but we are actually all winds
ever more than before
even ever more than before 
towards future 
and redeeming laughters
and happiest laughters
Start page JUMO | Code for America | good.is |
“If you want to free a society, just give them internet access. Because people, the young guys, you know, are all going to go out and see biased media, see the truth about other nations and their own nation and they’re going to be able to contribute and collaborate together.”
▸ Saudi Arabia’s Shiite Problem - Toby Matthiesen, Foreign Policy [March 7 2012]

The behavior of the Saudi leadership only allows the conclusion that repression of the Shiites is a fundamental part of Saudi political legitimacy. The state does not want to change the position of the Shiites and Shiite protests are used by the state to frighten the Sunni population of an Iranian takeover of the oilfields with the help of local Shiites. Similar narratives have been propagated in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) media for months, at the cost of further deepening the sectarian divide in the Gulf States. The GCC intervention in Bahrain has severely worsened sectarian relations in the Gulf and beyond to levels not seen since the Iranian Revolution. But this open Saudi sectarianism has already had negative repercussions in Iraq, as well as in Syria, Lebanon, and Kuwait. Bahrain looks set for years of sectarian conflict, community relations have broken down completely, and the state is conducting a campaign of what Shiite activists call “ethnic cleansing.”

Rather than completely alienating the Shiites, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain should negotiate a social contract with them. Failing to do so will lead to years of instability with uncertain outcomes. And it is far from certain that other Saudis will not be encouraged by the Shiite protests, as a recent statement by liberal Saudis from all over the kingdom denouncing the crackdown in Qatif has shown.

The West should press its allies, above all Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, to stop simply shooting and arresting their Shiite citizens and brandishing them as Iranian agents and traitors. The alienation of Shiite youth foments a perfect breeding ground for a new Gulf Shiite opposition movement and plays into the hands of the Iranian regime. Even without external help for the local Shiite protesters, the area looks ripe for a return to the tense sectarian politics of the 1980s. The United States should in its own, and in the Gulf States’, interest push for a real reconciliation between the Shiites of Bahrain and Saudi Arabia and their governments. Otherwise, sectarianism will come to dominate the Gulf, to the detriment of all.

He has newest piece on last week’s arrest/capture of Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr here:

Saudi Arabia’s Shiite escalation 

But I think analyses contained in this previous piece are more grounding - and insightful.

Source: mideast.foreignpolicy.com

Jul 11, 2012, 12:51am  5 notes      

▸ [Syria] Accounting for Jihadist Elements in the Syrian Conflict - Rania Abouzeid, TIME - May 14 2012

Time magazine profiling Al-Nusra in Syria. 

Bilal Y. Saab, a fellow at the Monterey Institute of International Studies who specializes in Middle East security and terrorism, says that historically the Levant has been hostile to global jihadists seeking a foothold in the region for several reasons: the presence of established mainstream Islamist groups whose ideology is at odds with the extremists; the region’s formidable intelligence services; and, finally, Shi’ite Iran’s “dominant influence” in the area. “Al-Qaeda will struggle to find a home in Syria,” he says, adding that while it “could send fighters to wreak havoc and exploit the vacuum, it will take a lot for them to create an insurgent movement in the country.”

Read More»

Jul 05, 2012, 12:08am  0 notes      

Origin of the Shia, Hossein Nasr, S.H.M Jafri

Shi’ism was not brought into existence only by the question of the political succession to Muhammad as so many Western works claim (although this question was of course of great importance).

The problem of political succession may be said to be the element that crystallized the Shi’ites into a distinct group, and political suppression in later periods, especially the martyrdom of Imam Husayn -upon whom be peace- only accentuated this tendency of the Shi’ites to see themselves as a separate community within the Islamic world.

The principal cause of the coming into being of Shi’ism, however, lies in the fact that this possibility existed within the Islamic revelation itself and so had to be realized.

Inasmuch as there were exoteric [Zaheri] and esoteric [Bateni] interpretations from the very beginning, from which developed the schools (madh’hab) of the Sharia and Sufism in the Sunni world, there also had to be an interpretation of Islam, which would combine these elements in a single whole.

This possibility was realized in Shi’ism, for which the Imam is the person in whom these two aspects of traditional authority are united and in whom the religious life is marked by a sense of tragedy and martyrdom… Hence the question which arose was not so much who should be the successor of Muhammad as what the function and qualifications of such a person would be.

Hossein Nasr,  Shi’ite Islam, 

Those who thus emphasize the political nature of Shi’ism are perhaps too eager to project the modern Western notion of the separation of church and state back into seventh century Arabian society, where such a notion would be not only foreign, but completely unintelligible. Such an approach also implies the spontaneous appearance of Shi’ism rather than its gradual emergence and development within Islamic society.

