Comment: This is the first full-length interview of Bashar Assad I have seen and I have to admit that I am favorably impressed: while Assad does not strike me as particularly impressive, he is most definitely not a clown like Gaddafi or megalomaniac like Saddam. Sofiko Shevarnadze did an excellent job of asking him the right questions, and he did a rather good job answering them. What I miss most in this interview is a sense of vision on his part: all I hear is a determination to go on fighting, but without any explicit rationale about how a victory could be achieved. Frankly, at this point, I don’t see him prevailing against US/NATO unless the conflict spreads beyond its current borders.
In an ideal world Uncle Sam and his British poodle would compromise with Russia and China and pressure both sides in the Syrian Civil War to come to a compromise agreement, if necessary with guarantees of safety for Assad and his associates if that is the price of peace. I’m not holding my breath however.
It is just possible that Uncle Sam is not fully in control of Saudi and Qatar and that the Mordor of Wahabism has its own imperialist agenda. Riyadh is clearly trying to subvert the Arab Spring and promote its far right perversion of Islam by sponsoring these terrorists.
The Benghazi attack and the revelations that it might have been blowback from transfers of Libyan arms via Turkey to rebels in Syria might give Syria and opening for both sides to come to some sort of compromise
Completely unrelated to this post, but as this issue was brought a few time ago:
I think this will end definitely the ludicrous accusation that Russia planted bombs in the Polish presidential plane that crashed in 2010.
Again unrelated, but important news also:
I also have an unrelated article which I thought was interesting, that I would like you to read and give me your personal thoughts on it:
@Mar: peace to you, my friend. You ask me about my thoughts about the article you reference. What can I say? I cannot judge the intentions of Yehuda Berg, only God can see what is in his heart, but I will tell you that I have nothing good to say about the Kabbalah in general, or the Zohar in particular. As is the case with any mystic movement, there might be different interpretations of the Kabbalah, even the Papacy played around with Kabbalistic ideas for a while, but the core roots of this movement is rabbinical magic, in other words, satanism. I will not write more about this here, as this is a complex topic, but I will add this. Notice the following paragraph in the article:
“Kabbalah centers accept students from all religions. Some believe in God and some are atheists. But they all seek a better world.”
This is a typical satanist/masonic/ecumenist idea: instead of seeking the truth, let’s blur the differences and unite around some minimal list of things we can agree with. The entire history of the (real) Jewish people in the Old Testament and the entire history of the Church has always been centered on the key idea of *upholding the truth unadulterated*, to preserve it at all costs. In contrast, the syncretistic approach aims at obfuscating the truth and, eventually, at abandoning it as a category of logical analysis.
Anyway, sorry for this digression, but you did ask for my “personal thoughts” and this is what resulted :-)
If you have a more specific question, please let me know.
Thanks Saker…One more article of interest:
@Mari: yes, the Ottomans are a pain in the collective rear of the entire region and its no wonder they are disliked by 100% of their neighbors (by “they” I mean the political/ideological rulers of Turkey, not the people who, on the contrary, are extremely likable). My personal rule of thumb is this: a) never trust the Turks b) never underestimate them c) but also never fear them. Just like the Brits, the Turks are always up to no good, but if they are met by a firm, determinate and deliberate policy, they will back down. So in my dream world, I have Iran taking care of the “Ottoman problem” for everybody else by basically offering them enough stick and carrot to keep them inside their borders. I might be wrong here, but my feeling is that the Arab world does not have what it takes to impress Turkey. But Iran or, if all else fails, Russia – can. This is why the Russian-Iranian-Syria alliance was so important: it key Turkey more or less in check. True, Syria was the minor “mini-partner” in this alliance, and the Turks never hesitated to openly threaten the Syrians, but as long as Iran stood behind Syria and Russia behind Iran, the Turks hesitated to act on their threats. Finally, during the 08.08.08 Georgian war on South Ossetia,the Turks did make some rather ambiguous military moves and I have it from a solid source that the Russians told them “don’t even think of it!” and the Turks wisely retreated.
I think that Assad is probably correct about the megalomania of Turkish politicians, but as long as the rest of the region does not sink into chaos, we should be fine. But if, God forbid, Turkey invades Syria things will get very ugly very fast.
@ VS: This is a typical satanist/masonic/ecumenist idea: instead of seeking the truth, let’s blur the differences and unite around some minimal list of things we can agree with. The entire history of the (real) Jewish people in the Old Testament and the entire history of the Church has always been centered on the key idea of *upholding the truth unadulterated*, to preserve it at all costs. In contrast, the syncretistic approach aims at obfuscating the truth and, eventually, at abandoning it as a category of logical analysis.
