THE ISLAMISTS

SOME MILITANTS OF THE ISLAMIC STATE OF IRAQ AND THE LEVANT (SYRIA), ISIL/ISIS POSE FOR A PICTURE?
SOME MILITANTS OF THE ISLAMIC STATE OF IRAQ AND THE LEVANT (SYRIA), ISIL/ISIS POSE FOR A PICTURE?

The true intention of the insurgent group running rampant over Syria and Iraq was made known a few days ago when it declared the areas it currently controlled as been under a CALIPHATE that it had created.

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Syria), ISIL or ISIS first came to the fore in Syria where it joined opposition efforts in an attempt to oust Bashar Al-Assad’s government in power. It soon became notorious for the indiscriminate manner it began to go about the job, though their activities appeared to be the most effective of all the opposition groups against the mighty Assad army. Even the Al-Nusra Front which once supported the activities of the group began to denounce some of it’s activities, while Al-Qaeda from which many Islamic hardline groups drew inspiration from released a statement condemning the group.

Assad’s army soon began making inroads into areas formerly held by opposition and rebel groups mainly due to the infighting between the opposition groups, especially of the moderate Free Syrian Army, FSA and their allies against the hardliners chief of which was the ISIL/ISIS. Many people were beginning to question the aims of the revolution, when areas under ISIS control were placed under the strictest form of the Shari’a. Defaulters were punished severely, even capital punishment in full glare of the public wasn’t ruled out.

Shias, Christians, even moderate Sunnis had to flee areas under their control to avoid persecution and all of a sudden it began to appear as if President Assad was right all along when he claimed that terrorists were behind the revolution in his country and not a genuine quest for change as demonstrators in the early days would love the world to believe. Unfortunately, maybe this wouldn’t have been the case if the Americans and Western powers had quit pussyfooting earlier and provided all the necessary support for the moderate Free Syrian Army at the time the Syrian government was been bouyed heavily by the Russian government.

In Iraq, Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki’s refusal to form an all inclusive government before and after the last elections a few months ago, further increased Sunni discontent, providing the nidus and fertile ground for ISIS to enter and proliferate. They took the festering Sunni insurgency up several notches knocking off city after city, and town after town from Iraqi government control, leading to mass exodus of citizens that are Shia, moderate Sunni, Christian as well as other indigenous minorities in the areas under their control. The world was thrown into a state of shock and bewilderment when images of the coldblooded murder of members of the Iraqi army in a location under ISIS control came to light. That show of acts of brutality left no one in doubt about ISIS’ intent and how far they were willing to go to achieve their goals. Again, America already war weary appeared to be leaving the initiative to others, even those whose intention they view with suspicion, like Iran who promised to send elite Presidential Guard troops to Iraq to advice and boost military efforts of the Shia-led government in Iraq, while the Russians sent to Iraq just this week five fairly used fighter jets to complement Iraqi airforce aerial activities, while those promised by the Americans are still been expected though the Americans claim that the timeline for the delivery of the planes was for sometime in the future and was never planned for now, not even while Iraq faces one of it’s fiercest security challenges of all time, with the capability of splitting the country into its constituent parts (with the Kurds taking the lead on that one) and with the potential of redrawing the map of the Middle East forever. Interestingly, the Iraqi Prime Minister is now considering the formation of what is to bê called a SALVATION GOVERNMENT, in a bid to save Iraq from the hand of extremists in what many see as an effort that’s come a little too late.

ISIS may be the most extreme Islamist group around for now, but many abound that appear less extreme and in so doing become so popular amongst several Arab populations, but as soon as some power, political or otherwise presents they begin to exhibit their true colour and intention, which may not be far from those espoused by ISIS and other extremist groups in like manner.

