know for sure? For one, it is that the sanctions will be lifted, all of them, or as many as President Obama can humanly bring to an end. This has been made evident through encouragements given to many leaders of industry, particularly the oil and gas industry. It has been reported that the White House has encouraged the chief executives of the Dutch Shell company, Total of France, Italy’s Eni and Lukoil of Russia to initiate talks to normalize and expand the Iranian energy sector of their economy. There have been signals, mostly in Russia, China and Europe and not-so-much in the United States (quite curious this is) to also put forth feelers and prepare the groundwork and even go so far as to agree on principles of agreements which can be made to go active the very second that any P5+1 and Iranian agreement is signed and in effect. This has been the message over the past two months and has yet to diminish in its optimism despite the negotiations appearing to crumble as Iran pulls back and refuses to agree on what one would think are some of the most vital necessities for an agreement which would be observed and have inspections of such a nature as to make such compliances enforceable. These overtures have been made while the White House continues to make statements purporting normal progress at the talks and a general sense of agreement on some of the most vital issues. President Obama has communicated through channels in the media that there will be an intensive inspection routine including snap without warning inspections while the Iranians continue to believe that the negotiations specifically forbade snap inspections nor allow inspections of what Iran denotes as military infrastructure and bases nor permit any inspection without ample and reasonable, to be determined by Iran on an individual basis, notifications before Iran will permit any single inspection. The White House insists that Iran will come forth on its previous military and nuclear procedures, accomplishments and other vital and necessary information even on particularly touchy questions which within the last week began its metamorphosis into a very different animal where suddenly the Administration claims that there is little to be gained by forcing the point of Iran reporting its previous work as we know where they have gone and what they have achieved and everything has been above board all while the Iranians remain quite intransigent on permitting inspections of military bases or revealing the information on all previous nuclear activities and military progress in related fields. From apparent media reports over the past few days the Administration appears to have become omniscient on all things concerning Iranian past progress, military research and development, military progress on missile technology (which to many observers to be directed on developing a reliable ICBM which will supplement their ballistic missile inventory adding the ability to directly strike the United States which some may find an odd direction for such intense research if one is not developing nuclear weapons to place atop those ICBMs) and possible work on a nuclear trigger mechanism which is vital to the production of nuclear and thermonuclear weapons. This was supposed to settle the arguments that Iran may be hiding vital work which would include some very damning information casting the long shadow of doubt on Iranian denials to be researching the industrial development of nuclear weapons.

 

Still, the date of the presumed coming out party has been set. The final particulars of the United States surrender are being completed, the promise that after the agreement has been put in place that all sanctions will be removed has been given though not admitted and one of the latest individual pieces has been the apparent agreement that the P5+1 (read United States) will provide Iran with several light water reactors which produce plutonium which is useable for production of nuclear weapons at a far less aggressive rate than the heavy water reactor at Arak. Further, Iran shall be provided with other technologies for civilian uses of nuclear power and enriched uranium and lastly, recently leaked information indicates that the Fordo nuclear enrichment site, which was built into the heart of a mountain and is considered impervious to any bombing attack, shall remain operating with promises that it will not be utilized for enrichment of uranium for nuclear weapons and instead will limit the enrichment cycles to keep them beneath weapons grade of over ninety-percent. Secretary of State John Kerry has affirmed that the United States has already relaxed several sanctions and has stated the sanctions will be lifted immediately after any signing of an agreement without having performed any steps for verifying Iranian compliance with whatever limitations and restrictions that President Obama would request as part of the agreement. This has made Senator Robert Menendez (D- N.J.) sufficiently perturbed and suspicious that he has introduced legislation to extend the soon expiring sanctions over the Iranian missile research and development on Iran for another ten years as Senator Menendez is far from convinced that any progress has been or will be made as part of the current negotiations. Perhaps this should be the position of everybody else as the reassurances from Secretary Kerry and the President and his spokespersons leave much clarification and even initial information on many subjects with missile development is chief amongst them.

