Turkey under Erdogan

August 24, 2016

Nasir Khan, August 24, 2016

Dr Richard Falk looks at the present situation in Turkey under Erdogan from different angles, and he weighs in both positive and negative sides of the likely scenarios after the July 15 coup. Shifting political partners and allies is a common addiction of all power-hungry leaders. We who have the welfare of people of Turkey in our hearts would be glad that Erdogan does not fall in the trap of those myopic considerations and interests.

How will Erdogan fare in the near future is difficult to predict. However, demagogues may be clever in mobilising support of ordinary people around themselves but not so clever when it comes to using that popular support for the common good that in case of Turkey still is to maintain a secularist democracy as Ataturk had envisioned and introduced. Any sneaking religious compromises go against the Kemalist legacy that had made a break with the medieval mindset of the Ottoman times.

Despite all the overtures from the PKK leadership to find an acceptable solution to the demands of the Kurds, Erdogan did not do much. He continued dragging his feet and that has led to the renewed military confrontations with the Kurds. This is true that Erdogan can cause much damage to the Kurds militarily, but he will not be able to control the fallout of such ‘military solution’ to the problem. The Kurds are not going to disappear. That will create more violence and instability. The whole situation is fraught with great dangers for both sides.

If he opens up too many fronts, how will he fight? He may wield only two swords in his two hands but he will need may hands to hold many swords to fight on many fronts! As a result only the ordinary people of this country will suffer.


Dr Richard Falk

 
[Prefatory Note: An earlier version was published by Middle East Eye on August 10, 2016. It seems so important at this time for the sake of the future of Turkey that the West look at the country …
 https://richardfalk.wordpress.com/2016/08/23/the-sky-above-turkey/

Review of the paper on the Dome of the Rock and its Arabic text from the Omayyad period

August 21, 2016

Nasir Khan, August 21, 2016

This is a scholarly paper, originally in Swedish, authored by Lars Djerf in which he has concentrated mainly on the Arabic inscriptions on the Dome of the Rock (DR), their meaning and purpose in a wider political and religious context at a time when Islam had emerged as a dominant political power and religion in the Middle East by replacing the Byzantines in the region.

His presentation of the material is systematic and well-grounded in historical researches and important sources throughout the paper. The interpretation of the Qur’anic texts on DR takes into account the cultural context as Ludwig Wittgenstein had advanced in his views on ‘language games’. Philosophers belonging to different trends in the Continental and Anglo-American analytic philosophy have generally accepted the insights Wittgenstein provided about the working of languages in varying social contexts. The author emphasises ‘understanding intentions and actions’ while interpreting the Arabic texts. In a historical narrative, a text needs to be understood in its social and cultural context to see and analyse the intentions of the original writer.

The author has given a good summary of the condition of DR before Caliph Abd al-Malik (reigned 685-705 AD) started the construction of DR. He discards the view that the Caliph wanted to replace the Meccan shrine with a new structure at DR, as some people have suggested. In fact, much false propaganda is still found about this great caliph. Some have even argued that Abd al-Malik was the real founder of Islam and not the Prophet Muhammad! However, there is little support for such views in serious scholarship on the early history of Islam.

Islam arose in Christian and pagan environments. During the early centuries of the Church numerous Christological controversies arose. During the life of the prophet Muhammad, the controversies about the nature of Jesus (whether he was a man, a divine god or both) were widespread throughout the length and breadth of the Byzantine Empire. Christology had become extremely polemical and led to unending conflicts between different Christian sects.

However, the Qur’an offered a different view of Jesus from the ones professed by Christians. The author has discussed this point adequately and shown why the Qur’anic verses or paraphrases of the Qur’anic texts were meant to offer a theology that emphasised the humanity of Jesus and his prophthood. After the peaceful ‘conquest’ of Jerusalem by Caliph Omar in 638 AD, Islamic political power was established there. At that time, Jerusalem was mainly a Christian city.

By the time of Caliph Abd al-Malik Islamic power was stabilised and the Islamic empire had expanded vastly. Now the task for the new rulers was to assert the uniqueness of Islam as the true religion that was open to all others. The selective Arabic texts from the Qur’an were meant to show what Islam taught about Jesus. In a way, the message of Islam for Christians and Jews was there on DR for all to see. The pure form of monotheism (belief in only one god) that Islam represented was not reconcilable with the Trinitarian godhead of the Church.

In Iconoclastic controversy that lasted 120 years within the Byzantine Empire, St John of Damascus (c. 675-749 AD) defied Emperor Leo III and came firmly in support of icons. The work of St John of Damascus as the defender of orthodox Christianity was to combat Islam, which he termed as the ‘heresy of the Ishmaelites’. He did not see Islam as a new and independent religion. In fact, for him Islam was one more heresy within Christianity.