Jafri, S.H Mohammad. “The Origin and Early Development of Shi’a Islam,”, Oxford University Press, 2002, 

Source: Wikipedia
May 24, 2012, 3:48am   1 note
▸ [Violent clash in Tripoli, Northern Lebanon, tension rising. Need rapid unity and solutions] Daily Star, Lebanon

“If the current situation of tension continues in the north, Tripoli will be the starting point for the biggest strife in Lebanon’s history because I fear [the outbreak of] a Sunni-Shiite conflict,” Charbel told reporters at his office. “This matter calls on wise people, and they are the majority in all sects, to make efforts to prevent strife.”

Charbel sounded downbeat on the situation. “What is happening makes me feel that a moderate voice is gone.

May God protect the Lebanese when a radical voice dominates them,” Charbel said. He added that the crisis in Syria was leaving adverse effects on Lebanon, particularly on its security.Similar warnings were issued by Speaker Nabih Berri and Hezbollah. Berri said he discussed during a meeting with the Saudi Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Awad Assiri the possibility of calling the leaders of national dialogue for a meeting to be chaired by President Michel Sleiman to discuss the Tripoli clashes.

“What happened and is happening in the capital of the north, Tripoli, threatens bad consequences, not only for the north, but for all of Lebanon and the region,” Berri said in a statement.

He added that he discussed with Assiri “the need for the Lebanese to agree on a unified stance for a quick, effective and permanent solution in the north.”

For its part, Hezbollah expressed “deep pain over the regrettable incidents” in Tripoli and called for “positive cooperation” between the city’s residents, parties and military and security services to ensure stability.

Praising the army and security forces’ role in restoring order, Hezbollah called for “a calm pause toward the events in order to draw lessons and ensure a serious and responsible solution for them.”

Just have to hope it does get contained.

May 18, 2012, 1:03am  3 notes      

▸ [Northern Lebanon, Alawites vs. Sunni] Clashes in Lebanese city of Tripoli leave four dead - LA Times

“Until now, there are clashes but not as violent,” said Nader Hosni, another Syrian activist living in Tripoli. “Overnight, I heard RPG [rocket-propelled grenades] and rockets.”

Conflicts between the neighborhoods are not uncommon. In February, similar fighting left two people dead.

On Sunday, the Lebanese army deployed in Tripoli and President Michel Suleiman called for a meeting of the Higher Defense Council, a body that oversees national security in Lebanon. 
The man detained Saturday by General Security forces was identified as Shadi Mawlawy, a Tripoli resident who according to news reports and a security service statement was taken because of alleged ties to a terrorist organization. He reportedly was accused of smuggling arms to Syrian rebels.

"It is not the General Security domain to arrest people accused of terrorism in Lebanon," said an activist from Tripoli reached via phone who asked not to be identified out of fear of reprisal.

“General Security is controlled by Shiites, so having them interfering in this particular case of a man accused of terrorism and being in touch with Syrian groups seems suspicious in Tripoli,” he said.

The case angered some Sunnis who feel “the Lebanese government is taking into consideration Shiite grievances but not Sunnis. There is a frustration that weapons of Hezbollah are tolerated and allowed but not Sunnis arming up,” the activist added.

Northern Lebanon. Potential next flash point. 

Source: Los Angeles Times

May 13, 2012, 10:32pm  7 notes      

Syrian envoy to UN (via Sultan Al Qassemi)

  • I demand the UN sends troops to protect the people of Qatif (Saudi)
  • Saudi Arabia must withdraw its troops from Bahrain, troops that oppress the citizens hopes
  • We volunteer to send troops to protect the people of Qatif
  • The Gulf states are not an example of democracy for anyone to follow.
Source: twitter.com
March 03, 2012, 1:07pm   0 notes
“My country has an official name & it’s not the Assad Republic … Unlike Saudi Arabia which is called named after a man.”
Syrian envoy to UN via: http://twitter.com/#!/sultanalqassemi

March 03, 2012, 1:02pm  5 notes

“In Cairo, as Mr. Haniya spoke, the crowds also shouted against Iran and the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, both of which continue to support Mr. Assad and have long been hailed on the Arab street for remaining defiant toward Israel. That was yet another significant shift caused by the Arab uprisings.

“No Iran, no Hezbollah. Syria is Islamic,” protesters chanted, according to Agence France-Presse.”

Hamas Supports Syrian Opposition - Fares Akram, NYTimes

Hamas leadership in Cairo. And then audience went to express - their antipathy towards Syria, Iran and Hezbollah in chant. 

Israelis say this. Arabs will never be able to unite enough. They will remain fighting each other - and chaotic. Having to survive in such environment - there is nothing ignorant outsiders can advise to Israel. 

In this sense, Israelis do have this ‘newer, unprecedented kind of Jews’ - identity, which we really don’t carefully look at, we don’t understand. 

Another issue is that Palestinian factions - and how they switch their patrons. Which really doesn’t give them good name :(

February 25, 2012, 5:43pm  0 notes

“But one prominent tribal sheikh in the Sunni heartland of Anbar said local demand for weapons was also increasing because Sunni tribes were trying to regain the military muscle they lost when U.S. troops were still stationed in Iraq.