This is an interesting observation. I am reminded of what Professor Kevin MacDonald claims when saying that there is no such thing as truth within Judaism; there is only the consensus of the interpretive community:
Neal Gabler on Creating the Perception of Value
A fundamental aspect of Jewish intellectual history has been the realization that there is really no demonstrable difference between truth and consensus. Within traditional Jewish religious discourse, “truth” was the prerogative of a privileged interpretive elite that in traditional societies consisted of the scholarly class within the Jewish community. Within this community, “truth” and “reality” were nothing more (and were undoubtedly perceived as nothing more) than consensus within a sufficiently large portion of the interpretive community. …
Jewish religious ideology was an infinitely plastic set of propositions that could rationalize and interpret any event in a manner compatible with serving the interests of the community. Authority within the Jewish intellectual community was always understood to be based entirely on what recognized (i.e., consensual) scholars had said. It never occurred to the members of this discourse community to seek confirmation of their views from outside the community of intellectual discourse itself, either from other (non-Jewish) discourse communities or by trying to understand the nature of reality itself. Reality was whatever the group decided it should be, and any dissent from this socially constructed reality would have to be performed within a narrow intellectual space that would not endanger the overall goals of the group.
Acceptance of the Jewish canon, like membership in the intellectual movements reviewed here, was essentially an act of authoritarian submission. The basic genius of the Jewish intellectual activity reviewed in these chapters is the realization that hermeneutic communities based solely on intellectual consensus within a committed group are possible even within the post-Enlightenment world of intellectual discourse … and may even be successfully disseminated within the wider non-Jewish community to facilitate specific Jewish political interests. [Chapter 6 of The Culture of Critique]
@Nationalist: WOW! Thanks, you really made my day with this quote.
Notice how the author says that within “traditional” Jewish religious discourse “truth” and “reality” were objective concepts (even if defined by a minority). In contrast, in modern Judaism there is no such thing as an objective truth or reality. Translated into plain English this means the following:
In the religion of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob not only were truth and reality objective concepts, they were the key concepts of this religion which I would call “historical Judaism”. Contrast that with the religion of Maimonides, Karo and Luria, which should be called “phariseic rabbinism” which basically denies the very reality of such categories. Its a long long way from the Ten Commandments to the endless babble of Pilpul, no? And the goal of all these efforts? To obfuscate the undeniable fact that Jesus-Christ was the Messiah announced in the Old Testament which the Pharisees not only rejected, but murdered and later calumniated.
Phariseic/rabbinical “Judaism” is nothing more than a desperate (and vain) attempt at creating an anti-Christianity and an attempted act of revenge against God by means of forceful seizure of His creation, as is so eloquently shown in this parable:
“And he began to speak unto them by parables. A certain man planted a vineyard, and set an hedge about it, and digged a place for the winefat, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country. And at the season he sent to the husbandmen a servant, that he might receive from the husbandmen of the fruit of the vineyard.And they caught him, and beat him, and sent him away empty. And again he sent unto them another servant; and at him they cast stones, and wounded him in the head, and sent him away shamefully handled.And again he sent another; and him they killed, and many others; beating some, and killing some. Having yet therefore one son, his wellbeloved, he sent him also last unto them, saying, They will reverence my son. But those husbandmen said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance shall be ours.’And they took him, and killed him, and cast him out of the vineyard. What shall therefore the lord of the vineyard do? he will come and destroy the husbandmen, and will give the vineyard unto others.” (Mark 12:1-9).
Having murdered the Truth Incarnate, it was only a logical step to then deny the very existence of such categories as truth or reality…
Hence the world of endless lies and infinite relativism we live in.
Cheers and thanks again for the reference :-)
I thought you might be interested in reading this particular article Saker. I would also love to hear your input on it:
Something Curious is Happening to Sunni Islam By: Alastair Crooke
@Mari: peace to you and your household. I have to confess to you that the only part of the Islamic world which I have been closely following over the past months has been the Caucasus which, believe me, if complex enough to take up most of my free time. The article you mention raises many interesting issues which I do not feel qualified enough to comment upon. However, I think I know exactly the right person and I will try to have him take the time to share with us his insights. Stay tuned and, God willing, he will post a reply here which will satisfy you.
@VINEYARDSAKER and @Mari:
I am studying the Crooke article. It plays the sly game of analysis-in-the-interest-of-imperialism exceptionally well, and separating the wheat from the chaff will take some work. I will start from just one confusion:
Quietly, almost unnoticed, mainstream Sunni Islamism has been, over the years, preparing – not some withdrawal from secular modernity into some inner sanctum – but its Islamist takeover, as the means to establish a new, pan-national, social sphere: an umma (a global ‘nation’ of believers) grounded in the social media of the Internet era, that ultimately will bring to fruition the notion of a modern Islamic state, in Muslim majority societies.
Well, surprise surprise! There is absolutely nothing new about this, to anyone who has followed the Muslim Brotherhood since the days of Hassan al-Banna. A “withdrawal from secular modernity into some inner sanctum” was never the name of the game.
But notice how Crooke throws the word ‘secular’ in the mix. This obfuscates things. The point that Sayyid Qutb, the greatest intellectual of the Brotherhood, always made was that there is no necessary coupling between modernity and secularity. In his analysis, Crooke deliberately hides this aspect of things to steer the Brotherhood in a secular direction.