The author in his conclusion shows that the motives behind the inscriptions on the DR were purely missionary. Having shown what the Qur’an says about Jesus, a great and venerable prophet, the message to all was to come to Islam.

The author has written a commendable paper that contributes to our understanding of the interaction between Muslims and Christians. The attitude of the Omayyad caliphs of Damascus towards Christians was one of toleration and respect. They held high official positions in finance and public administration.

Photo: The Dome on the Rock, Jerusalem
No automatic alt text available.

Religious beliefs versus rational thinking

July 31, 2016

Nasir Khan, July 31, 2016

From a Humanistic point of view, followers of all religions should be respected and their concrete good work for other people should be admired and acknowledged. In this connection, it is important to underline that such respect and admiration is not due to their inherent or internalised beliefs and dogmas, but because of our common humanity that binds all of us together.

There is no doubt that vast numbers of honest and sincere believers will never question the contents of their religion. That is a sacrosanct terrain where no intrusion is possible. For them, to question their religious beliefs is simply out of the question.

Consequently, the worst possible sin they can commit is to question what to them is Holy and the Truth. This attitude is the corner-stone of the belief system of the followers of all religions. The only exceptions here may be some non-dogmatic mystics and the followers of the universal love for all humanity, such as the Bahá’ís.

However, despite all the claims believers may make in support of the truth and the uniqueness of their religion, the fact remains that their strong convictions and their strongly-held religious beliefs do not bring them one inch closer to the fundamentals of rational thinking. The instructions issued by the Supernatural Being through his chosen ones and the views on which rational thinking rests have hardly any mutually acceptable meeting point.

 

Kashmir, Palestine and my Facebook Friends

July 24, 2016

 Nasir Khan, July 24, 2016

At present, I have about three thousand Facebok friends who come from different parts of the world. This list also includes a few hundred friends from Pakistan or who are of Pakistani origin. Over the last few weeks, when Indian army unleashed its brutal crackdown in Kashmir, killing, blinding and maiming the Kashmiri people, most of my Pakistani Facebook friends have shown no interest in the plight of the Kashmiri people. The number of such friends who have actively published and posted on their Facebook walls remains very small.

However, many people around the world have shown their solidarity with Kashmiris, including many people from India and Pakistan who have held public demonstrations in many cities and places against the frightening atrocities of the Indian army in Kashmir. But our Pakistani Facebook friends have remained largely indifferent to the ongoing brutal killings and the blinding of the youth in Kashmir. In fact, their indifference is not limited to Kashmir but also extends to the people of Palestine who, like the Kashmiris, have been under Zionist colonial oppression and subject to systematic ethnic cleansing since 1948.

Some Pakistanis even say that the Kashmir conflict is only for the Kashmiris to resolve themselves. Pakistan and Pakistanis should not bother about Kashmir and its people. In the same way, when it comes to the question of occupied Palestinians, they remain indifferent. Some even support what the Zionists stand for and argue that Israel is defending itself against the Palestinian terrorists!

According to such a perverted logic, it is the Palestinians who are the cause of trouble, not Israel. It is not any secret that some Pakistani leaders and politicians have supported the idea of normalising relations with Israel by recognising it. But what about the Palestinians whose lands has been taken from them by a colonial power? That problem can be ignored. In fact, some Pakistani politicians had other considerations to gain the favours of the Zionists than to take time to think about the captive population of the apartheid state of Israel. But what are the great motives of my Pakistani Facebook friends in their indifference to or even hostility towards the national struggle of the Palestinians? I have no clue.

For decades, I have been a supporter of the right of the people of Palestine and have opposed the policies of Israel towards a captive people. This I have done purely as a Humanist and a Socialist peace activist. I respect the religious or ethnic identities of all people but find no justification for the ideas that any person becomes better than others merely because of his/her religion or ethnicity. I have also some friends who are famous Jewish academics and political activists; they oppose Zionism, Israeli policies towards the occupied or besieged people of Palestine and are firm supporters of the national rights of the Palestinians. Luckily, there are many people in the world who support the cause of the people of Palestine. In this, I also acknowledge the positive role of some Pakistani Facebook friends play in the difficult struggles of national emancipation both in Kashmir and Palestine.

Among all my friends, no matter where they are from or what their ethnic identities may be, if they support the Indian military occupation of Kashmir and the Israeli occupation of Palestine can unfriend me on Facebook.

That also means many Pakistanis may have to unfriend me. I thank all such people for bearing with me but now we should part company.