Time, and time again, it has been found that when elections, free and fair are allowed in the Middle East, with Islamist Parties allowed to contest, they in more times than not, had won those elections. Hamas did it in Palestinian regions of Gaza and the West Bank, to wide international consternation and discomfort, following which the Palestinian Authority was bouyed by Western powers and Israel to disregard the wish of Palestinians which they resoundingly made in voting Hamas, leading to the balkanization of the areas under Palestinian rule after some skirmishes, and putting a clog in the wheel of progress for a future two-state solution, or the possibility of same without Hamas-controlled Gaza (as Israel remain adamant in meeting on the same table with a group whose aim and aspiration includes the neutralization of Israel).
In Algeria, the Islamic Salvation Front was on its way to winning two-thirds majority of seats required to change the constitution in the early 1990’s, with the possibility of making Algeria an Islamic state, but the military sensing the direction things were going and considering it dangerous in their estimation to allow the situation to spiral out of their control intervened, and cancelled the elections.
The Islamists responded by throwing everything they had at their disposal at the government and people of Algeria, and the initial support they enjoyed amongst the people soon petered down and eventually frittered away. With time the Islamist were defeated, not even the Arab Spring could see them emerge from their cocoon because Algeria was shut out to such shenanigans owing to President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s (the main beneficiary of the army intervention in the 1990’s) strong arm tactics against dissent especially of the Islamist variety though a Muslim himself, which it would appear many Algerians didn’t find unfavorable seeing that just some few weeks ago he won by a landslide Presidential elections for which he couldn’t campaign much no thanks to ill health.

The Egyptians opted for the Islamist in the Muslim Brotherhood, after removing President Hosni Mubarak via mob action in the heat of the Arab Spring that swept away many rulers in the Arab world. Though President Morsi didn’t win by a landslide, he ruled like he did. Egyptians watched as most of the rights they enjoyed under Mubarak’s repressive rule, as well as those they demonstrated, got beaten, raped and even killed for at Tahrir Square (the location and symbol of the “Egyptian Spring”) were been eroded in bits with laws the parliament (illegitimate at some point) passed and planned to pass. Coptic Christians who had lived besides their Muslim counterparts all these while, all of a sudden became targets for persecution in their own country. It didn’t take too long for the Egyptians to realize that this wasn’t what they bargained for, and hence they ran back to the streets to voice their discontent. The army were once again thrown into the fray, and in elections recently concluded former army General and minister of defence Abdulfattah Al-Sisi won the presidency by a landslide. The interim government before him had proscribed the Muslim Brotherhood for the second time in the history of the movement (the response of which was a string of bombings and general level of insecurity even along the Sinai) just like the Syrian government of present President Assad’s father had done in the 1970’s. Many of the leaders and their followers are now in jail having been sentenced to death, and long term jail sentences amongst others, for acts the state considered as tantamount to terrorism and treason.

Terrorist groups in Arab and non-Arab states latch on the idea of setting up a true Islamic state in gaining the attention and sympathy (for lack of a better word) of devout Muslims who have become sick of the low level of piety in today’s world, and willing to assist in their own little way of establishing God’s kingdom on earth. Unfortunately, these groups now blow up to become the Boko Haram which seeks to Islamize a multireligious and multiethnic Nigeria, the Al-Shabab working towards the same agenda in Somalia, or even the ISIS that have declared a Caliphate in Iraq.

Mustafa Kemal Atatürk made Turkey into the modern state, and envy of its peers by knocking off Turkey’s connection with religion. He understood too well the meaning of separation of “Mosque and State”, and the result was evident for all to see, though the gains are currently being eroded by the present government that intends to reverse the norm. Even Iran that can be said to be a model of a religious state leaves political leadership to people who aren’t necessarily the religious leaders though they may have to answer to the Ayatollahs on most if not all of their policies.

And Saudi Arabia? Remove oil from the equation and watch to see if the people will still want to live under such conditions of little or no advancement, as princes jostle for all available executive positions. Isn’t it curious that many notable terrorists are of Saudi origin, besides the fact that the ideology that drives intolerance and radical Islam have roots in that oil rich state.

The Islamic Party under several toga in several states have yet to convince even their most ardent followers that they mean good for the people they intend to rule as well as maintain peace with their neighbours beyond seeking first to punish those who have run foul of scriptural injunctions, for which one could easily envisage a society populated by maimed people. This perception of them needs to change or they will continue to be viewed with suspicion by one and all.

RAMADAN KAREEM!

‘kovich

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15 thoughts on “THE ISLAMISTS

  1. To an outsider such as I, the sublimation of religion over politics in the Middle East renders democracy inoperable. If a sector defeated at the ballot box feels it acts for a higher ideal and refuses to accept the verdict of the vote, government on a Western model cannot happen. Unfortunately the only engine of state that is left is dictatorship and repression, which the west dismantles at its peril. Minorities and majorities seem to be equally incapable of tolerance. If Iraq’s PM had even attempted to rule democratically the current situation might have been averted – might have. Personally I think the only answer is precisely the one ISIS provides, borders drawn purely upon religious grounds, to which, I believe the region will eventually revert despite our most intrusive efforts. Therefore I feel it right that we should not interfere, but less than confident in our ability to forebear. As Middle Eastern oil diminishes in importance, there remain two major difficulties for we in the west to resolve, trade routes and above all Israel. Without them we could step back and allow the area to sort out its own difficulties, in fact we should. A lot of the problems were imposed by our forefathers, after all.