 

Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Iran are juxtaposed Saudi Arabia, Egypt and in a loose and unofficial manner including Israel. The problem is most obvious in Yemen where Iranian backed and armed Houthis are in an open civil war for the control of Yemen now mostly attempting to complete their takeover by solidifying their presence across the south-western third of Yemen, something Saudi Arabia is making particularly difficult. The Saudis are quite wary of permitting Iran from militarily threatening complete control and the ability to cause a severe blockage of trade around much of the world and particularly about European-Asian trade as well as almost one-third of the world’s oil supplies and much of Europe’s lifeline to Arabian oil. The first choke point is the Straits of Hormuz and the second is the straits named Bab-el-Mandeb that controls passage from the Red Sea and Suez Canal to eventually the Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean and which can be controlled from the south-western-most point in Yemen which remains just beyond Iranian reach for the time being. Saudi Arabia and Egypt have vested interests in the Bab-el-Mandeb waterway remaining open and Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Cooperation nations have a vested interest in keeping the Straits of Hormuz clear and freely operating. Israel additionally has a vested interest in keeping Bab-el-Mandeb open as all trade out of Eilat’s ports in this southern-most city in all of Israel and major shipping point to Asia, something many believe is at the heart of the future of Israel, and who would even dare to challenge that. Further, having Yemen under the influence of Iran and with that, the potential of Iran to furtively place some special units from the IRGC (Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps) into Yemen to spearhead an invasion into Saudi Arabia’s underbelly and then once the Saudis had dispatch troops to guard the southern border, then an Iranian led revolt by the Shiites who mostly live in the north-east of Saudi Arabia making that a second front likely tying up most of the Saudi forces making the nation susceptible to a mass Iranian assault timing all of this for during an announced exchange of forces thus allowing for Iran to at least have twice as many troops in southern Iraq than usual and also presenting a potential for turning those troops southward invading Saudi Arabia across the entirety of the border shared with Iraq where IRGC and other Iranian forces deployed to fight ISIS which has invaded much of the Syria and Iraq while making wild claims about being the heart of the next Caliphate. This would satisfy, if successful, one of the boasts Iran has regularly made about the Holy Cities, the most holy in Islam, of Mecca and Medina must be wrest from the hands of the deceivers and apostates, the Iranian Shiite name when referencing any Sunni Muslims. It would also be done in a direct challenge and risk infuriating ISIS which is also interested in the Holy Cities and would consider their being in the hands of Shiites as a moral imperative for ISIS and their Sunni Muslims to liberate them from the apostate hands of Iranian Shiites.

 

Now let us have a quick discussion of ISIS and their claims of being the next Caliphate. This claim at this early stage is a bit presumptuous though over-the-top bombastic claims such as the ISIS claim of being the new Caliphate are apparently part and parcel of the culture and thus should be read as such. Is ISIS a threat? Of course it is but keep in mind that it had originally served as the al-Qaeda branch in Iraq fighting the United States during the Second Iraq War under President George W. Bush where these al-Qaeda forces had been adequately eradicated that President Obama brought all the troops home declaring in a speech at Fort Bragg on Dec. 14, 2011 where he stated, “It’s harder to end a war than begin one. Indeed, everything that American troops have done in Iraq–all the fighting and all the dying, the bleeding and the building, and the training and the partnering–all of it has led to this moment of success. Now, Iraq is not a perfect place. It has many challenges ahead. But we’re leaving behind a sovereign, stable and self-reliant Iraq, with a representative government that was elected by its people. We’re building a new partnership between our nations. And we are ending a war not with a final battle, but with a final march toward home. This is an extraordinary achievement, nearly nine years in the making.” ISIS will remain as a problem for as long as the United States continues its little trip down memory lane returning to their isolationist roots but the sooner that there is a new President, hopefully one who realizes the role the United States played in the world as without American leadership who can the world follow? After World War II the United States dictated to its enemies as well as its friends in the world to lay down their arms as the world had to be made such that Europe would find some manner of non-belligerence and thus unable to start yet another conflagration which envelops the rest of the world endangering all. The United States was not going to allow Europe drag her into another conflict, especially when the toll for World War II was figured. Japan even went so far as to insist that they be deprived of a military force capable of attacking her neighbors be put into their new constitution. The United States also made sure to have a prolonged military presence in all of the western nations as are the Soviets in theirs behind the, Winston Churchill‘s coined phrase, ‘Iron Curtain.’ With what ISIS has claimed is their aim, perhaps a similar deal should have been placed on the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) thus completely covering the lands which were affected by the war. Instead, the Middle East actually faced a difficulty forced upon them by the European powers of France, Britain, Russia and Italy after World War I named Sykes-Picot Agreement where states were carved out of the colonial areas which the European powers had controlled for over two centuries. These states looked, for all intents and purposes, as randomly drawn but further delving into the agreement it becomes obvious that where the lines were less important than was repaying certain promises and not others and leaving states which could never function as normal nations as their citizenry were from different factions which would require a strong and somewhat viscous dictator more than a caring leader. Iran was fortunate enough to remain unchanged as she had remained Persia and beyond the colonial disciplines of the European overlords. This is one area where ISIS has gotten things correct, Sykes-Picot was a disaster needing remedial action, though combining all into one homogenous Caliphate where the people, more likely subjects, would all need to meet a purity test or face death or reeducation. ISIS has risen to prominence largely due to the entirety of the MENA regions being unstable, surprise-surprise, which had come partially from the mess put in place after World War I. In many ways, by not arranging to have the nations covering individual areas such as an area for the Kurds even named Kurdistan, and unifying Sunni Areas separate from Shia areas, and place borders respecting tribal areas and allowing the people to make suggestions and using them wisely, not nearly random large nations which would be so consumed by inner strife that they would be unable to mount external troubles, which also did not work as we saw with the decade of war between Iraq and Iran. This entire false drawing of nations was doomed to fail and produce an even stronger order which would eventually reunite many of the Islamic Arabs into a larger and ready to conquer group, it is just ISIS will not be that group as it currently operates. There will eventually be a leader who will find the chord which will bring people to their cause far more willingly and not by force and threat of arms. First, the MENA must find their way through this current crisis and possibly agree to redraw the lines across the Middle East divided by natural lines which will produce a more homogeneous populace for each state so that it can function as an economic unit more than a military unit as the Middle East itself has for centuries been an area which thrived through trading between Asia and Europe which it could again find their niche as well as trading their own goods, especially petroleum which unfortunately will be a major factor in the redrawing should such take place.