 

Kashmiris Right to Self-Determination Is the Only Solution to the Kashmir Conflict

July 16, 2016

Nasir Khan, July 16, 2016

Today Professor Raj Bhat, himself a Kashmiri, raised a few questions and asked for my response. I am repoducing his comment followed by my reply. Our readers will see that we two have different views on the Kashmir issue:

Raj Bhat: Nasir Khan Sahab: I have raised human issues which deserve your attention. Otherwise, it becomes supportive of frenzy and genocide. As a kid in Poonch, do you remember the condition of people who were displaced/ uprooted from Bhimbar and Muzzafarabad? The survivors of the ethnic cleansing from these regions are stateless in 2016 too! The frightened, terrorized. traumatized non-muslims of the Indian Kashmir valley are called ‘migrants’! This ethnic cleansing took place in 1990. Please relate the issues and go ahead.
—-

Nasir Khan: Raj Bhat Sahib, here I am not going to enter into any lengthy discussion about the issues you have mentioned as questions of human rights. Yes, in 1947/8 I had seen how the Hindus in our areas in Poonch were treated, some cruelly killed, their houses burnt. But as a young boy, I had no means of seeing things in Muzaffarabad and Bhimbar because they were far away from our district. Much atrocities were committed against the Hindus and their properties burnt or plundered. But I also saw the destitute refugees in our village and adjoining areas who had come from the Indian administered Kashmir to our areas in Poonch and their stories of deaths at the hands of non-Muslims. I can never forget the conditions I saw them in and their miserable existence as refugees.

As I understand you are only concerned about Hindus, not Muslims of Kashmir. About 100, 000 Kashmiris have died as a result of Indian military violence and the lives of millions of innocent people destroyed. Kashmiri Pandits have also suffered much. Yet, despite all the bloodshed, the Kashmir conflict has not gone away and it will never go away as long as Indian government does not find a political solution. The only way forward is to let the people of Kashmir decide their future by plebiscite.

The tragedy of Kashmir has seen much blood shedding and destruction. Without any political solution to this conflict, the future generations of Kashmiris will continue to resist the Indian occupation and India will continue to kill those who do not submit to the Indian rule. We should keep in mind that these conditions will not bring peace and joy to any.

You may be speaking as a Hindu and you have every right to do so but I do not speak as a Muslim but only as a Humanist and a Socialist who is well-wisher of all – Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists and freethinking people, etc. etc. – in Jammu and Kashmir and other places.

Brtual Indian oppression continues in Kashmir

July 15, 2016

Nasir Khan, July 15, 2016

The partition was India in 1947 was because of a number of factors. As a child living in Poonch (Kashmir) I had seen the destructive blood-letting and communal frenzy. The so-called ‘Two-Nation Theory’ was a misleading and absurd idea to start with. But there was not only one party to advance this perspective, as many people think.

Many communalists, both Hindus and Muslims, contributed to it. Perry Anderson in his book on the role of Gandhi, Nehru and Jinnah has put the material before us, which none from the subcontinent did, or, I might even say, was capable of doing.

The tragedy of Kashmir belongs to the unfinished task of the Partition. This is despite all the claims that India has made to justify its hold on Kashmir against the wishes of the majority of Kashmiris. It is a political issue and will remain a political issue.

After enormous losses suffered by Kashmiris, both Muslims and Hindus, over the decades-long conflict, India has shown no interest to listen to the demands of the people of the valley and continues to repeat the mantra of ‘Kashmir is an integral part of India’. That is a false claim. Kashmir is not an integral part of India.

Kashmir is a disputed area and its solution is not in using the military force of a great power over a helpless people but rather to change its rhetoric and let the people of Kashmir decide their future.

——-

http://www.greaterkashmir.com/news/front-page/tragic-pellets-blind-14-year-old-insha-forever/222869.html

Ninth class student Insha Malik has lost vision in her left eye that was pierced by pellets fired by forces, and doctors say there are “zero chances” of the teenager regaining vision in her right eye, also badly damaged by the pellets.

14-year old Insha, one of more than 100 pellet victims, is lying unconscious in the Surgical ICU of general specialty SMHS hospital here. Her face and neck resemble a wire-mesh with dozens of holes made by pellets therein.