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    1. I do agree with you to some extent but not to interfere may pose even greater risk to freedom loving, tolerant and moderates worldwide, because groups such as ISIS aren’t looking only to rule what you might call their region, buy have at the back of their mind “world domination”.

      They will not be satisfied with just Iraq, or even Syria but will project as far as Spain, and so on.

      Christians and other minorities who have lived for centuries in Mosul are now been threatened with conversion, heavy taxes, exile or death, though they are Iraqis who should be accorded all extant rights.

      Governments of free people worldwide may not necessary put boots on the ground, but they may help bolster the Iraqi central government on the ground, as well as the Kurds to rout this deadly group, and maybe thereafter if Iraqis decide to split along sectoral or religious lines, then so be it.

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  2. Islam is a mistake to mankind. and they claim it to be religion of peace. Take Nigeria for example, they animals butcher their fellow humans all in the name of Islam. They believe when they do so, seven virgins awaits them in heaven. Imagine the idiotic ideology.

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    1. Killers worldwide who use the mask of religion to perpetrate their evil acts will find enough justification in so called “Holy Books” to commit homicidal, even genocidal acts if they want to.

      The onus lies with moderates and clerics of all religions to keep insisting and pointing people in the path of peace, readily condemn the actions of the few intolerant fanatics, preach their religion in such a way as to be in tandem with the context of today’s civilization, and not in the context of the time in which many of these religious books were written.

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  3. Most religions claim to worship a peaceful and loving god, usually just before they claim their god is better than somebody else’s god, and then go on a genocidal spree to prove it. The Christian faith’s hands are by no means clean in this respect. The problem comes when religious persuasion is stronger than political persuasion, as seems to be the case in Iraq, where government is not only faith-biased but seen to align with the hated West. And corruption would also appear to be a major player throughout the whole of Africa and the Middle East. Difficult to see a solution. World domination? They may seek it, but they have no means to achieve it.

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    1. They may not have the means, or even be able to achieve World Domination, but the terror they inflict in their bid to do so leaves the free world under (in the words of Nobel laureate Prof. Wole Soyinka) a CLIMATE OF FEAR!

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  4. Yes, and of course they erode the freedoms of more civilized peoples in the process. Yet, if we are truly convinced that we (i.e. our god) is in the right, we must lead by example. It would be wrong to meet terror with terror.

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    1. To do nothing and allow extremists to ride roughshod over free and accommodating people should not be an option.

      Extremism should be tackled head on, in the short term by force, and in the long term by encouraging alternative peaceful ideology.

      If there is one area where intolerance is to be tolerated then it must be against extremist groups using terror to drive home their point.

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  5. Some two or three years ago now, I was asked to prepare a piece on the historical background of Islam. What I found was a ‘young’ religion which began (if you take the unification of disparate faiths by Muhammed as a marker) some six hundred years later than the Christian movement. If we look back at what Christians were doing even five hundred years ago we find any number of extremist sects murdering wholesale in the name of God. Beside the activities of the Jesuit Inquisition in Central America, for example, today’s Islamist forays pale into insignificance. It seems to me that generally speaking, no matter what the pace of civilization, religious thought evolves at a fairly constant and unvaried rate. The Church of England is only this year agreeing to ordain women bishops; the Roman Catholic Church has not yet conceded that priests should be able to marry, to raise a couple of instances (there are many more).

    My point is that Islam still focuses its whole existence upon a jealous deity and the unquestioning devotion demanded of its adherents was equally a feature of Christianity in the Middle Ages. Islam is still growing up, and like all teenagers it is subject to fits of angst and unreasonable obstinacy. Islam as a religion has not yet matured enough to put its god into perspective.

    I am not trying to say the followers of Islam are retarded in any way, or to belittle the strength of their feelings. I am merely saying that religiously they need time to catch up. Or maybe they are right and we have turned our back on our God. I don’t really know, but you get a general idea of my standpoint from my previous comments. But all religions are abused by the power-hungry who visit doctrine upon the poor and unthinking as a narcotic to help achieve their aims.