"There is demand for weapons in Anbar but not for smuggling. It is for internal use," he said. "People in Anbar are looking to get back their weapons after the Americans took them away."”

Iraqi fighters, arms trickle into Syria as violence grows | Reuters

Only more and more looking like an impossible case for the leadership of West (Europe and USA) - always lacking sharp prudence, doing anything almost only reactively. [I really wish they were exact opposite.] Could become something really unprecedentedly large conflict. 

February 15, 2012, 3:05am  0 notes

“The sympathies for the Syrian rebels in Anbar are borne from centuries-old tribal connections and, as a region dominated by Sunni Arabs, a shared sect.”

Syria conflict threatens to widen | Seattle Times Newspaper

A recent report by the McClatchy news agency quoted unidentified U.S. officials as saying that al-Qaida in Iraq was behind two deadly bombings in Damascus and probably also the bombing Friday in Aleppo. In interviews, U.S. officials in Baghdad said they believed that was likely but had no evidence to confirm it.

"Centuries-old" tribal connections - it’s older than ‘Syria’. 

Syria’s eastern part and Iraq’s north share the long border - and weapons are smuggled back into Syria, Iraqi Sunnis aiding Sunnis in Syria. 

February 15, 2012, 3:02am  0 notes

▸ Syria now the backdrop for a sectarian showdown - Jackson Diehl, Washington Post

The Arab emirates’ best ally against Iran is not the United States but the Turkish government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, which is openly backing the Free Syrian Army. Erdogan, too, claims to be outraged by Assad’s brutality. But as a Sunni Islamist and the hugely ambitious leader of a rising power, he also perceives a strategic opportunity for Turkey to replace Iran as the preeminent outside influence in the former eastern provinces of the Ottoman Empire. Inside Syria, Turkey is pushing the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood; in neighboring Iraq, Turkey’s support for Sunni parties, and for the autonomous region of Kurdistan, is increasingly conspicuous.

That brings us to Nouri ­al-Maliki, the Shiite prime minister of Iraq and a man known for paranoid thinking even in the best of circumstances. Maliki has concluded that the Syrian conflict endangers the Shiite supremacy in Baghdad that has been his signature achievement. This fear, more than authoritarian impulses, has motivated Maliki’s crackdown on Sunni leaders — which has plunged Iraq into its own crisis. Turkey’s assertiveness and Maliki’s response, in turn, have prompted Iraqi Sunnis and Kurds to consider whether they should split off their own regions into separate mini-states — a move that looks much more feasible if Syria tilts toward Sunni rule.

Iran, of course, is fighting back. It hasdispatched weapons and advisers to Syria, and it is pressing Maliki to open a corridor across Iraq to facilitate more material support. Maliki, I’m told, is resisting — for now, at least. But the lines of what could easily become a regional sectarian war are clearly drawn.

Feb 04, 2012, 12:39am  6 notes      

▸ Qatar emir suggests sending Arab troops to Syria | Reuters

Asked if he was in favor of Arab nations intervening in Syria, Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani told the U.S. broadcaster CBS: “For such a situation to stop the killing … some troops should go to stop the killing.”

The emir, whose country backed last year’s NATO campaign that helped Libyan rebels topple Muammar Gaddafi, is the first Arab leader to propose Arab military intervention in Syria where protesters are demanding President Bashar al-Assad stand down.

CBS said on its website that the interview would be broadcast in its “60 Minutes” programme on Sunday.

Jan 14, 2012, 12:40pm  10 notes      

Iran ‘steps up military aid to Syria’ - UPI



“Assad … never really wanted the presidency and has proved himself spectacularly ill-suited to it,” observed international affairs analyst Simon Tisdall in The Guardian daily of London.

“The Syrian leader’s state of mind is increasingly relevant as the … crisis deepens, with no sign yet of how or when it may be resolved.

“Critics say the president is isolated and out of touch with reality; others that he’s a pawn, or even a hostage, in the hands of more powerful relatives and military figures,” Tisdall observed.

“He certainly does not give the impression of being happy in his work.”

January 13, 2012, 4:47am   5 notes
▸ Russian [Ship Carrying Weapons] Arrives in Syria - [35-60 Tons of Arms and Ammunitions] RIA Novosti

A Russian-owned ship reportedly carrying weapons to Syria docked in Tartus on Thursday despite assurances it would change destination, Turkey’s Hurriyet Daily News reported.

“The Turkish navy has learned that the Russian ship MV Chariot docked at the Syrian port today,” the paper said, citing Turkish Foreign Ministry official Selcuk Unal.

Russia maintains a Soviet-era naval maintenance site near Tartus, which is the country’s only military foothold on the Mediterranean.

The cargo ship MV Chariot, flying the St. Vincent and Grenadines flag, was en route from St. Petersburg to the Syrian port of Latakia carrying from 35 to 60 tons of ammunition and explosives meant for the Syrian Defense Ministry.

Jan 12, 2012, 9:53pm  7 notes