“The pellets have ruptured her right eye and it has come out. The left eye is lacerated with zero chance of recovery,” said a doctor attending to her. Insha hails from Sedow village of south Kashmir’s Shopian.
The doctor added: “She does not even have perception of light in the eye that she is left with.”
According to her relatives, Insha was in the first floor of her house when forces fired pellets inside their house late on Tuesday evening. “She screamed and fell unconscious and within no time her face was swollen,” recalled one of her relatives, adding: “There were no protests going on in the area.”
Insha was rushed to the hospital late in the night where doctors took her straight to the ICU.
She is being continuously monitored since. “We haven’t admitted such a severe case in the hospital so far. The pellets have completely disfigured her face and resulted in multiple fractures and injuries in her face and skull,” said the doctor quoted above. “She is lucky that the pellets did not pierce her vessel on the neck or the airway.”
Apart from the loss of vision, pellets have resulted in fracture to her frontal bone (forehead) and nasal bone, apart from fracture to her maxillary bone.
“There are numerous pellets inside her skull and at the base of her brain. These fractures have caused pneumocephalus (a condition where air enters into the brain cavity),” said another doctor.
“We are ensuring that her condition remains stable. There is no treatment which can get her vision back in her eyes given the damage caused by the pellets. The pellets will remain inside her face and skull. Her fracture will heal up but the damage is done.”
Her mother sobs quietly by the side of her ICU bed as if not to wake her up. Her daughter wanted to become a doctor and was studying hard, she said.
“She used to say she will have no time to play next year when she would be in Class 10th,” a relative of her said.
Insha, her relatives said, was an inspiration for her two younger brothers. “She was a perfect sister, a perfect daughter,” her mother said, and broke down.
Sources at the hospital said there was ‘pressure from government’ to shift the injured teenager outside J&K for treatment but doctors have refused to do so.
While Principal GMC Srinagar refused to comment on this ‘pressure’, he said the hospital was doing what was best for the patient. “Even if there was an iota of hope that there was something out there that is not being done here, we would have shifted her,” he said while rushing into the ICU.
Doctors treating Insha said her condition was not stable and even the air-ambulance that was being offered for her could put her life at stake.
“Her life has been devastated. Nothing can make her see the world again,” they said.
Though the Government has described the pellets as “non-lethal”, Altaf Ahmed from Rajpora lost his life to pellets on July 10, 2016. His head had received a shower of pellets at Rajpora.
“Pellets had shattered his entire brain,” a doctor who had received him in SMHS Hospital casualty said.

 

Killing people in the name of religions and god

July 4, 2016

  Nasir Khan, July 4, 2016

In the hands of ignorant brutes any religion, good, bad or super, will be turned into a religion of brutality and violence. Killing in the name of religions and gods has a long history.

But there are no easy ways to end such violence, except for to have long-term strategies to meet the challenges of religious extremists. Secular education in traditional societies, cultivation of humanist values, limiting the role of religion only to personal sphere where it does not have any influence on the public sphere and state policies, etc. are some necessary steps.

Without a change in people’s thinking and consciousness, organised acts of violence by some people in the name of gods and religions will continue. Meeting violence with violence offers only a temporary and ineffective solution; it can’t uproot the causes of violence at the hands of groups and some misguided religious people who have their own militant and anti-human agendas.

Review of ‘The Russian and Syrian Alliance’

July 2, 2016

Nasir Khan, July 2, 2016

In his paper Luis Lazaro Tijerina fills in much-needed information to understand Russian and Syrian relationship. While discussing the salient aspects of the relationship, first, between the Soviet Union and Syria and, then, after the fall of the Soviet Union, between Russia and Syria, the author has provided a sound historical overview of the developments. To understand the present civil war in Syria in a broader historical context, his paper is of utmost importance.

 In his presentation, the author has referred to some impressive and  interesting material and pointed to many factors in analysing a complex political situation. Syria is an Arab country and its political and social culture is shaped by many factors. It has its ancient historical roots including the Roman rule but after the Arab conquest of Syria from the Byzantine emperor the country became a part of the expanding Arab Empire under the Caliphs. After the First World War the Ottoman Empire came to an end; its rule over the Arab provinces also ended. Western powers which  emerged victorious established their colonial domination over the Middle East under the fiction of the ‘Mandatory system’. France took its share: Syria and the Lebanon.

In 1917, the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia brought into existence a new political system. Under the leadership of Vladimir Lenin the right to self-determination of the colonized people and support to the struggling masses to liberate themselves from the Western colonial rule became important pillars of the Soviet state policy. It was in this context, that the Soviet relations with Syria grew during and after the Second World war. The author has quite fairly outlined the Soviet policies towards the Middle East under Stalin. He also shows the role of the present Russian leader Putin towards Syria and his objectives in supporting the Syrian government.

The present civil war has played havoc with this once-prosperous and an old-civilised country. There are numerous factors both national, regional and international involved in the imbroglio. The Assad family, first the father and now his son, are more like the hereditary kings of Syria. But again, here we are discussing an Arab country where democracy as understood in modern political thought and practice has no roots. For kings and despots in the Middle East, political power and luxurious life-styles are the most important  things; the rest is empty talk.