 

The problem will arise due to there being vested interests and moneyed interests in controlling valuable assets, especially oil. A very large example would be Saudi Arabia which will never permit the taking of their oil fields just because the majority living there are Shiites nor would they ever release their ownership holding of Mecca and Medina even to an international Islamic trust. Iran would never allow its oil fields to be given to another group made up of Arab descendants because the major population is not Persian. Any future settlement in the MENA area is going to take some serious and strong Islamic leadership who are more interested in helping the people than they are in glorifying themselves in this life which will always have some basis in control of resources. As things stand right now there is no real nation of Syria nor is there any nation of Iraq, both are consumed in internal and external conflicts tearing them apart. There were those who called for dividing Iraq into three nations, one Sunni, one Shia, and one Kurdish. This still would not have been advantageous for the Christians and the Yazidi and other tribes with either minority Islamic sects or older religions such as those following a version of Zoroastrianism. Still, any plan was bound to hit some snags but such a division might have produced a better system that would have been better able to resist ISIS and their onslaught which currently has Sunni areas of Iraq either facing Shia vengeance or Sunni purist vengeance without any government in place of their own and no trained military as the Iraqi Army was currently majority Shia and has retreated to protect Baghdad and the Shiite south with large amounts of Iranian assistance and now apparently United States assistance in supporting the Shiite operations as the Iranian and United States troops are quartered together, have joint planning sessions and the United States arming and close air support is coordinated through the Iraqi government which is under the strict influence of the Iranian government which has left the Sunni and the Kurds out in the cold and on their own. This has produced much more serious consequences for the Sunni who had depended on the Iraqi government and military for their protection which has left them at the mercies of whichever force has control of their lives each hour while the Kurds far back even during the United States military occupation after removing Saddam Hussein from power had become a semi-autonomous region with their own militias and governance allowing them to survive without any assistance from the Iraqi government, military or otherwise. The Kurds have become a safe haven for the minorities and have provided better and more varied protection for minorities than the United States and their supported Shiite government in the south leaving the Sunni completely out in the cold. What can be done to settle the problems in the MENA regions will take somebody with a plan which answers the many difficulties such would involve and the means of enforcing such against vested interests that would be less than advantageous for the population. The people need to be the primary concern and their needs must be the overriding priority forcing the drawing of any future borders. There must not be any restrictions as to the number of states, their interactive cooperation and other concerns. It is likely that a loose federation will prove the best solution, I am just glad that I do not have to find the best solution though if I find the magical resolution, I will be pushing it here where unfortunately few of the really powerful people will find it, at least not as things stand or maybe I am mistaken. This will need to wait for a different time. The one other area we have yet to address will not make it into this article, but I have written much already on the difficulties within Israel and the need for another brilliant solution here where none can exist that both sides would agree upon as both sides believe they have the unassailable right to all of Jerusalem if not also all of the lands themselves.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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