They have been de-ideologizing Islam: that is to say, the Brothers have been unobtrusively, but deliberately, de-linking from Islam’s intellectual tradition, by creating in its stead, an undefined, ambiguous, non-doctrinal ideological framework.
What baloney! Again, Crooke is projecting his own expectations and desires for how to steer the Brotherhood to fit the imperialist agenda. Again, Crooke is cooking up half-truths: Yes, the Brotherhood has always held the ancient intellectual traditions of Islam in some disdain. Unlike the Salafis (or Wahhabis or Taliban etc), they have been progressive in their disdain, not reactionary.
But it is that very progressive disdain for traditional Muslim (as opposed to Islamic) institutions that marks one of the ideological pillars of the Brotherhood. There is no “de-ideologizing” of Islam. Quite the opposite: Islam qua ideology on the basis of a progressive agenda is in many ways the chief legacy of the Brotherhood in the 20th century.
What Crooke is hoping is that the Brotherhoods abandons its ideological underpinnings so that it may be more easily assimilated into the Imperialist agenda, just as has already happened with the Wahhabis many generations ago.
The rest of the article is in a similar vein. It is a mixture of half-truths couched within an imperialist agenda.
I have no time for a detailed critique of the entire article, but if there is a specific question I’ll be happy to contribute to the discussion.
What she found was that Hamas-linked institutions were characterized by being extraordinarily apolitical, and frankly quite secular, at least in their programs. These are differentiated, she states, more by their flexibility, openness and tolerance, rather than by their doctrinal or political orientation
So the intimation is that flexibility, openness and tolerance, are essential features of secularity and are utterly alien to Islam. This, while the Prophet of Islam (S) has said: “I have been commanded to promulgate tolerance just as much as I have been commanded to promulgate the rules”.
So whatever Mulsims do that does not fit the Western caricature of simple-minded fanaticism or medieval traditionalism cannot possible be an expression of Islam itself, but rather of post-Enlightenment secularity. This is neo-colonial arrogance at its worst!
@ishamid: Thanks a lot for sharing your insights with us!
@Mar: the right person did reply, as I had hoped :-))
Assalaamun Alaikum Ishamid, Your short critique has been helpful as sometimes I don’t always take into consideration the possible agenda of the person who writes an article. Thank you. I am interested in what you think about Crooke’s claim that “Indeed, mainstream Sunni Islamism increasingly is defining itself – not in opposition to western modernity – but to Shiism.” And how he compares the Sunni Islamic movement to the Shia Islamic movement in the internal and external senses. What do you think he is trying to insinuate about these differences, and what do you think is his underlying point in doing so?
Wa 3alaykum salaam, Sister.
As for agendas, I guess you know that Crooke was a British diplomat/MI6 spy for decades, so go figure …
I am interested in what you think about Crooke’s claim that “Indeed, mainstream Sunni Islamism increasingly is defining itself – not in opposition to western modernity – but to Shiism.”
This is another half-truth. The original consciousness of Brotherhood Sunnism was largely trans-sectarian. See, for example, Sayyid Qutb’s letter to Ayatullah Kashani in the 1950’s during the struggle of oil nationalization in Iran.
On the other hand, Wahhabism has worked relentlessly since the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, sparing no expense or dirty trick, to drive a wedge between Sunni and Shi3i revolutionary consciousness.
This, combined with an ongoing campaign to take the leadership of the Sunni world at large. Note that Wahhabis did not used to consider themselves Sunni; Sunnis did not consider Wahhabis Sunnis; and Wahhabis considered most traditional Sunnis as heretics to one degree or other (they still do, actually).
Some progressive and other Sunnis have been coopted: THe most famous example is perhaps Yusuf Qaradawi, the famous Egyptian cleric who now lives upon Qatari largess.
The amount of resources poured by the Saudis into Palestine and Egypt especially for the purpose of demonizing the Shiʿah has been incalculable. This puts pressure on Hamas and the Brotherhood, each of whom faces variants of Wahhabi-Salafism as competition. This is one reason Hamas has no choice but to engage e.g. Qatar: The gulf monarchies are funding the reactionary opposition.
So Crooke is working to fulfill a vision: the cooptation of Sunni Islamic movements into an anti-Shiʿi front to serve the purposes of divide-and-rule. Many Sunnis are quite aware of this. But poverty and the allure of Sauid-Qatari finance is a powerful motivation for compromising principle or even selling out.
And how he compares the Sunni Islamic movement to the Shia Islamic movement in the internal and external senses.
This is largely incoherent on Crooke’s part (placing Shiʿi and Sufi in the same category for purposes of the ideological context of his article is just plain wrong). OTOH, there are important distinctions between the spirit of Shiʿi and Sunni ideological movements, differences discussed by many sincere writers in the first decade after the Islamic Revolution in Iran. It is an important issue, but one for which Crooke’s article sheds no light whatsoever.
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Hve you seen
This is probably the best source for Sunni analysis of events in the spirit of progressive Sunni movements. I don’t agree with much of what they say but at least they are sincere.
Thanks ishamid. Your information was helpful and I actually used to read the Crescent from time to time back in the States, and I usually found much agreement with it, politically speaking…