———–


http://katehon.com/article/russian-and-syrian-alliance

The Russian and Syrian Alliance

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02.07.2016

Russia and Syria have a deep and long, political marriage that is one of necessity, one of connivance at times, but also a historical relationship based on a respect that is bonded by both adversity and creative, political struggle. Before, I attempt to describe or make what I hope is a serious commentary on the relationship between Russia and Syria in the present time that we live in, and which involves the civil war in Syria, itself, I would like to quote the Roman historian Polybius who noted about history and empires and their causes both in peace and war that “For it is history alone which without causing us harm enables us to judge what is the best course in any situation or circumstance.” We should remember these wise words on history and the best course to follow for empire or nation-states in the modern world. Also, let us take a calm look of factual clarity at the history of these two countries whose political and social fates are wedded now for better or for worse in a time of war against terrorism and the interest of certain nation-states who seek out world hegemon, regardless of the cost of humanity in terms of lives lost. The historical relationship between the nation-state of Russia, formally the Soviet Union, and the nation-state of Syria is one of genuine collaboration through periods of internal, Syrian political crises and regional conflicts within the Middle East. Three coup d’ etat occurred during the period 1949-1953, until the Ba’ath came to power in Syria in 1954, which was keenly observed by the political and military leadership in the Soviet Union, and was only enhanced by the Suez Crises in 1956 with the Tripartite Aggression by Israel, France and Britain. Although there have been cordial culture interests between the Russian and Syrian peoples, it is has always been a friendship forged by pragmatic needs, both being economic and military in terms of mutual interests.

Within the current civil war in Syria it should be historically understood that Russia, by its very history with the Syrian Government and the Syrian people, have a political and moral obligation to help defend the legitimate interests of Syria in its struggle against modern terrorists such as ISIS or nation-states that seek to overthrow the current president of Syria and create a hegemony that would only enhance more dangerous instability in the Middle East. War being what it is among modern nation-states creates a dangerous mass of miscalculations and contradictions among the Western powers which seek to impose their will upon the Syrian state in terms of commerce, the selling of arms and regional control over a population whose aspirations are not considered. On the other side, there are those nation-states like Russian, Syria, Iran and Iraq, for instance, who are more interested in promoting the independent economic, social and cultural interests of their nation-states which is part of the process towards a more pragmatic form of international order throughout the world. Therefore, the profound historical civil war that is taking place in Syria it is in fact a dialectical part of that process towards self-determination and independent national liberation movements among all nations in the Middle East.

As ancient Roman had deep political and military interests in Greater Syria so in fact does modern Russia would have a historical political, economic and cultural ties with modern Syria. In the modernist since, it has been the Soviet and Russian experience to seek out international norms regarding the balance of power in terms of global politics and the need that causes for military intervention. With this historical perception in mind, especially since the time of Lenin when internationalism and the thrust for revolutionary social change was part of Soviet-Russian foreign policy, there was a fundamental socialist and pragmatic view to the expansionism of International law and that ran counter to the Western perception of assessing and then forcing a hegemonic military paradigm as would be advocated by Western nation-states, with the United States being Its nominal leader for such political behavior. That these two different views on the accepted means of considering world political crises as they arose, would create not only a so-called “Cold War”, but would also be the demarcation line of rancor, distrust and proxy wars between the two views regarding the approach the use of military force. This international rivalry became a bien établi behavior regarding diplomacy and war. With these un-varnished perceptions of the inevitable harsh approach to both political and military friction between these two opposing camps, it was only natural that the Soviet Union and then post-Soviet Russia would readjust her strategic, not to mention her tactical approaches, towards confronting the Western powers. As the historian, Roy Allison would admit in his work Russia, the West, and Military Intervention “After the collapse of Soviet superpower did Russian positions on these issues continue to reverberate in the international community? Russia above all has continued to impact on global rule-making through its ‘top table’ presence as a permanent member of the UN Security Council. Russia has maintained a presence also in key groupings for regional crises management, such as the contact Group for the Middle East, the Four-Party talks on the Korean Peninsula and the Six Power talks on the Iranian nuclear programme”. It is interesting to note here in the long pageantry of human history that during the time of Soviet rule in Russia, there was never an invasion by a Soviet army into the Western regions of Europe. There was an occupation of Soviet troops in Hungry and Czechoslovakia due to the uprising of dissatisfied elements of the inteligencia, workers and communist party officials who naively thought that certain Western powers would support their idealism for democratic liberalism, but such dreams or fantasies where to be short live, for the armies of Western Europe or the United States did not come to their aid. Therefore during the middle period of the twentieth century, the Western European bourgeois powers with its ally the United States, although interested and preparing for world hegemony as their imperial quest, were still using rhetoric and subtle propaganda techniques in their own going ‘cold war’ with Russia and her allies. As with the Peace of Nicias, when Athens along with her allies of Greek city-states and Sparta, with her Lachmannian confederacy of allies, signed a peace treaty in 421 BC which terminated the first half of the Peloponnesian War, so to was there an undeclared truce between the Western capitalist powers and the Soviet Union and her satellite socialist allies of Eastern Europe after the end of World War II, known to the Soviet people as the Great Patriotic War. It was during this time of a cold peace in which proxy wars and wars of economic subversion were in acted by both parties, that the Soviet Union took a deep interest in its recognition of Syria as rising political power in the Middle East.