    The answer is education. Once a populace begins to think and reason for itself, it is no longer willing to accept any doctrine at face value. Meeting violence with violence only plays into the hands of the manipulators, who will use it to raise a ’cause’. For every trouble-maker you wipe out, there will be a dozen more to take their place – further yet, you make them ‘martyrs’; heroes for the susceptible and the young.

    Murder never solved anything: ask any Vietnam veteran, any soldier returning from Afghanistan. Do we leave the world a better place by shooting people? Such a proposition needs careful thought.

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    1. Your points are very valid and I really do not wish to be seen to be in support of violence (which I deeply abhor), if however it appears that I have tended towards that path, then it must be because I have not figured an alternative response to the actions of religious extremists.

      As regards Christianity’s ugly past and your reference to Islam’s situation today, I can only relate that with newly democratic countries who we do not expect to make the same teething mistakes as the United States with decades and centuries of democratic experience. Or would one begin to watch movies made at the onset of cinema just because one just bought a new DVD player?

      What I know is that moderates should begin to raise their voices louder in denouncing the activities of extremists, even against hate speech and preaching from which extremism take route, because I doubt there’d be anyone left, even Muslims by the time these extremists realize that their god isn’t a jealous one and they eventually “catch up” with the rest of the ‘reaaonable’ populace.

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  6. I think I take comfort from the fact that they (the Islamists) are losing, not winning. Here in Britain the huge majority of second generation immigrant families from Islamic ‘strongholds’ are becoming westernised: there are very few radicals, and the ambiance is so much against them that it takes constant re-indoctrination from visiting radical Imams to keep them focussed. We have a very substantial Islamic population now, and the religion prospers because we offer no credible alternative.

    The Chinese in Africa are doing a great deal to promote prosperity, too. It will take time, but as poorer peoples are shown more and more windows to freedom of thought and liberation, the rank weeds of starvation upon which extremists graze will be cleared. I really am optimistic for the future.

    The open sores that remain will take longer to heal. Without the Israel/Palestine situation, I honestly do not believe Islamic extremism in the Middle East would even exist. Without the opium trade, it would have trouble finding any foothold in Afghanistan or Pakistan. These are the insolubles, and lacking answers for them it would seem that isolation of the problems is the only route. Wherever we wade in we cause more trouble than we resolve. They will find their own solutions at last.

    The one area where I personally have issues with Islam is in its treatment of women. As in most ‘religions’ which, after all, are the products of men not their gods, the doctrine has been manipulated for somebody’s convenience. Any group religious or otherwise that treats half of the human race as inferior and imposes superior strength to enforce its will needs some strong introspection.

    A very interesting discussion. Thank you.

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    1. I beg to disagree with you Sir, that there are few radicals in the UK. Have you forgotten so easily the young British soldier that was mauled by British born Michael Adebolajo and his co-traveller on the streets just a few months ago?

      These British young men were indoctrinated right there in the UK, though they were born into Christian homes. How about the “Black Widow” now a fugitive to justice after the Shopping Mall attacks in Nairobi, Kenya, Nigerian-born AbdulMutallab aka “the underwear bomber” and the many British kids now fighting on the sides of insurgents in Somalia, Syria, Iraq etc.

      The UK is a nidus for Islamic extremists and infact now a major exporter of terrorism to various parts of the world.

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  7. I haven’t forgotten any of these incidents, nor do I deny that extremists exist here, and the oxygen of media exposure we give them is exceptional. the British press is famous – or infamous – for its ability to vamp up a story, a crusade or a cause, and I wonder sometimes at the weight that some of their readers are persuaded to place upon the anecdotal, rather than the provable. I would disagree that Britain is a nidus for extremists; our security systems and their exponents are very efficient in dealing with terrorist cells. We have an unenviable template in our dealings with Northern Irish terrorism, after all.

    I would urge you to consider the statistical and pay less attention to the emotive literature surrounding this subject, and I would most strongly disagree that UK is ‘in fact’ a major exporter of terrorism to anywhere. We harbor a very small minority in a large Muslim population and we deal with them as best we can.

    From your comments I gain the sense that though you claim to abhor violence your thoughts upon this issue come perilously close to it. I would beg you to give more consideration to those injustices that Muslims do seriously suffer, and try to reach out with your understanding in that direction too.

    If you don’t mind I would like to close this conversation. I think I have said all I want to say on the subject.

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