There were many stages in which Russia took a political interest in the Middle East, including Syria or the Levant area (territory know in the modern world as Syria and Lebanon). These interest were both territorial and political in their conceptions by the Russian monocracy, then the Soviet Union and the present Russian Federation. This process of political engagement and cultural recognition between both Russia and Syria were then of a dialectical political process that has lasted through the twenty-first century, and therefore such engagment diplomatique et polticalical are complex and even subtle in nature. What is seemingly viewed through a historical timeline of events between two countries does not account for the covert, even justifiable Machiavellian and warm interactions that two countries with various and even different political interests, will have in an international relationship. The historian, Rami Ginat, gives in the beginning of his work “Syria and Doctrine of Arab Neutralism” a very seemingly view of how the Russian State has viewed the Middle East through the last three centuries by stating thus:

The Middle East has always attracted the attention of Russia in its various historical phrases—Tsarist Russia, the Soviet Union, or the present Russian Federation, because the region is the southern gateway to Russia. The eighteenth and nineteenth centuries saw the expansion of Tsarist Russia southward asresult of colonial conflict with the Ottoman Empire and Persia.… Following the Bolshevik revolution of 1917, Russia opted out of the war [World War I] … In 1919 Lenin declared “pre-War frontiers will be respected, no Turkish territory will be given to Armenia, the Dardanelles will remain Turkish and Constantinople will remain the capital of the Muslim world”.

As we see the long standing interests with Russia and the Middle East are one of a long history, only the British and French have such a long memory of history regarding their own relationship with the Middle East, while the United States has a short history with the Middle East at best, however one that has long history of spreading its war machine in Tanium in the that region of the world in modern times.

To understand the interest that the Soviet Union had with the emerging nation state of Syria after World War II, it is important to know how Stalin viewed such a regional interest outside the natural territory of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Although this essay does include primary Russian diplomatic resources on the eventual political alignment between Russia and Syria in the modern world, I will attempt to draw some conjectures on the rapprochement of economic and culture détente between the two countries. During these early years, it was understood through diplomatic signals and diplomatic embassy exchanges among the various parties who took an interest in Syria’s future, that Stalin, the leader of the USSR sought out a revolutionary approach to the Middle East, and therefore was more interested in the engagment of communist revolutions being nurtured, so it was only natural that he would be concern about the build-up and sponsorship of Middle Eastern communist parties that wanted socialist governments in that region of the world. It has been argued or mention by such Middle Eastern scholars like Ginat that there was no major diplomatic changes to the way the Soviet Union viewed its policy to the Middle East until the death of Stalin. It can be argued that with the onset of the Second World War, Stalin certainly had his intelligence agents in the field in the Middle East, especially in Egypt and Syria, not to mention Iraq. Already as early as 1944, the Syrian government had imitated a serious interest in having direct diplomatic contacts with USSR, during a time, when such a move could have had dire consequences had the course of the war for the Allies and the Soviet Union had turned into defeat on the battlefield. Fortunately such was not the case, and Syrian diplomats were able to meet the first Soviet minster to Egypt, Nikolai Novikov, and although the meeting did not turn out well for the Syrian delegation, it was the first crucial step towards the official rapprochement between the Soviet Union and the nation-state of Syria. After a series of through the summer of 1944, Novikov was informed from the Soviet Government that as of 19 July, that diplomatic relations with Syria had been attain, and that a Soviet diplomatic mission would open in Damascus of that year. It was on July 31, that the Soviet Union and Syria created formal diplomatic relations, but it was not until February 10, 1946 that official diplomatic missions between the two countries was cemented with diplomatic protocols. Thus we see that the road to diplomatic recognition between the two counties was not hurried nor seamless, as a world war had brought them together in the struggle for independence on the side of Syria, and the fight to the death against Nazi fascism by the Soviet Union. What should also be noted and not overlooked is how Stalin would play a major role in such a creation of healthier relationships between those countries of the Middle East and the Soviet Union. As Ginat commented his book on the subject, and it should be understood that he was not a communist was the measure of Soviet foreign change, when he wrote:

Soviet policymakers appealed to Middle East nationalist groups to concentrate on the task of putting an end to Western influence in the region. To achieve that end, the Soviets nurtured relations with governments that were already pursuing anti-Western policies. … Stalin begin to follow the line of realpolitik in his international Affairs program. Foreign policy was, first and foremost, based on Utilitarian considerations derived from the USSSR’s growing interests in certain parts of the world… what mattered more to him [Stalin] was that they pursued anti-Western policies.

In other words, Stalin was keenly intelligent to purse a more pragmatic course of diplomatic relationships with Middle Eastern countries, including the Middle East to protect not only the frontiers of the Soviet Union, but also to consolidate the victories already achieve on the battlefield. When a leader combines military achievements with diplomatic accords that bring about regional and global stability, then that leader is remembered for such a rare talent in history. In the twenty-first century, such talent by a world statesman is not be seen as yet. However, Vladimir Putin took a page from Stalin regarding knowing when to pursue war, when it came to directing the Russian Air Forces in their engagment with targeting Daesh, also known as ISIS, and the al Nursa Front in Syria, and when to reach out to the diplomatic table among all the parties involved in a regional conflict, as when Russia and the United States brokered a truce which took place in February of 2016 during the Syrian Civil War which had begun on March 15, 2011.

We see, therefore, that from the middle of World War II to the early years of the twenty-first century, the political historical era which this author writes about could remind one much like what took place with imperial Rome and Syria in ancient times. Except both regional forces, meaning Russia and Syria are neither hegemonic in outlook nor force a direct submissive behavior from their allies like those Roman leaders who used their Roman legions unsparingly against foe and friend alike, and those Syrian governors of Greater Syria who submitted to Roman rule without question. Modern Russia who is wedded to the revolutionary Soviet Union, is a nation that ultimately forges peace or is forced to play a role on the world’s stage in fighting modern fascism and American imperialism whether they are reluctant or not about their role. Syria is still going through its birth pangs of being a regional world power through the process of the classical civil wars that Thucydides and Tacitus wrote about so boldly.

Within the modern history of the Russian and Syrian alliance, there have been tensions that have worked themselves out through a pragmatic understanding, so as to continue the historical process of independence of not only Syria’s domestic and foreign policy agendas from outside interference, especially from Western hegemony, but to insure the security of other Arab countries as well. With this in mind, when it comes to the reactionary deeds of Daesh, we must understand where the seed of such a viscous terrorist organization emerged from, that is its’ root of growth. As Yevgeny Primakov, who was not only once the head of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service, but also was the Foreign Minister and Prime Minister of Russia, the terrorism that expanded in the Middle East and spread outside that regions should be understood as such:

But the terror inflicted by both sides in the Middle East conflict was not the breeding ground for the international terrorism seen at the end of the twentieth century and the beginning of the twenty-first. For starters, Middle Eastern terrorism was by its nature political, not religious.

Primakov’s succinct observation of the core of terrorism not only in the Middle East, but throughout the world, is a rational and understood historical understanding of how modern aggression and wars is not one of a spiritual nature, but conflicting ideologies that emerge from economic and class contradictions.

But Primakov goes further in his analysis of the “war against terrorism” in the twenty-first century by stating emphatically that “The network known as Al-Qaeda did not arise from the Palestinian movement. Al-Qaeda was religious extremist catalyst used the United States during the cold war—with, as it turns out, no thought to the consequences. It came into being with the aid of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) for the purposes of fighting the Soviet army in Afghanistan”. Now, in the times that I am writing this essay, we are reaping the terrible violence of the whirl wind we created, which in turn is creating the implosion of the Western world, including that of the United States as well.

It is known through various sources that the former USSR did not pander or always take sides with Syria regarding issues like the Lebanon civil war or the struggle of various political parties and military forces that desired to control the Palestinian struggle of statehood. In fact, it Yuri Andropov, then the general secretary of the Soviet Communist Party, who in 1983, attempted to bring about a more conciliatory relationship between Syria and the Palestinian ranks that were at odds with Syrian leadership regarding the tempestuous leadership of Arafat within the Palestinian enclave. Therefore, if one attempts to see the foreign policy of the Soviet and Russia alliance with Syria, throughout the decades of the modern era, one will notice that there was always an ebb and flow between the two nation-states. The underlying destructive force therefore can be seen elsewhere regarding the war in the Middle East and regional terrorism, in that like the Trotskyites during and after the Russian revolution, American foreign policy is mitigated by the various United States presidential regimes, who have a fanaticism to “export” its American view of democracy into the borders of nation-states throughout the world. Such a modern American manifest destiny includes Syria with its historic civil war in our time which could further enflame other regions of the Middle East or provoke World War III. It is in Syria that the people will manifest themselves in the battle against Islamic terrorism, and it is in Syria that the world’s fate will be decided regarding such a war.

It is with this short paper that I have attempted to show in a subtle way how history is not created by simply the whims of individuals or capriciousness of nation-states without consequences. If we do not understand the nature of alliances which are like a find and subtle thread from the beginning to the end, then we cannot create a political course of action that brings about a period of peace, but will only bring on the holocaust of war.

The Forces of Darkness and Ignorance in Pakistan

June 23, 2016

Nasir Khan, June 23, 2016

The tragedy that started in 1947 in the shape of Pakistan and in the name of Islam has continued uninterrupted since then. In this country, Islam was transformed into a cult of ignorance and darkness and then into a cult of death and violence.

Muslim leaders and politicians initiated their political agendas by using the Islam card when the British Raj in India was on its hind legs. They galvanised the conservative Muslim clergy to support their call for a separate homeland for Muslims that was to be modelled on the Islamic principles of laws and polity.

But none of these shrewd leaders explained what those principles of religious laws were or how a political system based on those seventh-century Arabian laws and mindset would operate in modern times. They gave the poor and ignorant masses cheap slogans to repeat, which they did. But the masses had no clue what these laws and system of government would be like.

What the misguided and morbid extremists are doing in Pakistan in the name of Islam and their brigands kill innocent people when they choose to do so is a natural unfolding of the dark force that was unleashed by manipulating religion. The tree of ignorance and darkness is bearing its bitter fruit.

 


https://www.thestar.com/news/world/2016/06/22/famous-pakistani-sufi-singer-killed-by-gunmen-in-karachi.html

Famous Pakistani Sufi singer killed by gunmen in Karachi

Amjad Sabri was shot several times Wednesday while driving his car.
Pakistani investigators and journalists gather around the car of famous Sufi singer Amjad Sabri after an attack in Karachi on Wednesday.
Police officer Arif Mahar says Amjad Sabri was shot several times Wednesday while driving in his car. Sabri’s brother, who was also in the car, was wounded.

Sabri and his late father, Ghulam Farid Sabri, were well-known qawwali singers, a style of music rooted in Sufism, or Islamic mysticism. Islamic extremists reject Sufi traditions and have targeted Sufis in past attacks.

Karachi has long been gripped by violence, with attacks carried out by Islamic militants as well as ethnic separatists, criminal gangs and rival political parties. On Tuesday, gunmen killed a member of the Ahmadi religious minority, and the son of a provincial judge was abducted. No one has claimed the attacks.

The Massacre in Orlando

June 13, 2016

Nasir Khan, June 13, 2016


The massacre of so many innocent people at the hands of Omar Mateen, a 29-year-old US citizen was a deplorable and savage act. What made him commit such a horrendous crime is not clear. The pieces of information we saw on the telescreens show him to have been a mentally unstable and violent person. Only the psychologists or criminologists may come up with some further clarification of his behaviour, but one thing is clear. He acted alone. Will we escape the usual practice where a crime committed by a person belonging to Islamic religion is attributed to his religion and by implication, all Muslims are stigmatised?

We should also keep in mind that such random killings are common in the United States. People kill people for fun or shoot innocent people if they want to. In the United States, violence is glorified and getting weapons is so easy; therefore, such crimes as the massacre in Orlando are not exceptional. The only distinctive nature of the present crime is the large number of people who fell victims.

However, America is not the only country where violence and killings are common. For instance, in Pakistan sectarian killings are common. Religious fanatics, mostly belonging to the majority Sunni sect, target Shias, Ahmadis and other religious minorities. The burning of some young girls alive recently shows the force of inhuman traditions and customs of patriarchal society and its coercive methods. Then, come the Taliban and other Islamist militant groups on the scene who target people to advance their version of Islamic state under a pristine Islam that existed in the Arabia of the seventh century AD.

The massacre in Orlando also shows that police or security agencies cannot prevent the actions of individuals who want to commit such crimes as Omar Mateen did. This is an inescapable sad reality.

Much has to change socially and politically both at local, regional and global levels to combat violent crimes. However, there is no sign of any such movement towards that direction.

 

 


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